I had an interesting run-in last night with a checker at wal-mart that solidified in my minds that the failings of our government probably aren't malicious. I'll explain below the fold.
The problem is, instead, one of simple human nature.
I just got a new job. It pays more than 50K/yr, but I'm not saying by how much. I'm not rich by any means, but I guess it's enough to squeak by, as a single guy living in Southern California. Even so, it's very easy to forget that there are people out there who have never seen that much money in their entire life.
I talked to a checker at wal-mart last night after work while I was picking up a couple of things (The Wal-Mart in Woodland Hills is quite nice - and before you get on me for going there, there aren't many places open that time of night) I mentioned that I was going to start night shift, and she asked me what I did, and I told her. She was curious about what I made, and I don't see any reason to keep that from most people except for the people I actually work for (which is why I'm not saying it here, I have no idea who is reading). I was surprised - she had no idea what being a salaried employee was about. She was an older lady, and had probably never had a salaried job. She even thought that they didn't withhold taxes on it.
And it hit me as I was walking out the door - there's a significant amount of people out there who are in her boat - and a significant amount that are in my boat. I've worked hourly positions before, but I've so far done pretty good in finding decent jobs (even if I've had to be unorthodox about it at times) and have no idea what it's like to struggle the same way a lot of people do in order to just keep food on the table. At least for any real amount of time, I have had a couple of periods of hard times. I do know what it's like to go hungry - I had a very poor childhood - so I guess I have a leg up on some people, but still...
How much worse must that be for people who were born into money?
I'm not excusing their attitudes or behavior, but I am making the point that those kinds of people don't really hate the poor - they just have no idea at all what it's really like to be poor. It's their problem, but it's not by any means malicious - simply ignorant.
Let me also meld this in with another observation on human nature - I work as a computer administrator. Computer administrators are trusted with full access to whatever machine it is that they are working on - and sometimes to machines that they really don't need root access to (root access is equivalent to administrator access on a windows machine). Sometimes people revoke that access. Even when you understand the reasons and even agree with them - it's sometimes like a slap in the face to have that access revoked. It's a purely emotional reaction - like a withholding of trust. You think, "I can be trusted to follow the rules, why should I be denied?"
I think lawmakers must have the same instinctual feelings. I think they create laws with loopholes that they can exploit - not maliciously, at least most of the time - but because they feel affronted that something they enjoyed is being taken away. It's a very human thing.
Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity - and these things are exactly the reason why there needs to be high turnover in the government - entrenched people get too used to the system and how it works, and when it changes (to their view, for the negative), they're more likely to fight back.