"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
The Little Issues
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Although I have little interest in politics--except as outstanding examples of the madness of crowds--there was no avoiding them during the final days of the 2012 electoral campaigns. There seem to be two predominant campaign types.
There are the well-known negative campaign ads, in which candidate A points out the utterly baseless character, lack of qualifications, and unsavory connections of his opponent, candidate B, who, in his ads, makes exactly the same points about candidate A. It is probable that both of them are correct in their evaluations of each other.
Then there are the Big Issues: the collapsing economy, unemployment, foreign relations, etc. Each candidate assures us he can do something about these Big Issues, just as his predecessors in previous campaigns over the last few decades promised. Amazingly, however, the Big Issues are still with us, and bigger than ever. Time for a new direction—for CHANGE!!--unless you realize how risky it is to change horses in mid-stream.
Perhaps some day a candidate will talk about the little issues, which directly affect individuals, who otherwise tend to get lost, like grains of sand shifted by the tides. The Big Issues involve the “citizens,” the “people of this great land,” or just plain “Americans.” What about you and me, individuals?
I would like to hear something like this from a candidate for governor:
Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for coming to this rally tonight. I am going to talk to you about something which I, as governor, would have the power to change, and which, if elected, I most certainly will change. I speak of licensure.
I doubt there are many among us this evening who have not bought many licenses, and will be expected to do so again and again in the future. Why?
Do you know what a license is? It can be defined as “official permission.” Permission to do what? Something that, without the license, is against the law. Now in every case, the activity that is licensed is something you can do perfectly well without the license. The law requiring you to buy the license was written by the same people who are going to sell you the license. So in simple but accurate terms, you must buy the license because--they say you must. And it will cost you, of course!
For example: can a couple be married without the “official permission” of some bureaucrat? Could such a thing actually be possible? Would civilization as we know it survive if couples married without paying some bored clerk for a license? I’m willing to bet it would. You could argue that a marriage license is cheap, and purchased infrequently, so what’s the objection? Remember, government is all about psychology. You got that marriage license without questioning it, or even thinking about it. It was automatic. THAT is the objection: the subtle indoctrination into the idea that certain activities can only be carried out with government permission.
I have it on good authority that certain devil-may-care individuals have dared to drive their automobiles without a driver’s license. They did not crash, collide, explode, or run out of gas. I’m aware, of course, that the advocates of drivers’ licenses claim that the tests which an applicant must pass to obtain a license ensure that he will be able to operate his vehicle safely. Is that true? How do we know? Is the operation of an automobile such an exotic and unfamiliar exercise that a person, absent special driver’s education, could not master it? I think we should find out.
But if you want to drive, you must, at present, not only get permission to do so, but so must your automobile. It can only be permitted on the roads if given permission by the same listless clerk who granted you a license to operate it. Does this make your car safer, or more reliable? Are we too foolish or careless to drive and maintain our cars safely absent the approval of some officious stranger? Let’s put it to the test.
You may earn your living pursuant to a license if you are a doctor, lawyer, barber, or a host of other occupations. The excuse for the license in these instances is, we’re told, to protect the public, which, as we suggested above, is thought to be incapable of protecting itself. As a young physician, I questioned the need for licensing to an older colleague, who defended it, saying, “You wouldn’t want the paperboy on the corner removing cataracts now, would you?” Gosh, no! But need I worry about it? I don’t think many people would approach the paper boy to have their cataracts removed, and I don’t think many paper boys have a yearning to do eye surgery. And how likely would he be to obtain staff membership at a hospital absent a diploma from medical school, evidence of having completed an internship, and proof of residency training? Do we need one more document, issued by someone with as much medical training as the paper boy, to guarantee our medical safety? And, like the licenses to drive, the medical license must be renewed every year, decade after decade, as a cost, ultimately, of thousands of dollars. By the way, if a license is needed to cut hair, why not to be a Congressman? Who is protecting the public from incompetent representation?
So, my friends, here is what I propose: If you believe that purchasing some stranger’s permission--i.e., “license”--is desirable, go right ahead and purchase it. Display it proudly. No one will stop you. If you think that the whole business of licensure is just another example of needless government meddling--at a nice profit, of course--then skip the whole thing. No one will harass you about it.
This system I am proposing is a small first step toward an ultimate goal: freedom. It is strange and frightening, but also exciting and exhilarating. I’d say more, but I notice that several people have fainted, and others appear to be in a state of shock. More at a later date, if you can take it. Thanks again for coming.