"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Government Is a Garbage Dump
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I was recently sent two friendly little notices from the government of Vermont, via the U.S. government’s postal monopoly, to the effect that it was time to fork over some of my money to purchase a new slip of paper and a couple of stickers so as to “register” my automobile, and to purchase a new laminated piece of paper with photo (though in Vermont, the mugshot is technically optional – though unless you plan on living in a cave, you’re still going to need it at some point, guaranteed) so I could be “licensed” to continue to operate my automobile without being arrested, or run off the road by a policeman and then arrested, or shot and killed if I chose to resist such aggression.
Attached to the latter notice was also a “Vermont Voter Registration Form” – an amusing little document that states, in part, that I can be charged up to a $10,000 fine and spend up to 15 years of my life in prison if I provide any incorrect information on it. Since this part of the mailing was optional, I declined to send it in on these grounds alone. But before deep-sixing it in the garbage (a subject we’ll get back to shortly), I had occasion to read a section titled “Voter’s Oath” – a requirement to register to vote in the Green Mountains. Here it is in full:
“You solemnly swear or affirm that whenever you give your vote or suffrage, touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, you will do so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce to the best good of the same, as established by the constitution, without fear or favor of any person.”
(Vermont Constitution, Chapter II, Section 42)
Never mind that the “State of Vermont” is an entirely fictitious entity, and thus, no “matter” can ever legitimately concern “it,” and never mind that Lysander Spooner pointed out in the mid-19th Century that constitutions, government laws and all such diktats possess no actual authority whatsoever – let me clue you in on a little local political anecdote.
A “state representative” (as if anyone can actually represent even one other person, let alone hundreds or thousands) who was until recently considered such for my geographical area – and whom I briefly mentioned in an earlier essay, “Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign” – passed away while on a vacation in Florida. He was temporarily replaced by some obscure political process by the chair of the Board of Selectmen in the small town where I reside. (More on him and garbage in a moment.) Now, never mind that it’s only February as I write this and Election Day isn’t until November. People locally, presumably voters--you know, those folks who like to stay abreast of the issues and make their voice heard--though relatively few in numbers, are actually putting yard signs out for this guy’s re-election even though he’s dead.
And you thought voting was a rational act.
Smash cut to the town dump. I of course was only there to dispose of some household waste and recyclable materials. Up to now, residents have a numbered sticker on the bumper of their vehicles to indicate who pays property taxes to the fictitious entity known as the Town of XXXXXXX. The replacement for the late “representative” was there, clipboard in hand, to inform me that “we” were switching to plastic bar-coded cards instead of bumper stickers, and clipboard in hand, told me that if I just put my name and street address on the form, that they’d be sure to give me my shiny new card upon my next visit to the dump. He then also handed me a small sheaf of papers that I had no time to look at right then and there – I only wanted to fling my bags of waste in the compactor and hightail it out of there and back to my mostly productive life. So I tossed this offering on the car seat. This marvelously philanthropic gentleman was then nice enough to give me his business card, informing me that I could contact him anytime in case “you need anything.” Not wishing to take the time to tell him right then and there that the only thing I ever have, do, or ever will “need” from any politician or bureaucrat is for them to all just go straight to hell and leave me and my property alone, I threw that on the car seat as well. A minute or so later, my business finished in spite of government intrusiveness, I drove away.
Later, when I had time to peruse what had been handed me, I was far from surprised – but only once again outraged at the incessant, never-ending arrogance and preposterous nature of government. It was a six page long regulation titled: “SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL ORDINANCE: TOWN OF XXXXXXX, VERMONT.” Flipping through, Section 8 informed me that this was to both repeal and replace “The Garbage, Rubbish, and Refuse Disposal Regulations of 1973.” What was so different about throwing away garbage in 1973 as opposed to 2009?
But the tell-all was in what immediately followed the regulation’s title:
“The Selectboard of the Town of XXXXXXX hereby ordains (emphasis mine; could any wording be more f*cking ARROGANT? Ordains? Kiss my ass.):
“SECTION 1. AUTHORITY. This ordinance is enacted pursuant to the authority granted to the Town to promote the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience by 24 V.S.A §2291 (12). This ordinance shall be a civil ordinance within the meaning of 24 V.S.A. Chapter 59.”
Nothing, I think, can demonstrate a greater and more callous disregard for health, safety, welfare, and convenience than such a staggering usurpation of arbitrary power. The “Town” has had “authority granted” by whom? Another group of individuals claiming – without ever acquiring any express consent from those affected – to have the alleged “authority” to grant such? So what if a minority of people, who happen to be voters, voted a certain way. You didn’t get everyone’s express consent, folks, and certainly not mine. But this is the essence and nature of government itself: Pay us and Obey us...or get shot. It’s really that simple.
The conclusion? I took that ordinance, and the business card of the person who handed it to me – a person who was also instrumental in creating the whole nonsensical abomination in the first place – and promptly tore them both up and threw them in the garbage, to be disposed of on a future visit to the dump. The further conclusion, the more far-reaching one, that I’ve long since arrived at and that I hope you now share, is of course that it was altogether fitting to have met this petty bureaucrat in the kind of place I did.
Government is a garbage dump, plain and simple. And little else besides.