Sunday, September 23, 2012
P. Willy Wampum and the Pet Raccoons
The Mission Creep of Agriculture
P. Willy Wampum and the Pet Raccoons
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
My brother had a pet raccoon. Raisin’ got his name from the ‘Cain’ he created as well as the booty of treasure he would seek in hidden places. He would sit there on my brother’s shoulder looking at him eye to eye ostensibly conversing affectionately in raccoonese. All the while, though, he was fishing around in Paul’s pocket with his front paws looking for, yes, raisins.
To a casual onlooker he was seriously attending to his people – beast responsibilities, but his real mission was much more raccoonal. He was fleecing the establishment.
The miniscule spark
The process that that made our Founders famous was rocky. More than one of those men openly discussed discouragement. Nearly without exception, those that became most influential contemplated going home.
In fact, without the moral compass of the citizens, the pursuit of appeasement with King George could very easily have been the consensus among the Continental Congress. With a good dose of ‘Common Sense’ … the fundamental commitment by the citizens denounced any commitment to the status quo and demanded a different course of action. Fortunately for us, a new paradigm was upheld. American blood sealed the deal. The American model was launched.
The more you study that beginning the more you recognize the spark that ignited the flame was so fleeting it was a miracle it survived. Without the audacity of Sam Adams, the face and money of John Hancock, the courage and ethics of Dr. Joseph Warren, the unbending commitment to the rule of law and the ability to assimilate thoughts and communicate by John Adams, and confidence derived from his life’s work combined with the impudence of old age in Ben Franklin, the spark may not have been ignited.
What you are struck with is the purity of substance over symbolism.
P. Willy Wampum
It would be interesting to observe the reaction of those men exposed to our system today. Those of us who are sure the system is on the verge of calamity might be thunderstruck if our view was not mirrored by them.
We would hope we would find agreement the system is not at all like the original vision. If that is the case, what happened? Could the original fear of political parties be the problem we face today? If that is the case, was the model ever set in motion in its original, conceptual form?
If political parties or their counterparts are a problem, what actually poses the risk to the genius of the system? Many assert that when individual responsibility is passed along to an organized body, substance always runs the risk of being displaced by symbolism.
Another interpretation of the concept may be every time the sovereign individual passes along his or her responsibility with the expectation that an agent can best represent his interests, the result will be disappointing.
Worse yet, the results of transferring certain authority implicit in inalienable rights may well result in the loss of those inalienable rights. If that is the outcome, the return of tyranny is a certainty.
Those of us who have had the experience of dealing with political circumstances that have the potential of destroying us economically too often come to the realization there isn’t a firewall between us and the government and those agents intent on eliminating us from the landscape. That realization is at once shocking and mystifying.
Historically, it has been dealt with by the unification of like interests and an institution is formed. There are many well known institutions that grew from such a fundamental threat to our predecessors. They served a purpose, but, when the first leaders left the system, their vision and their commitment to substance was invariably modified.
When the next generation of leadership served and then exited the system, the mission was altered yet more. In too many cases … perhaps in all cases … the original mission came to have little resemblance to the agendas that now fill the very shrines that the originators created.
As a result, the distance between the fence in the back pasture and the hallways of the shrines are more distant than the miles that separate them. In the absence of the founders, P. Willy Wampum arrived to serve as proxy to the good intentions and the lives of those who first perceived the threat and actually took the arrows.
P. Willy can be male or female. He or she usually has good intentions, but P. Willy is a proud individual who likes to drive new top of the line vehicles to appointed rounds. She occasionally wears a hat of sorts when he has a chance meeting with the yokels. He holds his belly in to look like them. Given the chance, he is prone to have the maintenance crew stencil his name in a parking spot close to the door of the shrine.
He is enthusiastic of reaching out to the intellectual world of the other P. Willy counterparts and the table of broader intellectual topics. Her presence there is important, and, in order to maintain that importance, longevity is an absolute necessity. Longevity is function of taking care of key supporters and facilitators.
Meanwhile, the mission loses more of its original intent, and … the connection between the south field and the shrine dims.
The Pet Raccoons
The list of P. Willies that make their mark by reducing staff and agency vehicles for the good of the founding mission is few and far between. In fact, they may not exist. That relationship may well be an insurmountable contradiction.
A loyal supporting cast is vital. In order to be P. Willy, an important meeting agenda item must include career path modeling or similar esoteric bureaucratic jargon. In order to serve the dimming mission, the best personnel are a necessity. The best personnel can only be attracted by providing compensation packages that are commensurate with stardom …just raise the fees to cover the shortfall.
In order to demonstrate the underlying intent to service the customers in a now forgotten mission, surveys must be sent out to demonstrate that the serviced citizenry are still important. In the surveys the citizenry are led to believe their input is needed in designing next generation improvements for staff and multidisciplinary teams. Acronyms and code abound. This is vitally important stuff.
The citizens are disappointed there isn’t a place to write in suggestions like ‘reduce the raccoon counts’, or ‘speak English’, or ‘stop spending money’, but, alas, in a footnote there is a reminder that in order for the survey to be considered for policy implementation it needed to be sent yesterday.
In a final blow of disgust, the serviced citizen has to buy a parking permit so he can park at the shrine so he can run the questionnaire in to debate missing the deadline.
“Oh, forget it …!”
Symbolism over substance abounds, and … the vision of Raisin’ fleecing the establishment while maintaining eye contact is, again, abundantly clear.
What would our American model be if the original vision of our system was installed and allowed to operate? If that took place, states would be allowed to concentrate on those matters that affect them uniquely and local controls and local government would reign supreme.
There is a fascinating body of knowledge being assimilated that chronicles industry successes where there are limited or no constraints extending from existing bureaucracies or fixed asset bases. The advances are amazing when the shrine doesn’t have to be honored or perpetuated. The outcomes are benefits that accrue on a macro basis and entire industries advance.
Isn’t that the same model envisioned for states’ rights? Although there was respect to sovereignty and the existing rights of the colonies, the pursuit of the right for states to forge their own identity was unlike anything that had ever occurred in the history of mankind. It was ingenious, but we have seen that whole concept restrained and reduced in effectiveness. It was never allowed to expand to provide the benefits that blossom from the deep recesses of inventiveness that comes only from free and independent men, businesses, and states.
The responses to the resulting federal dominion dilemma have created bodies for the purpose of protection of rights, and … the shrines have followed. Along with the inevitable shrine worship, benefit rolls have reached into our midst as much as any recipient group. Agriculture is hooked as deeply as any pool of expectant welfare recipients.
Consequently, Agent P. Willy’s role is seemingly secure and the process expands. The genius of the self regulatory mechanism fades further into the distance as does the distance from the back pasture to the shrine … and the desk of P. Willy Wampum.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “If this is a chapter in the battle of good and evil, it is a dangerous and uncomfortable place to be.”