L. Neil Smith's
Number 373, June 25, 2006

"Head Shots"

A Modest Proposal
by Jim Davidson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled;.... I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents seem to have the best title to the children."
—"A Modest Proposal" by Dr. Jonathan Swift

Satire being rarely understood and even more thinly appreciated, it seems best to label up front any such work. Just as Jonathan Swift, by the evaluation of methods he dismissed as unworkable, promoted the cause of starving infants and impoverished adults through his satirical consideration of eating their offspring, so, too, I would hope to provide for some benefits in my own proposal.

The context for Dr. Swift's proposal was the year 1729, significantly after the collapse of the South Sea Bubble and the failure of John Law's Mississippi Money. Europe was in a shambles. The deliberate monetary inflation which caused the Bubble was the cause of the longest and deepest depression on record. From 1722 to 1782, the world suffered from a sixty year depression, during the depths of which the American Revolution took place. Also during this period, much of Scotland was cleared during the Highlands Clearances, and rather a lot of Davidsons were shipped off from the hills around Inverness to the shores of North America.

Swift complained of a surfeit of "Papists," and proposed that his solution would rid the country of their excess. I complain of a surfeit of incumbents, and propose means for addressing this excess, or at least promoting higher calibers in certain respects.

Consider the method of voting in most places. A paper or electronic ballot is marked with the desires of the voter. Then this document is ignored and the incumbent is re-elected. Since voting is an act of aggression, it should be modeled after more aggressive behavior.

Voting for people is delegation of force. It may be that voting against bond initiatives, new taxes, and changes to the constitution would be defensive force, and thus tolerable. But there's really no way to be sure someone who proclaims their desire to only vote against taxes and assaults on their liberty isn't also secretly voting for one or two candidates. What's more, the votes against taxes would seem to be the first to be shredded by the vote counters and other guardians of the integrity of the election process. (Who shall guard us from the guards themselves?)

Anyone who advocates the use of force by government, votes for candidates in elections, and pays taxes is initiating force. Whether it is demands for militarizing the border or demands for invading Iran to prevent them from developing expensive nuclear weapons with purified uranium when they can develop cheap ones with unrefined uranium and heavy water yielding up plutonium—just like the Americans did in the Manhattan Project—or insisting on the arrest of tax protestors who won't "pay their fair share," there are endless demands for government force. Why, in Lawrence, Kansas the traffic commission is seriously proposing to ban all cell phone use in automobiles as part of their busy-body methods. Even hands free phones. You could look it up.

Since voting is an act of aggression, it ought to look more like an act of aggression. Sure, the stylus for many of the paper ballots is sharp enough to put an eye out, but the process isn't violent enough. So, I make a modest proposal which I pray "...will not be liable to the least objection."

Paper ballots are all very well for bond initiatives, referenda, and the occasional change to the state constitution. But for voting for candidates, something more vigorous is wanted.

I propose that each candidate be required to submit enough publicity photos of his or her own head and shoulders so that every voter in the district be able to have one for the vote process. It is a delightful bit of irony that such photos are called "head shots."

I propose that for each set of candidates for a given office, each voter be required to shoot, from a distance of 25 yards, the "head shot" of his preferred candidate with a rifle bullet. Only successful penetration of the head or upper chest (or we could require the bullet be within the sniper's triangle formed by the eyes and the point where the clavicles meet the sternum?) of the photo would count as a valid vote. Being "on paper" isn't good enough. The candidate with the most successful bullet penetrations would be elected.

"I think the advantages of the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance."

First, as regards voters, less timid and more determined voters should result. Second, as regards rifles, more weapons should be in the hands of ordinary civilians, as the only way to prevent tyranny. Third, as regards marksmanship, voters are likely to train with their rifles in order to make the all important head shots. Fourth, the motto "two in the chest, one in the head" should be more readily understood by voters and non-voters alike. Fifth, the candidates for public office are likely to consider carefully whether the feather-bedding, graft, corruption, and vice available to them in their prospective offices are worth the dangers attendant on having a nation of expert shooters elect them. Sixth, candidates who gain office and become tyrants are easily expunged, since every single person who voted for them would have the ability to do what is necessary to remove a tyrant. "Sic semper tyrannis," indeed. Seventh, office holders would promote the acquisition and use of higher caliber rifles, because nobody wants to take five rounds of .223 and still breathe.

"A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme." He said that, having set up a series of targets for each elective office, the voter might be given the opportunity to dispense with her ammunition as it pleased her most.

Let's say that there were seven offices and three candidates for each office. The voter comes to the range equipped with thirty rounds in one or more magazines. Instead of one shot, one kill, and a valid vote from one voter for one candidate, perhaps the voter would choose to cluster her thirty rounds all in the photo of the candidate most important to her. Then, instead of counting photos with any valid hit made on target as one vote per photo, the election officials would count one vote for every successful hit. Some offices are more important than others, and some candidates deserve more than one shot to the face.

It is important to be able to shoot your own dog. Robert Heinlein wrote about this fact in some of his novels. Farming it out does not make it better, it makes it worse. It is worse not only for you, but for the dog. Being willing to shoot a tyrant is all very well and good, but marksmanship matters. Having voters choose their candidates by shooting their photos makes it clear that they are capable of cleaning up their own mess.

It may be said that this proposal would reduce the number of voters. I think that's an excellent result. Voting for candidates is delegating initiatory force, and it ought to be done by people who are in a serious frame of mind and have thought through the implications of their actions. It ought not to be regarded as a light or frivolous exercise. Casting votes which aren't counted is trivial. Aligning sights, getting a clear sight picture, pausing your breath, seeing the front sight, focusing on the front sight, squeezing the trigger, and holding position to follow through and see the bullet on target is never frivolous.

It is not trivial to consistently hit a face-sized target from 25 yards, but if further discouragement were needed, the target image could be made smaller or placed at a greater distance. Even with the limited range indicated, a rifle which has been properly zeroed would be needed. Not every pistol shooter is capable of consistent hits from that range, but dedicated pistol shooters should be allowed to use their weapon of choice. A pistol was good enough to rid the world of the tyrant Lincoln, after all.

It may be that more rifles would be sold as a result of this proposal. Good. More rifles in more hands is a great blessing for liberty, private property, and the prevention of crime. Those rifles used for voting would be in good condition, properly aligned, and well understood by their owners if they expect to get good results on election day. More ammunition would also be sold, which is also a great blessing. Ammunition through the muzzle is how money is turned into skill.

My proposal need not be implemented nationwide or worldwide in one go. It could be phased in. It might be proposed as an optional voting system for some counties where marksmen abound. It might be especially well suited to Free State projects like New Hampshire or Wyoming. It would be an excellent way to deter socialists and whiners from voting, by making them do for themselves something they find abhorrent—pick up a gun and learn to master it.

If nothing else, this proposal should give many voters and many politicians pause for reflection. It is one thing to talk obliviously about sending troops to Iraq, quite another to be on the ground, in battle armor (or without it) and firing a rifle. Let the voter see what he is demanding of others, and perhaps he would be less vocal about his demands. Let the elderly voter who is unwilling to pick up a rifle for fear of the recoil be denied a vote for candidates who have the power to send young men and women into battle. If you cannot shoulder a rifle, what business have you voting for offices which have the power to force others to shoulder their rifles and march toward a hailstorm of bullets?

If voting is mock combat, then let it at least have verisimilitude. Let the contest be waged with guns and ammo, with the noise of the gun range and the stench of smokeless powder. Let's not kid ourselves and pretend that voting is some pristine, elegant, sterile activity.

It isn't. Voting is a bloody, disgusting, awful mess. It is hateful and hurtful and horrid. People who vote should be required to attend every tax foreclosure in their district. They should be required to spend time in their local jail and in their regional prisons reviewing the conditions of prisoners and talking to them about their incarceration—often for non-violent crimes relating to the possession of contraband goods or the provision of contraband services. Voters should be forced to spend time directly experiencing the conditions that their votes place others in. But, such requirements would be dreadfully unpopular, and the voters would be sure to vote against such requirements.

When you consider the substantial effusion of blood that would result if taxpaying voters were required to suffer direct retaliatory force for every instance of force brought on by the conduct of politicians and bureau-rats and enforcers doing their delegated bidding, my proposal is indeed very modest.

First published at http://indomitus.net/2006/20060529.html


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