My Bread & My Circuses

Man in a box.Robert Heinlein is (often) quoted as saying:

‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.

He was wrong. It’s worse than that.

The day before the election, I had the misfortune to see part of an interview with a Tea Party representative from Harry Reid’s district. As you may have, um, noticed, the Tea Party has made “small government” one of their watchwords. And this is what I heard from a Tea Party representative:

And this is Harry Reid’s district, and we have a high unemployment rate. He’s the most powerful man in the Senate, and we can’t get jobs here?

Which is when my brain exploded. A small-government advocate was openly questioning a senator’s worth because there wasn’t enough pork? Really?

And that’s why it’s worse. It’s not just that people are voting themselves bread and circuses. They’re voting themselves bread and circuses while being pissed off at anyone else who gets crusts and a street mime.

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