Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Psi Corps

I was thinking about why it is so hard to convince the majority of the population that asking the government "to do something!!!" is usually a bad idea and I stumbled over this post at Libertarian UK by Longrider:

"When I see and hear people talking of rights and bans I wait patiently and am usually rewarded by a demand that government should do something. I am reminded of Babylon 5. The phrase used by the Psi Corps rings eerily true—'the corps is mother, the corps is father.'"

Why do people have this attitude to government? How can there be people who don't understand that any government is bound to be a bit shit and therefore you should restrict it's activities to those areas where there's really no sensible alternative?

The only rational argument is that, rightly or wrongly, people believe that the benefits they get from handing power over exceed the loss. They seldom do but in the same way that people will turn to God for answers they will beg that "something be done" about the latest scare and damn the cost. It's not often important that what is done is remotely useful even when the cost is severe, holding people without charge thanks to TWAT for instance.

What we have to do is work out how to engage with these people and it's not going to be easy. Getting up and saying that you are "going to do something", (usually by putting a ban in place), is easy, attention grabbing and simplistic. Telling the public that you don't think the government should do anything about a problem is not just more difficult to get across, it goes against years of big government mentality. Few will care unless we can show how much repressive, illiberal, big government harms them. It not that it doesn't, many of the ills that we face are due to too much government from the vastly inefficient health service to the way we are sliding into a police state, from our over burdensome taxes to the smoking ban.

We need to make the battle cry "let us be" become as well known and evocative as "something must be done".

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