Monday, 26 October 2015

Why Should We Tolerate Bad Government?

(From the archives - January 9th, 2006)

If you hired a private security firm to protect your possessions, and they failed to do what they had promised, what would you do? And what if that security firm demanded huge and ever increasing amounts, which they used for purposes that brought no nett benefit to you?

Would you terminate the contract? Would you look for another firm you could trust better? Would you tell your friends about their misconduct? Would you warn people not to deal with them? Or would you just continue paying up, year after year after year, until they have drained you dry?

Suppose, again, that you hired a private security firm to defend you and your freedoms against violent aggressors. Suppose, then, that a violent aggression happened, that took many lives. Suppose, too, that the security firm had culpably failed to act on the warning signals before the attack. And perhaps even, by their deeds, had encouraged the attack?

Would you sue them for negligence? Would you vow to make sure that they are never again allowed to peddle their less-than-worthless wares? Or would you accept them putting more and more restrictions on you, in the name of protecting you against future attacks? Would you accept them killing the very freedoms you had hired them to defend?

If you hired a security firm to protect you, and they did lots of things that weren't in the contract, what would you do? Particularly if a lot of what they did was hostile to you. Like, re-distributing your earned wealth to others? Trying to ruin your career? Draining the economy? Pressing for any busybody agenda that might bring them an excuse for more power over you? Hemming you in with whatever bad regulations they decided to dream up, often supported by arbitrary limits to make it easier to catch you out? Taking away your rights to enjoy the pleasures you have earned? Putting obstacles in the way of your progress? Spying on you? Stopping and searching you on a whim? Treating you like an object or a number, instead of as a human being?

What if, on top of all that, they did things that no civilized human being would ever do – like murdering innocent people, and covering up what had happened? What if they acted like the very criminals they were supposed to be protecting you against?

And what if they tried to excuse their actions with lies and rationalizations? What if they took noble-sounding ideals – like health, safety, security, the environment, fighting poverty – and set them up as idols, fraudulently making them out to be higher causes that overrode your rights as a human being? What if they tried to scare you, or to manipulate you through propaganda, into believing that what they were doing to you was for your own good?

Would you – beyond suing them for damages, of course – press for harsh criminal penalties against them? Would you censure them for their uncivilized acts? Would you reject their lies and dishonesties, and encourage others to do likewise? Or would you stay silent, and accept their felonies, their ruses and their excuses?

If you hired a security firm to defend you, and they tried to arrogate to themselves rights to do things they denied to you – for example, that their operatives may carry guns, but you may not – what would you do?

Would you point out that you are their subscriber, not their subject? That they are supposed to be your servants, not your masters? Would you make it clear that the only right you have delegated to them is a part of your right of self-defence? Or would you kow-tow to them as if they were a superior species to you, and had rights to do things you didn't?

If you hired a security firm to defend you, and they claimed a right to make armed assaults on other security firms and their subscribers, what would you do?

Would you tell them, in no uncertain terms, to concentrate solely on what they are supposed to be doing – defending you and your fellow subscribers? Or would you encourage and support their assaults, with the deaths and maimings of innocent people they would cause?

If all the security firms in your area got together and formed one huge, lawless cartel, how would you view them? If they purported to compete and to offer you a choice, but in reality were all just part of the same cartel, offering no choice at all, what would you do?

Would you reject their charades? Would you refuse to take part in any scheme that gave them an illusion of legitimacy? Or would you dutifully express a preference for one or another of them? Would you put it on the record that you are satisfied with what the cartel have done and are doing to you? Would you signal your approval of their aggressions, thefts and frauds against innocent people? And would you ask for more of the same?

Do not today's political governments do all these bad things to us? You bet they do. And more. So, I make explicit the question: Why should we tolerate bad government? And I give you my answer. We shouldn't.

More generally, why should we tolerate bad politics? Why should we tolerate a system that is so corrupt, that it cannot produce any government that is anything other than bad? A system that, far from rewarding bullies, thieves and fraudsters with the criminal punishment they deserve, elevates them to positions of power? A system that, far from delivering to human beings the peace, freedom, prosperity and justice we deserve, instead fans wars and conflicts, harasses us, impoverishes us and treats us as less than human?

And I give you my answer again: We shouldn't.

Ah, you may say, I agree with you. But what can we do about it? How do we change things, so governments work for good people, not against us?

For today, I leave answering that question, dear reader, as an exercise for you.

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