Having it all

So the government is getting banks to suspend the accounts of pornographers, and that might be okay with me, though probably it would be simpler for the government to just make pornography illegal, or at least stop subsidizing its production with tax breaks for Hollywood. But anyway, today the Department of Justice is going after some pornographers. Who will these laws and precedents be used against in twenty years? Or after the next election?

If the government is given power to do good, it will first use that power to get more power, then use it to do some good, and then use it to do a lot of evil. What it will not do, ever, is willingly give up any power. So power given to the government to stop discrimination – to keep people from refusing to rent hotel rooms or sell food to African-Americans – That power is now being used so sustain a system of racial preferences, to punish thoughtcrime, and to force people to decorate cakes for “gay marriage ceremonies.” Because this is America! The debate is over. Cake is a public accommodation, and bigotry equals hate, you hateful bigot!

One might think, “on the other hand, if the government can’t act against vice, or terrorism, or payday lenders, what’s the point of having a government?” But this is America in the twenty-first century! We can injure ourselves with both too much and too little government. We can have a government that is both repressive and unable to solve any significant problems.

Chesterton wrote in the early twentieth century that the ruling class had looked at socialism and capitalism, and then given the people of England the worst of both: all the intrusive state control of every aspect of life, with all the insecurity of dog-eat-dog economics.

“In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad. All that official discipline, about which the Socialists themselves were in doubt or at least on the defensive, was taken over bodily by the Capitalists. They have now added all the bureaucratic tyrannies of a Socialist state to the old plutocratic tyrannies of a Capitalist State. For the vital point is that it did not in the smallest degree diminish the inequalities of a Capitalist State. It simply destroyed such individual liberties as remained among its victims. It did not enable any man to build a better house; it only limited the houses he might live in – or how he might manage to live there; forbidding him to keep pigs or poultry or to sell beer or cider. It did not even add anything to a man’s wages; it only took away something from a man’s wages and locked it up, whether he liked it or not, in a sort of money-box which was regarded as a medicine-chest. It does not send food into the house to feed the children; it only sends an inspector into the house to punish the parents for having no food to feed them. It does not see that they have got a fire; it only punishes them for not having a fireguard. It does not even occur to it to provide the fireguard.” Eugenics and Other Evils, by G.K. Chesterton, 1917

But somehow, it doesn’t bother me that much. Look at the Jumblies. They went to sea in a seive:

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.

And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!’

from The Jumblies, by Edward Lear

And you know, it worked out okay for the Jumblies in the end.


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