User:Woozle/United Members of Civilization/Government is broken
Imagine a car broken down by the side of the road, left with the engine running and the keys in the ignition. The tires which weren't slashed have been stolen, and hooligans are sitting behind the wheel pressing on the gas and laughing when it goes "VROOOM!".
That's possibly the least sinister metaphor I can come up with for the current functioning of the US government. A more accurate one might be a car which has been stolen by particularly well-connected hooligans who are now driving around town wrecking everything in sight (including the car) but with the police unwilling to take action because of "favors" owed.
I'll stick with the "side of the road" metaphor for now because the issue of corruption isn't directly relevant to my proposal; we can deal with the bad guys regardless of how evil and manipulative they may or may not be.
Many other governments are doubtless in worse condition than that of the US, but I'll stick mainly to talking about the US because it is the particular car in whose back seat I happen to be stuck. Nonetheless, my proposal leaves nobody out; it has the potential to deal with the problem of bad governance throughout the world.
Maybe government has always been kind of like this, and it's only now as we begin (via the Internet and other new technology) to collect and compare notes that we really start to notice it – but the US government at least certainly is not doing its job now, and is in considerable danger of wreaking serious (and possibly permanent) damage upon civilization if someone doesn't grab the steering wheel (and other vital controls like the brake). There's no clear sign that it plans to resume functioning anytime soon, and even if it does manage to do so there's no real reason to think the same hooligans won't steal the car again.
(Oops, I slipped into the "driving around wreaking havoc" metaphor, didn't I. Well, at least I didn't describe them as a bunch of bank robbers using a police car as a getaway vehicle. Such an extreme metaphor would be quite unnecessary because, as I said, it really doesn't matter whether they're calculating criminals or just idiots.)
And finally, even when we thought it was working about as well as could be expected, that was never terribly good. Governments (including ours!) have always acted in ways that are at times egregiously against the best interests of their citizens and against the best interests of civilization in general. In the past, it was much easier for governments to reflexively suppress knowledge of these acts, and to prevent that (ultimately) helpful but oh-so-irritating citizen feedback. Through new technology (largely the internet, but also less-obvious citizen empowerment implements such as cell phones and cheap digital cameras), we have become much more aware of these acts, but we still have to work through the old dinosystem -- which isn't really interested in evolving -- in order to do anything about it. It may be decades or more before the tools available now become an accepted part of the process, and we are rolling into a time when change is coming at an increasing pace. We need the agility these new tools can give us, we can't afford to sit around waiting for the system to pick them up by osmosis, and there isn't really any way (that I can see) to speed up their adoption within that system.