Might I interest you briefly in politics? Oh dear. What a rude word. Besides, if you follow public affairs at all, you are already immersed in the stuff. Which is odder than it seems. Why are newspapers so full of politics and government? Do you ask what else they would contain besides public matters? But there’s the nub of my gist. Why does “public” so often mean “political”? Why aren’t there more stories about our common life that aren’t about government?
Partly, political stories are fairly easy: a press release, three phone calls and a story. It’s straightforward he said/she said, requiring no icky background knowledge of science or something. But mostly, government gets so much media attention because it’s so big. The state nowadays not only spends nearly half of GDP, but also regulates every gol-durn thing in our lives.
In 1998, American conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. sarcastically called meddlesome do-gooders “the shower-adjusters of this world.” The joke’s on him: Monday’s Citizen said: “The British government is considering regulating the maximum temperature of domestic baths.” It seems the public are too stupid not to scald themselves unless big nanny hovers over them as they bathe. While I’m inclined to think the state has no place in the bathrooms of the nation, if it’s in there bossing people around I do want to hear about it. But I’m not done with my question about all this government news. Indeed, I’ve just gotten started. Continue Reading →
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