The numbers are staggering. In 1970 one in 400 American adults was behind bars or on parole. As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it’s one in 31. “More Democracy, More Incarceration” by Radley Balko
Compulsion is a curious resource. It offers diminishing returns. It is diluted by dissent and resistance when used excessively. . . Most citizens go their whole lives without being arrested or investigated by the police. A great deal of force is deployed against criminals, including lethal force, but they are a small percentage of the population.
On the other hand, the compulsory collection of taxes to fund our massive government unleashes a great deal of compulsion against the populace. Most of us will encounter the I.R.S. at some point during our lives. Americans spend billions of dollars each year complying with our elaborate tax laws. The enormous enforcement system for ObamaCare will soon become an equally integral part of our lives. “Impertinent Questions: What Are the Resources of the State?” by Doc Zero
How many laws does the average person obey in a day? In how many spheres of our lives does the hand of government reach? How many “can’ts” and “musn’ts” do we observe in a day? Or put another way, in what area of our lives is the government—through regulation, rule, subsidy or tax—not involved? Sleep, maybe? Did you remove the tag on your mattress?
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When every aspect of our lives our subject to government regulation and approval, what type of citizens will we be? Under Obamacare, we must all obtain health insurance. Violators will be fined—a fine to be enforced by the IRS. If you don’t want to comply, accept your punishment and pay the penalty. If you’re unable to meet the high cost of government mandated plans (because it’s not just any health care insurance, it’s government approved insurance.), the government will subsidize you. Until the Ponzi scheme crashes under it’s own weight.
But the health insurance fiasco, juggernaut of doom though it may be, is only one aspect of government nannyism.
Through tax credits and rebates (Cash for Clunkers, credits for hybrids), we’re told which cars have the government seal of approval. Can’t afford the expense of a new, or even newish, car? Hybrids don’t fit your lifestyle? Tough. Adapt.
Consume “too much” energy? If cap and tax is passed, crippling energy taxes will help adjust your behavior.
Even what we can buy and sell at thrift stores and garage sales is restricted, to dubious benefit. Of course, “dubious benefit” might aptly describe the bulk of laws and regulations. (See: CPSIA
How is it changing the relationship between citizens and their government when citizens are punished like disobedient children for making “bad choices,” i.e. those disapproved by Official Government Approvers? When we have to pay a fee, a fine or a tax to pursue our lives in the manner that we see fit, doesn’t that make us all scofflaws? What will our society look like when the bulk of it’s citizenry is officially Disapproved Of by it’s government? More rules mean more enforcers. More bureaucrats investigating our lives to make sure we’re in compliance: More “us” and more “them” as the enforcers and enforced dance a regulatory jig.
As we are compelled to obey or break more and more laws, I predict our opinions of government will sink even further. Most people don’t consider themselves “bad people”, even as they break the law. My ten miles over the speed limit is reasonable. (Of course, your fifteen miles over is reckless, there outta be a law!) Either the exhausting attempts to obey endless rules will drive us to dead-eyed compliance, or more realistically, we will simply conclude that some laws just aren’t worth bothering about. Our opinions of the Regulators will likewise suffer. After all, it’s difficult to respect those you find fundamentally unreasonable.
This quote from Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch (The Watch is the police force) illustrates the inevitable result when we are all regulatory ne’erdowells:
I wasn’t that the city was lawless. It had plenty of laws. It just didn’t offer many opportunities not to break them. Swing didn’t seem to have grasped the idea that the system was supposed to take criminals and, in some rough-and-ready fashion, force them into becoming honest men. Instead, he’d taken honest men and turned them into criminals. And the Watch, by and large, into just another gang.