by Manuel Lora
I remember buying beer and cigarettes for my parents when I was growing up in Peru. And I do not remember the following things:
* The seller being treated like a rapist and sent to prison
* The buyer (that would be me) being sent to some juvenile detention center
* My parents being treated like murderers
Odd isn't it? To think that one would find a nugget of liberty in a poor ("developing" for the PC crowd) country might sound strange to some ears. Yet things today in these US of A are, well, a tad different to say the least.
We live under the blessings of a Nanny-police state where every day it becomes harder to do business. Because of federal and state laws, cashiers selling alcohol now have to do their master's bidding. Grocery stores, in order to protect their employers from being prosecuted must ask for ID pretty much from anyone (one time I saw a 50-year old woman get carded at a bar).
Needless to say, this represents an awful shift of responsibilities. It is no longer our parents and family who must take care of us. Nope. We get all almighty state. The same people who regulate toilets and fill potholes are now going to tell us who can buy certain products. We're back to being children! Oh Heavenly Government: we implore that you feed, bathe, clothe and educate us Ė that we may be ever-loyal serfs and participate in the glorious orgy of your omnipotent magnificence forever and ever! Indeed, this is exactly what the politicians want. They require us to abide by their decrees, often under the questionable excuse of "keeping you safe" or, better yet, "for your own good." After all, we might (oh, the humanity) hurt ourselves.
But to keep us "safe" the government must threaten us with taxation. That is, we must, against our will, fund an entity that will impose certain rules at gunpoint. In other words, we must "accept" to being victimized in order to be saved. When we do wrong, we donít really get better advice. Instead, we get a fine or a summons to appear in court or perhaps the ever-popular visit by a cop just to check on things.
And what about the morality of these laws? What if parents explicitly ask their kids to make certain purchases? This means that the kids now enjoy the legitimate right to do so.
Letís share an anecdote. A few years ago I was at a bar with my wifeís family. It was a large group with several adults and some "underage" children. We all sat at the bar and ordered drinks. The bar tender saw my wifeís underage cousin (who had ordered a soft drink) and said that she could not sit there because of some law. So far so good right? This is something that weíre used to by now. Truth is: this kidís mother was there. The law has replaced parental guidance.
So letís see. Instead of parenting, we have laws and regulations, and greedy and faraway politicians. When kids break the law, however, the parents get blamed, not the politicians! How in the world does this make sense? Those in government want to have it both ways. They impose norms on society but they are almost legally untouchable when things go wrong.
How, then, do anti-vice laws strengthen communities? They do not. Instead of letting families set standards, these kinds of law break communities apart. Whatís worse is that families that donít even "get in trouble" still have to pay for the enforcement of othersí problems with the government in the form of taxes. One would wish that it stopped here but when the police begin to enforce vice laws (part of that eternal "victimless crime" category) they have to devote less time dealing with real crime like murders. Of course, the police department could hire more police, but this means more taxation and more enforcement of the same laws.
Parenting involves having both the right and responsibility to set rules. This right belongs exclusively with the parents. The state has nothing to do with parenting at all.
Repeal all "for our own good" laws. Allow drunk driving! Let grandma own an Uzi! And for all that is sacred, let us spend our money the way we see fit. Disband the vice squad at once.
April 3, 2007
Manuel Lora [send him mail] works at Cornell University as a TV and multimedia producer. Visit his blog. http://www.lewrockwell.com/lora/m.lora33.html