Thursday, March 15, 2007

Government Cruelty

Tibor R. Machan

Some of the malfeasance in the world comes not from deliberate malice—malice a forethought, as it’s put in the law—but from stupidity and negligence. Yes, these, too, are mental states riddled with culpability, the culpability of inattention, of obliviousness to what matters, of recklessness, and of oversight. But they are not the sort of evil that involves meanness and cruelty.

Governments throughout human history, however, have been the most guilty of both types of evil. The way those Roman emperors exercised their imperial powers, or feudal monarchs and lords taxed and pillaged the people over whom they ruled (unjustly in the first place), or the armies of various countries imposed brutal force on peasants and merchants who wouldn’t just disappear as they rampaged around the landscape—all this and much, much more has clearly established governments as the worst criminal groups in human history, far worse than the Mafia or any gang in Los Angeles.

Aside from their deliberate, mean-minded viciousness, governments also have perpetrated evils by way of oversight and negligence, as when they impose "public" policies that wreak havoc throughout the land as these rulers, legislatures, bureaucrats, and judges sit about wielding power in Washington and other comfortable centers, leaving the dirty work to the cops. Any even cursory check of what governments have done everywhere, with but the most minimal and negligible exceptions, can show one that this institution has been far more corrupt than helpful in human history.

Yes, the police do at times repel bona fide crime, but even this is marred grossly with how often they embark on harassing, on the orders of "law" makers, "criminals" who do no harm to anyone other than perhaps themselves—prostitutes, johns, gamblers, and, yes, drug offenders and those servicing them. Some actual criminals are convicted in the courts and sent to prison. But even in the so called leader of the free world, the United States of America, about 40 to 50 % of the prison population has no business being there! The injustice of it all is staggering!
When it comes to America’s war on drugs and all the legal paraphernalia surrounding it, we can see that despite some improvements over the last couple of centuries—elimination of slavery, abolition of conscription, institution of various due process provisions—the habits of governments have not gotten much better. This war on drugs is bad enough just in and of itself, of course. There should not be one, period. It is not government’s task in a free society to cope with people’s ill-chosen conduct, including commerce, however much it upsets the sensibilities of some and, indeed, the lives of others. People ought not to be saved from themselves except by the counsel of their family, friends, and neighbors.

But let us just overlook, for a painful moment, how vicious are the war on drugs and all its consequences and focus on the deliberate meanness the mentality that has spawned it inflicts on some people. In California, for example—and it really is just one of many such cases—a women who has been medically judged to require medical marijuana—her doctor reportedly says "marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive"—has been declared by a federal appeals court "not immune from federal prosecution on drug charges." Angel Raich, a mother of two and suffering from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea, and some other maladies, had sued the feds so she could get relief but instead of making an exception for her, the U. S. Supreme Court and other courts have ruled against her.

I am not privy to all the legal technicalities and, frankly, could care less about them—what matters is that here is an individual in demonstrable danger for her life who could get the remedy she needs but the government stubbornly refuses to yield. Why? The three-judge appeals panel, in this latest round, said that the US hasn’t reached the point where "the right to use medical marijuana is ‘fundamental’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’."
Ordered liberty? What a bogus concept! Meaning no liberty but compliance with idiotic, paranoid orders by politicians who, in response to vicious voters without a sense of proportion, want their arbitrary will to be the law of the land.

And some people think government is serving the public interest. My foot.

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