Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Self control best way to govern

Self control best way to govern

(My Clovis News Journal column for May 4, 2012)

Libertarianism is often described as the advocacy of maximum liberty and minimum government. The "maximum liberty" part is pretty easy to understand, once you really understand what liberty is. As long as your actions don't harm another person physically, and don't take or damage his personal property, you are within your rights to do anything. You are "at liberty" to proceed.

Thomas Jefferson put it this way: "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others." Unobstructed action within the equal rights of others. Smart man.

Just keep in mind that the other guy operates under the same "unobstructed action" whether either of you know it or not. His rights are equal and absolutely identical to yours. So, you'd probably be wise to include being nice in your decision to act.

The "minimum government" part is where the complications arise. This aspect even confuses a lot of libertarians. Just how much government is minimal? Half of what we have now? A strictly constitutional government? No externally-imposed government, "State", at all? Ask a dozen libertarians and you're likely to get a dozen different answers. The only constant is that it would be a lot less than we are burdened with now. Even most "Repubmocraticans" agree on that point.

Contention does arise, though. For one thing, some people operate under the belief that you can't have liberty without a government holding back other people to prevent them from violating your liberty. Others point out that no one other than government is a real threat to your liberty. The only kind of government that has ever worked, or ever will, is self control.

You can't govern bad people, and you don't need to govern good people- they govern themselves. So it seems a waste of time and energy to keep pursuing something that is so pointless and unnecessary, and doomed to fail in its stated goal. Not to mention all the time, money, and lives this pointless pursuit has destroyed.

Of course, this means that if you fail to govern yourself you give someone else a justification for defending himself and his property against you. He would be well within his rights, even if the "law" doesn't agree. This principle operates the same whether you accept libertarianism or not. Reality is funny that way.


The evils of Collective punishment

Collective punishment. I hate it. It is evil.

This is part of the reason I don't buy into the whole "America is becoming degenerate; we have to do whatever we can to stop it or we deserve whatever we get." Especially if you think a deity is going to rain punishment onto all for the actions of some. Or even "all minus one".

Your "degenerate" may not be the same as mine.

I'll not mention the "degenerate" things I normally see mentioned; most are based on religious notions (either openly, or in a roundabout way) I don't ascribe to, so I'll substitute my list, instead.

I think gun "laws", highway "checkpoints", the child molesters of the TSA, "urine screenings", cop/military worship, and various other things of that sort are degenerate. I don't believe a society that had a "majority" of individuals in it who had any respect for ethical behavior would tolerate any of those things.

Yet, I don't think "America" is being/will be punished because those things are allowed to go on. If those things are really bad, as I think they are, they are their own punishment. I don't need to beat up anyone who allows them to happen by not doing what I "believe they should do to stop it". That would make me wrong.

The scariest aspect of this railing against "degeneracy" comes from "believers". Just as a teacher who punishes the entire class of students because of the behavior of one or two kids is a monster, any deity who punishes the innocent because of the actions of the guilty is evil and is not worthy of worship or respect. So if staying on "the good side" of this type of deity is why you advocate using force to make other people live by your "moral code", you expose something about your beliefs... and your deity.

Concerning those "degenerate" actions that those who worry most about such things decry... It is very sick and twisted (yes, degenerate) to punish some people for the actions of others. Especially actions they can not stop and probably don't even witness firsthand. Should I go around shooting everyone who isn't doing what "believers" think they should be doing- or to stop them from doing what those "believers " think they shouldn't do? Should I go peering into their windows at night to make sure their activities aren't "sinful" lest I be punished, too? If that's what it takes to make a deity happy, then no thanks. It's why I don't swallow the notion of "morality"; preferring ethics, instead.

Collective punishment, and anyone who engages in it or advocate it, is wrong.