Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Fixers

One of the most offensive things about the society in which I later found myself was its monstrous itch for changing people. It seemed to me a society made up of congenital missionaries, natural-born evangelists and propagandists, bent on re-shaping, re-forming and standardising people according to a pattern of their own devising—and what a pattern it was, good heavens! when one came to examine it. It seemed to me, in short, a society fundamentally and profoundly ill-bred. A very small experience of it was enough to convince me that Cain’s heresy was not altogether without reason or without merit; and that conviction quickly ripened into a great horror of every attempt to change anybody; or I should rather say, every wish to change anybody, for that is the important thing. The attempt is relatively immaterial, perhaps, for it is usually its own undoing, but the moment one wishes to change anybody, one becomes like the socialists, vegetarians, prohibitionists; and this, as Rabelais says, “is a terrible thing to think upon.” – Albert Jay Nock from Memoirs of a Superfluous Man

Should it come about that we are ever freed from the horrors of standardized and multicultural uniformity, I would like to see added to the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Amendments a codicil that states something to the effect of:  The first and most fundamental right of any man is the right to be left the hell alone, to remain unfixed, unformed, and even uninformed, if he so chooses, so long as he physically harms no one else nor attempts to impose his will upon another who has exactly the same right to be untroubled by neighbors and governments. 

 It is in this idea that freedom lies and hardly anywhere else.  A government that attempts to change its citizens for their own good -- whether by brute force, bureaucratic intimidation, harassment, or taxation, is a tyrannical government.  If a man cannot decide for himself what it is that suits him, even if that is harmful to his health or well-being, he is a slave. 

Of course, with this liberty comes a natural and inevitable responsibility.  A man who chooses his own poison should bear his own burdens.  To use again one of my favorite examples, if I crack my skull because I chose not to wear a motorcycle helmet or smash my bones because I did not armor-up then I should be the one to pay for that indiscretion and not be allowed to foist it off on the public treasury.  I can pay either out of my own pocket, by my insurance premiums or with my life and/or health according to my resources and my prior provision. 

If it suits someone, out of Christian principles, a kind heart or some other motivation, to offer charity to another, to give his or her money to benefit this cause or that one, they should be able to do so of their own free will.  As we often say, there is no virtue in paying one’s taxes at gunpoint.  And there is no difference between a government-sponsored thief and a free-lancer who takes your wallet, except that the free-lancer probably disperses his loot with more wisdom and to better benefit.

I think drugs are harmful to people – including most prescription drugs, but the abuse of various substances is not nearly as harmful as the consequences of prohibition.  Not only is there an increase in smuggling, black-marketing, murder and violence by the drug traffickers, there is the corrosive violence done to human freedom and our God-given rights.  We undergo all kinds of intrusive searches.  SWAT teams knock down doors.  Property is routinely confiscated.

Yes, drugs like meth and heroin are extremely destructive.  Cocaine will kill you.  Reefer will make you fat and lazy, as will beer.  But trying – futilely – to keep people from using and abusing these substances further enables tyranny and wastes billions of dollars for enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration.  Of course, the police unions, the legal system, and the prison industry would suffer a great loss of personnel and revenue, so we continue to “war” against some drugs while the streets of Mexico and Colombia and the inner cities of the U.S. run red with blood. 

My suggestion is that people like me who do not care for nicotine, alcohol, drugs, or loose women abstain from those things and otherwise mind our own business.  We might not be able to clear the deficit solely by stopping pointless prohibitions, but it would be a good start. 

Speaking of organized and regimented stupidity, as I have noted, I had to take a plane up to the Northeast last week.  I put my knives in my checked bag and was herded through the checkpoint, beltless and bootless.  My wife bought a new piece of luggage for the trip.  As we were packing to come home, I put one of those small luggage locks on the main compartment of the check-bag.  She stuffed some of her extra make-up and a high-end eyeglass case (fortunately, not her glasses) into an exterior compartment on the bag and asked me put a lock on it as well.  I did.  When we got home, the TSA had left us a nice form letter explaining why they had destroyed the zipper on that pocket and stolen my wife’s cosmetics and case.  – OK, they didn’t admit to stealing her stuff, but they did.  However, because they are the government and not a private airline, there’s not a lot I can do to punish them.   Even if I refuse to ever fly again – a distinct possibility – I will hurt only the airline, the private sector.  The government bureaucracy with its sanctioned and enabled theft, waste, and destruction will, like the cloying and annoying theme from the Titantic, go on. 

And, by the way, how much money do we waste on the TSA every year? 

Fixing people sure gets expensive, doesn’t it?

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