Governmental Illness

Government warning: this title may become the first in a series.

An individual diagnosed with overtly paranoid tendencies might find himself swiftly institutionalized, restrained, deprived of his wallet and his autonomy, given plenty of supervision, even forcibly medicated: a group of people acting as an institutionalized government displaying overtly paranoid tendencies might demand fewer restraints, more autonomy, less supervision, and a bigger budget with extra funding thrown in for a war on people who use drugs voluntarily, and get all of the above via popular mandate. One powerless paranoid person should be treated as a menace to society, but society should trust a powerful organization of paranoid bureaucrats to save society from menaces? No wonder we humans need governments to save us from ourselves; in governments we trust to annihilate us all, and then humanity can start all over again from scratch. Hallelujah.

Governmental authority presumes human beings will act irrationally, incapably, and incompetently, on behalf of their own worst interests and for the debasement of society. Magically, once an incompetent, irrational human rises to power via popular mandate by other incompetent, irrational humans to represent them politically, he is suddenly and mysteriously transformed from being an untrustworthy idiot incapable of managing his own affairs into a brilliant statesman impeccably qualified to interfere in everyone else's.

Government serves a popular need for collective self-deception. In government we trust to fleece us and then pull our own stolen wool over our eyes. Listening to the radio in the car recently drove this point home to me in a couple of ways. First was the report of a study of Echinacea; an herb I've personally found useful, safe, and effective for bolstering my immune system. This study found that Echinacea did not cure cold symptoms such as sneezing and sniffling in children. That's a lot like saying that smoke detectors don't put out fires, or fire extinguishers don't sound warnings: these items have specific purposes. If you want to extinguish a fire, buy a fire extinguisher: good luck trying to put a fire out with your smoke detector, or in expecting your fire extinguisher to sound a smoke alarm. Echinacea works well as a preventative "smoke detector," perhaps, but it's not a curative "fire extinguisher." I don't know who funded or conducted this dubious Echinacea study, but I sure as hell smell a bureaucrat. Probably a "revolving door bureaucrat" with a nice downy nest feathered by the pharmaceutical lobby: just an uneducated guess.

Another example: Massachusetts promises to make a nasty boo-boo by requiring all its snowplow contractors to submit to GPS tracking this winter. Snowplow drivers already tolerate the whims of nature, never mind a berserk state government: when they work, they work long, cold, difficult hours. When it doesn't snow, they undoubtedly don't get paid; when it does snow, they reputedly wait months to get paid by the state. These guys are often out driving in the dead of night doing boring and lonely shifts; I for one don't want to see them reluctant to stop for a cup of coffee or make a hospitable pit stop to get rid of the last cup of coffee, lest some bureaucrat decides the pit stop wasn't warranted.

Half of these unappreciated heroes are apparently ready to draw the line, and they're promising to walk off the job come January 1st, when the idiotic GPS requirement goes into effect: it'll be a long, miserable and dangerous winter without them, but I say God Bless American snowplow drivers with enough courage to stand for liberty, even when that means walking off the job. I'll be cheering for them. They're on the front lines of an insidious incremental assault by the state that all drivers should prepare to defend against, and they probably know it.

It's easy to imagine what'll happen: Massachusetts will find itself in an economic bind of its own making, compelled to raise the pay rate to attract compliant snowplow drivers. State taxes will go up to fund the increase, and the state may have to pay bills on time to keep drivers with fewer principles; drivers who'll figure out how to make the most of the rules, since rules are all bureaucrats seem to understand. Perhaps the GPS system will soon be scrapped due to unforeseen consequences, technical glitches, or underestimated expenses, a specialty of governing types at all levels. Bureaucrats never seem to factor in the costs of bureaucracy; never expect a "reasonable estimate" from a public servant: for example, "the Big Dig," which turned out to be a MA grave for taxpayer dollars.

Writing on the subject of snowplow drivers has been an interesting exercise; like many New Englanders, I get mad (okay, *furious*) when the town crews leave a rock-hard mound of snow at the end of my driveway after I've shoveled it, or pelt my windshield with salt or sand as I'm driving. All the same, I'm one car, one driveway, out of hundreds or thousands along the way; I sure am glad the plows and the sand trucks allow me to get to work after I make it out of my driveway. The state has taken responsibility for and profit from maintaining the roadways; I won't credit the state for keeping the roads clean, and I won't blame the road crews for walking off the job. This may be a difficult winter, but I hope it'll be one winter that local bureaucrats will remember for a long, long time.

Strange: sometimes I feel like a lonely snowplow driver too, clearing long, dark, snowy, and solitary roads in the wee hours for traffic yet to come along the information highway; listening to intermittent static on the radio, wondering if I'll find a coffee shop open along the way, a place to warm my hands. This night, too, shall pass.

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