Every Friday the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Joe Weinstein in response to Jessica Teel's "Did Obama Misfire on Salazar at Interior?" Joe writes:
Jessica and Yoshidad have it right, at best.
Obama’s cabinet picks - at least Salazar for Interior and Vilsack for Agriculture - are precisely what they seem - gratuitously injurious, for short-term-profit-as-usual and eco-immorality as usual. Michael Pollan was right to protest Vilsack, whose selection and acceptance made no mention of ag policy as above all food policy. Given the horrid impact of Vilsack’s USA establishment agriculture - not only for inhumane treatment of animals, unbridled promotion of GMOs, and promotion of human disease - Dr Chu’s assignment at Energy looks to be window-dressing.
So Obamatically we can expect more Bush-ido. As a couple of thrown bones to a ‘progressive’ agenda (which in these two instances is scarcely progressive but equates just to economic survival) expect also some splashy token actions on what will be dubbed ‘health care’ (e.g. to re-insure insurance companies) and on climate change (e.g. some gee-whiz energy demo technology).
Obama obviously does NOT get it. Our present unsustainable courses owe not merely to temporary deficiencies in budget priorities or to delays in arrival of panacea technology. They owe rather to a combination of deliberately erroneous (and unethical) choices and actions in resource management and amazingly unenlightened and even masochistic greed in mass-promoted ‘4F’ choices: on food, fuels, and other fads and fashions.
Yes, I had higher hopes and donated to the campaign. No doubt, by continuing to look a tad more intelligent than Bush, at term’s end Obama will still look a tad better than would have the Palin-McCain option.
All this is predictably and precisely yet another sad reason that we need a movement not confined to, nor focusing on, merely urging nicer and more ‘progressive’ policies on the USA’s Constitutionally oligarchic legislature and King-for-Four-Years.
Rather, we need need to do away with oligarchy altogether. We need to be small-d democrats! We need to stop venerating the nearly fossilized USA constitution and instead insist on its periodic modernization (per Jefferson 1816), at least in order to introduce more democracy at all levels.
It makes little difference how our official oligarchy is created - whether by in-group appointment, or by expensive mass elections providing ordinary citizens a venerated constitutional show but not substance of power, or by other oligarchy-selection methods that are being sold as somehow more ‘progressively correct’ (e. g. long-term legislators chosen by ‘clean money’ or ‘proportional representation’).
No matter how the oligarchy is chosen, Lord Acton’s warning (1887) applies: the resulting concentration of power will tend to corrupt - i.e. lead otherwise nice people to sell out, for private advantage, sound public policy and the public good. The reasons should be obvious: - concentrated power provides, if not motive, then anyhow means and opportunity. There are democratic decision-making methods which, by dispersing power, are far less or not at all corrupting. In particular, public policy decision and its precautionary review can and should be delegated to randomly selected or short-term-rotated citizen juries, so that no oligarchy of officials can long or indeed ever monopolize public-policy making.