Sunday, June 17, 2018

Don't trust government to keep deals

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for May 16, 2018)

President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the "Iran Nuclear Agreement", and his critics are enjoying their opportunity to show concern.

You can debate whether the deal had any legitimacy, whether it was a good idea, and what breaking the deal means, but you'd be missing the point. Agreements are meaningless to governments.

Every government, or rather every person imagining themselves a representative of a government, feels they have the right to make and break deals. Every government sees itself as special and believes anything they do is justified. It's the same if the deal is between governments or between a government and an individual.

There is no downside for a government to agree to a deal, so they are quick to agree and quicker to break them when they become inconvenient. Just ask anyone who isn't a government extremist how well the U.S. government has obeyed its Constitutional limitations-- the charter which allowed it to exist. Or ask the Native people of America how well the treaties they agreed to were kept. Ask yourself what happened with Social Security numbers; promised to never become any sort of national identification number and made illegal to use for identification outside of Social Security, but which are now national identification numbers.

Governments feel no obligation to live up to their agreements while demanding you keep up your end centuries after their betrayal.

A problem with making any agreement with government is that you have no real recourse when the government tires of its end of the bargain. Even if your complaint is heard, it will either be heard by a representative of the same government which cheated you-- a representative who owes his job and paycheck to your opponent-- or by some other government. No government wants to find governments obligated to keep their end of any deal. It could come back to bite them. Obviously, seeking justice on your own would be called a crime by the government which violated you.

If you make an agreement with a government and expect the agreement to be honored, you have set yourself up for disappointment. If you expect agreements between two or more governments to be upheld, you seem unaware of what government is or how it works. Don't expect a scorpion to act like anything other than a scorpion. Not even if you consider it your pet.

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Happy Father's Day

Great fathers teach* their kids responsibility.
They teach their kids to not attack people, to not take or damage other people's stuff, and to keep their word.
They teach their kids that searching for loopholes just because they really want to find one isn't the right thing to do.

The truly exceptional fathers also teach their kids there are no "jobs" that come with a pass to do these things; that the people who believe there are aren't heroes or anyone to look up to, but are someone to pity or revile.

And these fathers live the example, even when it's hard, rather than just speaking wise words.

If at all possible, be grateful for the father you have, flaws and all, and do your very best to be an exceptional father, even knowing you will sometimes fall short.


*Remember you can't teach anyone anything they aren't willing to learn. All you can do is to do your best.

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