"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
Congress Runs the Gauntlet
A major crisis occurred the other day, but government officials pounced on the problem and brought it to an end. In resolving the difficulty, government added no new powers, kept our freedom intact, and took no more of our money. In sharp contrast to the preceding is the world we live in. As usual, politicians and their hacks are kicking around a number of ideas that would increase their powers, shrink our freedom, and cost us more in lives and treasure. Among them are (1) a new draft law (HR 163) that George W. Bush ' read his lips ' swears is not going to happen; (2) the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act (HR 10), which would convert drivers licenses into national ID cards; and (3) a proposal from the 'New Freedom Commission' to require mandatory mental illness screening for all Americans, adults and kids alike. Libertarian writers have done a decent job shredding these proposals with well-reasoned and documented commentaries. [1, 2, 3, 4] But Leviathan feeds too many mouths and fills too many pockets to worry about libertarian critiques. Still, government knows that encroachments produce resentment, even among people already shackled and comatose. If they could assuage that anger somehow, while still bulldozing our freedom, life would be so much easier for them. In this spirit I tender a recommendation to Congress: Test your proposals before voting on them. Imagine how easy it would be to win over the public if you could snow them with certified test results. And imagine further how effective those results would be if Congress itself served as the test subjects. Yes, Congress ' you. No one thinks of you guys as action heroes, perhaps, but what an opportunity you would have to hone a more adventurist persona. Look what it's done for Arnold ' and his adventures were all scripted. Let's examine these tests in some detail, beginning with the draft law. Clearly, it's in the national interest to have some men order other men to go fight their wars for them, making them risk death, mutilation, and sickness, including severe psychological disorders, while imposing untold hardships on their families. Since the 'national interest' is unassailable as a moral ideal, as any Adolf or Vladimir will tell you, we can dismiss all opposition to it as unpatriotic. So, when you're planning your boondoggles for the coming year, jot down 'Parris Island, SC,' say, for March 15th. For your convenience, superannuated school buses will pick you up on Capitol Hill at 5 a.m. sharp on the day of your departure and transport you directly to the facility, a rough 550 miles away. The staff at Parris will see to your every need, ensuring that you breathe and exercise often, and obtain basic nutrition. When you finish your stay six weeks later, you'll be fit, gung-ho, and ready to kill on command. Being ready to kill is not the same as killing, though. And here's where our testing gets a little sticky. Phase II calls for splitting you into two groups. We'll scribble down a dozen or so pious reasons and toss them in a helmet, then pull one to serve as a cause so you'll feel like the killing you do is more than murder. (Later, when that reason gets stale, we'll pull another one.) We'll find a swamp or desert somewhere, strip half of you to the waist so you'll know which side you're on, and get you started killing each other. Picture yourself as Arnold and his boys in 'The Predator.' We'll ask a few journalism majors to volunteer as embedded reporters. Since there will be no TV coverage, they'll take video of all the action. Maybe you'll do well enough to land a role in a big adventure blockbuster. Of course, you're thinking this is too absurd to take seriously, that you're far too important to risk getting blown away in some deluded exercise. Surprisingly, draftees are rumored to have similar thoughts. Ultimately, though, these trials are for our nation's security. Opposing them, therefore, amounts to treason, so we're confident we'll have your cooperation. Let's say 50 of you die in the test, another 50 are wounded. That still leaves at least 435 members of Congress to carry on the plunder. As the Vice President might say, those are acceptable losses. So let's not blow this out of proportion. That's a small price to pay for freedom. In good conscience I must pause for a confession: As you might expect, you can be excused from all this testing. There's always a way out for those with connections. We'll get to that later. Now, about those national ID cards ' since their real power is the information they provide, we'll have to spend weeks capturing every personal, financial, physical, and rumored fact that exists about you and make them available to the journalism majors. Your private life is regarded as highly confidential, a matter solely between you and the government. But to test for the effects of leaks, we hand it over to the scribes outright. You should have nothing to worry about, though, unless you spot one having lunch with one of your congressional detractors. Of course, you, being of saintly stock, have nothing to worry about, but bear in mind that when information of this magnitude is gathered, mistakes will be made. Mistakes go into records that are seen by enforcers who break down doors in the middle of the night. In real life, you're virtually immune from arrest, but not so in this test. To augment our data gathering, we'll offer rewards to anyone who provides us tips. We'll check them for accuracy and database the information if it looks intriguing. You can always refuse to participate in the national ID card program ' aka, the People's Protection Program ' but that will be taken as being 'not for us.' Since anyone who's 'not for us' is against us, that makes you our enemy. We employ a lot of tough cops; you don't want to be our enemy. How would you explain to your family and lobbyists that a 'little misunderstanding' put you behind bars for a few weeks, where you panicked that you'd never see the sun again? Just keep telling yourself that the innocent have nothing to fear. War and ID cards can stress a person to the breaking point, we realize. Apparently, so does the New Freedom Commission. This brings us to the last test, mandatory mental illness screening. Rest assured that since government will employ only certified professionals to conduct the screening in real life, we will do the same for this test. But gosh, Senator, you do look pale and nervous. Is something gnawing at your liver? Do you wake up screaming at night, thankful that the enemy bayonets were only in your dream, along with that large croc that was keeping you from running away because it had your foot clamped in its jaws? Do you look at a glass of V-8 and think 'blood'? Are you blinking more these days? Do people ask you questions that are none of their business? Fear is a constant in your life since this testing began, isn't it? We'll get you started on a drug program immediately. You needn't worry. The FDA, the agency that allows pharmaceutical companies to sell mercury-laden vaccines, will guarantee all drugs safe. [5, 6] As mentioned, there is a way out of all this testing for someone of your inestimable stature. All you have to do is vote 'No' on the measures.
1 Bush's Brave New World, Sheldon Richman 2 The 9-11 Intelligence Bill: More Bureaucracy, More Intervention, Less Freedom, Rep. Ron Paul, MD