Recently, I have been getting hammered with spam calls on my mobile phone. These are robo calls for various scams. One that comes daily is for some green energy scheme that promises to save me 50% off my electric bill. Another is a call from “your credit card company” that starts with “Don’t hang up.” I always hang up. The frequency of calls has reached the point where I no longer bothering answering my cell. I’ve turned the volume down to zero and check the log once in a while to see if anyone I know called.
This is a recent issue. I’ve had the same number for a long time that I registered with the do not call registry. I have no idea if that works, but the lack of spam calls had me thinking it must have worked until recent. Out of curiosity I went to the site for the FTC to see if maybe that service had been discontinued. It turns out that it still exists, but the web site is down, supposedly because of the government shutdown. That’s not a joke. Here’s the link and they posted the notice in Spanish, for the convenience of Mexican users.
Now, it would surprise no one to learn that a government website is really just a facade and that web requests are being handled by a person, who types the response to each query. You can just imagine an army of Winston Smith’s typing web responses and noting unapproved activity. That’s certainly not the case here. The bureaucrats in the FTC thought this was a bold statement. In reality it is just the petty nonsense that goes on with the administrative state. They put that up to spite the public.
This small little incident I’m describing is a microcosm of what’s wrong in the country. The FTC website should not exist. There’s no need for a do-not-call registry. The government could simply make the telephone companies responsible for the abuse that goes on with telemarketers. The phone companies would then demand the government pass laws that discourage these scams. The phone system operators would then aggressively police their networks and turn the scammers over to the state.
That does not happen, of course. The idea of the government doing things to make daily life easier on the citizens is so alien to us now, that the very suggestion of it is met with howls of protest. That is, after all, what happened when Tucker Carlson suggested the people in charge start worrying about the happiness of the public. The shrieking and gasping at such blasphemy around the Imperial Capital was deafening. No one in the ruling class, or their attendants, thinks the government owes us anything.
The paleocon formulation for this is anarcho-tyranny. This is when the state is no longer able to do the basics of government, like going after phone scammers. That’s the anarchy part. On the other hand, the state is more than happy to hassle citizens over petty rules and regulations. That’s the tyranny. It’s true in a lot of ways and certainly applies to local government. That’s not all of it though. There’s a growing hostility to the idea of people expecting their government to be responsive to the public.
That’s the core of the immigration debate, when you examine it. One side still thinks it is the duty of government to protect the borders and enforce the immigration laws. More important, they expect the government to put the general welfare of the American people ahead of the interests of foreigners. Sure, some immigration is fine, as long as they assimilate and become an asset. In other words, immigration is just another public policy and the right policy is the one that serves the interests of the citizens.
The other side thinks the only reason anyone wants to limit immigration is to protect losers who can’t compete with the newcomers. After all, only losers want the government to protect them from competition. David French calls it victim-politics. In other words, if you think the people in charge are not doing their duty to look out for the interests of their fellow citizens, you’re a crybaby and loser. It’s amazing, but a guy who has spent his life on the government teat thinks his class owes you nothing.
In other words, we have gone past the old anarcho-tyranny formulation into a new phase where the ruling class can’t be bothered to do anything. In fact, they are offended by the very suggestion that they have a duty to the rest of us. Carlson is going through an advertiser boycott because he had the temerity to suggest that maybe the people in charge are not doing their duty. All the beautiful people are rushing to social media to defend billion dollar global corporations against a guy who says stuff on TV.
Of course, the pettiness of the administrative state and the hostility to the idea of responsive government have the same root cause. The ruling class no longer see the rest of us as being citizens in the way they are citizens. We know have active citizens and passive citizens. The former is for members of the managerial class and the latter is for the rest of us. Active citizens get to talk about what kind of country they want and how the government will achieve it. Passive citizens just sit quietly in the cheap seats.
That’s why they are so offended by Trump and the surge in populism. They see it as a something like a slave revolt. It’s not the material inconvenience. It is the moral effrontery of the hoi polloi daring to question them. That’s the reason the FTC site is down. The people who did that think they are doing us a favor. They are offended and probably bewildered as to why this is happening. They are so divorced from the rest of us, we may as well be space aliens or wild creatures living in the forest.
This is why reform is hopeless. It’s not that “the deep state” is secretly gaming the system to their advantage. There’s nothing secret here. The sorts of reform needed would have no material impact on our rulers. The reason reform is hopeless is they now define themselves in opposition to the rest of us. They no longer see themselves as our fellow citizens. Rather, they see us as a threat to their status as active citizens. Anything that blurs the lines between us and them, must be opposed, on principle.