Sunday, November 18, 2012

Government's "Cold" Reality

Warning: You may be reading the words of a criminal.  The rate at which the government is eroding our liberties is striking and by the time you read this post, you may be breaking the law.  You have been warned...

There may be some of you who have noticed that my postings are done this semester.  (If you haven't, that's not a big deal.)  The reason why my postings have dropped off is because I have been ill for most of the semester.  I think that I may have been well for 2 -- 2.5 weeks  over the past 15 weeks.  I think that there are several factors, like the children going to a school for the first time.  (Last year, we home schooled.)  Nevertheless, when one in the family is starting to begin the path of recovery, another of one picks up something new and then I catch it.  

Today, I have a nasty cough.  My son also has a persistent cough.  This weekend my wife has come down with something new--a sore throat and a fever.  (I am looking forward to getting that one next!)

As the least sick driver in the house, it is my duty to go out and get the medicine.  And here we come to it.  My state, North Carolina, has decided that we are not to be trusted to buy pseudophedrine HCL.  First, we must show IDENTIFICATION to be registered in a statewide system.  We don't have to show ID in Presidential elections where we choose who will be the most powerful man on the planet, but we have to present ID for a stuffy nose!  Second, the amount we are allowed to buy is limited.  There were two boxes I was considering.  The first was just straight up pseudophedrine.  The other box was a mix of pseudophedrine and a sinus pain reliever.  My wife frequently has sinus troubles and I thought that she might like that.  So I, as a normal consumer, chose both.  

And then the machine chimed.

I would be breaking the law to buy two boxes!  Oh heavens!  How dare I want something that deals with multiple symptoms and something else that only deals with a stuffy nose.  I know!  How dare I think that I shouldn't over-medicate myself while providing multi-symptom relief for my wife!

The government can explain how they are just looking out for me.  They can explain how through this law they are cracking down on Meth makers and users.

All of these reasons are really irrelevant.  What it comes down to is the relation between the individual and the state.  Who owns my body?  Am I sovereign over myself?  The Classical Liberal/Modern Libertarian says that as long as I am not violating another's rights, then I should be free.  I should have control over what I put into my own body.

The political landscape is changing.   For the past several years, it was argued that the U.S. is a Center-Right country.  I think that most people live their lives conservatively.  I think that most people want the national government to be fiscally responsible and fiscally sound.  I also think the perception on individual rights is on the rise.  In the last election (Nov. 2012), marijuana for recreational use has passed in a few states.  The traditional American position was a fairly Libertarian one.  Historically, we don't see government interfering with personal choices until the Progressive Movement joined with the Prohibitionists. 

The lesson learned in the 1920s was that while alcoholism is bad, making alcohol illegal was worse.  Being addicted to drugs is bad, but drug war is worse.  It is time to stop the Nanny State.

It is time to have a serious discussion on the fundamental nature of the relationship between the individual and the State.  Does the state derive its powers from the people?  Or do people derive their rights from the State?  Are individuals sovereign to be masters of their own lives?  Or is the State the master of us all?

The cold reality is that the state is force.  Before a government can ever do, it must first take.  It is either force in action or it is the threat of force.  It cannot make us better people.  It cannot make us a more moral people.  It cannot make us thrifty, hard-working and generous.  

The choice that every generation must answer is how much government shall we have.  To sit on the sidelines is to make a choice.  To not think about it, is to make a choice.  To not read and engage is to make a choice.  To conclude, I turn to the words of the great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises:

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others.  And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction.  Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle.  No one can stand aside with unconcern: the interests of everyone hang on the result.  Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.


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