"In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There, Like the Weather
Exclusive to STR
January 26, 2007
Of late, I've been having some septic problems. I'm addressing the issue, of course, by having my whole system replaced (and as fortuitous as this whole thing is, it's well that it happen now; as of July, septic system replacements in Vermont come under direct State supervision and henceforth will run an additional $2,500 before so much as a shovel spade touches the ground -- another exsanguinating bureaucratic tactic), but meantime I'm hoping for little rain (yes, rain -- we're having one of the warmest winters on record here). You see, I care little whether or not it rains, until it begins to directly cause me problems. However, it occurs to me that this is the average person's reaction to government. Until or unless they suffer a direct injury at its hands, it's simply something that's there, like a rock, or a tree, or the weather.
Of course, there are many things that trivialize and belittle governments, and they are almost always hallmarks of what is great -- rather than small and maggot-ridden -- about the human spirit. Take as an example Vincent Van Gogh. What does humanity remember: the French government of his time -- its members, its misdeeds, its taxes and edicts and mindless, meaningless banter -- or The Starry Night? Van Gogh is forever. The government of his time, for all of beneficience it ever produced, might as well never have been. It is little recalled, and indeed, the French would have no doubt flourished from its total absence.
Let me impart to you a rather humorous story from my own experience. I was 19, and drinking beer in the back of a pickup truck with a friend of mine on a side street at Hampton Beach , New Hampshire (that oh-so lovely libertarian haven). The truck was "legally" parked, and we were making no noise whatsoever. In fact, the truck had a cap on the back, so we were almost entirely sheltered from public view. Abruptly, a police cruiser came screeching up behind us. To make a short story even shorter, we were dragged from the truck, thrown on the ground, and hauled off to jail. While in the pig station, I asked the arresting cop (who stated he'd responded to a phone call they'd received) what we were arrested for. "Causing problems" was his answer. When I pressed further, and asked what kind of problems either of us could've possibly been causing, he predictably parroted himself, falling back on the hollow weight of illogical authority: "Just . . . problems," he stated, pacing back and forth, clearly annoyed to be forced into actually questioning the motives behind his mindless job.
For my own part, I had no job at the time, nor any money, and had to borrow the $12 it took to get bailed out of there from my friend's stepfather (I paid him back a week later). So the City of Hampton picked up a cool $24 with virtually no effort, and the green-suited piggies got a great boost to their tender and juvenile egos, after which my friend Eric and I immediately resumed our partying (you can never let these jackbooted bastards have the final say). Here's the rich part: Two weeks later I landed a job working night shift at a 24 hour gas station and convenience store. No sooner had I started then I learned that my partner was a Hampton cop who had taken this as his part-time second job. It turned out not to be anyone I recognized from my arrest, so that part was a relief. Still, I was leery -- but he actually turned out to be a decent guy, all things considered. So much so, in fact, that one night scarcely a week into the new job, he showed up to relieve me (I was working the 3 to 11 shift at that point), and told me he had something for me before I went home. We went around to the parking area and he opened his trunk. There was a Hefty trash bag filled with over a case of beer in cans, condensating in the heat of a summer night.
"We broke up an underage party at the beach," he said, grinning. "I thought you'd like these to take home with you. They're even still cold."
I thanked him kindly, and put them in my own trunk. I then illegally transported that alcohol -- courtesy of Hampton PD -- back home around 11:30 at night, and stayed up drinking until dawn. I still don't know (or can't remember) how I stopped laughing long enough to finish every last one of those beers. Less than 3 weeks earlier, they'd arrested me for drinking one beer. Now they were illegally giving me over a case and telling me to go on, have fun. But government is really necessary, isn't it? Without it, the world would just stop spinning, wouldn't it? Hah!
Perhaps I'm not giving your average Joe or Jane enough credit; government is in many respects like the weather: Unpredictable, wanton, arbitrary. But it is also (in spite of the aforementioned saga's ultimate levity) arrogant, inconsistent, bumbling, capricious, and of no actual productive use or purpose whatsoever. Therein lies the major distinction. So you may not care if it rains, snows, or shines on any particular day (depending on where you live, of course; if it snows in Hawaii anywhere but on the mountaintops I might be just a wee concerned), but it is incumbent upon us to care about the fact that we are not wholly in control of our own property and very lives at the grasping hands of the government ghoul and its unending deviltry.
That gets me thinking about my septic tank again. Rainwater doesn't belong in there, of course. What does is most synonomous with bureaucrats . . . and the hideous mental conception known as government, which they so unquestioningly support.