New -- 18 September 2004
Seniority Rules is both a title and a statement -- i.e., "rules" is both a noun and a verb (the latter being of the same category as "dem wid de gold rules").
When one first thinks of Seniority Rules, one is likely to think of the United States Congress or any number of parliaments the world over. The basic idea of any so-called "representative form of government" is that different segments of the population have individuals representing their interests and that -- amusingly enough -- these representatives are then assumed to have an equal voice in the House, Senate, Parliament, or whatever on matters of interest to the voting citizenry.
And yet the "rules" of these governing bodies inevitably include Seniority Rules. these rules make it very clear that some equal votes are more equal than others. The basic concept is that anyone with greater seniority has greater power. This may manifest in the more senior members of a congressional committee having the power, status, and special benefits which derive from being able to kill, deter, and force legislation. Meanwhile, the other members of the congress or parliament have less power, and the populace whom they represent are seriously under-represented in what is ostensibly an "equal representative" form of government.
Committee chairpersons in the U. S. Congress, for example, are the most senior member of the party in power, and these people do far more to control the Congress than any other group of equal numbers of membership. They set the agenda (i.e. what can be talked about or even discussed in any meaningful way), make the unilateral decisions on a variety of very important issues, and in general impede any positive actions on the part of members not in the rarefied atmosphere of party leaders. Meanwhile, the more junior members are held in check by the Majority and Minority Whips. These junior members are thus treated in somewhat the same way as the rowers chained to their oars in the warships of ancient Rome.
[Why would they call the second ranking member of a party in Congress a "Whip" if the title was not enormously descriptive?]
Supposedly, Seniority Rules are based on two fundamental premises. One is that it is more expedient to have a seniority rule in the selection of committee chairpersons and in the plums of ranking members of Congresses and Parliaments. This just simplifies the selection process -- and thus eliminates the possibly inefficient process of trying to determine a person's status on something as arcane as merits and abilities. The latter could become positively democratic -- and thus a free-for-all selection process. This has already been demonstrated in the election of Arnold as governor of California -- are there any questions about the advisability of such a method?
The second premise is that supposedly the more senior members of an organization are those with greater experience and wisdom. This is a pretty safe bet in cases where an individual is spending their first year or so in an organization whose traditions, rules and modes of operation are so arcane, mysterious, secret, and nonsensical that it may very well take a couple of years for the newcomer (i.e. "Freshman") to fully grasp the extent of the madness rampant among the previously initiated. This situation is a lead pipe cinch in the military, where young recruits spend most of their time bewildered and astounded by the immense and apparent lack of rhyme or reason in almost any aspect of the organization's endeavors.
However... once a novice has been in an organization for a reasonable period of time, it is entirely possible that that individual may actually learn the ins and outs of the group and quickly ramp up their level of expertise to make them truly equal participants in the business of the organization. Of course, anyone capable of winning an election is unlikely to have the brains to "ramp up their level of expertise" in anything but winning elections, and thus the possibilities of becoming equal are only true to the extent that every other member of the organization is a member by virtue of winning an election. This is known as the "Dumbing Down of Congress".
The real key, however, is that seniority does NOT imply greater wisdom or ability in the running of an organization. Nor does it imply greater compassion, loyalty, responsibility, or any other positive attribute one might hope for in someone who has greater power, status, and the keys to the executive washroom. Seniority often means diddley in such cases. In fact, in congresses and parliaments the elected members are often totally devoid of any positive attributes -- save the ability to win, steal, or otherwise acquire a seat in the governing body.
Reality being what it is -- probably an illusion, but a persistent one -- one must never assume that the more senior members of congress or parliaments have any greater claim to intelligence, knowledge, or ability. Seniority does not in most cases equate (or even approximate) wisdom or capability. The difficulty is that the combination of Whips (and supposedly chains) which bind lesser members, along with the basic ingredients of acquiring membership does not lead to open, investigative, or considerate, so-called leaders. Such a lack of openness results in the antithesis of wisdom.
Furthermore, any individuals who rely on Seniority Rules for their power, status, and washroom keys are inevitably willfully ignorant. Open mindedness is as far removed from view as Pluto from Earth. As has been said elsewhere, any civilization requiring leaders (and in particular those based on seniority) is not worthy of the name.
Of course, congress and parliaments are not the only realms where seniority rules. Both do serve as really excellent examples of dysfunctional organizations, but one of the reasons for their gross dysfunctionality (I just love that word!) is that seniority rules are part and parcel of a very bad way to run any organization, group, or even a society.
And that's where the problems becomes even more manifest: in society.
For example, if senior citizens have certain rights and privileges, do junior citizens have the same equal rights and privileges? Don't count on it. Social Security, Medicare, senior discounts, and a whole host of other aspects make it very, very clear that while seniors have the bulk of the wealth and the highest incomes, they are still given special treatment from discounts on products and services to welfare and tax breaks. Think of it as the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) enthusiastically and eagerly endeavoring to steal as much money from the junior Pauls in order to pay (benefit) the senior Peters. It's the Ponzi Scheme of Social Insecurity in all of its infamous glory.
The end result is that junior citizens fund the senior citizens, even though on average, the seniors have three times the income and five times the net worth of the juniors.
How do they get away with it? Because they are retired and have the time and money to devote to politics -- and woe be the politician who does not cater to one of the most aggressive and persistent voting blocs in the electorate. In effect, the no-longer contributing to society members have an unconscionable excess in political power to direct the largesse of an out-of-control government to their own pocketbooks.
The seniority rules aspect -- even when not considered "rules" per se -- permeate society like a flu virus. It's more than enough to raise a junior citizen's temperature and give them chills. Seniors in their quest for security at any cost have ensured that they will live much better at the expense of their children and grandchildren. As the young child, when given a box of chocolates from her grandfather, and simultaneously appraised of the state of economic debt, environmental degradation, and military involvements in foreign countries (which are always fought by juniors and never seniors) which is being left as her inheritance:
The true horror of seniority rules makes itself felt in the leadership category, where the average individual gives up all claims and rights to sovereignty in order to follow someone whose sole claim to fame is based on a highly selective public persona. It is the following of bold, cowboy style leadership which results in the disasters of 9-11-2001, and the even more disastrous aftermath of killing thousands of foreigners and placing thousands of American juniors in harm's way -- resulting in at last count over a thousand dead soldiers (not counting the thousands seriously injured who died later of their injuries). And what is the basis for such actions which so many so blithely follow?
One theory is provided by Michael C. Ruppert in a speech to the Commonwealth Club. Essential to the theory is the belief by many neo-conservatives and adherents to the Religion of Dominionism that the ends justifies the means -- no matter how horrific and immoral the means. Seniority rules is thus just a means to an end.
In the interim, it is essential to remember that bold, cowboy style leadership which is solid as a rock is often just as dumb as a rock.
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