I kind of feel sorry for Andrew Cuomo. Don’t get me wrong, I like nothing about him. If there was ever a Governor who deserves to be chucked out of office, it is Cuomo. Have you ever heard the expression “it’s the sizzle not the steak?” In our political discourse, it’s the sizzle that gets attention, where matters of substance are ignored. I’m a steak over sizzle man, and for this reason, I feel a bit of sadness as the Cuomo resignation is emblematic of the deterioration of our political discourse.
We live in a world of too many legalisms and not enough simple ethics. We are consumed by sensationalism and ignore much weightier substantive matters which present serious and often grave consequences for the health of our Republic. The more laws we have the less we rely on voluntary, societal convention to solve our problems. Moreover, historic societal convention often has a much more equitable and effective way of punishing the wrongdoer than Gordian Knot legalisms that defer justice. In March, I wrote The Lost Art of Kicking Someone’s Ass. I believe men should conduct themselves as gentlemen and women should be respected and venerated. It used to be that men would protect women when rules of conventional society were violated. We did not run to the police or file a lawsuit. If a man didn’t behave in a gentlemanly fashion towards a woman, he got “a talking to” and sometimes got an ass whupping. Swift easy justice. Effective in discouraging the perp from future wrong doing. As well intentioned as sexual harassment laws may be, such laws have created an industry for sleazy lawyers and a tool to carry out political vendettas. In the meantime, women who have been subjected to boorish behavior by men have to endure a long and lengthy legal process to get any justice, and then if they receive any compensatory damages, the slimy lawyers take most of their winnings. Isn’t it better and more efficient, not to mention a much better deterrent against future bad acts to just beat the snot out of the guy?
Here is another “Rob Rule.” Whenever the government enacts new laws (and spends money) to “fix” a problem, such laws often crowd out “voluntary convention” which should be and often is the best method to fix the problem in the first place.Why do Washington politicians lie so much? There are no consequences. In a previous generation, 1987, when Joe Biden plagiarized British Labor leader Neil Kinnock’s speech, convention demanded that he withdraw from the presidential race. Lying was not cool. Today, our political class has no conscience about lying. It is merely a tool to be used to gain power and destroy the opposition. The solution? Decriminalizing the practice of dueling! It would immediately end all the Washington lying. As for me, you are allowed to tell me I’m ugly, that I am a terrible golfer or even tell me that I have a diminutive anatomical part, but if you call me a liar or insult my honor, I will come after you like a spider monkey. Oh what a great system it would be if when politicians lie and try and destroy an honest man, they risk a mini-ball to the forehead at 20 paces. That system works. For proof, can you imagine Jerry Nadler with a dueling pistol in his hands? No, because he would immediately retract his lie if slapped in the face with a leather glove.
Back to Cuomo. I have no doubt that he acted inappropriately with women, but it is ironic that he gets kicked out of office for copping a feel and not for killing 15,000 nursing home patients. What kind of idiot would issue an order forcing Covid patients into nursing homes? Cuomo’s spending all but bankrupted New York. Virtually all of his economic development initiatives have been a complete bust as stated in this July 2018 NY Post story. As Bill Clinton’s HUD Secretary, his policies played a role in the 2008 housing meltdown and the “Great Recession.” Few politicians have caused more substantive harm than this guy, but unfortunately our electorate can only see and smell the sizzle. If the body politic focused on the steak, he would’ve never been elected governor in the first place.
Another punitive measure that worked quite well was public shaming ala “the stockade.” How humiliating would it be for politicians to be locked in a stockade on the Washington Mall with constituents throwing rotten tomatoes at him. Congress just passed a $1.1 trillion “infrastructure” bill. It is 2,700 pages long. Not one Congressman, not one has read the bill. Think about that. It should absolutely be a criminal offense. I know that in my business, I am a fiduciary to anyone who I give advice on how to invest their money. I could never advise anyone to outlay one penny if I didn’t know everything about the investment. These jokers in Washington feel no obligation to spend the money they extract from taxpayers in a prudent manner. They are all drunk with power. This bill is a gigantic waste of money, passed solely to assuage the innate narcissism of our political class. So how do we make them read the bills they pass? Ordinary citizens should be able to ask them a pointed question on the National Mall, such as how much funding is allocated for the Kalamazoo Commuter Train, and if they don’t know, it means they didn’t read the bill. Thus, the Sergeant at Arms immediately locks them into a stockade on the Ellipse, and we all get to chuck rotten fruit at them.
When drunken sailors throw away money, they are spending their own money. When Washington pols do it, they are recklessly and unethically wasting your money. Government spending crowds out private investment. All economic activity comes from the private sector where capital chases opportunity. This system creates everything that we value. We simply don’t need the political class to “try” and solve problems for us. The passing of the infrastructure bill is downright criminal. The damage Washington does by trying to fix problems that either don’t exist or can easily be solved without Washington’s help is colossal and long lasting. Nowhere is this more evident than the government’s response to the Coronavirus as John Tamny outlines in his excellent book, When Politicians Panicked. The damage is absolutely staggering, especially to the middle class and the poor, not just in the US, but around the world.
If people paid more attention to the steak than the sizzle, there would be a return to the very noble and venerable practice of tar and feathering!