"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Liberal or Conservative?
Pop quiz. Is it liberal, or conservative, ideology to accept the following notions as true?
1. Education requires a mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years served in a juvenile detention institution in restitution for the crime (or in remedial treatment for the shameful psychological condition) of being a child.
2. Politicians may be crooks and buffoons, but it's the mark of a good citizen (and patriotic!) to vote for the right ones. How else are underprivileged ragamuffin millionaires supposed to get elected? Send this boy to Capitol Hill, or else!
3. Minding my own business is overrated, and my opinions of everyone else's business are being overlooked. There is no justice; there ought to be a law.
4. Two different organizations run protections rackets, numbers games, extortion schemes, and smuggling operations. One gang is the good guys because they're from the government: The other gang is bad, because they're the "Goodfellas."
5. There are good drugs and bad drugs. Good drugs are the ones that some authority wants you to take. Bad drugs are the ones some authority thinks you shouldn't take. Never mind your reasons, how well the drug works, or what the side effects are. Shut up and be thankful that a smart person knows what is good for you.
6. Health care should be affordable, as long as it's regulated to the point that you are a guinea pig for social engineers and high-minded public servants who didn't meet the Mob's ethical standards. It's your body, but the public health is at stake. The public can deprive individual bodies of medical freedom to protect the well being of the public as a "collective body." This makes sense.
7. It is desirable to take rights away from everyone as individuals, so that we may exercise rights collectively on behalf of everyone's common welfare. By this process, the ability to exercise those rights ends up in the hands of a few people who thereby acquire power over the many, but this isn't nascent tyranny: It's political representation.
8. Government's mandate is to restrain our freedoms just enough so that people can remain free without trampling on each other's rights. Since government tramples by and for (and on) the people, no individual is accountable for it or has recourse against it. Everyone may stomp on everyone else with impunity via politics, with no place for the tramplee to turn for redress, and we're all magically safer from aggression as a result. This is a public service, for the collective good.
9. People who acquire political power are superior to the average person. Political power may corrupt, but corruption is a necessary evil. God, of course, would heartily approve of our government; after all, He created the Kudzu vine, too.
10. The world is a dangerous place, thanks to foreign governments, and international conflicts that would be difficult to maintain without government interference, so government must occupy itself in making the world safer for governing. The answer to problems created by coercive government is always more government. People left to their own resources might eventually work out ways to live in peace with each other, and that would be a tragedy for those who use conflict as an excuse to govern. Government as world savior . . . there's a portentous revelation.
There are no right answers, of course, just your own.
More thoughts of my own regarding each of the above points:
(1) Education: Time off is a reward for bad behavior; that's known as dropping out, or "expulsion" occasionally. Good behavior is rewarded by two, four, or more years in college, for which the lucky student will pay through the nose if he can't get other people to do it for him. Education is not "for the children," it's in spite of them. Schools actually encourage cheating: the teacher provides the answer, and the student remembers it, or fails. If you want good grades, pay rapt attention in class. If you'd rather think for yourself, try falling asleep in class early and often.
(2) Politicians: ("Vote, damn you. How dare you turn your nose up at our system! It's democracy. Don't you know how lucky you are to live in a democratic society?") Yawn. Wake me up when it's over and the lying is ready to lie down on the lam. I'm a damned vegetarian, so I'll pass on the pork roast, thank you. Perhaps I should add that I'd much rather find spam in my inbox than find bureaucrat's chops on my e-mail.
(3) Minding one's business, or not: The inevitable remedy for such discrepancies is government intervention, which enables disproportionate representation to begin with. As I've said elsewhere, government is the mechanism by which you mind my business and I mind yours.
(4) Gangs and governments: Both types of crime run in families. Both sets sport business suits, at least in the movies. And both own far more weapons, and wealth, and wield more political clout, than they'd want to leave in anyone else's hands. Protections rackets, numbers games, extortion schemes, and smuggling operations = police and military; lotteries; most taxes, fees and licenses; tariffs and some taxes.
(5) Good drugs, bad drugs: Eventually the religiocrats will just institute license fees for dispensing enlightenment and get it over with. It's a crime to practice medicine without a license, but it's lawful to practice a license without medicine. Thanks, but I may visit the shaman . . . there might be stitches of doctor/patient confidentiality left in covert operations. It's the Hippocratic oath, not the Hypocritic oath, in case that's the source of some confusion: "Let your food be your medicine," Hippocrates once said. Let government interfere in either choice, and freedom will need a long-term care policy. A catastrophic Santa Claus, with his list of naughty and nice girls and boys, is coming to a chimney near you soon. Don't leave him milk and any old cookies; he'll want your Oreos, high potency vitamins, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.
(6) Public health: There's a grand concept. The sum of the parts exceeds the total of the parts. So let's cripple all of the parts first, and see what they add up to afterward. Right now, politicians might as well be writing prescriptions. Take two aspirin, and call your representative in the morning . . . tell him you'd feel better if you could just smoke a joint, and see how fast your name goes into an FBI file. It's public health that matters, not public opinion. Thank heavens for experts, who are notoriously known to be infallible (and unanimous) on weighty subjects such as the benefits and hazards of coffee, wine, cholesterol, dietary fats, chocolate, mammograms, smallpox vaccines, and marijuana. Do not pinch yourself: every one will say ouch, now that we've become a "collective body."
(7) Individual versus collective rights: When the public has gained rights, the individual has lost them. We can't all have what no one of us has; remember "sharing toys" as a child? There's a reason why the state wants to coerce us all into state-run systems of education, "social security," and socialist medicine: It's simply good business administration. These are "benefits," all right, but they benefit the state and its corporate sponsors as they're intended to do, not their unlucky recipients. Think of the scheme as 'human industrial agriculture,' like in The Matrix.
(8) Government mandate: Government and Liberty operate under diametrically opposed assumptions; the former assumes that a man is incapable of governing himself, and the latter presumes that he is. If government would govern itself, it could conceivably serve a useful purpose. A government that restrains the people, but cannot restrain itself, has so far outworn its originally intended usefulness that it presents an immediate danger to the people.
(9) Political power: Unassuming people don't want to assume the burden of choice or responsibility for anyone else, because they take their own burdens seriously. People who presume so far as to take on responsibility for anyone other than their own dependents have exchanged the principle of personal obligation for the prospect of political entitlement. Like skin on the human body, personal boundaries or national borders must be porous enough to breathe, while remaining intact. Politics form a smothering layer on either, like a winter coat worn in the summertime.
(10) Government as world savior: Religious freedom is a grand theory. Nothing would erode hierarchical social structures more swiftly than true freedom of belief, and both church and state are structured vertically. Church and state will never be entirely separate, because they are fraternal twins. When government claims a mandate from God, or a church forms a state, the difference between church and state has dissolved into insignificance. The one serves up Liberty to the people much the way the other serves God to the people. Salome once served up John the Baptist, too: Today, one might imagine her saying, "Here's your head on a silver platter, sir; would you like flies to go with that?"