A Parable

Tonight children, let me tell you a story - an allegory for our times, if you will.

Suppose you were born into one of the great mercantile families. You’d have a last name like Ford or Vanderbilt or Carnegie or maybe even Suzuki or Mitsubishi. You would have received the finest education that money could buy at the most prestigious institutions, and been schooled in the newest technologies and techniques. You would have been mentored by the brightest minds in the field, carefully preparing you to take the reins of your family’s mighty corporation when the time came. After many years of study and preparation, the day finally arrives, and you are ushered to your corner office and given a key to the executive washroom.

At your first board meeting, you are confronted with a problem. It’s just the sort of thing you have been training for, so you are ready with an answer. You propose a multi-part strategy to identify the problem, devise innovative corrective measures, and move the company toward a productive solution.

Naturally, you expect a pat on the back – but the board of directors says, “That’s not how we do it here. You see, we run this company according to guidelines set out by your great great great great grandfather, and that kind of solution is not mentioned in this document.” They even bring out the venerable scrap of parchment, and lay it reverently on the table.

You gently protest - “Um, guys? Things are a bit different today – we need to adapt to the current business environment…”

“But these guidelines have made this company strong and a leader in our industry,” they say.

“Yes,” you say, “but when these guidelines were written we were delivering our product by horse-drawn wagons – today we ship worldwide by air. Back then it took months to get a letter to Europe and today I can call Paris in seconds on my cell phone. Can’t you see that our guidelines might need to be adjusted to fit that business climate?”

“No!’ they scream. “You must never deviate from the letter of the original document! It is the secret of our success!”

“It was, but we aren’t as successful today as we were in 1787,” you tell them. “We must adjust and change in order to progress.”
At this point, half of the men in the boardroom tip over the table and take up positions behind it clutching firearms. Occasionally they throw teabags at you.

Ok, I’m sure you can see where this is going. If you wouldn’t blindly run a business according to principals that are 225 years old, why would you run a country that way?

Since the passage of health care reform the Right has been flogging the idea that the plan is unconstitutional, and a number of state attorneys general are planning on filing lawsuits. Based on the way they venerate the constitution, you’d think that the founding fathers were imbued with some magical power to see the future so that they could devise a system of government that is adequate for every eventuality. It’s almost like they were gods of some sort, and the constitution is a scripture they have left to us – but that would be sacrilegious, right?

The founding fathers didn’t have any special insight on the way history would play out. They were no wiser about elections or appointments or committees or even human nature than we are. They didn’t have any unique skills that empowered them to design a system that would be eternal – in fact, they were humble enough to realize that the document they were writing would need to be adjusted. The method of changing it is built right in – it’s been altered 27 times already (well, it’s more like 25 times since the 21st just undid the 18th, but who's counting?).

The Right’s belief in the infallibility of the founding fathers is simply a form of mysticism, and it makes no more sense than believing in the infallibility of the pope, or that black cats are unlucky, or that the bambino’s curse kept the Red Sox from winning the World Series for 86 years. It’s also a damn convenient belief for the GOP – when the powers of the president ballooned under George W. Bush, you certainly didn’t hear any Republicans complaining about that violating the intentions of the founding fathers.

The health care bill is not the end of America, nor is it the death of liberty, or the beginning of socialism, communism, fascism, or any of the other dire predictions that the Right has been making this week. It’s simply another in a long line of social changes brought about by the Federal Government in spite of the conservative "state’s rights" crowd, and it's happening by the actions of our rightfully elected representatives following legitimate legislative processes. It will be fought tooth and nail, of course, through state referendums and law suits and name calling and protest marches and finally the supreme court will probably have to rule on it… just as the founding fathers designed.

3 comments:

Mayren said...

This allegory is definately using your powers for awesome. I agree completely actually.

BTW - I love your writing style sweets.
I'd like to see actual works published for you. I think being a serious journalist or novelist etcetc would be great for you, even if it's just on the side.

His Sinfulness said...

Thanks, Mayren. As soon as my thesis is done a writing project (fiction) will be my reward. I am looking forward to it! :)

Mayren said...

ooooh that's awesome! I'd love to hear about your Ficticious reward as it progresses!

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