Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A look at necessity...

If you're reading this today, there's a good chance that you have met me personally, as this is merely my third posting to this blog and there's only a select few people I know that have been exposed to the insanity found on this page. Some of you guys may have become familiar with the term "Libertarian" (as in, a description of one's political orientation) from prior knowledge, and some of you may be relatively new to the concept. There are some libertarians that describe themselves as "anarchists", believing that we need no government at all. No, these aren't the guys in ski masks throwing Molotovs at police cars during protests at the G20 Summit, but rather those who believe there is nothing that the free market can't accomplish better than a government can. Keep this in matter what the bastardized "popular usage" definition of the word "Anarchy" is, it DOES NOT equate to chaos. Anarchy, by definition, is nothing more than the absence of government...and anyone with a brain knows that true anarchy can never exist for as long as mankind is still instinctively an animal. Greed will win out in the grand scheme of things, as it has done since the beginning of time. If you need a prime example of what I'm talking about, look no further than the opening scene of Kubrick's masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey", entitled "The Dawn of Man". We really haven't changed that much since then...

So that brings me to where I am now. I am not an "anarchist", because I don't believe that I am capable of handling certain things, things that man has joined together for since before recorded history, on my own. I'm what you call a "minarchist" might be described as "Anarchy Lite". In the minds of most minarchist-oriented libertarians, the only righteous purpose our government should serve is to handle the things that a free market ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HANDLE ON ITS OWN.

There are a few functions of our government that absolutely cannot (and should not, for that matter) be handled by private entrepreneurs doing it "for the money". These functions comprise about 5% of our government, and are responsible for about .5% of our government's spending. I'll fill you in on this...because if you've gotten this far, I'm sure you're just itching to hear what I have to say about it!

1) Our Legal System.
The right to seek justice is inherent in all persons, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, or even income level.

Government spending (as well as government inefficiency) can be drastically reduced in this area, by lessening the demand upon our legal system. The fastest way to go about doing this is a SERIOUS OVERHAUL of our penal code. This, in fact, can be done rather quickly and easily. Prohibit the prosecution of any "crime" when the state is unable to name an actual "victim". Obviously, crimes against a person or property will still be on this list. Murder, assault (physical and sexual), theft, robbery by force, destruction of property, et cetera will still remain criminalized. It will, however, rid the justice system of victimless "consensual" crimes that are illegal only because certain people deem it to be "immoral". It's the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se. Clickie the linkies if you're unfamiliar with these terms.

For the record, I don't agree with snorting meth, shooting horse, or smoking crack. I've seen, via my own acquaintances (and even members of my own family. Hello, mom...are you there?) that these are very dangerous things and they lead to all manner of problems. I don't think it's necessary to walk down the street with an MP5 under your jacket. I don't believe in pissing away what little money I do have in a casino or a whorehouse. Regardless of how "immoral" you may think these things are, let's remember one very important fact here...RIGHT HERE IN BRAZORIA COUNTY, RIGHT NOW, it's illegal to do everything that I've just mentioned. Yet, it still goes on, even though it's against the law. Those with a brain know that these things are bad for you, and you probably shouldn't do them...yet, sometimes members of our society do these things.

Right now, our nation just suffered through a massive tax hike on tobacco. Tobacco will eventually kill you, if something else doesn't do it first. From the earliest of days, everyone I went to school with knew that tobacco was really bad for you...and yet, I don't know a single member of my family that is over the age of 21 and has never smoked a cigarette. With the exception of my grandmother, everyone in my family that I am personally acquainted with has used an intoxicating substance at one point or another...some legal, some not. Certain members of my family have even frequented "Gentlemen's Clubs" and casinos (even on a wednesday afternoon, when NO ONE ELSE was there!) on occasion. Our thoughts on morality, "right and wrong", and even legislation will never change this. We spend billions of dollars on a "War on Some Drugs", and there are more Americans on dope in this country now (yes, even per capita) than there were when the Dope Wars started. Legislation won't stop a man from doing what he wants to do, and neither will punishment. If it could, the Great State of Texas wouldn't be leading the civilized world in executions per capita like it has done for more than a decade.

Making a law won't stop people from doing what they are going to do. A conscience is all that will stop such a thing. That's why it is a waste of time to prosecute any action that has not resulted in the ACTUAL victimization of an ACTUAL person. Prevent our government from legally prosecuting such supposed "crimes", and you've removed the vast majority of our criminal justice system's backlog...and the vast majority of traffic citations, the majority of spending on our police force ("patrols" instantly become obsolete!), et cetera.

When you can have a select few people who are highly trained to investigate actual crimes, prosecute actual crimes, and dispatch officers to actual crimes in progress, you can remove the majority of the "excess baggage" from our police and court systems. You can pay those who DO perform work an immense amount of more money for providing their services (which means more highly-qualified personnel will apply for the job), while still eliminating the majority of the cost.

Do the math...even at minimum wage, that's 13k per year per man. Assuming a patrol force of 20 cops, that's 260k per year. That's at minimum wage...and doesn't even take into account patrol cars, equipment, gasoline (how much fuel would YOU burn driving for eight hours a day, in a V8-powered Dodge Charger?), and donuts. In all reality, the operational costs of a 20-man patrol force will easily run into the seven-figure range for a given year.

On top of the money we'd save, think about the things we'd never have to worry about ever again. Never again would I get paranoid about seeing a cop in my rear-view mirror, wondering what bullshit charge he's going to stick on me...because he wouldn't ever be in my rear-view mirror.

As much as I like to knock the police when they so rightfully deserve it, there are good cops out there...and I even count a few of my friends among them. Many of them would be well-suited to fulfilling the duties of "investigator" or whatever, because they have both the brains and the manners to do the job properly...and cutting the "dead weight" from the police force would free up lots of valuable money that could be spent on giving them financial compensation they deserve for their jobs.

Just like the police department, our county government is currently understaffed for the sheer amount of paperwork they need to complete. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who's ever had to wait in line to pay a criminal fine at the courthouse after a full docket. Do away with 90% of the "crimes" on the books, and you've removed at least 60% of the docket...which removes 60% of the paperwork, as well as about 60% of the manpower necessary to prosecute the cases AND the clerks necessary to handle the paperwork.

A lot of people tend to freak out when they think of a police department in such a scenario, but think of it like the fire department...just about every city in Brazoria County has a VOLUNTEER fire department. Gear is provided by tax dollars and/or donation, but there is no firefighter sitting around on the clock waiting for a fire to start. For some reason, we still have plenty of people who are able, and more importantly WILLING, to go rushing off into danger without pay. Who's to say that you can't have a group of trained "volunteer policemen" that work regular jobs and carry a beeper for when the shit hits the fan?

2) Much like our legal system, our military can never be handled by a "private entity" and still be expected to protect us. Most of us can't afford "Blackwater" (or "Xe" or whatever they call themselves today), but we can afford a modicum of income tax.

If we were to do away with private contractors for things that our military can do themselves (washing clothes, doing dishes, cooking, et cetera) in a time of war, we'd instantly eliminate a vast expanse of spending. Private contractors such as KBR/Halliburton charge our government about seven times the going rate for everything from secretaries to coca cola...while only paying about THREE TIMES market rate to the people doing the job. This is something that we should be doing via those in our military, who are trained to do certain jobs, such as run a computer or deliver a plane-load of fresh underwear.

Of course, many people say we simply don't have the manpower to do such things...and to that, I call bullshit. Like many other undesirable categories, the United States leads the world in the number of military bases it has on foreign soil. Not only is this causing an immense amount of anti-American hatred throughout the world, but it's costing us a metric shitload (that's 1.1 times the amount of a standard shitload, in case you didn't know).

On top of all of this, we have the fact that America has become the "police force" of the planet Earth, which needs to stop immediately. We simply cannot afford it. Yes, people suffer in other nations, at the hands of evil despot dictators. We toppled Saddam Hussein roughly three months after invading his nation without cause...and six years later, Iraqis are still killing people like it's cool. To top it off, we're shifting our resources (and again, a metric shitload of money) to fight the very same people that we gave 43 million dollars to, about four months prior to September 11th. For the ERADICATION OF OPIUM POPPY. Did I mention that Afghanistan is STILL the world's foremost supplier of heroin?

We need to shut down ALL military bases and activities that aren't absolutely essential to American security, right here at home. In our current technological age, we have fighter planes that can take off from some remote airstrip in Bumboink, Arizona and perform a surgical strike anywhere in the world. Literally, ANYWHERE. Within a day's notice....and they can still make it home for lunch the next day.

That, in and of itself, is one of our biggest expenditures...the daily operational and maintenance costs of US military bases abroad. Yes, we spend a retarded amount of money on experimentation and research...and that's what brought us the warplane that can take off in Arizona, bomb the hell out of a hut in Timbuktu, and be back in US airspace in time for happy hour. This should continue, as it is necessary to our national defense.

What absolutely SHOULD NOT continue is the operation of literally hundreds of military bases around the world, monetary and military aid to foreign nations, and anything that doesn't directly benefit the safety of the American people.

People may freak out the notion of "giving up" the most powerful military in the world, but I disagree. There's nothing on this planet more powerful a thermonuclear warhead, and when we have the means to deliver it right here at home, we really aren't "giving up" anything...except lucrative contracts to companies who prey on our fears. It's unnecessary expenditure that we don't need.

Plus, when absolute force is the ONLY option, it makes us far less likely to utilize well as giving our enemies the knowledge that it is the ONLY response they will get from us when they screw up. It's a lot like a Taser and a baton being taken away from a cop...when the only option available is "talk or shoot", the cop is far less likely to shoot due to fear of repercussion, and the criminal is far less likely to push knowing that shooting and talk are the only choices.

Our world has become very "modernized" with the technology available to us (as well as what we consider to be "right" and "wrong"), but I think it's about time we started to minimize what we consider to be necessity.

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