The Sharpest Questions

     [T]he best tool the radical skeptic has is the sharp question—“Why?” “What for?” “When?” “What do you mean?” “Who?” These are terrifying questions, in a way, considering how seldom they are answered.

     [Arthur Herzog, The B.S. Factor]

     Are you confused by recent developments? Do you have a problem with the use of some institution for an “off-label” purpose? In such circumstances, it’s important to ask sharp questions whose answers would reveal what’s really going on: short, pointed questions that demand short, clearly worded answers. Best of all are questions that demand either a “yes” or a “no,” which is why lawyers in a courtroom battle will strive to compel such answers from witnesses. However, be prepared for disappointment: politicians will bend time, space, and the English language to avoid answering them.

     Institutions come into being to serve some specific purpose. Their importance is tied to that purpose, and to how many persons find it necessary or desirable that it be served. Often they drift away from that purpose over time. When that happens, it’s normally because clever villains have figured out how to make them serve a purpose you wouldn’t like.

     For example, what was the original purpose of banks? How did they arise? When I looked into it a few years ago, I discovered that banks arose because private persons wanted a safe place to store their savings, which were in the form of gold and silver. Jewelers, who worked in those media, had to have safe storage for their working stock. People with unspent wealth would bring nearby jewelers their gold and silver coins, to hold in storage for them, and would pay for their protection. Banks, therefore, arose to protect people’s savings from thieves, though they did acquire other functions as time passed.

     Now reflect on this: Today, a bank is the last place you’d want to store any significant fraction of your savings. Whatever amount you keep in “your” bank is highly unsafe; it can be taken from you at the press of a key. Banks today serve two purposes above all others:

  1. To facilitate your transactions with other buyers and sellers;
  2. To spy on, and optionally to control, what you do with your money.

     However convenient you find the first of those, I’d bet you’re not too happy about the second one.

     When the nation was first chartered, it was agreed among the Founders that “we” needed an army and a navy. Why? To defend the country, of course. Leave aside for the moment that the country wasn’t under threat of invasion at that time. The possibility of future wars was enough to persuade James Madison to write a provision for a standing army and navy into Article I of the Constitution, despite the severe misgivings of many whose reading of history had persuaded them that a standing army is a potential instrument of tyranny.

     Do our military forces, originally intended for America’s defense and the defense of American possessions abroad, still serve that purpose? To what extent? Do they do so effectively enough to justify their prodigious cost? How do recent developments, with emphasis on the “diversity” craze, serve the purpose of American national defense?

     National Security Council spokesman John Kirby deposeth and sayeth:

     Kirby has been carefully tutored in the provision of such vague and nonresponsive platitudes. If he were asked, “How do men compelled to march in high heels contribute to America’s defense?” he would evade the question. If he were asked, “How does DoD funding for abortions contribute to America’s defense?” he would do likewise. The readiness and ability of America’s armed forces to defend the United States against other nations’ aggressions is simply no longer of interest to those who control them.

     The evasions are as revealing as straight answers would be. Sharp questions are valuable even when evaded. But few reporters are willing to ask such questions. They fear to get their “access” pulled.

     Just a quick observation, Gentle Reader. The great number of American institutions that no longer serve the purposes for which they arose has been on my mind. The media haven’t exhibited much interest in how and why they departed from those purposes. But then, the media don’t serve their original purpose very well these days, do they?

1 comment

    • Pascal on July 15, 2023 at 6:02 AM

    No matter how much Conquest’s 2nd Law remains dismissed by those who still refuse to confront the evidence, those whom his 3rd Law identifies now glare back at them from the ultimate target institution. I pray we stand united in not needing to state its name.

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