STAFFERS: THE REAL VILLAINS IN GOVERNMENT?
The politico-media ployword of the season seems to be "staffers". They, and not Senators, are responsible for the invasive inquiries, partisan coersion, propagation of innuendo, character assassination, violation of procedural protections, plausable denial, obsequious apology for cruelty in the line of duty, and sensationalist pandering to sexism, racism, and classist log-cabinism which increasingly appear to be common tactics in the Theater Of Power, that realtime media event which is all most of us get to know of our political reality. What could be the truth? Are Senators really only electable-faced spokesmodels for the products of their well-informed purpose-motivated decision-making (but perhaps ruthless) staffers? Or is all this staffer patter just by way of kicking the mastiff when the master breaks wind? One thing for sure: when you canít tell the chiefs from the dogs, itís harder to spot the bad guys.
KEEP IT PRIVATE, CITIZEN!
A most important freedom is the right to privacy, precisely as intended by the term "private citizen". Curiously, it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, though many of the stipulated rights obviously depend upon it. Though any social activity requires giving up a degree of oneís privacy, and most prefer not to be hermits, it should nonetheless be possible in a free state to live without any official body knowing or demanding to know oneís location, physical characteristics, sex, race, age, extent of personal holdings including home, pockets, or bladder, sources and amounts of income including money, trade, or service, or the names of those with whom one does business, has sex, or discusses politics.
The demand that automobiles be individually registered and must display the license number is a good example of government invasion of privacy disguised as public service. Registration is touted as a way of protecting the citizenís property from loss by theft. This is an illusion; license plates do not prevent theft, nor do they much improve the chance of police recovery. Even if such service to the car owner were the true objective, surely it should be voluntary. And even if mandatory, surely it need be done only once, and not annually. Clearly, the primary benefit of license plates is to enable agencies of government to establish identity and observe the movement of the owners of the cars. Licensing provides little or no service to the citizen, but grants higher levels of surveillance and control over him -- and he must pay for it! It is argued that registration fees provide revenue to pay for buildings, employees, and equipment needed to operate the public service system. That is like being interrogated by electroshock to obtain information the State would use to control one, then being charged for the electricity and the "information retrieval specialistís" time.
When it comes to pressing the citizen for details of his life, the Motor Vehicle Department is small time. If, God forbid, it should become a matter of State interest to know where all the Jews live, how many places besides the hospital have records stipulating religious preference or ethnic denomination? How about that new pan-demographic Census? What about that IRS? Sometime, just for fun, try to convert $20,000 of your resources into $100 bills, carry them to another state by airline, spend them on firearms and gold, and get the stuff home...without leaving your name on anything.
Privacy -- if it is worth preserving, then those who value it most highly are called to give it up to publically defend the rights which make it possible. It is acceptance of this curious paradox in the cause of responsibility for freedom which sets the true patriot apart from anarchist and outlaw.
BEER NEXT WEEK?
Many times more people are killed by drunk drivers than by dopeheads, dishonorably discharged GIís, psycho-ward escapees, thrill killers, mass murderers on parole, crazed child-support-payment evaders, and impulse shoppers using their shiny new pistols all together. So how about a seven-day waiting period on a six-pack of beer? Think thatís a joke? Your gas card number is put through a national computer file every time you use it, in order to check your credit. The same existing equipment could also check to see if you have DWI charges against you...or any of category B above. "Iím sorry, Sir, I canít sell you beer, but your child support, parking tickets, and late student loan payments have all been charged to your account."
Are we better off giving up our privacy and personal power to a computerized security state to protect us from each other -- or preserving the self-defended freedom that comes with privacy, knowing a few will abuse it disastrously?
Simple 'Siris asks:
If it is desired to live in a free and yet safe society, then shouldn't the free citizen be armed, ready, and permitted to shoot gun-packing mass killers and drunk drivers on sight?
THE GREEN POLICE.
Once upon a time, at the insistance of mobilized popular concern for the environment, government instituted The Green Police, armed agents of the Interior whose responsibility it was to make sure nobody broke the regulations protecting the forest. Since vehicles, structures, fires, toxic substances, firearms, hunting or trapping devices, chainsaws and axes, mining or digging equipment, refuse dumping, construction, damming, drainage, etc., etc., were potentially harmful to the forest, or to natural habitat, all were made illegal within the EPZís -- Environmental Protection Zones.
Being thus confident they had done their part to save the planet, the legislators retired to the baths with their favorite lobbyists. Disturbed by new outcry for something to be done about the sudden increase in the number of criminals, government law-enforcers dutifully met the demand by greatly increasing the number of Green Police, and costs were very high for training, equipment, admin support, and protection from hostile hordes of squatters, poachers, Sunday-coachers, fence-jumpers, scum-dumpers, and other environmental terrorists.
To fund such expensive public service, DOI was granted the right to manage the resources of the EPZ -- that is, to conduct the business of logging, trapping, and mineral development. To save the forest, armies of Green Police patrolled the limits of the legally-habitable areas, while government environmental defense contractors cut down the trees.
James Nathan Post
BACK IN THE USSR?
Two men huddled in a bleak corner of the drab concrete city. Clothes threadbare, they were gaunt men, but they felt lucky to have a small brazier burning to warm their hands. One drew reflectively on a pipe, though he had nothing to put into it. "Tell me, friend," he said, "why you sit here in the cold with me, who has nothing, when I know you own a fine vehicle. Here there is no food, while crops lie heavy in the rural fields. Surely if you just went out and brought back a load of produce, you could become rich. Do not the principles of Capitalism say that real economic power lies in private ownership of the means of production?"
The other chuckled, not mirthfully. "Yes, free enterprise is the rule. There are just a few minor technicalities. First I must get a business license, and pay a fee. Then I must register my vehicle (and pay a fee), get a license to drive, for which I must take a medical exam (doctorís fee), a written exam on the regulations (instructorís fee), then a driving test in a vehicle that meets regulations -- mandatory inspection (mechanicís fee), safety equipment (retailerís fee), and liability insurance (agentís fee) -- after which I may pay the license fee. To carry and sell produce, I must have a Health Code inspection (fee), and an environmental impact assessment (fee). To conduct commercial transport, I must pay a federal-licensed contractor to run a random drug test program on my only employee, myself. To conduct interstate trade, I must pay a bonding fee. Since I have no money, I must borrow on my vehicle to buy produce, and pay interest. When I buy, I pay sales tax. When I sell, I pay gross receipts tax. Since I have an employee (myself), I pay Social Security and Workerís Comp (government insurance fees). I pay self-employment tax on everything after expenses, and when I keep what remains, I must pay personal income tax on that. What I must pay for government permission, mandatory expenses which increase neither productivity nor value, mandatory insurance, and taxes outweigh what profit might be made in the produce I could carry -- that is, without gouging the consumer. And the consumer can only pay so much before he cannot afford to buy at all, whereupon my produce and my capital investment both rot in the vehicle, while the hungry curse me for my greed. For failure to pay them back, my creditors will sieze my vehicle, and for failure to pay their taxes and fees, the government will take whatever else I have. If I tried to obey all the laws, it would ruin me. If I got caught breaking one, they would destroy me. Perhaps someday we will have free enterprise, and success will lie in ownership of the means of production, the entrepreneural spirit, and the willingness to work. Until then, success depends on government permission, regulation, and protection. Since those belong exclusively to the federal-contract mega-businessmen who own the government, my vehicle might as well be a rock."
And nothing ever happened to them, forever and ever after.