The Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules
I suppose it was not entirely his fault. The Distinguished Visitor was only delivering a message, you see. While he was part of the faction that had created the message, he had not actually formulated what he was going to say. That, it became obvious, had been done by someone else.
The occasion was a joint Physics–Social Sciences colloquium at one of the campuses of the University of California. Ronald Reagan was president. The president had recently established his Strategic Defense Initiative, also somewhat derisively called his Star Wars Program. The topic of this day was defense against ballistic missiles using high-energy lasers (HELs). Since that was a big part of my professional activity, I was looking forward to the event.
The Distinguished Visitor was indeed distinguished. He was a key figure in the academic world, a presidential science adviser, a JASON (the top technical advisers to the Pentagon), and he had made significant contributions to theoretical physics.
The venue was the main lecture hall of the Physics Department. In marched the Social Sciences faculty. Down the aisle they strutted and captured the front rows, the seats normally reserved for the physics faculty. The physics professors, quite conscious of the deliberate insult, took the seats in the far back. There I joined them.
Eventually, the Distinguished Visitor arrived. He was late, well more than an hour late. "Traffic," he mumbled as he began his lecture.
His thesis was the stupid silliness of using ray guns (i.e., HELs) to defend against unstoppable ballistic missiles. Rather than discussing the real systems that we were working on, the visitor threw up straw-man concepts with the intent to show how ridiculous they were.
Worse, his numbers were off. I was baffled. The performances he quoted were three orders of magnitude too pessimistic. Eventually, I realized that whoever had prepared the lecture had confused calories with Calories (kilocalories). It didn't speak well that the Distinguished Visitor had not checked the numbers before delivering his presentation. Equally troubling was something else.
The lecture finished, the head of Social Sciences effusively applauded this wonderful presentation. The Physics faculty remained dead silent. I stood to speak. The Social Sciences professor turned and scowled. "Who are you? Who do you think you are?" Calmly, I presented my credentials: I had been a major figure in two HEL development programs and had invented some of the key technology that made HELs practical as weapons. Visibly still angry, the Social Science professor collapsed back into his seat.
I started by briefly pointing out that the visitor's straw-man systems were absurd. And his numbers were orders of magnitude too pessimistic. However, there wasn't time to go into detail on the technical issues. My real challenge to the visitor was something else.
All through his presentation, the Distinguished Visitor had been bad-mouthing Reagan's program. Much worse, he had been sarcastically denigrating the scientists and engineers working on HEL development and the other Star Wars efforts. This left him vulnerable. I pointed out his inexcusable nonstop ad hominem attacks on the very high-quality people who were working these programs. I insisted that an apology was in order.
Completely deflated, his presentation shredded, the visitor apologized.
As I sat down, someone sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. The individual was a physicist of considerable accomplishment and reputation. "Chet, I'm so glad you said that. It needed to be said." I turned to my friend. "Greg, that really was your job. Why didn't you guys speak up?" "You don't understand," he replied. "The visitor is the National Science Foundation. He controls our research funds. We can't challenge him."
This was my real introduction to the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold rules!"
Gold of the metal kind can be good. It is essential in our lives. With money, we purchase sustenance, comfort, and some personal freedom. This is good gold. Unfortunately, we are increasingly constrained by coercive gold – bad gold. It was coercive bad gold that inhibited my professor friends.
As I gained experience through a long career, I began to realize that it isn't money that is the gold of the Golden Rule. There is something much deeper behind the slogan. The gold we are talking about is not some shiny metal. The true gold really is empowerment. This empowerment comes in two forms: coercive power, bad gold, and voluntary cooperation, good gold.
You want an example of bad gold coercion? How about the federal government taxing you and then compelling your community to obey some pernicious law in order to receive part of this money back? That's been standard practice since FDR's administration.
Bad gold is used to silence opposition. Coercive power begets fear. Fear begets obedience. Obedience begets conformity — often immoral conformity. Conformity kills freedom. When freedom dies so does creativity. When creativity dies, so does civilization. We then have a savage Dark Age.
Governments have, by their very nature, coercive power. This is the power to arrest. Paradoxically, government also has negative coercive power by refusing to arrest when it is essential. In recent years a number of public officials — elected, appointed, and judicial — have delegated coercive destructive power to BLM and Antifa thugs, and to many other known criminals, by shielding them from arrest or prosecution. This is intentional political intimidation. These officials are the Defund the Police political gangsters.
The COVID pandemic has given us a bitter taste of government coercive bad gold. People died unnecessarily. Witness what happened to many of New York's senior citizens. Consider also the government prohibitions against simple remedies such as the hydroxychloroquine cocktail and the use of steroids. My doctors ignored the prohibitions and saved lives.
Worse, blue-state citizens have been in lockdown prison for more than a year — and, here in California, we still substantially are. Moreover, the federal government continues to mandate masks. You can't fly without a mask. Science has nothing to do with it. It's all about power and control.
For me, the exemplar of this tyranny was the fellow who was paddle-boarding completely alone in the ocean far off the Malibu shore. With sunshine and sea breeze, beaches are, by their very nature, as COVID-safe as any place on the planet. Nevertheless, California's beaches were off-limits. Power and control, you see!
A boat was sent to arrest the poor surfer. Once on shore, he was manhandled by two burly cops. Rather than keeping a safe social distance, as he had been, this victim of state coercion suddenly found himself in very intimate contact with strangers. He was literally, not figuratively, imprisoned. There was no reason for the arrest. It was an exercise in pure, unbridled coercive state power. Thanks, Governor Newsom!
Access to information is another form of gold. We all know about the censorship of information and ideas by the liberal legacy media, by Big Tech, by government agencies, and by schools. Censorship is bad gold. Fortunately, modern internet technology breaks that longstanding information monopoly. The good gold of the internet and its freedom of comment provide us with a modern form of the samizdat (underground correspondence) that helped bring down the Soviet Union. It also is our safeguard for individual freedom.
American Samizdat shows us the remedy for bad gold: for more than a year, the liberal media bombarded us with tales of a wet market in Wuhan. But the truth filtered out through our samizdat, and now the majority of Americans recognize that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was responsible, that our government was involved, and that people within our government used the media for a cover-up. The consequence? Trust was lost — probably permanently. In a democracy, trust is true gold. Without trust, institutions are functionally bankrupt. Government agencies and the liberal media have taken a permanent big hit. The cover-up is the crime!
It is apparent that many professional Democrats, and their lackeys, despise democracy. The proof is their corruption of elections. These people simply do not believe in the collective wisdom of the vote. Nonetheless, American samizdat ensures that, eventually, a solid consensus will develop that overwhelms the vote corruption and gets us back on track. We already see that happening in the red states and in many of the blue states.
In America, it is the citizen-voter who is the real boss. It is the citizen who voluntarily cooperates to create the good gold of democracy. It is the citizen, not the institutional elitist, who has the true gold.
Image via Peakpx.
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