If you’ve ever lived in a big city, you’ve probably had to deal with the squeegee man.
He approaches your car – even though you have not called him over. Without asking your consent, he commences to wiping your windshield with his greasy rag. In a moment, he will demand payment for his “services” – which you’d better hand over, if you don’t want him to attack you (or damage your car).
This vignette encompasses everything that is subsumed under government: Random people accosting you with demands for payment – for “services” you never asked for, don’t approve of and don’t use – with the menace of violence looming over everything. Neither the squeegee man nor the politician nor government “worker” ever asks whether you’re interested in what they have to offer – not really. Because they never give you the option to decline. To say, “no thank you.” And have them leave you alone.
Both take the position that “services” having been provided – asked for or not, used or not – translates to pay up!
The only difference between the squeegee man and your local county commissioner, school board – or governor or president – is that some of them have better teeth (usually). And of course, more “resources” (read: violence) at their disposal. After all, you can still roll up your windows – or better yet, just drive away – when you see the squeegee man. You’re even allowed to fight him off if he physically attacks.
No such luck with the representatives of government.
This will never change – and will inevitably become worse – until enough people make the great ethical-conceptual leap connecting the squeegee man – and the more adroit squeegee men who have arrogated unto themselves the power of organized “legal” violence. Until a sufficiently large number of people – enough to tip the balance – reject ethical-conceptual compartmentalization; the habit of mind that prevents a person from grasping that theft is always theft – whether it is done by an individual squeegee man on the street or by squeegee men in offices. That aggressive violence is always to be condemned – no exceptions, ever. And more, to be openly named. You are not “asked” to “contribute” to Social Security – or any of the other myriad forms of theft employed by the squeegee men who control legally sanctioned aggressive violence. You are told you will hand over a specific sum of money – or else. The “or else” being aggressive violence directed against your person. No matter how minor the sum involved, eventually – inevitably – it will lead to a violent assault on your person. Death, perhaps, if you fight back.
It is not pretty – which is exactly why it must be euphemized. And precisely why these euphemisms and evasions must be ripped away by relentless insistence on plain, honest language.
The forms and niceties must be done away with. The ethical-conceptual exceptions no longer tolerated. We must stop giving them our sanction by pretending the interaction is something other than what it actually is. Make them bare their blood-dripping fangs. Do not permit them the illusion that they are anything more than thugs – however neatly dressed, whatever their titles.