We’re just weeks away from the Annual Irony – the day devoted to celebrating a revolt against the authority of a red, white and blue bully (George III) while living under the thumb of … a red, white and blue bully (Uncle).
We’re supposed to celebrate the former – because it benefitted the latter.
The American colonists were not unsaddled. They simply got a new rider. Why celebrate this?
Does it make any sense to you?
The colonists, we were all told as schoolchildren, objected to being taxed by a far-away king and parliament that did not “represent” them. And which taxed them without their “consent.”
How many of you feel represented by the president and Congress in far-away Washington? Do you recall consenting to being taxed?
And what is it about being “represented” that’s so fabulous?
Are we, really?
How, exactly, can a single individual “represent” thousands – let alone tens (and hundreds of) thousands?
Your congressman or senator can only represent himself, while claiming to represent thousands of people, most of whom he’s never even met and many of which manifestly oppose what he does in their name and without their consent.
He does as he thinks ought to be done – but gets moral traction by getting the yokels to accept (or at least, never examine too closely) the idea that he is a kind of magic action figure puppet who somehow transmutes the will of an entity called “the people” – which catchphrase has the same effect on some people as a walkie-talkie or cell phone has upon the aborigines of the rainforest.
The god speaks!
Obey… obey… obey…
“The people” is a noble sounding but oily marketing con. Like the detergent that works “up to” 10 times better than the competition (but probably works about the same and quite possibly worse).
Go ahead, try to find them. All you’ll find are persons. Who very rarely agree on anything – let alone all things.
Of course admitting this presents logistical and moral problems for those who claim to “represent” us … (“us” – aka “the people” – being a kind of undifferentiated mass with congealed interests).
The fact is if you haven’t specifically given some other person your consent to act on your behalf, you are not represented.
The fact that some person claims to “represent” you (and thousands of other people) doesn’t – presto! – make it so.
Think for a minute about the effrontery of it, this business of some guy claiming to be your “representative,” even if you never asked him.
Let alone him asking you.
It brings to mind a statement supposedly made by Lenin: “You may not be interested in government, but government is interested in you.”
Morally speaking, no one is your representative unless you’ve contracted them to so act – and without a gun pointed at your temple, you free to not ask them to represent you.
And in that case, respecting your wishes and going away.
If you do select a representative, he represents only you.
Your choice is not morally binding on other people. Your representative can represent another person only if that person has also given him explicit consent to do so – and only if that person’s interests do not conflict with your interests or any other person’s interests being represented.
Otherwise, it’s a con – or an impossibility.
Well, why should it be so?
What gives any of us the moral right to impose our will on anyone else? Which is what it comes down to, no matter how it’s dressed up in euphemisms.
And if it is not right for any one of us, as individuals, to impose our will on other individuals, how does it become acceptable when a group of us does it? Or when a king or some other species of politician, like a president or a congressman, does it?
None of it makes any sense.
An action is either morally ok or it’s not morally ok. It can’t evolve from not-ok to a-ok because it was voted on, or because people with special titles say it’s ok – or because the “majority” has ruled. This is not rocket science. Would it be ok to reintroduce slavery if a vote were held and more people said yea rather than nay? And if slavery – the ownership and control of another person against his will – is a bad thing as such, isn’t any degree of slavery also a bad thing?
Similarly, theft can’t be ok… sometimes.
Just call it “taxes.”
It’s of a piece with “freedom” – something we will hear a lot about over the next couple of weeks and which everyone seems to be very much in favor of but which everyone seems to have a very different opinion regarding what it actually is.
The word implies the opposite of being a slave, of not being under duress, having the option to do as one pleases without supervision or control by others. Do you feel free in that sense? Or is it more accurate to state that we are “free” to choose among certain limited options presented to us by people who wield power over us – our “representatives” – and are not free to choose some other option?
Are you free to be let alone?
Free to buy a piece of land and – having paid the seller – free to live on it without being obliged to pay money to the government in perpetuity for the privilege of not being forcibly removed from “your” land?
Are you free to come and go as you wish, without having to ask permission first?
Are you free to do business with other people on terms mutually agreeable to the parties involved? Or are the terms imposed on you by other people, without your consent and contrary to your preferences?
Are you free to not buy services you’d prefer not to spend money on?
Can you freely drink raw milk or buy beef from a neighbor without the prior permission of people who aren’t your parents but seem to think they are?
It will soon be Independence Day – as it is styled. Do you feel independent? Is your life under your control? Or is it controlled by other people, contrary to your will?
Try asserting your “independence” from Uncle. See what happens. Will he take any less umbrage than George III?
The truth is, Uncle would be more upset.
The colonists under George III were free to actually own their land – without having to deliver in-perpetuity rental payments for the privilege. They could transact business among themselves without prior permission – and without supervision. George III did not force them to buy a health insurance policy.
They would have revolted if George III had told them couldn’t smoke in their own ale house.
We’re told far more more obnoxious things – and we not only tolerate it, we celebrate it.
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