When it comes to civil tyranny, everything is connected. Yet, this is one of the most difficult concepts to convey to non-libertarians. Everyone sees civil tyranny in things they don’t like: mandatory medical insurance under Obamacare is a perfect example. Many of those same people, however, do not see the same tyranny in mandatory Medicare deductions from their paycheck, social security, or mandatory auto insurance.
Most US Americans see mandatory auto insurance as needed, without recognizing it as the source of the idea for mandatory health insurance — which millions see not only as needed, but as some kind of entitlement.
Civil tyranny comes about when a government uses force to persuade its citizens to pay for or comply with regulations or laws enacted in the “public interest.” A particular law like mandatory seat belts or airbags may seem positive on the surface, and in and of itself not tyrannical. But when these laws are added to other laws, fines are established, and jail times ordered, you begin to see that each new law represents: yet another piece of armor for the beast of government.
Limiting government to its essential elements, such as defense, disaster response — although most libertarians do not agree with this — international relations, and critical infrastructure — without the need for nationalization or state ownership — would radically reduce its size and scope. It would also dramatically lower its costs and improve the quality of life for all, by freeing people to do as they choose instead of what they are forced to do.
Make no mistake: while masked by a thick coat of pretty make up, civil tyranny is just as evil as open tyranny. The difference is it looks nicer, grows incrementally, and is sold with arguments that make at least some sense on the surface. But the truth is most problems in our country are caused by government attempting to fix problems that were created by government intervention in the first place.
Take, for instance, the misguided notion that government should have a larger role in children’s lives than that of the parents. A country that mandates government education, that believes government can impose obligatory vaccination schemes for children — some of which work, and some of which, like “Gardasil,” seem a bit more suspect — can only end up in the absurd situation where government coerces children into taking medications at school to “calm them down,” while prosecuting them for bringing medications to school for real medical conditions.
This is a society where government determines that parents cannot serve alcohol to their children during a religious activity, or administer peyote or another substance during a rite of passage, that determines that smoking in your home or car with your children is abuse. The same government that instead of simply punishing crimes against children, punishes those who put children “at risk,” with an ever changing notion of what “at risk” actually means. The result: tens of thousands of children removed from their homes, with few full court convictions of their parents for any real substantive abuse.
The same government that bans hard drugs is the government that bans cigarettes, or so limits, regulates, and overtaxes them to turn an average, otherwise good citizen, into a pariah. It is the government that creates a sex-offender registration system, while at the same time demonizing men to the point that it is illegal in some places for men to be at a park alone (Section S), for fear that one of those men might be a molester. It is the government that makes people show an ID card to buy a cold medicine — or bans the only ingredient in cold medicine that actually makes you feel better — due to the far-fetched possibility that someone might use cold medicine to turn it into a recreational drug that the average consumer would never use in the first place.
The government that provides rights and financial benefits for persons residing illegally in the country also gives away billions to those who do not produce, while demonizing those who do. The same government that supposedly regulates economic activity to protect its citizens and help the poor from all manners of harm, drives up the costs of everything to make it impossible for small businesses to compete and the poor to have access to cheap goods and services. And to top it all off, it blames the businesses that they have regulated in the first place for the economic and social mess that ensues.
Our government forces employers to pay a minimum wage and minimum benefits to protect “rights” created by statute, while ignoring natural rights — the rights government was created to protect in the first place. And apart from their fundamentally flawed moral approach, measures such as the minimum wage drive up prices of goods and services, causing the extra money received by workers to lose the extra purchasing power that the measure intended to create.
This is all caused by the same government. All these problems have the same root cause. Want to end the drug war? End the war on smokers. Want to stop Obamacare? End mandatory car insurance. Want to stop government legally kidnapping thousands of children? Stop mandatory public education. The origin of our trouble is government’s attempt, often at our request, to act on our behalf.
When someone else does it for you, or pays for it on your behalf, someone else claims the right to unilaterally impose the rules of the social game — and you cede your liberty to civil tyranny.