Sunday, December 4, 2005

I don't vote but I do destroy my rationed ballot

Until the the actions and choices of individuals are judged according to the consequences of their behaviour in relation to the inherent rights of other individuals, any restrictions on personal preference, as decreed by the government, are necessarily arbitrary and unjust.

Possession of marijuana will remain a criminal offence if Stephen Harper and the Conservative party form the government after the country goes to the polls next month.

The Conservatives have made crime fighting one of their major policy objectives and Mr. Harper rolled a good chunk of his party's plan to curtail the trade in banned substances at a press conference here Saturday morning.

"The values of a peaceful, orderly, safe society are a problem none of the other parties seem to care about," he told reporters at a recreational complex in this Vancouver suburb.

"We have to do something about the drug crisis in this country."

[..] Asked why he would saddle a student who is caught with a small amount of the substance with a criminal record, Mr. Harper said "we believe we have to send a message" that these types of activities are unacceptable. In his talks with people who have become addicted to harder drugs, he said, they almost always say they started with marijuana.
Robert Lefevre sums up the essential problem:
As a member of a community and as a member of a nation, you are in difficulties. Your various governments have taken your energies in the form of frustrating regulations and in the form of mounting taxation, until you stand today almost equated with the victim of a vampire. You are being drained. Let's face it. You have been drained.

The government, you say, has done this to you against your will. This is true. But it is only partially true. For the government is still nothing but a tool of man's devising and you, although you may deny it, have aided and abetted the condition in which you now find yourself. In short, you have, yourself, employed the tool for your own use, only to find that with each use the tool grew stronger and you grew weaker.

Isn't it time you discovered this fact? Isn't it time you learned that whenever you call upon the government to do something for you, the call you make is like food and drink for the bureaucracy? On your calls and your demands, it is nourished.

Without that nourishment it would not grow. It could not.

It is an inescapable fact that what your attention is upon flourishes because of your attention. If you love your home and your family and devote yourself to these things, do they not flourish? And if you turn away and deprive them of your attention, do they not wither, and perhaps ultimately depart?

If you love your business and your work, and devote yourself here, does not your business expand and your work multiply? And if you shirk your business and your work, will they not shrivel and perhaps ultimately turn to dust to be blown away by the winds of chance?

And if you look to the government as your great love, pouring your energies out upon it, coddling it, coaxing it, wheedling it, beseeching it, will it not blossom and wax fat and strong?

But in this latter case, because of its contradictory formation, the government never has anything of its own. It can only gain by your loss.
Thanks to Jay for pointing out this essentially unexplored argument by Mr. Lefevre.

Update David Friedman:
. . . consider someone making two decisions - what car to buy and what politician to vote for. He can improve either decision by investing time and effort in studying the alternatives. In the case of the car, his decision determines with certainty which car he gets. In the case of the politician, his decision changes by one ten-millionth the probability that one candidate will win. If the candidate would be elected without his vote, he is wasting his time; if the candidate would lose even with his vote, he is also wasting his time. He will rationally choose to invest much more time in the decision of which car to buy - the payoff to him is enormously greater. We expect voting to be characterized by rational ignorance - it is rational to be ignorant when information costs more than it is worth.
From Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life

2 comments:

Pietr said...

Lefevre seems to be missing the point;if we tell the government to stop it, they won't all go away and take up knitting.
These lunatics really do think they have the right to dictate to us, and nothing short of being faced with metaphysical destruction will shift them-unless it is through wastage due to the electoral process.

This means we have to get onto the rolls.

I have not spoiled my last ballot paper.
I have stood for election, and it now sits on my wall in a decorative frame.

Anonymous said...

In his talks with people who have become addicted to harder drugs, he said, they almost always say they started with marijuana.

Actually, Stephen, I'm pretty sure that they all got started on milk, then juice, then got onto coffee and tea, before any of them reached for the dreaded reefer. So if you're really interested in combatting this problem at its source, why go only half way?