You don’t have to be a dedicated libertarian, an anarchist, a front porch radical, an anti-government adherent, or a tea party insurgent to take exception to the government’s coercive political process that seeks to master you and crush your independence. All you have to do is recognize how the political system functions and determine the legitimacy of its tactics by applying some really basic analysis and concepts.
For instance, let’s say I want you to stop smoking. I don’t like cigarettes, and I personally believe that smoking is an unpleasant and injurious habit. As a non-coercive individual, I may sit with you and explain why I think you should not smoke, and hopefully, I will use facts, or even opinions, to try and persuade you toward my view. Whether I am critical, or gentle, or even unkind, I am peacefully trying to influence your judgment on the matter. I have not used threats of punishment under the force of law, nor have I assembled a gang of armed bandits behind me to impose my views on you. If, on the other hand, you ask me to leave you alone, I’ll abide and retreat from your presence because anything less would be harassment, or aggression against your person. Voluntary human interactions that entail persuasion are rather simple in structure and are subject to some very necessary rules that shun aggression or force.
Now let’s pretend I’m the government. As the declared ruler of the territory in which you live, I have a monopoly on power and force. I introduce the laws that rule the territorial nation, and then I vote on those laws or sign executive orders making them valid. I also interpret those same laws, and then I enforce them through my interconnected arms of law enforcement and agency regulation. Then I build multiple levels of authority that reside within various layers of my government structure to act as propaganda arms to disseminate the information that I want you to believe. I pay for this by taxing you by way of decrees passed by your elected representatives who have been influenced by powerful special interests that give them vast sums of cash to work in their best interests while they convince you that it is you who they are working to support.
By using my power to tax you, I can take as much money as I need to fund my racket that includes assorted Ponzi schemes disguised as benefits for citizens; valuable alliances with big businesses; redistributive "justice"; gender and racial equality; the funding of special interests that are supportive of my agenda, and all the usual machinations associated with government. In doing so, I employ many people who maintain a robust allegiance to me because I enable them to become more powerful, more entitled, and perhaps even more wealthy if they continue to stay on with me. The top people get to take away many of the best spoils while the rest of them are assured of dependable employment and cozy post-work arrangements for their service and dedication. Almost all of them are guaranteed lifetime employment somewhere within the public sector or with our most important business partners who have become an unofficial extension of my ruling entity.
Because taxation is directed at individuals who can readily observe the consequences of my policies, when my stifling tax policies become unpopular and engender hostility among the masses I turn to my monetary policy panacea because the effects of tampering with the money supply aren’t immediately visible to most of my citizens. Fortunately, I hold a monopoly on oversight for the nation’s money supply and I direct its monetary policy, thereby giving me the power to steer the economy in ways that will be beneficial to me, my executive authorities, and my cronies that are scattered throughout corporate America, state and local government, and citizen groups that support my regime. Furthermore, I have various tools at my disposal to stimulate the money supply, and this provides me with a bigger pot from which I can fund my various objectives.
I also tend to do things that take your mind off the really unpleasant stuff that’s going on, and some people refer to that as the "bread and circus" tactic. This refers to a practice whereby Roman political authorities bestowed free wheat, olive oil, and entertainment upon the citizens so that they could distract them from their civic duties, win their approval, and gain incremental control over them. In the modern era, having the Federal Reserve at my disposal allows me to create the illusion of wealth by manipulating the money supply through policies that corrupt the monetary system and misrepresent the markets. When you, along with the rest of the masses, are provided with supplementary prosperities with the aid of easy and unlimited credit, no matter how bogus or temporary, this enables all of you to binge on consumer goods and satisfy your demand for instant gratification. This promotes the illusion of widespread prosperity and enhanced personal wealth. Remember how happy you were to pay exorbitant prices for homes during the housing bubble because you believed it made you wealthier? Happy, enriched citizens are calm and submissive subjects, which is how I prefer things to be.
You have heard about the so-called "liberal" media bias in this country? Perhaps there was a time when that rang partially true, but it hasn’t been that way in a long time. Fortunately, the media tends to hold an establishment bias, and they are all very good at straddling the line so as not to detract from the real mission of influencing the bulk of the masses to support my overall premise for good governance and central planning. Every time I exercise powers that go beyond my constitutional authority, the media that works in my favor refers to this as a "bold move" or a "sweeping measure." This makes me sound really courageous and thorough. It gives the appearance that I have gone above and beyond what’s considered sufficient so that you and your fellow citizens may experience some of the protection, relief, guidance, and expertise that I may provide for you. All of the suggestions, orders, rules, laws, and regulations that I bestow upon you are for your own good, though you might think otherwise. I have many experts working night and day to help you realize your full potential as a human being and a citizen of the United States.
Sometimes you may think you don’t need my help. In spite of that, I am committed to convincing you that my assistance is an essential ingredient for avoiding future crises. If you are not confident in my motives, I will just go ahead and get things done as quickly as possible so that I may avoid closer scrutiny from all the restless souls who might otherwise question my intentions. It is those insubordinate types who can really mess things up for honest Americans who just desire to be taken care of and provided for, and so it is my duty to do whatever it takes to prevail over these unruly detractors.
Let me get one thing clear — I don’t like confrontation and I am not used to resistance to my ideas. In fact, it is typically people from certain geographical areas or particular ideological groups who have a tendency to stir up trouble based on their own personal outrage and prejudices. Accordingly, these people are likely to oppose my policies to assist other unfortunate Americans in their efforts to gain equal access at all levels of society. They resist my attempts to make life better for all of us because their figureheads — the conservative media and so-called liberty organizations — have convinced their disciples that my plan to make America a better place is a threat to their way of life. They cling to things like guns and religion as symbols of freedom, and they invoke scare tactics and historical fabrications about their American ancestors in order to deter you from supporting me and my programs.
It is unfortunate, but these people do have a loud voice, and lately, they are able to grab a lot of the limelight with their numerous public remonstrations.
I am, however, working to get this situation under control so that the rest of you may be heard and have your say in such important matters as your health. I am working to suppress the combatants and their anger and make sure that the lies they are telling others about my strategies to re-shape America and bring forth change are properly diffused. I will do anything I can to insure that all of you, as Americans, get what you are entitled to receive in spite of the opposition that wants to keep you from your right to enjoy the same good fortune they possess. So please, count on me for I will triumph over the barricades that lie between you and a more affluent and freer America.
At this point, let’s get back to smoking cigarettes, and how much I dislike them. I tend to think that since people, as a rule, don’t know what is best for them, it is up to me to produce the statistics and information that explain the crisis, and then bring forth experts with solutions that will solve that crisis. Cigarettes, we know, kill people — at least 443,000 each year, with another 50,000 or more dying from secondhand smoke. People are dying because of smoke inhaled in restaurants, bars, and all other public places where smoking is still allowed. I, along with my fellow public servants who take responsibility for your welfare, have already taken steps to ban smoking in certain cities and businesses where citizens are at the greatest risk. But that’s not enough. We need to go a step further and make it illegal for others to endanger your health while they declare they are exercising their right to do with their bodies as they please.
Let me be clear in saying that you have a right to go into a restaurant, a bar, a pool hall, a small proprietor’s shop, or anywhere similar, without having to breathe in someone else’s toxin. Don’t let anyone think they can deny you that right by appealing to age-old contentions about property ownership, self-ownership, or any other ludicrous notions. Additionally, research from Stanford University has shown that exposure to toxic tobacco fumes outdoors is another gigantic killer. Your neighbors can die while you purportedly exercise your right to smoke in your own home or on your property.
At the Tennessee farm, July 2009.
Accordingly, there will be no more cover provided for negligent acts on the part of individuals who endanger their fellow Americans. This is why I am signing into law this historic and courageous federal legislation, assembled by the great men and women of Congress, which will ban smoking all across America, in every state, every town, in the outdoors, and in all homes, with no exceptions. This is a groundbreaking measure that will call tobacco what it is, a drug — one that is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Effectively, this legislation makes it illegal to endanger your fellow Americans under the pretense of exercising your rights to do what you want with your own body.
The penalties to lawbreakers will be immediate and harsh. We have an array of federal prosecutors who, along with their counterparts in law enforcement, will follow the letter of the law in apprehending violators, and they will pursue severe penalties for those who insist on breaking the law. We are not persuading you to cease bad habits; that’s been tried before and it doesn’t work. It is time to undertake a drastic initiative in order to help keep America healthy. I have dedicated my life to serving the public and this is just one of the many difficult challenges I have had to face as I juggle issues of freedom with the rights of individuals to be free of the potentially harmful acts of others. Freedom is something we all have a right to possess. Thus it is my obligation to step in and direct public policy when it is shown that allowing people to engage in unhealthy activities puts the health of the entire public at risk.
We, as Americans, must be steadfast in our effort to make America a better place for all who want to enjoy the fruits of all that America offers. This is the time and place to make momentous changes that will benefit all of us. This is an extraordinary crisis and it calls for extraordinary, or bold, measures.
Now aren’t you glad that I, the government, am here to help you?
This entire article was written with Barack Obama’s August 14th, 2009 Montana speech on health care as a backdrop and inspiration. The crisis used has been changed to protect the innocent.
Karen DeCoster [send her mail] is a libertarian accounting/finance professional and writer. She rides a Harley, shoots lots of guns, and buys Boston Legal DVDs. She likes to put in long miles on her hybrid bicycle, lift heavy weights, use the crock-pot, overindulge on Gouda cheese, do primal workouts, play Frisbee, get lost in the woods, and hang out at Bass Pro Shops. She won’t trade in her clunker for cash and it is highly unlikely that she will become a Czar in the Obama administration. She openly advocates resistance to the current regime in power. This is her LewRockwell.com archive and her Mises.org archive. Check out her website.