"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" ~ Ludwig von Mises
A Candle in the Darkness
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Those of us of a certain (old!!) age find it easy to be pessimistic about the future, and depressed by the present obvious disintegration of the America of our youth and young adulthood. Considering that garrulous gaggle of gangsters seeking the presidency is enough to ruin my day. The shrinking of the middle class--the productive class!!--convinces me that we are not advancing into the light, but retreating into the darkness. I thank God I am old, and will not have to witness the final descent into fiefdom!
Once in a while, however, something happens which gladdens my aging heart--even if it sheds no more light than a single flickering candle. I had such an experience yesterday, when I chanced upon an article about the growing number of people who do not have licenses to drive.
I know for a fact, and so do you, I’m sure, that an automobile may be driven safely and competently by anyone, whether he has obtained the permission (for a fee) of strangers to do so or not. What’s more, the automobile itself need not have the strangers' tag to perform perfectly well, although if such a tag is missing, it will be obvious to all, including those hired by the rulers to enforce their wishes, and add to their coffers. (Such enforcers claim to “protect and serve,” but it’s not us that they protect and serve!) On the other hand, if the driver—as opposed to the car itself--does not have the strangers’ permission, it will not be known unless, for some reason, the hapless driver is stopped by the authorities and asked to produce his permission slip, i.e., his “license.”
Some statistics: The percentage of people, of any age, with a driver’s license, has been decreasing from 2011 to 2014. For younger people, teens to middle-age, the drop in the percentage of those seeking driver’s licenses started in 1983. Of 20 to 24 year olds in that year, 92% had driver’s licenses. By 2014, that percentage was 77%. For middle-aged to older folks (69 and counting), 79.2% had driver’s licenses in 2011, and 79% in 2014: a small drop, percentage-wise, but a drop, nonetheless. What pleases me is that the biggest drop has occurred in the youngest age group. What is going on?
The author of the article which presented these statistics offered some explanations. It might be that we are simply traveling less. Or it could be the easy access to public transportation. Perhaps individuals simply don’t have time to apply for, and get, a license. Television and the Internet provide entertainment at home, so perhaps people needn’t go out as much. Are you favorably impressed with these conjectures? Or are you smiling at the author’s duplicity or naivete?
When questioned, 70% of non-licensed individuals said they planned to apply for a license within five years, while about 20% said they had no such plans.
It is interesting that the author of the article assumes that if one doesn’t have a driver’s license, it is because he doesn’t have a need or desire to drive. For instance, as noted above, their hunch is that non-licensed people are “traveling less,” or using “public transportation.” But the biggest drop in licensure is among young people. Is going to work or school “traveling”? Is “public transportation” widely available in suburban areas? (Do many young housewives take the bus to the supermarket?) Does it take too much time to get the license to drive, but not to license the automobile?
The question never asked is: Do the non-licensed persons drive? I suspect that they do, but would certainly not be apt to reveal that fact to some survey-taker curious about the decline in licensure.
It’s only a flickering candle, but I like to think it’s shedding a little light upon an embryonic development in our society. Can people—especially young ones--be waking up to the fact that government is an expensive, intrusive, and unnecessary burden? Not obtaining a license to drive is one small and relatively safe way to thumb one’s nose at the Rulers. It’s like using marijuana, which seems to have become so common that many states have abandoned, or relaxed, their laws against it. Maybe the driver’s license will be next to go. Or maybe not. Still, any act of defiance is laudable. Drive on!!