The Second Law of Politics – JP
Over the weekend, I attended the Save the Children rally at the statehouse. I made some brief remarks, which are approximated below.
The envelope I’m holding here is labeled with an X. It identifies a government project, but we don’t know what it is. It’s to help some group of people, but we don’t know who. All we know is that it will be funded with a big pile of tax money. Maybe maybe $10 million, or $100 million, or even more.
I have a couple of questions for you.
First, who thinks that this money will end up mostly in the hands of people who are good at getting their hands on tax money?
Second, who thinks that this money won’t end up helping the people it’s supposed to help, and may even end up hurting them?
See? To know the answers to these questions, we don’t have to know what the project is, or who the people it’s supposed to help are, or how much money will be involved.
We all know what has to happen.
And we know why it has to happen that way.
If you’re spending tax money, it makes whatever you’re doing inherently political.
This means that the people who will end up spending the money will be the people who are the most motivated, the best organized, and often the least principled about spending other people’s money on their own agendas — whether they are politicians, or bureaucrats appointed by politicians, or just politically connected individuals.
Again, we don’t have to know the details to know that all of this is true.
But let’s open the envelope.
Oh, look — it turns out that X is the public school system. The people to be helped are 180,000 students. The amount to be spent is about $3.6 billion per year.
Does this change your mind? In spite of what you just demonstrated that you know, do you want to believe that this will work out differently?
A lot of people do, and it’s why we’re in the situation we’re in. It’s why we’re here today, at a rally to protect children from institutions that were originally set up to help them.
As the street artist Bansky noted, what all of us — including kids — really need is to be protected against all the measures that are taken to protect us.
We’re here because against all logic and experience, people continue to think that they can send their kids to inherently political institutions, and get non-political results — that they can avoid having things like CRT, DEI, mixed-sex sports and bathrooms, secret pronouns, and pornography in schools; and that they’ll actually get things like literacy, numeracy, and rationality.
Every few years, a competition is held. Students from top engineering schools like MIT, Stanford, Purdue, Caltech, and so on, show up to look at something that seems to be a working perpetual motion machine.
They can’t touch it, or take it apart, but they can look at it from a distance, and make remote measurements. And they’re supposed to figure out why it doesn’t actually work.
What these students know ahead of time is that it can’t actually work, because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. What they don’t know is why it isn’t really an example of perpetual motion. They have to figure that out.
But there is no chance that it actually works. No matter how much they’d like it to. No matter how much the world would benefit if it did.
And in exactly the same way, there is no chance that tax-funded institutions won’t end up being run by people who will use them primarily to advance their political and personal agendas, often at the expense of the people they’re supposed to be helping.
No matter how much we’d like them to. No matter how much the world would benefit if they did.
We might call this the Second Law of Politics. And it applies to schools, as it does in every other area.
All of which is to say: If you want to protect your kids, stop sending them to inherently political institutions and hoping for non-political results.
And stop wasting your time, energy, money, and passion trying to ‘fix’ those institutions by using statutes and departmental regulations to ‘force’ them to act in ways that are simply contrary to their natures.
Because that’s the political equivalent of trying to build a perpetual motion machine.