Friday, August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy

I don't wish to speak ill of the dead, and certainly Ted Kennedy did many good things (immigration reform, deregulation, No Child Left Behind, etc.).

But it's a little gratingto see someone so clearly steeped in the priviledge of birth being hailed for heroic public service. Politicians come in many flavors, but the love of power, prestige, and control unites them. They ought less be seen as "public servants," and more as venal plunderers, on par with bankers. Look how shabbily we treat CEOs, who arguably do good on occasion. As a group, I think we realize politicians are shifty, at best. But every individual politician seemingly deserves praise for their charity in spending our money.

Lots of people complain about income inequality, but what Kennedy represents is far worse--a power born of dynastic legacy, which can use wealth and status to do anything from escaping murder charges and DUIs, to stopping a wind farm which disturbs the view from one's cabin. The Jeffersonian ideal is predicated not on the view that there can't be rich people; but that extremes in wealth should never alter basic social relations. That doesn't mean he should be villified, but it's a reason to tone down the media hagiography of him and his brother--who was, after all, a mediocre President.

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