The Government IS The Devil

I'm having a conversation with one of my social conservative friends about marriage and child welfare. This is what I had to say:

The government IS the Devil. Not metaphorically. Really.

Everything you get from government will have a price much larger than the value of the object gained. Some times the price will not be extracted from you. Sometimes it will be from your children, your grand children, or ten generations hence. But the full price the government wants will be extracted at compound interest.

We are still paying the price for trying to be a free people while holding slaves. My great great grand parents lived on another continent when all that went on. And yet the price is being extracted from me.

What I'm trying to teach you is that the only way out is Liberty. You put the government in charge of other people's children for their own good and some day the government will come after yours. Either intervene in a bad situation personally or leave it alone. There is no other way to save your Liberty.

A commenter who read this post said it was good but that he would have liked a longer exposition. So here goes:

Government IS the devil. Social conservatives of a different era got government into the marriage business to prevent race mixing. Cultural conservatives are now paying the price for their error.

The only answer that is equitable to all is to get government out of marriage: the libertarian solution. You really do not want government protecting your culture. Because some day in a way you can't imagine the protections sought will be used against your culture.

As I have been harping on since the election. The libertarian view (small limited government) is your best protection. You are now coming against Cultural Socialism. It is just as bad, maybe worse, than Economic Socialism. The answer is not more law to fix the law that created the mess. It is less law.

Government out of marriage.

How about a different example. Cultural conservatives of a different era were one of the forces behind the public school movement. They were intent on indoctrinating Catholic and Jewish immigrants into Real Americanism. Cultural Socialism at its finest. So laws were passed and now government controls the schools and you know social conservatives lost control. They instituted Cultural Socialism by passing laws and control got away from them.

Government out of the school business.

Some people wanted to use the law as a bludgeon. And now that bludgeon is being used against their offspring a number of generations down the road. The Devil will always get his due.

Government IS the Devil.

In any area that you chose to get government to do something for you it will ultimately be allowed to do something against you.

Which is why cultural conservatives have more to gain from libertarians than just their votes.

Down with Cultural Socialism.

"Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away." And that is not just true about economics. It is true about culture as well. Take it to heart.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 11.24.08 at 12:30 AM










Comments

As I said over at Power and Control, Government is the Devil's evil twin.

They are both evil, but at least the Devil lets you enjoy your sin before rewarding you with an eternity of torture.

Loren Heal   ·  November 24, 2008 8:42 AM

I'm game for getting the government out of marriage. Trust me, the less paperwork to fill out, the better. It was no fun having to take an extra day off of work in order to go to City Hall to get a license. I still haven't formally changed my last name. Why? Because I HATE paperwork and going to the DMV, social security office, and waiting in lines etc. Pain in the neck! So I'm down with anything that decreases paperwork. Maybe we can get some environmentalist traction out of this! :)

However, I still don't think that getting the government out of marriage will stop gay activists from suing private institutions like churches, charities and businesses in order to get their way.

Why do you think gay activists will cease and desist if the government gets out of the marriage business?

Jolyn   ·  November 24, 2008 9:33 AM

Jolyn,

It would certainly put "the right of free association" on a firmer foundation if the government had nothing to do with marriage.

What is most ironic is that cultural conservatives have spent decades at least intellectually tearing down the "wall of separation".

Well the wall is crumbling. They are getting what they wanted. Only not in the way they wanted. I said the wall was to protect the churches. They laughed at me and that quasi atheist Jefferson.

I get the last laugh. Some people are too stupid to know what is good for them. My hope is they get smarter very quick.

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 9:44 AM

Well, I hope you are correct that the freedom of association would be upheld but I have my doubts.

However, I'm totally supportive of getting government out of the marriage business but have a few practical questions. What about divorce laws? Would the government still handle that? And where would non-religious people go to get married?

To give cultural conservatives their fair due, they have been trying to get government out of education (vouchers and home schooling initiatives)for a while now.

As far as the drug wars go, there is nothing that I would love more to do than to bankrupt gang members and terrorists. I do worry though about the effects of legal drugs. Comparing Prohibition to Drug Wars only goes so far in my opinion because of the intrinsic nature of the different substances. For instance, teenagers getting their hands on alcohol and getting drunk--worst case scenario: alcohol poisoning; most likely case scenario: they have a terrible hangover. Teens getting their hands on drugs: ruining their lives to the extent that their brains stop developing. This actually happened to my friend's sister. She was a bright, pretty teen who loved gymnastics. She fell into the wrong crowd in high school and started taking drugs. The drugs altered her brain chemistry to the extent that she became violent and now is a 15 year old living in the 300 lb body of a 40+ year old. She is living on welfare since she can't get a job and just had knee surgery due to her weight. It totally tore this family apart and is heartbreaking. I understand that hard cases make bad law but I'm a bit nervous of the social consequences of making very dangerous substances legal. Worst case scenario: we have loads of more people on welfare. Perhaps we should try just legalizing pot first to see how that goes. What do you think?

Jolyn   ·  November 24, 2008 10:57 AM

To give cultural conservatives their fair due, they have been trying to get government out of education (vouchers and home schooling initiatives)for a while now.

Well they ought to. They were one of the main drivers for getting government into education. They (we) are being screwed by one of their previous moral imperatives.

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Class War

Treatment vs Recreation

Round Pegs In Round Holes

The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise by Milton Friedman

===

As to your friend. Drugs were not the cause. They in fact were an indication of an untreated medical condition. Ask any psychological intake nurse at your local hospital(s) about drugs.

It is all explained in the above links. It may take a while to read but I think you will enjoy getting educated.

The substances are not dangerous. What is dangerous is untreated medical conditions.

Drugs are ta da drugs. They solve medical problems. Addiction is just another name for "untreated (by the medical industrial complex) medical conditions". Without the underlying medical conditions no "craving" for drugs.

And don't miss reading this in the PTSD link:

Fear memories, the amygdala, and the CB1 receptor

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 11:18 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/24/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

David M   ·  November 24, 2008 11:34 AM

"the right of free association"

Ask eHarmony how well that is working out.

dre   ·  November 24, 2008 12:17 PM

dre,

The only answer to that is to make libertarian thought more popular. It will take a while. And there will be more outrages along the way. But I think it can be done.

The judges do not stand up for free association because hardly any one talks about it as a valid principle in America any more. A lot of re-education will be required. Sadly so far it is only the libs who articulate it in a coherent way.

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 12:30 PM

Thanks for the links! I'll read up on them. There is much to what you are saying about untreated medical conditions. It turned out that my friend's sister had latent schizophrenic/bipolar disorders but she wouldn't have developed those mental illnesses until possibly later in life. However, the drugs that she was taking brought the conditions on much, much earlier. It's very tragic since she had much potential. Also, her social workers have indoctrinated her into voting for Dems. Anyhow, I'll read the links that you gave me.

As far as getting rid of social conservatives from the Republican Party, I think that would be a huge tactical error. Let me use myself as an example. I started out as a social conservative since I am pro life. I've also been a hawk as long as I remember since strong national defense is the one thing keeping lunatics of all stripes at bay. Now, I am not a numbers person and didn't understand the little that I was taught in public high school about economic theory. It may have been that my teachers didn't explain it well enough or that I was just not ready to understand it at the time. Who knows? I believed that Republicans were for starving poor people and had images of Les Miserable dancing around in my head. Now, being pro-life kept me in the conservative sphere and eventually allowed me to understand and gravitate to other conservative ideals. I get fiscal conservatism now. But I may never have gotten to this point if it were not for social conservatism.

The best way to make inroads into black and hispanic voters is to educate them on what fiscal conservatism really means. We have made huge errors by allowing the liberal establishment to define us and frame our arguments to their political advantage. Social conservatism is the one thing we have in common with these voters. We should get the social conservatives to reach out to them and then allow the fiscal conservatives to educate them on economics and libertarian values. I seriously think that much of this is a huge misunderstanding that can be remedied through outreach, education and a marketing "face lift".

Jolyn   ·  November 24, 2008 1:21 PM

Jolyn,

As far as I know no reputable Drs. think that drugs bring on the condition. People self medicate when they have the condition.

Adolescence - being a high stress time can often accelerate schizophrenia. If you are friends with the girl talk to her about the stresses in her life when she started doing drugs. Was she abused in any way? A social outcast? Did some school mates beat her up? Those are usually the triggers. Emotionally what kind of family was she in? In any case one never knows. Drugs are a cheap scapegoat.

This is something you ought to read to get a general grounding (also provided above)

Round Pegs In Round Holes

Drs. provide legal drugs that fill the same receptors as illegal drugs. The brain doesn't care. It just wants those receptors filled.

==

And I'm not trying to kick socons out of the party. What I'm trying to show them is how government intervention in culture begets more government intervention in culture. The same way it works in economics. I know quite a few social conservatives who take my point of view. They see the only safety for the life they want to lead is in libertarian ideas. I would like to have those kinds of social conservatives dominant in the party.

I agree about economics. The party has done a poor job in teaching economics and a worse job in living up to its economic ideals.

Let me add that getting the government out of women's wombs is a very good deal for social conservatives. We don't need a two child maximum policy re: procreation. Or should population start to decline a two child mandatory minimum.

Free access to abortion is the price you pay for keeping the government out of your womb. The best answer to abortion in the short term is to make more males available to the population that is having the most abortions. End the War On Drugs. A little longer term is to get the government out of welfare.

But you know in the very shortest term what has had the most effect? Sarah Palin leading by example.

And yeah. Marketing. I would like to see social conservative libertarians as the face of the party. That would be as inclusive as you can get. Economics, Liberty, Defense, Social Conservatism. A "Leave Us Alone" Party. There is a hunger for such a party.

Bless you,

Simon

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 2:00 PM

Phew! I'm relieved that you don't want us gone! :) By the way, did you receive the email that I sent you about a week ago? It was about lowering abortion through being fiscally conservative. I'm really interested in your opinions on the matter.

Also, I agree 100% that the black community needs more male competition for females. There is a website dedicated to encouraging black females to date outside their race for that exact reason. It is shameful the way that black females are treated. I would also be in favor of releasing non violent drug offenders. If Bill Ayers and his wife can escape jail, there is no excuse to keep the non violent druggies. Perhaps giving them useful training in another career before releasing them?

As far as my friend's sister is concerned, perhaps my friend misunderstood. However, she had a similar problem with pot. She started to smoke it in high school despite warnings from her sister. She said that she got the paranoid sort of high followed by panic attacks that continue to this day. She warned her cousins that they might have the same conditions if they smoked up. They didn't listen to her. One of them wound up with chronic panic attacks. I don't know what to make of it. None of us are science people so the genetic explanation made sense to us. I haven't had time yet to read the links you sent but will when I have the chance.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Jolyn

Jolyn   ·  November 24, 2008 7:58 PM

Jolyn,

I'm trying to convince my social conservative friends that Cultural Socialism is just as bad as Economic Socialism. I'm glad you get it.

The paranoid stuff might indicate latent schizophrenia. Now it would be good if drugs were legal so that doctors might have some input on drug use. As it is the only advice people get is from friends and criminals.

===

I don't recall receiving your e-mail. Send it again and I promise a reply. Even if it is just an acknowledge. BTW I love your thoughtful responses. If the Republican party had more of you and it became the image instead of the rabid fanatics I really think we could start winning elections again.

I'm probably too libertarian to be a poster boy for the Republicans but, you have to admit I leaven the mix.

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 8:13 PM

This ideological libertarianism is ultimately nihilistic. So gov't shouldn't protect culture? Are you serious? Then how do you protect those classical values that buttress our way of life? Those are normative values that are derived from a certain cultural way of thinking.

That makes a mockery out of democracy and reduces it merely to a process of passing laws, devoid of any context. How is our society any different then, say Venezula, or Russia? Or western European gov'ts where traditional society has imploded as socialism has taken over not just economically, but culturally? Sharia in Britian anyone?

Culture is the context of society--we're not just a bunch of atomized individuals in it. And politics reflect culture. The gov't is often not the solution but it's hardly the devil--it's a necessary evil. What this proposes is ignoring any cultural lanes in the road and worse, stands silent as Gramscian tactics of socialism rot away our society.

Democracy isn't just about liberty--it's about a balance between equality, justice and liberty. And this viewpoint upholds liberty for adults while ignoring justice of the most vulnerable persons in our society--children. Just about every study out there shows kids in general, that are not from traditional marriages, have more emotional problems and academic difficulties than kids in a stable home with 2 married adults. Family is the most basic institution in any civilization. If you really don't think traditional family raising kids is ultimately related to our civic culture that underlies democracy, you're in for a rude awakening.

If they're all consenting adults, why not polgamous marriages then, where women are completely inferior to men? Why not incesteous marriages, if a brother and sister don't want to have kids? Why not sharia then, if the women say they want to participate in it? Get the picture? This allows the worst kind of multiculturalism to run amok. And because you don't want to defend your own culture, guess what, it will eventually be destroyed and democracy with it.

dragonlady1   ·  November 24, 2008 8:33 PM

dragonlady,

How do you protect Classical Values like Liberty? Leave people alone. Teach them don't enforce them.

I propose eliminating government schools as a first step in my "Leave Us Alone" plan.

===

Ah. Yes. Democracy. I was under the impression we lived in a Republic. And you know I'm a supporter of the Republican Party. You want Democracy? There is a party for that. It is called the Democrat Party. You have heard of them?

Of course. For the children. May I suggest making them wards of the state?

But you are right. We must do something about marriage. May I suggest that we license only married people to have children? And the state takes away the children if there is a divorce until one of the divorced partners gets a new mate of the opposite sex and they get married. That way children will always have two parents. Or the benevolent government looking after them.

I would go farther. To set an example no divorced or single people can hold legislative or executive office in government. And they would have to have at least one child.

I think with these simple rules we can restore our Culture for once and for all.

In fact maybe we can outlaw divorce for any reason. That Ronald Reagan set a really bad example for our nation. And Newt Gingrich? A total disgrace. There are a lot of other politicians who claim to be Republicans who need to be drummed out of the Party.

You know I think our standard bearer for the next election should be Alan Keyes. Unlike the evil Cheney he has disowned his lesbian daughter. Now there is a man who stands for real Republican Morality. We need more like him.

Once the government totally controls the culture we will see a return to American greatness. Classical Values will be restored. The Liberty thing has been way overdone. There can be no Liberty for adults where children are concerned. And I know just how to do it. Marriage is 'til death do us part. So I propose the death penalty for any one requesting a divorce. That should cut back on the requests. And any one who has already gotten a divorce? Death for them too. You can't be too careful where children are concerned.

(\sarc)

No, the real deal is: if the individuals in society will not support a given culture the government is powerless. I mean there has been a war on opiates going on at the Federal level for 95 years. How is that working? We have had a war on marijuana for 70 years. Are we making progress? Yes we are. It is the Black family that is most in danger from the marriage breakdown. And our solution has been to see that 1/3 of the marriage age black men are in the criminal justice system and many more have felony records for drug offenses thus reducing their earing power and making government a better prospect for the bread winner of last resort.

So we have a choice. Make war on black men and thus the black family or give it up.

And what group in America is most in favor of the drug war? Why none other than those decrying the break down of marriage. Classical Values indeed.

Here is a bit that explains it all:

Demographics

Read it and weep. Or dance for joy. Depending.

M. Simon   ·  November 24, 2008 9:40 PM

I guess you did not see the word BALANCE in my post. So here it is again: there's a balance between justice, equality, and liberty, irrespective if you want to refer to this nation as a democracy or republic. Setting up strawmen examples with no liberty whatsoever for adults clearly ignores this.

How is gov't recognizing traditional marriage as an institution that is usually beneficial to children and society at large controlling culture? It's a reflection of what the majority of people in this country believe in, and they simply do not want a small minority to use government, via judicial fiat, to redefine it.

Speaking of blacks, the welfare state is what destroyed the black family, and we see the consequences of it. That preceded the drug war, a completely separate topic.

Now you're proposing government get out of marriage, consequences to kids and society be damned. How does your brand of libertinarism help families? How do you teach values when government completely ignores moral judgement to the most fundamental institution in civilization--what message do you send? Indeed, if marriage rates decline, who will teach or emulate those values, since gov't will get out of schools?

In countries that recognize gay marriage like Holland & Britian, marriage itself has become meaningless, and marriage rates have declined significantly. Due to lost family incomes, it has pushed single parent families into the welfare system, increasing pressure to sustain a large nanny state. Which in turn, reinforces a lack of marriage. It's not merely a coincidence these countries and Scandinava have socialist economies. Single parent families in the US are already at disproportionately lower income levels. So this is something that can potentially have adverse consequences on our entire society, not just one demographic group.

And how does recognizing traditional marriage stop anyone else from being in another legal relationship, like civil unions? How is it taking away liberty? Society at large agreeing to cultural guard rails is hardly
controlling culture. It's merely having laws recognize and incentivize a beneficial institution. Why would you not want to support that?


dragonlady1   ·  November 25, 2008 12:54 AM

M. Simon--

The expanded version is definitely better; thanks for taking the time.

In any area that you chose to get government to do something for you it will ultimately be allowed to do something against you.

I would change the word "allowed" to "pressured," because once you've given the government control of a given area, you have already allowed it to do anything it wants in that area. It's only a matter of time before there arises an interest group that wants government to take action that appalls you -- and if that interest group can apply enough pressure, you will be appalled (and probably apoplectic).

It's like asking a casual acquaintance to take your car in for a tune-up. You don't know what he'll do with it while he's driving it, and you may never get the keys back.

On a different point: Marijuana really can trigger paranoia. That's why I had to quit smoking it. After a decade of near-daily use, I became convinced that my neighbors were sniffing at my windows and calling the cops on me. Once I quit smoking the stuff, the paranoia went away. I miss the high, but not the irrational, bone-chilling fear. Just my experience. Your Mileage May Vary.

KODjr   ·  November 25, 2008 5:03 AM

Yes, but your fear is rational in the current legal environment. This is like many other anti-drug arguments, which mostly assume the current legal regime. (i.e. high price, criminal violence, association with other bad outcomes, etc.) Do the people get paranoid in the Amsterdam coffee shops? I doubt it.

Eric E. Coe   ·  November 25, 2008 8:41 AM

dragonlady,

Gay marriage is God's judgment on Social Conservatives for their former oppression of gays. And you know God is just.

How many times did God destroy Israel for not following his way. Not the letter of the law but with love in their hearts?

Do not harden your heart. Accept God's judgment and mend your ways. That is the only way forward and in time it will fix the problem.

And what is God asking? Do not use the sword (government) to enforce his will. The sword will in time be used against you. Let and assist the Lord to work his will in his way. Follow Jesus not the Devil. Jesus was not big on swords as a method of social change. The Devil loves them.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Enter men's hearts. Do not put guns to their heads. I think Jesus got that one right. How about you?

Note: I'm not a follower of any organized religion although I'm nominally Jewish and have a great affection for the Jewish culture.

You might also want to look into how a study of the Talmud by Christians led to the Reformation. It might open an eye or two.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud

Two years later, Pope Martin V, who had convened this disputation, issued a bull (which was destined, however, to remain inoperative) forbidding the Jews to read the Talmud, and ordering the destruction of all copies of it. Far more important were the charges made in the early part of the sixteenth century by the convert Johannes Pfefferkorn, the agent of the Dominicans. The result of these accusations was a struggle in which the emperor and the pope acted as judges, the advocate of the Jews being Johann Reuchlin, who was opposed by the obscurantists; and this controversy, which was carried on for the most part by means of pamphlets, became the precursor of the Reformation

M. Simon   ·  November 25, 2008 10:10 AM

KODjr.

Glad you liked it.

M. Simon   ·  November 25, 2008 10:15 AM

So specifically, dragonlady, which of your values are you comfortable with forcing on the rest of us at government gunpoint? And could you demonstrate to us, logically, your right to do so?

Bilwick1   ·  November 25, 2008 11:56 AM

Simon,

Look, I'm a garden variety conservative and on the three pillars of conservativism, I'm the most to least conservative in the following order: having a strong national security policy, believing in laissez-faire capitalism and fiscal conservatism, and legislating socially conservative values. I'm Christian, but I'm not particularly religious as I do not belong to a church nor do I proselytize to others. What most people I believe is asking for, is some reasonable BALANCE on the issue of marriage, while perserving personal liberty.

Since you like to point out we're a republic, it's completely within the purview of the people to ask their local and state representatives to make laws that reflect their values as long as it's constitutional. And the people have long believed, and the courts have recognized that government has a good reason to be involved in marriage for the well-being of society.

In this manner, government recognition of traditional marriage is not forcing values on anyone. No one is putting a gun to peoples' heads telling them to get married, or that they must have a government piece of paper. Is it favoring a specific institution and arrangement? Yes it is, because it believes the benefits of doing so far outweigh the cons to society.

By advocating absolute liberty as an end to itself, devoid of any contextual reality such as the role of virtue, you're asking people to ask their government to stand for...nothing. Because you do not want to allow people to define some cultural guidelines through the give and take of the democratic process, you in the end, do not defend a political culture which favors reasonable discourse and compromise. You are the one who becomes intolerant to other people's viewpoints by depriving them of their discussion in the political sphere.

With this sort of libertanarism, society devolves into coarseness, vulgarity, and accepted forms of violence without restraint. People, and in this example specifically, children, are at the mercy of others' cruelness or selfishness.

So why not pologamy? Who cares that women are treated horribly in such communities? Why not child brides if a certain church like Warren Jeffs, believes in it? Such a black and white view defacto favors nihilsm.

So while some would uphold the principle of limiting government's role no matter what the cost, you completely ignore the impact of such policies on the most vulnerable in society. Asking gov't to completely ignore moral values, such as ones that negatively impact children's well-being, is inhumane. Do you ever stop to wonder how many eggs you're going to break to make that omelet?

Anonymous   ·  November 25, 2008 3:34 PM

A libertarian is a conservative who wants to smoke dope.

dragonlady1   ·  November 25, 2008 3:48 PM

Anon.,

The gays are just getting revenge for their persecution at the hands of social conservatives.

If you want to be religious about it: consider it God's punishment for engaging in evil. Christians ought to accept their punishment and take the lessons to heart. Maybe they will regain God's favor if they humble themselves before Him and those they have persecuted.

==

Ah. Yes. The perennial "for the children". I would prefer living in a country of adults. But glad to see your admission that there are so few around.

The nanny state always has its most reasonable defenders. No wonder you don't sign your name or even give a handle.

Coarseness and vulgarity? We got pornography of all kinds on the internet. No one in government even attempts to police it any more.

Christians are a rather weak lot if they can't maintain their values and beliefs in the face of coarseness and vulgarity. I'm told the original Christians had to face lions. What an effete lot today's Christians are. No wonder they need the guns of the State to defend them. Is there a brave man among them?

And yes you can ask for any kinds of laws you want and often get them. We are still paying for slavery so perhaps some circumspection is in order. Not everything you can do is wise. And if it is unwise it is going to cost you. Pay willingly. It is cheaper. Or better yet avoid the debt in the first place.

==

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

Now there was an adult. Pity there aren't more like him.

M. Simon   ·  November 25, 2008 4:05 PM

And a social conservative is some one who can run other's lives better than they can.

M. Simon   ·  November 25, 2008 4:07 PM

I'm not asking the government to stand for nothing. I'm asking it to stand for Liberty.

Probably the scariest substance on earth. Also the costliest.

What a weak lot Americans have become to be so afraid of Liberty. Men died to give it to you and you treat it like a toxic substance. I laugh at your wretched condition. Groveling before government to protect you from Liberty. Not a man among you - those who fear Freedom.

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!" Samuel Adams

Craven cowards the lot of you.

M. Simon   ·  November 25, 2008 4:18 PM

Eric--

Yes, but your fear is rational in the current legal environment. This is like many other anti-drug arguments, which mostly assume the current legal regime. (i.e. high price, criminal violence, association with other bad outcomes, etc.) Do the people get paranoid in the Amsterdam coffee shops? I doubt it.

I dunno. When my paranoia began to develop, I was living in a single-family detached home between a gay couple that smoked way more weed than I did, and a straight couple who gave no indication that they disapproved of marijuana use. When I wasn't stoned, the idea of their sniffing at my windows seemed ridiculous, especially since there are six-foot tall fences between our houses. When I was stoned, it struck me as perfectly reasonable that they'd climb over the fences, sniff at my windows, and call the cops on me.

So I'm guessing that at least some people in those Amsterdam coffee shops experience a bit of paranoia. And, like me, they probably quit smoking dope after a while.

KODjr   ·  November 25, 2008 11:58 PM

M. Simon--

Craven cowards the lot of you.

Hey! The some of us, maybe, but not the lot of us.

KODjr   ·  November 26, 2008 12:39 AM

KODjr.

I think I specifically singled out those who fear Freedom as the cowards.

M. Simon   ·  November 26, 2008 12:35 PM

KODjr: "So I'm guessing that at least some people in those Amsterdam coffee shops experience a bit of paranoia. And, like me, they probably quit smoking dope after a while."

Yes, it's possible - I was being a bit flip before. Though it's also possible that the real effect you are describing is "mood enhancement" (or maybe "exaggeration")- i.e. if you have a small reason to feel fear, it's gets obsessively blown all out of proportion when you were high, due to your impaired reasoning ability at the time.

Due to natural genetic variation, people react differently to all sorts of drugs - I was doing some reading recently about the side effects of Lotrel (a common blood-pressure medication) and was struck by the wide range of variations in the self-reporting, from "I feel fine, works great, BP under control" to some truly horrid side-effects; in addition to being absolutely deadly for fetuses. Nevertheless, it's commonplace wisdom that doctors need to have a lot of options for treating serious medical conditions even if each particular drug may be harmful for some.

One potential advantage to legalization of recreational drugs is that the user can get (and is more likely to feel comfortable asking for) proper specific medical advice about them from doctors (not the "drugs are bad" mindless tripe we normally get) - like the way people with, say, liver problems probably should not drink alcohol, but it's ok in moderation for healthy people (and may even be good for your health, if it's a glass of red wine at dinner).

In general, one of the things I foresee in a more legalized environment, if such comes to pass, is an increased amount of folk wisdom concerning where the lines are to be drawn socially concerning drug use. Again, the way we deal with alcohol is very much a model. If someone puts away a fifth of whiskey a day, every day, it's obvious he/she has a serious drinking problem. Sane people avoid drunks, they don't make good husbands or wives, you can't trust them with anything, etc.. On the other hand, the guy who has that glass of wine with dinner, or the occasional beer, an maybe only ties one on for some special event like New Year's is pretty much normal - not scary. Both types, though, as long as they don't break the law (i.e. drunk driving), are being sorted out and dealt with properly and with nuance by society, without the need for heavy-handed legal intervention.

I think that in many cases, the cumulative action of fair-minded people in the course of ordinary daily interaction is far more sensitive, nuanced and effective ("It's me or the booze, dear - if you don't stop, I'm leaving!") in dealing with many social problems than the blind, bureaucratic action of the government and legal system.

And social consensus is more flexible, and can change over time as new information comes in - what works and does not work, etc. The law is a much cruder tool and requires all sorts of messiness and political effort to change, even when badly out date with the current times (as current drug law is IMO).
Issues are not decided based on careful thought and collective experience, but on who screams the loudest, who has the snappiest sound bites, the party letter by their name, the difficulty of some ideas to even get a hearing in the face of the canned narratives of the media, etc..

Eric E. Coe   ·  November 27, 2008 12:36 PM

Re-reading the above, I think I need to sharpen the point to the mention of "genetic variation": We all know that people react differently to alcohol consumption - some don't really like it, and rarely or never drink, some like to partake only occasionally, some like it in moderation (or have decided that anything more than moderation does not fit their goals in life), and some people dive into the bottle, never to return. With all possibilities in-between. The reasons for this are likely a combination of genetics and social background (like most anything else). The point is, the societal reaction to drinking behavior takes these variations into account. For most people, drinking is not a problem, one way or another. Others experience it as a danger and (sooner or later) get things under control (or not). And for a small group of people, nothing can be done - they will drink their lives away no matter what. This is sad, but it's the human condition - no law can change it, really. The law is not a cure for all possible bad choices and outcomes on our lives.

The drug warriors routinely get away with outrageous rhetoric containing broad-brush characterizations of drug users based on selected anecdotes and horror stories. These are a distortion of the many possibilities in actual human experience. And they exploit to the maximum their positional advantage in public discourse - especially in the context of something like an election. If someone tries to speak from personal experience (usually the most reliable thing around), he is automatically discredited without a hearing. On the other hand, professionals are wary of speaking out (although many still do) for fear of sanctions and limits to their future earnings potential. (I.e. "shoot the messenger".) And the drug war is connected with the culture wars in general, which is more about groups fighting for power over each other than about any rational argument or objective public good.

So we keep on expanding the police state, denying liberty and destroying lives in the blind pursuit of an un-winnable drug war (which is essentially a war against pleasure), at it continues to do damage because the issue is a matter of draconian law instead of social custom.

Just suppose, in some alternate universe, that either Bush or Obama got caught by the police doing coke when they were young. Would we have ever even heard of them? Like them or not, they would never have had a chance to fulfill their potential. So, is the distinction between "good" and "bad" people merely a matter of luck? Who just happens to escape the notice of the authorities or not? How arbitrary. How insane.

Eric E. Coe   ·  November 27, 2008 2:00 PM

Eric E. Coe,

Yes!

M. Simon   ·  November 27, 2008 3:57 PM

Simon,

While you mock my "for the children" view on traditional marriage, your silence on the impact of your proposed policies on them is deafening. You never address it. I can't figure out if your reply on "I prefer to live among adults" means you don't like children?

You've made my point exactly. While you theoretically applaud the liberty that individuals have in choosing to partake in porn of their own free will, parents and their kids CANNOT CHOSE to escape the vulgarization of culture and the ubiquity of pornography any longer. Individual freedoms can impact others determinentally, again, the most vulnerable in this case. (I'm not suggesting we outlaw porn, just as I never suggested we ban relationships outside of traditional marriage. In my view, civil unions is a reasonable compromise. Somehow, you seem to view this as extreme. To most of us who support it, it's common sense if you ever had kids). But the sexualization of children, especially girls, at younger and younger ages is repungnant. Guess that's an inconvenience they'll just have to live with if adults can have all their most extreme liberties, no matter the consequences--and if they don't have good parents, than tough luck for them, eh?

dragonlady1   ·  November 28, 2008 6:33 PM

dragon lady,

Some advice given by a sage a long time ago:

If thine eye offend thee pluck it out.

That guy was an adult. Do you remember his name? It escapes me at the moment.

===

It is up to parents to protect their children. It is not the job of the government. If you as a parent are not up to the job - well avoid having children.

But hey. If you think it is the government's job Hillary has a political party for you.

==

I have a very fetching young daughter who is now a senior in high school. My mate and I are rather tolerant of her clothing styles etc. We more or less let her have her own way. And you know what - other than a very short period when she tried it out and then gave it up - slut wear wasn't her thing. Still isn't.

So why didn't she follow the popular styles? Well the emphasis in our family has always been on brains. And you know slut wear just doesn't fit in with the braniac image. You see we provided her a culture where that stuff just wouldn't work. We didn't have to say a word.

===

As far as I'm concerned popular culture can go to hell. I have zero control over it. Better yet I have no interest in controlling it. All I have to provide to counter popular culture is a family culture - not one based on force - but merely on emphasis. It has worked rather well.

All my kids value learning - the rest follows from that.

==

But there are a lot of folks who fear what they can't control. And you know what I call those types - Godless. Because - as I recall - it says in the Good Book that if God is in your heart you have nothing to fear. Nothing.

It is much easier to mouth pieties than to have God in your heart. Words of wisdom from another old sage. In fact it might have been the same one. I forget.

===

So many Christians. So few followers of Jesus.

M. Simon   ·  November 28, 2008 9:08 PM

It is interesting dragon lady that you think government can take the place of strong families. I guess that attitude - so prevalent these days - is why socialism of all stripes is so popular.

Perhaps if government was weaker families would be stronger. Out of necessity.

M. Simon   ·  November 28, 2008 9:13 PM

Simon,

First, you don't have to lecture me on Americans dying for freedom. I'm in the military and have participated in the last 4 conflicts this country deemed necessary to risk American lives for the sake of freedom. Many in the military are from those socially conservative areas that are hip to disparage these days.

Also, you don't have to throw theological precepts in my face--I have not done that to anyone in this thread, and can read the Bible myself. I guess by merely calling myself a Christian, I can expect hostility and demonization of Christians from certain individuals despite us being a rather diverse bunch, plus lot of religion thrown at me, to boot.

To prove your points, you radically skew and misrepresent socially conservative views of traditional marriage by conflating gov't recognition of it with socialism. This is an intellectually dishonest premise to people who know what real socialism is, and believe me, both sides of my family fled to the US from communist societies so I understand very well what socialism is.

While there are wackos in the movement just like there is in any movement, most social conservatives I know do not fear freedom, but they do not want our society to self-destruct into fits of nihilism, and they are under no illusions on how easily human nature can lead us there (see Roman Empire).

Liberty is a wonderful thing, but no freedom is absolute, not even the ones in our Bill of Rights. Every healthy society has always had cultural norms and values in place to uphold virtuous behavior and shun what it considers inappropriate behavior. Simple gov't recognition of those norms is not oppression. Individual rights do not always automatically translate what's best for the group in all cases. While I'm more in favor of individual rights than the collective in the big spectrum, most reasonable folks recognize that sometimes there are certain things that government does need to for the collective. Defense, building infrastructure, etc are just a few of those things. Your view lacks the nuance of reality in the cultural arena.

And I find your statement that government shouldn't protect children quite reductionist and highly idealistic, to the point of being dangerous. Sure, families are the first line of defense, and we can't protect kids from everything nor do I believe parents should try to overly control them, but what about kids that do not have the benefit of good parents? Or relationships, like polgamy, where women and children are raised as mere property, and are not equal to men? This so-called tolerance in the name of liberty can lead to very intolerant forms of behavior--just because it does not come from the hand at government does not make it any less harmful.

Insisting dogmatically government is always evil and individual rights is always the ONLY answer, with no recognition that a pluralist democracy often hashes out compromises among groups, not just individuals, and further ignoring values like justice and equality sounds narrowly ideological to me. While it's within our power to define ourselves, to some extent, our culture defines us. Ask any minority their view on how easy it is to escape cultural expectations.

But go ahead and ignore that, plus every other rational point I've written and call me a socialist or whatever you like for disagreeing with you. I'd say Happy Thanksgiving weekend but I'd hate to be shouted down for imposing my views on anyone else, simply for having an opinion, since there were pilgrims and religion involved in it.

dragonlady1   ·  November 29, 2008 1:54 AM

dragonlady,

Socialism is Cultural and Economic. It is always about enhancing or destroying some aspect of the culture. This was especially pronounced in the political program of the German socialists 1933 to 45 and in Mussolini's Italy.

Socialism broadly defined is using government guns to keep people in line. And that includes culture as well as economics.

Social conservatives want to believe government can be a force for good culturally. It is just as vain a hope as those who believe government can be a force for good economically.

But like all faith in government it is the worship of a false god.

BTW I am rather a religious person and love God talk. God tells me stuff. Of course it could just be my mild schizophrenia talking. But the voice did tell me to start a family and I have never regretted it - so who knows?

In addition I was a nuke RO in the surface Navy. Three months of combat pay during the 'Nam dust up. DLG(N)-25.

And thank you for what you have done in your service. I owe you a debt of gratitude. Well done.

M. Simon   ·  November 29, 2008 10:43 AM

dragon lady,

If I was interested in shouting you down there is a very easy way at my disposal - delete comments.

I rather prefer that you voice your views. Only after vigorous debate can any serious conclusions be reached.

M. Simon   ·  November 29, 2008 4:21 PM

Great article.

"And a social conservative is some one who can run other's lives better than they can."

I think you're using too broad of a brush here. This presupposes that a social conservative can't be a libertarian. If this were true, I wouldn't exist. I think it's important to emphasize that a polticial "libertarian" is not the same thing as a person who lives a "libertine" life.

No, the way forward for a powerful pro-liberty political movement is to bring non-statist social conservatives *in*, not push them out. You've already got a great headstart on this with gun rights.

Joe   ·  December 1, 2008 2:07 PM

Joe,

I'm with you. Totally.

It was a throw away line in response to another line a comment or three above it.

But you must admit there is a germ of truth there and it is that germ that the MSM uses to paint all Republicans.

And I do count a number of social conservatives among my allies. Some recently converted by my writings on the subject.

As to libertines - such a life gave us St. Augustine. So perhaps closing off the libertine life through government action has unanticipated consequences. One obvious one being: learning by hard experience. Another: sowing wild oats and getting them out of your system.

M. Simon   ·  December 1, 2008 2:43 PM

Quite right. The germ of truth undeniably exists, and it takes many forms -- people telling others what to eat, what to smoke, what they're permitted to believe in, what they're permitted to spend their money on, with whom they can associate, what they can say, etc.

Unfortunately, in many cases it is more than a germ. You can pretty much forget Rod Dreher, for example! But I definitely believe that the way forward is coalescing around a robust pro-freedom message. It's the only way to go.

Joe   ·  December 1, 2008 11:56 PM

Joe,

Do you have a link(s) for some of the Rod Dreher stuff you found objectionable? I might want to do a post on it.

M. Simon   ·  December 2, 2008 2:41 PM

The most aneurysm-inducing Dreher post for me was this one:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/12/gops-path-to-vi.html

"Today, the greatest threats to conservative interests come not from the Soviet Union or high taxes, but from too much individual freedom."

Argh!

Dreher strikes me as someone deeply confused about the role of culture vs the role of government. I believe that he sees them as essentially one in the same. Culture is, in my opinion, of higher importance than government -- and culture should be protected from government, not directly tinkered with here and there via well-meaning (but completely harmful and misguided) public policy.

I'd definitely be interested to read your thoughts on it if you decide that it's post-worthy.

Joe   ·  December 3, 2008 11:11 AM

Joe,

Thanks! I'm giving it a read and will do a post if I can think of an angle.

BTW there seem to be a lot of confused people on the right. However, if the e-mails I get from time to time are any indication some social conservatives are starting to see the light.

M. Simon   ·  December 3, 2008 12:20 PM

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