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Friday, January 2, 2015

Who’s Running the Country?

Though lots of groups think they should be running the show, the truth is nobody’s in charge.

Tom Steyer (left) and David Koch


Jonah Goldberg
There’s an old joke in the newspaper business, now immortal on the Internet:
“The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand the New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie-chart format. . . . The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country, and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much . . . ”

And so on. The list gets updated from time to time, and it usually includes, “The National Inquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.” You get the point.But the joke is on us. You see, no one is running the country.
I don’t mean that as a knock on President Obama. No president “runs” America because the government doesn’t run America — and the president barely runs the government. He can scarcely tell his own employees what to do. Civil-service laws and union rules make it darn near impossible to fire even grossly incompetent employees for anything short of pederasty or murder.
I don’t have the space to rehash the Federalist Papers, but at the federal level there are three branches of government and each one monkey-wrenches the other, all the time. Meanwhile, do you know how many local governments there are in the United States?
Time’s up, and you probably guessed too low. There are, by the Pew Charitable Trust’s count, just over ninety thousand of them (90,056 to be exact).
What the joke gets right is that lots of groups think they should be running the show. But they all resent the fact that they’re not. From Ivy League eggheads to Wall Street fat cats, everyone talks like a backseat driver to a driver who isn’t there.
In recent years, I’ve had the good fortune to get to know some famous .001-percenters. Guess what? Not only do they not run the country, but they’re often desperate to find out who does.

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