“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
That’s a little Walt Whitman for you, America’s second-greatest poet, from “Song of Myself.”
Goodness gracious! Crikey! You cannot be serious!
We are gobsmacked that anyone would think we were siding with big government APEC yesterday. We got a bag full of e-mail from disappointed, irate readers who thought we were siding with The Man in his impending confrontation with APEC protestors. Let us clarify.
Government is the biggest property destroying bully of them all. We weren’t siding with it yesterday… or the day before… or tomorrow… or ever. We object, as a matter of principle, to anyone or any group that tries to use the political system and the power of legislation to tell us how to live our life. Live and let live is how we prefer our politics (if we must have a politics at all.)
In that respect, we don’t see much difference between the people who lead APEC and those who are chaining themselves to coal conveyor belts at the Loy Yang power station in Victoria. One group pursues an agenda that promotes the power of the Nation State and its cousins, large corporate interests. The other wants to impose a different set of rules based on different values. But they both basically want to tell us what to do.
Both groups agree that political power ought to be pursued as means to an end. With political power, you can coerce people-through legislation, or other means-to do things your way. We are against that. Sweep your own doorstep. Stick to your own knitting. Butt out of people’s lives. This is why we don’t participate in politics, don’t vote, and encourage other people not to vote too.
Of course, we live in the age of public spectacles, where everyone tells everyone what to do all the time. We probably indulge in unsolicited instruction in the DR too, but only in a negative sense. We tell people what they shouldn’t do.
While we’re on the subject though, how close are we to living a police state? By “we” I mean Australians, Americans, Britons….the whole lot.
Frankly, we find it appalling that here in Australia the Federal government spends millions of dollars on ads that depict actors as dead children (from drugs)… that show cops administering booze tests and drug tests to random drivers… and that interrupt our dinner with graphic pictures of disfigured smokers. We wish the government would get out of our living room.
What business does the government have lecturing, hectoring, and threatening people about private behaviour? And they spend tax payer money to boot! We’re not condoning smoking, drug use, or drink driving. But you don’t promote responsibility in a free society by making people less free, banning dangerous behaviour, and keeping a constant watchful eye on an increasingly large sphere of what used to be private activity.
And don’t even get us started on the anti-terrorism ads that encourage you to spy and inform on your neighbors. There are surely terrorist threats in the world. But you haven’t won much if you fight them by turning an open society into a surveillance society with a constant level of paranoia, distrust, and suspicion… all of it encouraged by the authorities.
What DO we believe? If you give your word, keep it. And don’t do anything to transgress on anyone else’s person or property. Those are two simple rules. Anything else on top of them is meddling.
As for all the other threats and dangers government promises to protect us from, it’s balderdash. There’s an assumption of risk when you get out of bed in the morning. Trying to make the world safer by restricting what people can do with their freedom is a bad trade.
Enough of the political philosophy though. If you want more of that, we suggest John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government.
Markets and Money