Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh Rand

What has Rand Paul stirred up? Actually not much. There are many people who hold varying degrees of Mr. Paul's philosophy. I have a friend who told me that he believes that if a group of people wanted to live in a community where it was OK to shoot one another if offended they could. Wow! He was serious. He followed up with the question: "Who would want to live in such a place?" Almost as a way of excusing his extremism. If the federal government takes the right to regulate citizen's behavior then as an article written by Tamar Jacoby for CNN says then could the government regulate what men might wear in public. Could we outlaw mustaches? It comes to a matter of degree doesn't it?

One of Ms. Jacoby"s strongest arguments is that the Civil Rights Act of 1875, yes Victoria, there was a Civil Rights Act in 1875, was ignored by citizens of the United States. The law banned discrimination "in public places such as inns, and public conveyances on land and water." To me that is a fatal argument to those that would propose no government interference. I suppose one could say, the government should not interfere in private matters. To some degree that is already true. I do not have to open my house to anyone of any race, gender, creed or religious affiliation. That is not what government is about though.

What we are really talking about here is human behavior. If we had designated an area where killing of your fellow man was legal, that you could live their as long as you could survive without penalty there would be people who would attempt the lifestyle. How would you handle the situation where late in the evening a disgruntled spouse drove his/her spouse into that area, murdered him/her and then left the area to return to their lives without any penalty because of where the killing took place. I guess then the local government would have to place restrictions on who could become a citizen of such an area. Now a government entity is regulating my behavior.

What makes the Federal government's regulation so abhorrent that people would believe a state, county or community could do any better. How do I know when I travel across this grand country the laws that are in effect in the various areas. I guess posting a listing of the local laws outside of town would be a good way, then I can stop at the state, county, or city limits and determine whether or not I wanted to enter the area.

You can see that these Libertarian arguments end up short. They are very similar to Free Market arguments in economics. Yet, the idea that people would resist socially repressive actions just isn't borne out in reality. We deem pornography as being socially offensive yet porn sites get the greatest number of "hits" of any website on the system. We find the news that "sells" tends to portray the dark side of human nature. Look at the so called "reality" shows on TV. Often they show human behavior at its worst. Bad Boy, Bad Boy.

Collectively we say how could a person beat of child or a spouse, yet we are riveted by the images. Some of our most popular sports rely on mayhem for their main attraction, the NFL, NHL, rodeos, and the infamous sport of wrassling and no holds barred fighting. I find it hard to believe that we would be so self-regulating that we could tolerate a wide open society.

So, while Rand Paul's statement about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extreme, what about the fact that to discriminate is just wrong. What about the fact that abusing one's spouse, child or pet is just wrong. Allowing companies to have unfettered access to capital and pay their employees millions of dollars in bonus when their actions damn near put the economy under is wrong. Allowing some people to refuse to buy insurance, yet use my money when they have an emergency is just plain wrong.

It isn't wrong to wish for Utopia. Wouldn't it be nice. Too often though, people who dream such thought don't think of what happens when the people living in Utopia don't behave in a Utopian manner.

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