Thursday, May 21, 2009

UK Parliament Falls on Sword

As the Parliament in Britain has become less and less powerful, it has become more and more corrupt. The last two weeks have been full of reports of outrageous expenses claimed by Members of Parliament. My favorite is the Conservative MP Douglas Hogg, who got the taxpayer to pay for cleaning the moat at his country house.

So Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decreed that Parliament will no longer answer to itself--like a "gentlemen's club"--but will answer to an outside regulator.

This means that the great institution that once toppled a king is going out into the night, never to return.

There have been a couple of articles pointing out that "gentlemen's clubs" would never have tolerated the trotters-in-the-trough attitude that has overwhelmed the mother of parliaments. Writes historian Andrew Roberts

If club members were caught doing half of what it turns out MPs have been up to, they would immediately be forced to resign their memberships and never show their faces again.

Clubs and associations belong to a different world from today's world. The club is a voluntary self-governing association. It believes in trust and ancient liberties, responsibility and respect.

But we live in the age of the overweening expert. People can't be trusted to do the right thing. You have to have a professional ethicist to tell them what to think.

You can see this attitude here in the United States. Banks can't be allowed to govern themselves. You have to have a central bank to tell them what to do, and when that doesn't work you add an additional layer of regulation.

Auto companies get saddled with intransigent unions, and can't adapt to new market conditions. So what do you do when the auto company goes bankrupt? You stiff the bondholders and give the company to the union--supervised of course by expert regulators in the government.

There's a reason why our founding fathers set up a republic with limited government. It's because they believed that people ought to be self-governing. They ought to be free, and they ought to be responsible. And they ought to have the power to show their mettle.

But that was in the old days before the rise of the progressive educated class. The educated class has nothing to do except regulate and second guess. So they have systemically demolished the old world of freedom and responsibility and replaced it with a system of administrative oversight and regulation.

It's just as well that the whole thing will collapse in ruins pretty soon. Because that will give us the best chance in generations to pick up the pieces and resume the great American experiment: freedom and responsibility under law. As Ronald Reagan said:

[America's] still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom.

What a concept!

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