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When the Refs Take Over the Game

Posted By David Solway On October 8, 2010 @ 12:07 am In FrontPage | 15 Comments

Running a government is to a great extent analogous to refereeing a sports event. Apart from the conduct of diplomacy and warfare, government is optimally an arbitrating presence intended to prevent the social arena and the economic contest from degenerating into violence and anarchy. It is there to police irregularities, standardize procedures, exercise a certain control over allocation of resources and supervise the profusion of voluntary transactions among market participants in the interests of fairness and adherence to rule. And it must obviously possess an intimate knowledge of the rulebook if it is to perform its mandate appropriately.

Similarly, the job of the referees is to establish a level playing field, to see to it that the rules are obeyed and that infractions are detected and punished. Their function is not only to ensure that the game is played properly but that there is a game to be played in the first place.

Problems will arise in three specific circumstances, two practical and one imaginary. First, if the referees are demonstrably incompetent, the game will not reflect the actual nature of the play, and the weaker team may come up  with a victory it does not merit. Secondly, if the referees are corrupt and on the take—as happened with former NBA official Tim Donaghy, who placed his own wagers and attempted to manipulate the outcomes of matches through “the frequency of his foul calls”—the game will once again be malformed and will not approximate real-world conditions.

Thirdly, we can imagine for the sake of analogy a completely fictional situation in which the referees field their own team, substituting their own members for the prospective losing side, playing the game and calling the game at the same time. In this case, the identity of the winner is determined before the opening whistle. A subset of this hypothetical scenario would see the referees embedded in their team of choice, which would lead to the same result.

When we consider the modus operandi of Team Obama, it is immediately evident that it embodies and enacts all three forms of ludic distortion. That it consists of a retinue of incompetents is undeniable—Tim Geithner at Treasury, Stephen Chu at Energy, Eric Holder at Justice, John Holdren at Science, Hillary Clinton at State, Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security, Austan Goolsbee as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Joe Biden in the vice-presidency, and indeed Obama as, of all inconceivable things, Commander-in-chief. The damage this collection of duffers has inflicted on the domestic economy and on the geopolitical stage is incalculable.

As for the issue of moral probity, it is equally clear that an administration which does not enforce its own laws, whether with regard to illegal immigration or voting improprieties, which enjoys close ties with crooked organizations such as ACORN, which does not disclose many of the sources of its campaign funding, which violates the protocols of investment activity (as in the Chrysler fiasco), which does not respect the rulebook (i.e., the Constitution) as definitive, which does not bother to read its own bills, and which bribes senators with various kinds of payoff to secure the passing of health care “reform” is the collective incarnation of Tim Donaghy and as perfidious as they come.

But it is in the third instance of interventionary trespass, a state of affairs which can exist only in the realm of fantasy—or so we thought—that the Obama administration has utterly subverted that character and anatomy of the political game as it is meant to be played. In recruiting a veritable army of “czars” who can determine policy without congressional oversight, and by seizing diverse industries and institutions, the referees are no longer managing the game but have fielded their own team, and in so doing mutilated the process by which a free nation is governed.

The auto industry furnishes a most salient example. GM, aka Government Motors, is now in competition against Ford and every other car manufacturer, with all the advantages on its side. Theoretically, it need not sell a single vehicle and can still emerge intact, and even win the game, thanks to government control of the money supply as well as the option to legislate stringent directives in its favor, or at severe cost to its competitors. Which is to say that government has perverted the free market by entering the economy at large, not as a neutral regulator to guarantee that the rules are respected but as an unlimited company engaging in what amounts to oligopoly business practices. In short, the referees have taken over the game.

And there we have Team Obama in its very essence: incompetent, corrupt and, quite frankly, hegemonic. That’s how the game is now being played and it is up to the paying customers in the stands to decide whether the refs are going to be cashiered, a new set of officials put in place, and the game restored to its original structure and intent.


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