The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who owns you?

I like to explore the concept of self-ownership. My posts on it haven't so far generated much discussion. Do we own ourselves? Should we surrender to the idea that we don't?

Government forces us to do a lot of things and prohibits us from doing a lot of things. Most are at odds with the idea of each of us being a sovereign individual.

There's an explication of the term at Wikipedia with, of course, tons of links to further info.

Given that it is obvious that each of us is born into the assumed benevolent arms of government, which then charges us for its services even if we don't want them (and there's nothing we can do about that except write our Congress(wo)man), then where do we draw the line and call it "sovereignty only beyond this point"?

For the purpose of discussion, let's assume that there are two extremes--anarchy (absence of government) and pure authoritarianism (every action not required is prohibited). All societies hover somewhere between those extremes. Anarchy is an impossibility; someone will always be boss, the 'governor.' North Korea probably has the closest thing to pure authoritarianism of any country, and it's pretty close.

There is always an element of government that wants more authority, and when they get it it's almost never rolled back. Liberty and justice are mined away one chip at a time.


larry kurtz said...

Please, permit the use of the nominative singular pronoun for this post.

I've spent my share of time in jail, but for misdemeanor offenses.

It has also been my experience (don't take this personally, Bobby) that persons convicted of felonies lose cumulative respect for civil society, not only because of the loss of voting privileges, but because of the loss of dignity while wards of the state.

Engaging someone that has lost the ability to be a part of the democratic process is truly hardening; I won't project my analysis on you; I have too much respect for you for what you have done for me.

Ellis has a rant going right now about stripping voting privileges from persons convicted of felonies and the movement by some progressives to restore them. He employs such asshole tactics that I feel compelled to reciprocate, so I do.

I have never felt so free in my life, Bob; I hope you can experience it again one day.

Love ya, man.

DDC said...

I think the reason that you get little discussion on this subject is that both side show themselves to be hypocritical when they start talking about it.

The right will speak in terms of the government getting out of their lives by taxing less, spending less, reducing regulations, staying out of health care, respecting the right to bear arms, not over-reacting on climate change and so on.

In the next breath they'll say that government needs to ban pornography, keep drugs illegal, protect marriage, over-spend on the military, give up rights for the war on terror, etc...

The left wants the government to mostly stop telling people what to do when it comes to drugs, marriage (Well, they want government to accept gay marriage. That's not really asking them to get out of it.), abortion and many other moral issues.

They then expect the government to tell people that they cannot personally discriminate or participate in hate-speech. They want the government to take money from people to take care of other people and pass rules and regulations to attempt to preemptively keep people from ever being hurt by others. They want to tell business owners that they can't let people smoke in buildings and so on.

In short, the left generally wants the government to legislate responsibility and the right wants to legislate morality. Neither are comfortable with the thought of complete self-ownership for fear that others won't be as moral or responsible as they think should be.

Bob Newland said...

DDC, you've laid it out nicely. I might add that the more government gets involved in the issues you mentioned, the more collateral damage it does to folks who are actually pretty good, productive, citizens.

Larry, I don't know what I have done for you, but I appreciate your continuously kind sentiment toward me.

People convicted of "crimes" that no sane person believes should be crimes certainly lose some respect for the law and the justice system. I have been losing respect for the system steadily for 40 years; my recent felony only added to the loss.

20 years ago I spent six months in jail in Deadwood for a sales tax violation. The irony of that matter was that I took the evidence to the Dept. of Revenue, in an attempt to get squared up. Without my voluntary submission of records there would have been no arrest and no conviction.

Six months in jail for a $700 arrears, which I paid at the time I gave the Dept. the records. That will create an attitude adjustment, and not a positive one.

I'm glad you feel free, Larry. Wouldn't mind knowing the circumstances that allow that. As for me, I constantly see reminders that none of us are free; I see people being punished by the truckloads for stuff that really should not be crimes.

Ken G said...

The Right owns you when your out in the community abiding by laws while the Left owns you if your in prison for not abiding by the Rights laws.

Michael Sanborn said...

Gee Ken, I can see you really thought that one through.

Ken G said...

What Michael? We were talking about who owns who. The question was posed by a guy who lost most of his freedom while being painted a felon for violating Republican sponsored and supported laws. The right is responsible for the majority of our lost civil rights. Republican backed "Get tough on Crime/Drugs" laws have imprisoned millions of Americans who didn't abide by the rights conservative views and harsh laws (like drug use). Ironically, the Left (prison workers union) guards and administers punishment to the Rights "prisoners". Just the way it is Mike.

Bob Newland said...

Ken G, while I appreciate your support on the drug issue, the truth is that the "right" and the "left" have collaborated to marginalize "dopers."

Ken G said...

Bob, that's somewhat the point I was trying to make. I should have had more coffee and less rant-ee yesterday :) Sorry to anyone I may have offended.

Les said...

Bob, check out the book, "How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World" by Harry Browne.

Bob Newland said...

It's in my library. Thanks!