A Funhouse, or A Madhouse? - By Catfarmer - Price of Liberty
A Funhouse, or A Madhouse?
By Catfarmer
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February 23, 2004

Political activism leads people to run amok like bulls (or donkeys and elephants) in the china shop of precious individual liberties. I've learned that from experience, and from the bull's perspective I can vouch for the fact that it's exhilarating exercise - I can also vouch for the china's more fragile perspective. Speaking as someone who's witnessed enough destruction of priceless liberties, this doll isn't prepared to take any more bull.

Political thinking encourages us to wrestle with our inner demons as though they lived next door. Instead of tackling the responsibility of overcoming whatever evil spirit (lust, avarice, envy, sloth, violence, etc) lurks within us we grapple with distorted reflections mirrored by others, and in the political house of mirrors we find plenty of reflections to grapple with. It's easy to believe that one is fighting the enemy with so many fellow shadow wrestlers to exchange hostilities with, but what if we're all wrestling with bogus adversaries because we fail to recognize the true enemy? What if the one truly dangerous adversary that any one of us has were resourceful enough to keep us all too busy fighting amongst ourselves to pay him any genuine attention?

What if all the gangs of one rumbling in the political house of mirrors just walked out? Where does a TV show go when nobody watches it anymore?

One group fights for legalization of some drugs while another fights for prohibition of some drugs. Some interest groups fight for subsidized drug benefits and price caps while other interest groups fight for maximized profits and protectionist policies. These groups serve the same master - they all want to use the force of law to achieve their ends. Even the most admirable ends fail to justify coercive means. Force of law only applies where political muscle backs the means: you and I have a choice between backing the means of force, or contributing to the weight of resistance that political muscle must work against in order to exercise its coercive power. You and I can "work with it," or work against it. You can't pull the strings but you can put more strain on them.

One group fights for socialized medicine while another fights for capitalist medicine, but neither group seems willing to settle for less than dominion over the marketplace: a free market would allow people to choose without coercing anyone into a system he does not accept. Government specializes in squelching spontaneous, voluntary systems and replacing them with centrally planned, mandatory systems: Any system it touches will turn bad, no matter how good it was. The government will quickly make the worst of the best system: a free market will gradually make the best of the worst system.

One group fights for the state to recognize gay marriage while another group fights for the state to protect an essentially religious institution. To the extent that the religious institution of marriage has become a legal institution it has infringed on the civil rights of gay couples. To the extent that the state regulates marriage, the religious institution of marriage has been lawfully annulled. The most personal, intimate commitment that two people can make does not leave a lot of room for political interference. When politics interferes with intimate relationships, intimate relationships will interfere with politics.

One group fights to keep prayer in the schools; another fights to keep prayer out of the schools. One group fights for the teaching of evolution, another fights for the teaching of creation, and many people who remain quiet in the disputes would prefer that each theory or practice receive honest consideration. If people on either side who won't tolerate and accommodate choices they disapprove of had appropriately intolerant, unaccommodating schools to cater to them, children might have playgrounds again instead of battlegrounds at school. Perhaps politics, like sex and drugs, are one of the things conscientious adults ought to refrain from doing in front of impressionable children.

One group advocates laws against abortion while deploring the state's interference with parental rights. Another group advocates state interference with parental rights while deploring any regulations that restrict abortion. Some people find this confusing.

One group advocates federal laws to protect the environment, thus endangering property rights: then they stage protests when the government entrusted to protect the environment drops bombs with depleted uranium on Iraq, uses eminent domain to evict homeowners for a nuclear power plant, or builds a toxic waste incinerator. Another group advocates war to protect us from terrorism: then they protest when the government entrusted to protect homeland security offers citizenship benefits to illegal immigrants, escalates the national debt to finance the war, or drafts their expensively educated sons and daughters to fight in it. Some people might find this amusing if it weren't tragic.

A free market is the aggregate product of choices that free individuals take responsibility for. A government is the compiled result of discarded choices that people refused to take individual responsibility for and/or denied their neighbors liberty to take responsibility for. A free market is the antithesis of centralized government. Politician, govern thyself.

Less government comes from less interference in other people's lives, loves, businesses, and habits: more government comes from more interference. More individual freedom means less freedom to play government with other people's lives. Got that? Good.

Catfarmer has her own website too! Lots of interesting things to see.

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