Archives for posts with tag: government overreach

I have erred. There is hardly a more axiomatic truth than, “coercion is evil.” Some draw the line at physical violence; some at aggressive, insulting, in-your-face shouting-level speaking, but I draw it at knowingly, intentionally manipulating or deceiving, no matter how politely.

I trust I haven’t deceived anyone, but I have grown manipulative. I’ll do my best to correct that.

Laws, in general, are coercive. Yes, I hold that most laws are evil. Perhaps I should say most laws are more evil than the thing they were intended to prohibit. (Authoritarian prohibition doesn’t work.)

COVID-19 has created a catastrophe in the USA. While the virus itself is tragic and horrid, the aftermath has weakened our society such that I believe we are in the last days of the American experiment. Lincoln feared we would not long endure at only four score and seven years. We have made it a ways past that, but I think we’ve lost the plot. I am not optimistic about the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren. They may have their own bloodlettings, tragedies that might make the world wars and the communist slaughters seem trivial in comparison.

Still, humanity has been in sad shape before. No matter how bad it gets, brighter days lie beyond. I weep because I believe my generation and the current generation should have seen it coming and avoided it.

For those with apocalyptic suppositions consistent with Pentecostalism, I do not suppose we are in those last days. I’ve grown to suppose we should take the promise to Abraham as more literal than the description of the end times common among the tribe of my upbringing. That is, I expect the descendants of Abraham to number as the stars before that great and terrible day of the Lord. No time in history has better matched the premillennial interpretations better than WWII. We are still here.

To the point: I am firmly convinced that persuasion is an illusion, and the only true persuader is the pain and suffering resultant directly as consequence of one’s own belief and actions. When we suffer, when our children suffer, directly as a result of our choices, then we change our minds and our practices. Nothing else persuades, at least nothing humans can wield in any sense.

It seems to me we all unconsciously understand this fact; though I’ve yet to meet anyone who humbly accepts it. (I have much to grow into regarding that particular humility.) People pretend persuasion is real. People like Scott Adams admit most of it is hypnosis and trickery, but that is simply manipulation. Such persuasion techniques lure some into one’s fold, but nothing like rational mind-change and growth is involved. Argumentation never convinces anyone. The rare instances of seeming persuasion result only from truth-seekers who happen to find better truth while in your presence and under the sound of your voice. Your arguments didn’t convince them. They were already convinced, and you just happened to help them realize it. Because one’s effort to persuade are ultimately frustrated, everyone degenerates to coercion, or at least the desire to get one’s own way. Consequently, when we can’t persuade people to do what is right, we attempt to force them for their own good. It is the foundation of all the evil humans commit against each other.

I tend to forget persuasion is an illusion. I intentionally commit myself to truth and reality as best I can manage, and I tend to assume my arguments, my presentation of facts and rationality, can somehow lead people to better truth. It is easy to be fooled into thinking there are means of persuasion. No.

No matter how sound my argument, no matter how demonstratable and replicable my facts and figures, they mean nothing to the one who wasn’t already approaching them to begin with.

Facts do not matter.

Truly, to us humans, facts don’t matter.

We pretend to “believe” in facts. We assent to science. Still, to most people, science is merely a secularized religion and blind faith. Facts do not matter to us in general.

You can’t understand something when your livelihood depends on not understanding it.

What applies to understanding applies to persuasion. People believe whatever they want to believe for whatever reasons (or emotions) they find sufficient at the moment.

One cannot get from an is to an ought.

We all know that. We all pretend our science, our reasoning, our facts, our data, “clearly and obviously” show what ought to be done. Yet, policy is merely politics. There is no science nor facts involved except by happenstance.

I’m above average regarding what is. Really. As haughty as it is to say so, I do understand the is of things better than average. That is, odds are I understand whatever it is we are talking about better than you. You can take offense at that, or we can continue.

Regardless of how well I understand a thing, even if my understand is closer to ultimate reality than all other observers, I have no authority to impose what you ought to think about it. Whether I am perfectly right or absolutely wrong about it, there is no difference with regard to what anyone ought to do about it. My rightness or wrongness regarding the facts does not usually affect the morality of it.

The COVID-19 virus caused political panic, and our governments imposed grave hardship on our society. The least among us suffered most, and the infection spread unabated, and many died despite illusions of control.

Because facts don’t matter, I’ll not compare the infection-epidemics of the last century. Any story anyone wants can be woven from the history and the scant data. What is clear is our governments overreacted. It matters not how much or what might have been done differently or better. The fact remains, our governments overreacted at all levels, but facts don’t matter.

Typically, viruses spread quickly, and deadly viruses tally deaths frightfully. So was COVID-19. Then, it subsided just as viruses typically do, and our governments mostly became more rational again, but the rot is extensive and the loss of the plot of our national story is too far gone. Politics and the fears that drive politicians have held sway, and the madness of the crowds has only grown darker and more destructive.

Lacking control, and politicians find lack of control to be an existential threat, the politicians flailed about for anything to grasp and control. The pain and suffering resultant from lockdowns was sufficient to dissuade many politicians of trying that again, so they settled on ritualistic outward shows. Face it, the mask is no more than a social-religious purity rite. One can point to countless superstitions and religious rituals that are the same. While there is no evidence the rite is at all efficacious for the need, it obviously does something; “it helps” is so easy to say when this or that can be shown to be reliably demonstrated, despite the fact that none of it addresses the disease or the realities of transmission. It looks good to the majority; thus, it must be so. Facts don’t matter.

I can point to many more research papers than you can, but facts don’t matter.

Masks are of no practical value, but facts don’t matter. This is where we stumble from the is to the ought.

Masks are not medically significant, but they are an outward show, and they are supposed (they ought) to be of at least some moral significance. See the difficulty? The fact cannot argue for the ought. The moral significance is not something science or medicine can address. The moral significance is a cultural and religious issue, thus, a social-religious purity rite is the obvious outcome.

In the USA, we hold moral significance in the separation of the church and the state. The government, at every level in our nation, ought not impose any religious practice on anyone. We, as a culture, find it morally reprehensible to impose the beliefs of some onto others. It is our moral consensus, the majority opinion, faithfully held and executed.

Yet, our governments are imposing an outward moral practice, a social-religious purity rite, upon us all regardless of our own individual morals or convictions.

Can you acknowledge that mask-wearing is a moral issue?

If you can, can you not see that many individuals will have moral convictions in opposition strong enough to die for, strong enough to fight for, even kill for?

Why would you want that?

Is your fear of the virus so overwhelming that you will trade the life of the person willing to die for his beliefs over the person who might not be able to overcome an infection, an infection that is likely inevitable eventually anyway?

I started by saying I erred. I tried to manipulate people emotionally with shortcuts to my arguments here.

I hold it self-evident that authoritarian impositions directly harm the lest among us, especially those with less mental stamina than average, those who just might be pushed into suicide or unrecoverable mental illness by the authoritarian imposition.

While mask-shamers assert refusing masks endangers others, I am just as certain mask-mandaters are endangering those who could not resist the power of the state, the police, the fine-collectors, and the jailers.

Thus, I erred, I sinned. I repent. While the mandaters and shamers were trying to coerce me and others resistant to being told what to do, I was trying to coerce them for opposite reasons. The basis is moral. It cannot be resolved without relationships, trust-building, and proven good faith.

Thus, I find the reason for coercion and mandate. Power corrupts, but it temporarily enforces the morals of the powerful.

Get it? Some say, “But not everyone will do what is right.” Of course. Fundamentally, you have no authority to say what is right. While you are so fallible, your highest ideals and notions of what is right are as filthy rags. Of course, not everyone will do it. Many will believe it is wrong to do it. They believe you are morally wrong. You have no authority to assert otherwise; thus, you grab power, you call a vote to rubber stamp your edict, and you make pretenses that your coercive evil acts are justified. No, it is not justified. It is merely hypnotic manipulation of the mob. Mob rule is never justifiable.

No, your evil coercive acts bread more evil and coercion. Soon, it is the Soviet Union. Soon, it is the Gulag and every third person is a government informant seeking some small favor and morsel of the power for turning you in.

Only love can drive out hate. Only relationship, trust, and cooperation can find and build societal moral consensus. Seizing power and forcing mandates, restrictions, and social-religious purity rites may work quicker, but is far more brutal. It is the opposite of humane. We pass more and more laws and emergency edicts at our peril.

It is not just a mask.

Isn’t this an embarrassment?

Section XIII-4: Compulsory school attendance.
The Legislature shall provide for the compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided, of all the children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in each year.

Compulsion is evil. Yet, here we require it in our state constitution. We institute evil in our governance at its inception.

Coercion is evil. Compulsion is evil. It can only be justified in the prevention of worse evil.

Can we argue that granting someone the freedom, the right, of self-determination is a worse evil than forcing attendance at education?

We all know better. We know it is right and good to allow each self-determination. It is unalienable. Liberty, freedom of association, these are rights with which we are each individually created. Certainly parents and responsible adults owe protection to our young, our childish ones, until they gain modest maturity, but the longer I live, the less mature I realize we all are. Responsibility must accompany privilege, but self-determination is not a privilege, it is innate right. Self-determination is a property of a person. It is part of the very definition of what each of us is.

No one can argue that coercion, compulsion is other than evil. We aver religious freedom. We generally allow so many freedoms, even some freedoms most of us judge as immoral. Yet, we want to deny the right of self-determination and free association to all our citizens less than 16, even 18, years of age.

We all instinctively, rightly, understand that being forced to do anything deprives us, degrades us. Most will comply, but the degradation remains. No matter the end results, the end never justifies evil means.

The end never justifies evil means.

Coercion, compulsion is evil.

The end never justifies coercive means.

Education is a good that has been sought hard through all history. Knowledge is power. We instinctively know that. We understand that information and understanding, with wisdom and sound judgment empower us to fulfill our dreams and to live our lives well. No one has to force us to do good things for ourselves. Indeed, no one can.

Yes, we are always tempted to sloth, but we know the ant. We know the fiddle-playing grasshopper.

It is not possible to justify righteously the compulsion of the grasshopper for his own good. It does him no good, and it diminishes the rest of us, at best decreasing our own productivity and efficiency, and often going much farther bringing forth in us the worst of human nature, especially arrogance, self-righteousness, condescension, and even worse.

There is no need for compulsion in education. Mothers understand its value for their children. Children understand its value when simply allowed to enjoy the process. Joy cannot flourish under compulsion. Children do not enjoy being told they must. No one enjoys being told what to do. Children must learn self-discipline, but that is an entirely different thing than education. Children learn when they play. They learn when they interact. They learn when they are shown how to do something new. They learn when they are shown the usefulness of reading, writing, and mathematics. The same applies to skills in all areas of interest, including sports and trade or industry.

The state must ensure access. The state must protect those seeking education. I will even support state provision of schools and educational resource, but no good can come of forcing our young citizens and their parents to participate and attend.

It is my right to be ignorant if I so choose.

It is mama’s right to insist her child participate in education. Mama can insist her child attend. The state cannot. The state has no right to coerce with regard to self-determination and freedom of association. Mama will choose what is best for her child. We need only ensure her right is unhindered. It is mama’s right to raise her child anyway she sees fit. There are limits. We acknowledge abuse occurs, and sometimes the state must intervene, but in nearly all cases, mother really does know best. Empower her, and protect her from hindrance, and ensure she has at least one adequate option, such as a public school, and let her prove it. Mothers the world over have been proving it over and over since time immemorial.

I will always stand for mothers and fathers, for families. It is what works. For the exceptions, coercion cannot help.

Societally, we must work together and try to make up for shortfalls. We must also stand with those who see things nontraditionally, even when we have sound studies and reproducible data that show the traditional works best. But, we cannot do so by trying to force behavior.

Focus on what is most important. Freedom, self-determination, acceptance of responsibility, owning what we earn, be it for better or for worse. These are the things that are important for human dignity. These are the essentials of society. Understanding these is much more important than acquisition of some arbitrary standard of education as guessed at by some standardized test.

Children are, first, citizens. Children are not resources of the state. Children are not resources of the economy. Children are not property. We adults, specifically, we parents, are responsible for helping our children grow, and we must provide them with the tools they need for success in life. We must prepare them to stand on their own and take our places. We cannot arbitrarily set the standard. We cannot pretend to know the STEM needs of the future. Heaven forbid that for anyone we ever try to determine for him or her. Each child has the right to pursue happiness. Each child must be allowed self-determination in it.

We must amend our state constitution. We must remove the words of Section XIII-4 and replace with words prohibiting coercion, prohibiting compulsory attendance. We must free our citizens, especially the teachers in our publicly funded schools.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

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