Get off the BANdwagon
I’ve refrained from putting my thoughts on the Newtown shooting in writing to this point so I might digest as much information as possible about what happened, why it happened, and what the country might do about it. At this point I have little faith that any further useful information or dialogue will occur. Our national attention span being what it is, we will be forced to move on. Whatever “facts” we have on hand now have likely already determined our individual decisions on what we should do about it.
Though it’s likely we’ll never fully understand what or why it happened, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we will do something about it and even clearer that whatever we end up doing about it will most likely be wrong.
Whether our collective decision turns out to be the right thing to do or not will not be known for months or years, perhaps decades.
But one thing has become crystal clear to me; whatever we do will lead to a loss of liberty for us all.
Why do I say this? Because no matter who’s offering up a solution, they all rely on the same premise:
We have to ban ____________.
– Obama and the anti-gun crowd wants to ban assault weapons.
– Other liberals (and some conservatives) want to ban high-capacity magazines.
– The NRA wants to ban violent video games and movies.
– Others want to ban the mentally ill, and still others think we can ban immorality itself.
Everyone seems to think the answer to preventing future tragedies like Newtown is to ban whatever it is that scares them. Instead of actually dealing with our fears we somehow think we can legislate them away.
What those who rely on banning ____________ all miss (or ignore), is the reality of our humanity:
If there is a market for a good or service, someone will serve that market, legally or not.
If people want assault weapons, they will have them.
If people want high-capacity magazines, they will have them.
If people want to play violent video games or watch violent movies, they will.
Of course we’ve all seen the Prohibition Movies and we know how they end. Black markets and violence.
Despite bans on everything from books, to alcohol, to drugs, guns, gambling, sex, dancing, music, light bulbs, and yes, even in our own country, a ban on teaching others to read and write, somehow we still have ALL of these things.
In short, history and our national experience show us:
1) Banning what scares us does not remove that which scares us; and,
2) That what scares us today may not scare us tomorrow.
So, regardless of our personal or political beliefs, why do we continue to fall prey to the lie that banning _____________ will solve our problems?
For some (usually the high-powered political and business class), it’s because they (or those who support or rely on them) profit from the ban. Of course, being the ones in charge it’s usually their prescription we end up with regardless of whether that prescription is good for us or not. For others, it’s because they’re too stupid, closed-minded, apathetic, or lazy to think of a better solution. And for others still, it’s because in the primitive animal brain we all posses, fear locks up our cognitive decision-making process and makes us vulnerable to accepting solutions we otherwise would not consider.
Thus, when a tragedy like Newtown comes along, we all jump on whatever BANdwagon we most closely align with personally, politically, or financially and away we go.
This is not a solution. In my mind it only fails to serve the victims and families of such tragedies as Newtown with the respect, attention, and resolve to find the real solutions they deserve. Banning ___________ out of a desire to profit, control others, apathy, or otherwise is nothing more than a slap in the face of those whom we have failed. Those who have paid (and will continue to pay) with their lives for our failures.
So, what is the solution?
In a word, liberty.
From the most authoritarian governments where practically all liberty is banned, to so-called ‘freer’ governments, all governments throughout history have negatively addressed the human condition by banning ___________. To my knowledge there has never been a society where the operational premise was based on a confluence of promoting individual liberties while providing a natural deterrence to harm, and at the same time promoting the greatest amount of self-responsibility and self-reliance. What would the laws of such a government look like? In their simplest form, something like this:
1) Do not harm another’s person or property.
2) If you cause harm you shall replace no more or less than at fair market value of the damaged or destroyed property in an equal amount to the harmed in terms acceptable to the harmed.
3) If you cannot repay on such terms you will be hanged until dead.
To paraphrase, “You are free to do whatever you want so long as your actions do not prevent the same of others, but if you do and you cannot make it right, you hang.”
Now. Stop. Think. Do not react.
Let that sink in for a moment. Mull it over and then ask yourself the following Yes or No questions:
Without being given any further explanation of the terms or definitions. . .
Would you benefit from such a simple system?
Would individuals with differing beliefs from yours benefit from such a simple system?
Would corrupt politicians and businesses benefit from such a simple system?
Would honest statesmen, business owners, the markets, the environment, the arts, etc. benefit from such a simple system?
Would such a simple system lower taxes and government spending?
Would such a simple system lower poverty, while increasing educational and financial achievement?
Would such a simple system lower crime and violence?
Would anyone who caused others harm benefit from such a simple system?
Would such a simple system rely on the banning of any number of goods or services?
Would such a simple system rely on changing belief systems (be they secular, religious, statist, etc.)?
Would such a simple system encourage the respect of other’s Private Property Rights?
Would such a simple system provide for the enforcement of the Rule of Law?
Would such a simple system encourage self-responsibility and self reliance?
Would such a simple system reinforce “good” behavior and a society of prosperity and peace?
The answers, of course, are all, “Maybe, maybe not”. But as long as we live in a society that reacts instead of encourages, and restricts instead of frees, we will never know.
What we do know is what we are currently doing isn’t working. It’s time to get off the BANdwagon and try something new.
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