Saturday, December 10, 2016

DIsruption

I wonder if this is what it feels like to be the object of a hostile takeover. Your management is replaced by the new owner's people, but although they're in familiar positions they aren't doing the same job anymore. Unconstrained by precedent or corporate ethos, let alone commitment to past practices and workers, they case the joint looking for ways of reconfiguring things, stripping off parts, etc. Positions designed for supporting maintain some function or service become the opposite, privileged positions from which to disable the service, reverse the function. "It's called business," someone might say.

But what's facing such restructuring isn't a corporation, a factory which could be more profitably used making surveillance cameras rather than slinkies. It's government, designed to ensure equity in the economy, provide better education for all, protect the environment, take care of needy citizens, etc. The folks DT is nominating for his cabinet positions seem united in thinking the services and protections of their respective agencies unnecessary if not pernicious. Their contempt for government far exceeds that of Republican voters, if not that of the craven Republican political class.

I ask myself if I'm missing half the picture, if I need to appreciate the positive values they hold - more choice in education, more agility in labor markets, trust in the capacity of people to take care of themselves, confidence in the market's abilities to self-correct, faith in nature's abilities to regulate itself. I ask myself also if, this time eight years ago, McCain supporters were feeling a similar vertigo, a sense that everything they believed in was being turned upside down - not just in content but in very form, a system for free men who knew America to be good being replaced by a crony state run by people who thought they knew better. (Sadly there will have been many for whom an African-American president was as existentially shocking as, to me now, is an unscrupulous liar with no relevant experience or demonstrated commitment to the common good.)

But this isn't normal. It's not comparable. DT ran not just against ideas I care about but people I care about: he means them harm. He ran against the very idea of a shared common good and institutions for its protection and support. He's a barbarian and I fear for our civilization.

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