I obtained the image above from the online publication, Entrepreneur, which reported on how a ghostwriter made $200,000 during 2022, writing tweets for venture capitalists. The unnamed ghostwriter only had to work five hours a week to generate this income, so he had a "real job," too.
As it turns out, "political" ghostwriting may be a lot more lucrative than that. On April 15, 2023, The New York Times reported that ghostwriters working for New York Governor Kathy Hochul were paid two million dollars for providing her help on her annual State of the State address. That was "taxpayer" money, of course!
I remain enamored with the very American idea that our nation is dedicated to a system of democratic "self-government," in which we, ourselves, ARE the government. You will perhaps remember that President Abraham Lincoln put it this way in his Gettysburg Address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (emphasis added).
If there is dissatisfaction with government today (and I am assuming that you agree with me that there is a profound dissatisfaction with our government today - from all sides, and representing all political polarities), then isn't it true our dissatisfaction with our government springs from the fact that we don't, actually, practice what we preach, and that we don't do what we say we believe in? We can blame ourselves that we don't actually practice "self-government," but that doesn't stop us from being resentful of those who preside over the current governmental apparatus.
When I was an elected member of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, I talked about "self-government" a lot, and I contrasted "self-government" with a governmental structure that operated on the basis that we "elect the people, who hire the people, who run our lives."
Our political "leaders" were elected, presumably, because a majority of voters thought that they would have the ability actually to lead and to "govern," but as Governor Hochul has demonstrated, our elected leaders, ever more frequently, are apparently either unwilling or unable to do their job themselves. They can't even write their own speeches. They need to hire the people who then do the work, and those who get hired tend to be all too well paid.
It is my hypothesis that if we could relearn how "self-government" is actually supposed to work, a lot of the current political polarization and dissatisfaction with our government would quickly disappear. Furthermore, I think we might start making progress on the things we desperately need to do.
And how is "self-government" actually supposed to work?
"Self-government" requires that we get directly involved in government ourselves. That includes getting involved, ourselves, in the "politics" that gives us government. In other words, we need to reallocate our personal time, so instead of playing video games and watching films streaming to our television sets and computers, we need to go to public meetings, study governmental documents, meet with others on issues we care about, etc. If we want "self-government," then we need to recognize that "citizenship" requires work, and the work required is work that we need to do, ourselves. We can't hire "ghost-citizens" to do it for us.
Does that make sense? Unless that does make sense, then I think that our current situation is the inevitable default result, and we are going to continue to live with a system by which we "elect the people, who hire the people, who actually run our lives."
If we do that, it means that we're not going to be happy with our government, and we're going to end up paying $2 million when the Governor of a big state has to make a speech.
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