Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Big Things Fail

Or consider, for example, border enforcement. You can build fences and send troops: spend a few years making a plan and another few implementing it. But so long as there's demand for their labor, the immigrants are perfectly flexible: they will find and exploit whatever holes you leave, and it will take years to plug each of them, by which time they'll have found a thousand new ones. Each immigrant is a nimble center of decision-making: in the long run, they'll always outwit a bureaucracy. Same goes for the drug war. No overarching act of Congress will ever effectively quell the small, creative, profit-driven moxie of an individual drug supplier.

It's hard to miss the irony of our gigantism. We started out by outmaneuvering the British—not hard considering that the decision-making power was impossibly remote from the action, that the British forces were governed by a set of rules and conventions that inhibited their flexibility, and that, already, British forces were engaged all over the world.

The group of agrarian republics envisioned by a Jefferson or a John Taylor was designed to create local centers of decision, a group of agile, loosely-associated organisms responding to local conditions. The tragedy of America is the story of how it mutated into an empire, both internally and externally, and hence outgrew viability.

A brontosaurus no doubt means well, but its tiny confused brain is radically inadequate to govern its astonishing body. It tramples everything until it finally runs out of vegetation or collapses under its own weight. Here's hoping the United States government returns to the decentralized principles of its founding, lest it go the way of the dinosaur.
There will be no choice. Veggies
have been cleaned out.