Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quote of the Day — Douglas Adams (1980)

Douglas Adams
(source: Wikipedia)
Douglas Adams was a hilariously funny writer. His "Hitchhiker's Guide" 'trilogy' (actually five books) is, I think, a must-read.

Still, amidst the humor, you find a few quasi-philosophical quandaries, worded as only Mr. Adams can. This one is from the second of the "Hitchhiker's Guide" series, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe":
The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must
want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.


Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?
It's a good question. One that we still haven't found the answer to, and likely never will.

On one hand, the best leaders rarely seek out positions of leadership, and accept them reluctantly. No sane, trustworthy person wants to be in power over others; it's an immense responsibility, and an incredible hassle! But on the other hand, someone has to do the job. And on the shooting hand, how can we elect decent candidates if anyone who self-selects, by definition, cannot be trusted?*

Maybe it's just my cynicism after this last election, but.... If you figure this one out, let me know.

Stay safe.
* - In Douglas Adams' novels, this was easily accomplished: the true ruler of the galaxy was so bat-$#!+ crazy that he had no idea he was, in fact, ruling anything.


  1. Select Congress and the POTUS and VPOTUS randomly from a database of qualified citizens. No political parties, absolute term limits, and no laws are valid unless they apply to everyone equally. That would be a good start and I bet that the average Joe would do a decent enough job.

    Beats the hell out of corrupt, egotistical and arrogant, tone deaf, power hungry wolves in power now.

    1. I heard once - but haven't been able to verify - that the Romans educated their children and young men to have a basic understanding of just about everything they (as a culture) knew. Thus, if an aqueduct broke, they could pick a few guys to fix it, and they'd do a decent enough job. Any guys - "You, you, and you. Broken aqueduct, a quarter mile north. Go fix it."

      Think about that. An entire culture of people with enough understanding of physical science and nature, that they could pick anybody for important jobs and expect them to do well. That's where America should be, but we've fallen woefully short.

  2. Our Founding Fathers were well aware of what smucks elected leaders could be. As classically trained, learned men, they had five millennia of human tragedy to draw from. That's why they devised an unique, intricate, exquisitely balanced system of government -- one that has stood the test of hundreds of years. They codified their system in a Document called The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    That's why many of us are in bitter, clingy opposition to the current occupant of the White House - who fits the Adams' Postulate to a tee.