Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 719, May 5, 2013

Such "dangerous" individuals not only hate the government,
but are increasingly unwilling to endure it any further.

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Cutting the Root of Tyranny
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

A Florida county sheriff is being given a million dollars to violate the rights of the people who were stupid enough to put him in office.

According to an article by Palm Beach Post staff writers Dara Kam and Stacey Singer, posted Monday, April 29, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has been awarded $1 million by Florida House and Senate budget leaders for a new "violence prevention unit aimed at preventing tragedies like those in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado.

It would be bad enough if this particular jackbooted thug planned only to use this ill-gotten tax money for the usual militarized toys—machineguns or armored personnel carriers—the cops are so crazy about today, but Bradshaw reportedly wants to create "prevention intervention units" consisting of "specially trained deputies, mental health professionals, and caseworkers". which "will respond to citizen calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services".

"We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government..." the Big-Brotherly Bradshaw bloviated. "What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, 'Hey, is everything OK?'" Since the cops these days do their knocking with a three-foot concrete-filled section of four-inch diameter steel pipe, with welded rebar handles, Bradshaw's stupid question tends to answer itelf.

Just what we need: shrinks with guns.

The Gestapo, KGB, Stasi, and SAVAK have come to live in Palm Beach County.

The article goes on to mention (as briefly as journalistically possible) "questions about civil liberties" and "care for the mentally ill" without answering any of them, despite the fact that, no matter how safely "embedded" with government they may think they are, people in the media are every bit as dependent on the first ten amendments to the Constitution as anybody else, and every bit as likely someday to get that midnight knock on the door. Unnamed "mental health advocates and providers" in some unnamed place were reported to be debating about "the balance between civil liberties, privacy, and protecting the public."

Well here's an answer for you: there is no such balance. In the language of the Bill of Rights, and, more importantly, under natural law, human liberties are absolute, as is the right to privacy. And, left to themselves, the public—especially in Florida—have proven more than capable of protecting themselves. Of course this renders the police—at least in the numbers and with the powers they have lately arrogated to themselves—redundant. It's no wonder a power-hungry troll like this sheriff is looking for any excuse to take away their guns.

Because—make no mistake—that is what this all comes down to. That bit about the guy down the street hating the government is a dead giveaway. That guy down the street is you. And me. And anybody else who shares the Founding Fathers' intense dislike for the institution that steals half of what you earn and destroys seven eighths of what the Productive Class creates. Such "dangerous" individuals not only hate the government, but are increasingly unwilling to endure it any further.

This punk with a badge would doubtless have been a Tory in the 1770s, and, given enough body armor, SWAT backup, and a tank, would have attempted to arrest Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, the guys down the street who hated government in those days.

Of course other people, in columns, comments, and on the radio will be saying everything I've just said, in many cases far better than I have. But to be absolutely truthful, these are not the things that came to my mind immediately when I read this story. My first thought—as it often is—was of the late, great Robert LeFevre, and a problem, he pointed out, that we have with the way our civilization operates.

That problem is the secret ballot.

Yes, I know what you're going to say. The secret ballot is a good thing, a centuries-old mainstay of any democratic society. The secret ballot keeps individuals from being singled out, intimidated, and persecuted for the way they vote. In times of yore, when night riders in robes and hooded masks appeared with weapons and torches to keep the underclass in its proper place, the secret ballot probably even saved lives. Of course, some of those masked riders were sheriff's deputies themselves, as they were in the county where I attended high school.

What the secret ballot really represents, of course, is a sneaky, underhanded, dishonorable way for people to steal from their neighbors without those neighbors knowing exactly who it is, stealing from them. It's an anonymous, nasty way to deprive people of their liberty, their property, even their lives, without having to take responsibility for it.

As my lovely and talented spouse Cathy always says, it's a matter of "agency". Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is acting as an agent, a surrogate for the pack of drooling morons who elected him. In my universe, we would know who they were, and could sue them for his betrayal of a sacred trust, under a tradition far more ancient than the secret ballot, as the last bulwark between the people and runaway government.

Similarly, we would know who put the members of the Florida House and Senate budget committee in office, and we could sue those voters, too.

And wouldn't we be able to depend, after all, on heroic stalwarts like Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to protect us from all of those evildoers who would like to beat us up or kill us for the way we vote?

Never mind—just kidding.

It seems only sensible and just to me, that people should be held directly responsible for the consequences of the way they have voted. What would it be like if your neighbors learned that you had voted to raise their taxes, or to limit their enjoyment of their property in some other way? What if your co-workers knew that you had voted for a candidate who wanted to put the industrial company you all work for out of business? How about the good ladies of your church, once they discovered that you had voted to turn the night they've just taken back—in the only way that works, with a handgun in their purses, pockets, or holsters—into a dark horror of potential injury and death?

The government of this nation, like those of all nations, feeds itself on theft at gunpoint. People take it for granted because— "death and taxes"—it's the only way that things have ever been, for 5000 years. And yet, I can imagine and describe a time—it's my job, after all—in which there will be no taxation. Chattel slavery was probably the norm for far longer than 5000 years, and yet, except in backwaters, or with certain hypocritical exceptions—it no longer exists.

Likewise, I can imagine and describe a time when what collective decisions we make (and there ought to be damned few of them) are not made sneakily, pusillanimously, like the creeping of thieves in the night.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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[ dead tree and Nook]
DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012
He is Senior Editorial Consultant with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

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