Summing it Up

Glenn Reynolds makes the point I tried to make at the end of this post better than I could possibly make it myself.

The problem is, it’s hard to trust the people who are supposed to use that data to protect us to do so, when they abandoned their own in Benghazi. And it’s hard to trust them not to use that data to oppress us, when they’ve already abused their powers that way in other connections. Which is why abuse of power is itself a kind of treason: It weakens the fabric of the nation like nothing else, by undermining the trust that is essential for the system to work.

If it turns out the actions of the IRS did indeed sway the election in Obama’s favor, then that would go a long way in completely eroding that essential trust. To put it another way, the main difference between a banana republic where everyone is corrupt and looking to evade the laws, and a system that works reasonably efficiently is that people trust the system to work more or less honestly and to their benefit. If you lose that essential trust, you end up with a country like modern Greece where everybody is trying to work the system.


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