We’ve been trying for quite some time to solve our problems with the same mentality we had when we created them. We’re almost out of stupid plans to try.
Government has pretty much failed in everything it ever set out to accomplish, with the exception of frequent mass death and destruction. Every year we go through the cycle of various patriotic rituals and pat ourselves on the back, reminding our collective ego just how free, democratic and benevolent we Americans are.
I love this country. Much like good cannabis seeds, when good people set their roots down in fertile American soil, there is no limit to the dankness that can be cultivated. And yet, our government is just a gigantic bullshit vending machine, except every day the bullshit costs a quarter more. Each time we approach the machine, I suppose we believe that maybe the government will change and start telling us the truth.
Like a girl who keeps returning to a very abusive boyfriend, we keep playing this mindless, zero-sum game known as politics and keep sailing obliviously onward in a ship of fools. Every government intervention on the economy has failed not only in the long term, but in the short term too. When, by chance, something happens that the state does want, it is usually caused by something completely random and unintended.
The economist Steven Levitt examines data in the book Freakonomics and shows how legalized abortion after Roe v. Wade in 1973 was the primary driving factor behind the crime drop of the 1990s because fewer children were being born into a world that doesn’t want them, and voilà! — fewer criminals to commit crimes. More cops and harsher sentences didn’t help much at all.
So the most effective thing government has done in the last century other than war has been to lower crime by means of legal abortions … that’s pretty bad. Despite the drop in violent crime rates, our rules have become so harsh and pervasive that by the end of 2006, one out of every 31 American adults was either in prison, on probation or on parole. Our prison system in America is three times the size of the Gulag system in the Soviet Union at its peak. Cops in Arizona are now empowered by the law to take a blood sample against a driver’s will from the side of the road. When did cops become goddamn vampires?
Most of America just wants to live and let live, but still a legion of petty tyrants constantly wake up early each morning to their miserable fascist lives just to press on for more severe punishments for the degenerate underclass of stoners and drunks. Proponents of tougher laws for drug-and-alcohol-related crimes tout the idea that greater fear generated by more severe punishments persuades would-be violators to remain good citizens. Mark Crovelli on www.lewrockwell.com frames the state’s mentality as bordering idiocy, “In other words, what the state … would like for us to believe is the following:
When a man is drunk, his ‘impaired judgment’ makes him discount the possibility of getting into a horrible accident that might kill or injure him or someone else. As a result of discounting this risk, he is likely to go ahead and drive drunk anyway.
This same drunken man, who thinks he can cheat death on the highway, will suddenly see the light, shut off his engine and walk home if the state merely threatens him with a stint in jail if he drives.”
Does the authority actually care about the lives of its citizens? Or is it really just trying to make some quick cash from taxes and tickets? From what I’ve seen of this world, I’d be obliged to contend the second case.
The moral masquerade that accompanies each new crusade against sin is a thin veil covering the monolithic state revenue machine. Nobody claims driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is responsible behavior but, like many other shitty situations, it happens sometimes. Here a governing authority can choose either to implement structural changes that alleviate the problem or can tax each individual violation as it lets the problem continue. The latter course will garner much more money for the authority. The former will make the authority superfluous and thus irrelevant.
An estimated 40,000 people are killed on American highways each year, and half of them are caused by sober drivers. Reckless driving is the only true threat on the road and recklessness can come drunk, high or sober. If the government really wants to solve the problems of irrational human behavior, it should try a new approach.
The Government can tax the problem, or it can work to solve the problem. Crovelli suggests that to mitigate drunk driving we could start “by eliminating all licensing laws on taxi cabs and limousines in the United States [to] drastically reduce the cost and increase the supply of sober transportation for Americans.” That’s the kind of thinking that will solve today’s problems. Every party-line parrot that can only cough up the same old rehashed non-solutions should stop immediately. The Chinese are going to kick our ignorant asses in the next dozen years if such parrots fail to get the fuck out of the way and let the new American mojo work its magic. O Capitalism!
So fresh and so clean.