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Sunday, December 01, 2002

Irresponsible Zeus and Campaign Finance
Read Homer. That is simple enough advice for everyone. Homer is one of the greatest writers of all time. He isn't great because he has lasted so long, he has lasted so long because he is great. He was studied by the Greeks of the classical era with the same devotion, or more, that we give to Shakespeare. Students and all educated people were expected to know his works and quote him freely. You could almost say that his writings were treated like many people today treat the bible.

Homer certainly included religion in his writing. I don't pretend to understand all the nuances of ancient Greek religions, but in Homer there is one thing that stands out to me as being perfectly clear: The gods, being immortal and immune from any serious personal consequences from their actions, behave arbitrarily, at times childishly, and almost always with vanity. Men, being mortal and susceptible to disease and injury can survive and thrive only if they use their minds to act with intelligence and reason. Men can't know the future, therefore they must use experience and reason to predict it.
Thus, according to Homer, men in many ways are superior to the gods because although both have brains, the gods don't need to use them and thus rarely do. It is long suffering men that always end up paying the price for the whimsy of the gods.

Likewise, congress has no consequences for their actions and thus can behave arbitrarily. They can write any law that they care to write, so long as the President signs off or they can override his veto if enough of them agree.

They can even write a law restricting free speech. Such a law is clearly unconstitutional and will be struck down either by the courts or more bloodily by the people, but in the meantime the victims of this law must expend great sums of money and effort to overcome it.

And once the courts strike it down, congress is free to do it again. Why shouldn't they? They've struck an expensive blow against their political rivals, they've protected their incumbency at no cost to themselves. They can continue to drain the funds from any people that threaten their political power.
The checks and balances of our form of government have worked well for a long time but are now working against the people to inflict on us a government that no longer needs to be either responsive to the citizens, or respectful of the constitution.

We need a new check in place to curb the lust for power in our political class. Our legislators need a consequence for their unconstitutional actions. This consequence must be personal. Legislators who vote for unconstitutional laws should be brought to trial and made to suffer criminal penalties for their unlawful acts. Those voting to restrict free speech, gun ownership, or other rights should be fined and locked in a prison.

Unlike Zeus and the other denizens of Olympus, our "masters" can be held responsible for their whimsical and irresponsible actions. We can use our votes to bring them to heel and throw them in jail. Then, unlike the Olympians they will be more like men and behave with responsibility or suffer consequences.