Murphy\’s Bye-Laws

Law #4: Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it. –H.D. Thoreau

Meanwhile, Down at the Crossroads…

Posted by PintofStout on November 27, 2007

America has an appointment upcoming. They are due down at the crossroads for a meeting with a fork-tongued devil. I understand the meeting pertains to an offer for immediate results (of whatever they desire) for a relatively small price – their individual souls.

The common legend that I refer to is more popularly associated with blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who is alleged to have sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play a mean guitar. If the price seems steep, consider Tommy Johnson’s response in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: “Well, I wasn’t usin’ it fo’ nuthin’.”

The general idea around the theme of selling one’s soul to the devil is akin to a short-sighted shortcut. People are trading something presumed to be much more valuable in the long term for immediate short term results – whether it’s the ability to play guitar, riches, or fixing Social Security. In the mythical and modern-day fables, the deal is always successful and they always get what they want before some hidden clause in the contract gets the better of them, revealing their folly. Strangely enough, the devil doing the dealing is always virtuous and honorable, if not deceitfully cunning, in that the contract is always enforced to the letter. In that regard, America would be better off dealing with the devil than voting in the coming year.

After the electorate is lathered up into a frothy panic by a parade of bugaboos, the candidates and their entourages follow behind (driving the bugaboo parade like cattle) offering quick-fixes for the small price of a vote (with all vestiges of personal autonomy attached). Oddly, many of the bugaboos are magnifications of the problems caused by previous “solutions.” Regardless of the actual or philosophic validity of a vote – irregardless for whom it was cast – implying consent, these bearers of the contracts perceive it as such (note President Bush’s “mandate” after his 2004 election victory), and perception is reality in this case. Unlike with the mythical dealing devil, the products are never received as intended and the elected take payment before anything is delivered, thus eliminating the need to actually deliver.

After being bilked once, it must be thought that the betrayed will learn their lesson and not try for the quick fix again, right? How about being bilked, collectively, for almost 230 years or more? Similar to entering into a deal with the devil, which is done cautiously because it is the devil, afterall, the electorate are skeptical and even jaded when it comes to politicians. Unlike a mythical deal with the devil, the electorate get second and third and so on… chances. Still, they sign their perceived autonomy away again and again for the hope of a quick fix.

It isn’t always true that a real and permanent solution must take a long time and lots of work. But if the path to a solution is known and a shortcut is offered, there’s a pretty good chance the shortcut is a short-circuit. Like the Voluntaryist creed I seem to pound into the ground here, the destination and how fast one can get there is not a moral (or effective) way to reach the goal. Strewn along the path of the shortcut are unintended consequences and the detours they impart, making the destination farther away or completely unreachable in some cases. Thinking that a vote or a law is a quick fix is like believing that the deal with the devil was a good idea.


5 Responses to “Meanwhile, Down at the Crossroads…”

  1. […] Murphy’s Bye-Laws added an interesting post today on Meanwhile, Down at the Crossroads… […]

  2. […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

  3. […] murphy wrote an interesting post today on Meanwhile, Down at the Crossroadsâ¦Here’s a quick […]

  4. thesofine said

    I love how all these politicians start pandering and hair-splitting every 4 years because it makes me laugh – but only because my memory goes back further than 4 years.

    I like this post and the analogies you present.

  5. Great post – funny I was just thinking that I needed to find my Clapton cds because I was jonesing for his version of Crossroads…

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