Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Column incubator for feds' ideas

Column incubator for feds' ideas

(My Clovis News Journal column for May 24, 2013)

Federal employees must read my columns and use the warnings therein as a blueprint for future schemes, just as Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and George Orwell's "1984" seem to have been adopted as suggestions for governing rather than as the dire warnings they should have been.

Recent news that the National Transportation Safety Board is seeking to further lower the "legal standard" for the blood alcohol content that would be called "drunk"- to 0.05%- echoes a warning I gave in a previous column in this space about a hypothetical future where driving after eating a turkey dinner is criminalized as "driving under the influence". Welcome to the future.

No one I know of thinks driving while drunk is a good idea. There is, however, a legal concept known as "prior restraint". Actions that "might" harm someone can't be a real crime and can't legitimately be punished as one. Otherwise everything you do would be illegal and make you subject to arrest. Which might just be the real goal, after all.

Every action has some probability of causing harm, and the "law" is a poor method of deciding what the odds are. Unless an incident occurs where someone has actually been hurt or private property has been damaged, there is no individual victim and no crime can have been committed. No matter what the "law" might say, how strictly it is enforced, or how much you disapprove of the action involved. "The majority" may want to punish "pre-crime", but it will always be wrong to do so.

Anytime a "law" is expanded to criminalize more people- even if the intentions are supposedly good- a larger net has been cast and it creates more criminals and further delegitimizes everything else the "law" is expected to accomplish. It's a form of inflation- the more of something you make, the less each unit of it is worth.

The "law" can't lose much more value and continue to exist in any meaningful way. For an increasing number of people it has already lost all legitimacy.

Instead of "prior restraint", what is needed is real restitution for any and all harm that is done to an individual victim (which is never the State)- no matter the circumstances.

If you cause a wreck and an innocent person dies as a result, what does it matter whether you were drunk, texting, "running a license plate", sleepy, scolding a child, or sneezing? Do you really think the family of the dead victim cares what your excuse is? They don't, unless it happens to be their adopted "cause".


Mixing eras for enjoyment

As you may have realized, I am not a man much constrained by any particular historical era.  I have been known to be dressed in buckskins with a cell phone on my belt next to my flintlock pistol and bowie knife.

I tend to go with whatever works, as long as it doesn't violate my principles.

In following this personal quirk I discovered a cool way to listen to the music on my cell phone.  I turn on the music and place the phone in the horn of my knock-off victrola and enjoy the rich sound, amplified enough to actually be heard perfectly.

Yeah, it works.

Try it some time, assuming you have one.  A phone that plays music, I mean.


In the dog house. Again.

My Clovis News Journal columns may be watered-down a bit more- at least for a while.

The publisher is unhappy that the theme "government is theft and coercion" seems to keep cropping up and I have been instructed to avoid mentioning that particular 800-pound gorilla until he cools off.  Or until he stops paying attention to me again.  I'm usually OK until he notices me.  Yes, a lot of that is my fault.

I realize that I have a very thin rope to walk in my newspaper columns.  I will not compromise the message or the principles, but I also have to try to offer it in as gentle a way as possible.  Don't wanna startle the herd and cause a stampede.

So, for a while, I have to find ways to promote the idea of voluntary, consensual society, without contrasting it to the current situation too obviously.

If I didn't need the money/pittance, and if I didn't get so much positive feedback- in person- from people I run into around town, it wouldn't be worth it.  But, I can see I am making a difference in at least some individual lives around me, and that is as powerful a motivator as the money (which is desperately needed).

I really need to start asking the "locals" who tell me how much they appreciate my columns to please consider sending the publisher an email letting him know.  I'd like him to hear from someone other than the local politicians and partisans who apparently have such a problem with him publishing my columns.  But I invariably think of it when it's too late.