There is an Upside

  • June 14, 2024

As bad as things are, there is one good thing that has arguably come of it all. It is that probably half the country – and if we’re lucky, it’s more than that – no longer assumes the government is benevolent.

This is a very different thing than the previous assumption that the government is merely incompetent.

Incompetence is an annoyance. It is something that bugs competent people when they’re forced to deal with it – or pay for it. But it is qualitatively different from malevolence.

Dr. Fauci is an example of malevolence rather than incompetence. He is not a stupid man. He is an evil man. He knew what he advocated is untrue, vicious. Yet he pushed forward with a deliberate sadism that the mere incompetent is incapable of. It is the difference between a well-intended kid who meant to surprise his dad by changing the oil in his car who accidentally cross-threads the oil-drain bolt keeping the oil in the engine – and the guy who puts sugar in the gas tank.

It’s the motive, in other words, that matters.

Government workers were once generally assumed to be motivated by a desire to help, even if that “help” was unwanted and resulted in more (and worse) problems than the ones supposedly being addressed. They mean well, many of us thought.

We thought wrong.

These are malicious people whose maliciousness has been magnified by the power of government. That is to say, by organized and legalized violence. That is fundamentally what “government” is, after all. In the very best of cases, this organized and legalized violence is limited such that those who are not themselves violent do not, in general, have to worry about legalized violence being directed at them. Most Americans probably felt (more or less) that they lived in a “free” country until the early 2000s – and it wasn’t an unreasonable feeling because it was (more or less) true.

It isn’t anymore – which is why you never hear anyone (outside of government) refer to America as a “free country” anymore. It had to be this way. It was destined to be this way. Because even the “limited government” Americans once enjoyed was like a baby gorilla.

It grew up.

The problem is that limited violence – what is meant by “limited government” – inevitably grows more and more violent. Eventually, its violence becomes ubiquitous, such that the individual who does no violence to anyone is nonetheless ubiquitously threatened by the violence of government.

Which brings us back to Dr. Fauci – who is merely a useful example and one of many.

Absent the organized/legalized violence of government, Dr. Fauci’s capacity to menace people would be very . . . limited. He himself is not capable of much harm because he is a mousy little man most men could easily deal with, in the event that became necessary. If he did not have the muscle of the government behind him, he’d be nothing more menacing than an annoying personage easily avoided. He might perhaps harm a few unsuspecting people who trusted him and took his advice. But he would not have the legalized and legally enforceable power to harm.

There is, as the saying goes, a lesson in there somewhere.

And an irony, too.

It is the one Lysander Spooner – one of the earliest expositors of libertarian philosophy –  laid out a long time ago. He said – words to the effect – that if government is necessary to restrain evil men, how do we go about restraining a government under the control of evil men?

In other words, who watches the watchmen?

In theory, a “limited” government does – but (of course) it can’t. All it can do is temporarily impede malicious men, who will always be among us because that defect of the mind or soul or however you’d like to describe it will always be with us, as human beings. It is knowledge of an acceptance of this fact that limits government. Not a Bill of Rights. Certainly not a ballot box. Rather, a general awareness that government cannot be trusted because you cannot trust people with the power of government. Because government always and inevitably attracts dangerous people such as Dr. Fauci – who is merely one example out of millions now.

Part of the problem is the absence of direct correction when mistakes are made. Absent government, there is in general an immediate price to be paid when we as individuals err. If we are incompetent in our work, we quickly find that others are unwilling to pay us for our incompetent work. We either become competent or we find a new line of work. This is a consequence of not being in a position to force anyone to pay for our work – or our mistakes.

But the biggest problem – once government is involved – is recognizing that we’re not dealing with mere incompetence in the presence of such as Dr. Fauci, et al. In realizing that we make a mistake in giving such people the benefit of the doubt.

Millions now understand what a mistake that was – and is – and have resolved to never make the same mistake again. It is a revelation that is curative and so necessary. And that is the great upside to everything bad that has happened since “Dr. Fauci” became a household name four-plus years ago.

. . .

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