Why Gradually Encroaching Authoritarianism Is a Bad Thing

Some of you readers may wonder why I talk about the ever encroaching government authoritarianism with disdain. Because the politicians who are pushing it believe we are all stupid fools who need them to tell us what to do. If you object to a patronizing patriarchy depicting women as weak and stupid, then you should worry about patronizing politicians who are forming policy on the belief that we citizens are all weak and stupid. If you object to racial discrimination that depicts people of dark skins as lesser humans, then you should object to politicians acting and talking as if we citizens are all stupid morons who need the masters in government to tell us how to behave. What has me talking about this? Glad you asked.

On Wednesday, October 16, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about the Los Angeles City Council “weighing a challenge to the app-driven ride-sharing companies that have been offering an alternative to driving or hailing taxicabs.” If you are not aware, some people have figured out a way to improve on the experience of taxis. Companies like Lyft and SideCar allow individuals to get paid for driving people places. But because this is all done outside the regulations for taxis, i.e. outside regulations meant to prevent people from giving taxis competition, some folks are having a hissy-fit.

And by hissy-fit, I mean acting like self-centered kindergarten children who don’t get their way.

Passengers using ride-sharing services schedule their trips using the companies’ mobile phone apps, and almost always pay a fare lower than those charged for taxis. The drivers are frequently private citizens using their own cars.

[Councilman Paul] Koretz said that arrangement makes them “21st century bandit cabs” and argued that companies like Lyft, whose drivers adorn their cars with pink mustaches, are a threat to public safety.

“They’re not regulated the way taxis are, so we don’t really know what their background checks are like, or whether we can count on them,” he said. “We don’t know what conditions their vehicles are in. I see crummy cars with mustaches all over town — just people in their own regular cars, driving.”

People in their own regular cars, driving. Sometimes I wonder if people like Koretz ever actually hear the words that come out of their mouths.

What makes this funny, sort of, is that on the Los Angeles Times website when I pulled up the article was an advertisement promoting carpooling.

Rideshare_Pushdown_v2 croppedUse your own car to carpool: that is good. Use your own car to get paid for taking someone where they want to go: that is bad. The agreement to exchange money for a ride changes your car from a public benefit into a threat to public safety. Crazy.

And now I want to mention the attempt to ban large soda drink sizes in the city of New York.

It’s just soda, you may be saying. Why does this matter? Because it shows the mentality of people who are so arrogantly patronizing that they believe there are no bounds to what they can do in the name of helping people.

The following is [an exerpt of] the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered [March 11, 2013] at City Hall:

[…]

“We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all of the rest of the people that live on God’s planet. And so while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it.

“The Board of Health’s limit on the serving size of sugary drinks does not limit anyone’s consumption; it just requires them to think about whether they really want more than 16 ounces.

“Remember, for many years, the standard soda size was 6 ounces – not 16, it was 6. Then it was 12 ounces – and people thought that was huge. Then it became 16, then 20 ounces.

“We believe it’s reasonable to draw a line – and it’s responsible to draw a line right now. With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease, with so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic, we believe it is reasonable and responsible to draw a line – and that is what the Board of Health has done. As a matter of fact, it would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives.”

Bloomberg actually believes what he is doing is the right thing. Never mind that things like eight ounces of fruit juice often has more sugar than 8 ounces of soda. He has a responsibility as a human being to do something so that all of you people in New York City, whom Bloomberg clearly believes are so stupid that you cannot be trusted to think for yourselves about whether or not you want more than sixteen ounces of soda, can be forced to decide on his terms. Because he knows best, and you do not. You must be made to be make your decisions on his terms. And you are supposed to be grateful for his attempt to help you by controlling you.

But these are minor things, you say. This is not brownshirts and jackboots. I know. I am well aware that these things seem minor in the larger scheme of things. But these are just two examples of many “minor” things. But, you ask, if they are all minor then why do they matter?

As part of my answer, I want you to try something. It will require that you have some help and a spool of cotton thread. Have someone put a single loop of cotton thread around your arms and torso. Then break the thread by pressing your arms outwards until the thread breaks. Pretty easy right? Now have the other person put ten loops of thread around you. Again, break the thread by pressing your arms outwards. That was a little bit more difficult, wasn’t it? Then try twenty loops of thread. Then fifty. If you have enough thread, try one hundred loops. Each set of loops becomes more and more difficult to break, doesn’t it? With enough thread, you can be bound and unable to break free.

What is the point? The point is that all those minor things are like loops of thread. One, by itself, may appear small and inconsequential, and so it seems so minor as to not be worth concern. But get enough of those minor things together, and cumulative effect is not minor. It becomes a genuine obstacle to freedom.

And that is why I object to the gradual creep of government authoritarianism. 

6 Responses to “Why Gradually Encroaching Authoritarianism Is a Bad Thing”

  1. ladymischief715 Says:

    Eloquently stated and I agree completely. If we as individuals, and as a nation don’t pay attention and nip these things in the bud, all of our freedoms will be taken away before most even realuze it. Thank you…glad you’re back.

  2. … it just boggles the mind… boggles I say, boggles… Sir

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