Do you know what is dangerous about punishing someone for a “crime” he did not commit? You practically give him permission to go ahead and do it anyway.
Well, why not, he will reason, when he’s already done time for it?
That’s free trade of a more karmic nature.
Last week, when the employees of the Philippine post office pawed through a present they had no right to touch, inspected a letter they had no right to read, and shook me down for duties they had no right to demand, they unwittingly created a smuggler. That’s right: the direct result of a process meant to cut down on smuggling has simply given them another smuggler to worry about in the future.
At first, I admit, all I wanted was petty vengeance. If they insisted on opening private packages, well, I’d just get my new friend Mr. Rockwell to mail me one package they’d never forget. Using a strange alias (something untraceable like Rew Lockwell), he’ll send me a little stink bomb designed to go off when the lid is removed. He could add some itching power, for good measure — whatever feels natural to him when he’s putting it together.
Then I realized that I don’t want short-term satisfaction. This is about principles and principles are permanent things. My battle is not with a single city’s central post office, but with an ideology that seems to have gripped the world in the form of big government insanity. It is not enough to rage at people doing wrong. I must also actively do what is right — and since what is right is free trade, well, I guess I’ll have to start smuggling.
I already have a small collection of books sent to me by friends who — bless them! — didn’t know they were attempting to sneak taxable goods into the Philippines without paying the government for permission to do so. Except for the ones I’ve really come to love, I am going to sell them. I am going to sell them without issuing receipts to the buyers, so that there will be no record of a sale and no proof of anything I owe the government a cut of.
Such a little thing, yes, and pitiful next to the work of professionals . . . but there is no shame in starting small.
Why do people think that smugglers only import “bad” things like guns? (Moreover, why do people think that guns are bad?) In theory, anything can be smuggled — and if governments continue to charge ridiculous taxes, everything will be. Smugglers have a bad reputation because of the belief that someone who is hiding something is likely doing something wrong. Yet common sense tells you that the less others look for, the less one can hide. The quickest, simplest way to put an end to smuggling — my own planned activities included — is to let private packages be private packages.
February 18, 2009