I don’t know about any of you but when I first heard about FATCA and IRS enforcement efforts against Americans abroad, my first reaction was to think that they were simply blissfully unaware of the consequences. Never attribute malevolence, I thought, to what can easily be explained by ignorance.
Since then my opinion has not really changed but it has been refined by what I’ve read here, by the people I’ve talked to and by my own research. Many trees have died and many bits and bytes have passed through the pipes of the Net in an attempt to educate people and lawmakers. Thus far, to no avail. And that disappoints me. Profoundly. As FATCA sails forward, my elected officials seems quite content to put their fingers in their ears and continue on as if we were all simply talking to hear ourselves talk.
Back in July I wrote a post for the Flophouse chiding the French people for having so much faith in DSK and for feeling so disappointed by his fall from grace. At that time I gave them some counsel straight from H.L. Mencken about the fickleness of the “homme politique.” I think I need to work harder on taking my own advice and that starts by re-reading Mencken’s essay, “The Politicians.” It is futile to rant about the idiocy of elected officials. We all need to remember that what they are today is what they always have been: Happily Mencken is still around in spirit to remind us of this:
Their primary error lies in making the false assumption that some politicians are better than others… I propose that it be renounced and contend that its renunciation would greatly rationalize and improve our politics. I do not argue that there would be any improvement in our politicians; on the contrary, I believe that would remain substantially as they are today, and perhaps grow even worse. But what I do argue is that recognizing them frankly for what they are would instantly and automatically dissipate the indignation caused by their present abominations, and that the disappearance of this indignation would promote the public contentment and happiness. Under my scheme there would be no more false assumptions and no more false hopes, and hence no more painful surprises, no more bitter resentment of fraud, no more despair.
Politicians, in so far as they remained necessary, would be kept at work – but not with any insane notion that they were archangels.