No, the Federal Government is Not Like a Shark

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In a response to Jonah Goldberg, Charles Cooke admits that sharks aren’t actually all that dangerous:

Still, it’s best to presume that every single shark you meet is going to eat you. My view is that, because a shark can eat you, and has eaten people in the past, you should have, as per the definition that you provided, ”suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification” — or, rather, of sharks and their actions

….The bottom line is that we should treat government as we should sharks: As George Washington is supposed to have said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Even he couldn’t have imagined how dangerous and fearful governments could become.

My problem is that I’m not sure that the alternative to paranoia is reason. Is the way in which most people trust “reasonable”? No, not in the slightest. If people are going to be unreasonable — and they certainly are – it’s better that they’re unreasonably scared….There are no black helicopters and there may never be any black helicopters. But isn’t it positive that people are worried about them?

Well, I agree with Cooke about sharks. But there’s a pretty important missing point here: for most of us, there’s zero upside to palling around with sharks and zero downside to being unreasonably scared of them. So sure: you should avoid sharks at all costs. Why wouldn’t you?

Needless to say, the same is not true of government, no matter how much conservatives like to think otherwise. It provides many useful services! I like the fact that police keep me safe, paved roads let me go places, pensions and healthcare are available to me when I get old, and government agencies keep my air, water, and food tolerably clean and safe. There are genuine tradeoffs to be made here, which means that reason really is the only non-insane way to evaluate what kind of government we want. Even coming from National Review, I’m a little surprised that apparently someone needs to make this rather obvious point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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