Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chuck DeVore's Idiocy

California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R, Irvine) has incited my ire today. He made some less than impressive comments with regard to legalization of marijuana in this Sacramento Bee article.
"Studies have shown there is impairment with marijuana use. People can get paranoid, can lose some of their initiative to work, and we don't live in some idealized libertarian society where every person is responsible completely to himself. We live in a society where the cost of your poor decisions are borne by your fellow taxpayers."
(Above emphasis mine). It is true that our current society is not libertarian. In this quotation, he seems to get what libertarianism is in practice: you take responsibility entirely for yourself, and don't expect society to take care of you.

Then Mr. DeVore went on the Armstrong and Getty Program to clarify his comments today, as they spoke about those statements yesterday. Audio of the interview is available here.

He made an utter ass of himself with his take on libertarianism, indicating that "his libertarian friends" want to smoke doobies and have government pay for welfare, too.

I can't stand politicians who pretend to know what they're talking about while demonstrating they don't, and who pretend to have friends they clearly don't.

I shared my displeasure with the Assemblyman and also Armstrong and Getty:
Hearing Chuck DeVore's comments in interview simply enraged me. He's confused libertarian with libertine or liberal.

As a libertarian, I don't want to get welfare and smoke a doobie. I don't smoke marijuana at all, and never have. I don't even drink. I am not and have never been on welfare, and believe it should be pared down to a minimalist level. A complete libertarian would say welfare shouldn't exist at all.

He indicated libertarians aren't interested in taking responsibility for, or living with the consequences of their actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We believe that government should never relieve anyone of their personal responsibilities, nor should it save anyone from the consequences of their own actions.

Stupid should hurt.
Let's also address Mr. DeVore's original comments. In his comments and interview, he indicated that our society isn't ready for libertarian principles. Though I disagree, that's not really the heart of the issue. The government isn't ready to relinquish the power it assumes through nanny laws.

Let's be honest: except for statistically rare exceptions, people rise to the level of performance and behavior that is expected of them. People are capable of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Further, given that this country was founded in the ideology now called libertarianism, and continued therein for many years, there's no reason to believe we can't return to our roots.

The only thing standing in our way is the will and education to do it. Everyone needs to be able to discuss the Constitution and what it means. Everyone should be aware of the philosophical underpinnings of our country. That's the required education.

Next we move to the legislative will. We can start with something small. Repeal the motorcycle helmet laws Mr. DeVore mentioned in his interview, and make it law that an emergency room does not have to treat injured motorcyclists who fail to carry insurance and wear a helmet. Note that you would have to engage in nullification of the Federal law that demands anyone showing up to an emergency room must be treated, but that's already being done in other States with regard to other issues (stories here, and here). This step says, "You may behave as you like, but YOU, not society, are responsible for the consequences of your actions." Treat people like adults, and they will act like it, or they will exit society in some fashion.

A child doesn't potty train if you never stop changing her diapers. It's much easier to have someone clean your mess up for you than deal with it yourself. The only problem is you end up sitting in your own filth for extended periods of time, and that's simply unpleasant and unhealthy. Yes, this is a graphic analogy for our current societal situation, which should be as utterly repugnant to any thinking adult as sitting in one's own feces.

We're moving from a guilt society to a shame society, and that's not good. What does that mean? My Greek Classics professor helped us understand Ancient Greek worldview by explaining they lived in a shame society. Individuals were often not terribly moral. They were afraid of shame. So, anything they could get away with for their own advantage, they did, so long as no one was looking. If they got caught, they paid the penalty of societal shame, but that was the only motivation not to do wrong.

Throughout the early history of U.S. society, and in libertarian society, people function on a guilt model. That is, your own individual moral compass guides you. You don't need to be caught to avoid doing wrong, because your conscience rejects the idea.

It doesn't take a genius to determine which model creates a more orderly and responsible society or which society is superior at maintaining and expanding civilization.

Today, we are legislating all behavior, creating an attitude of, "It's fine for me to do this if it's not illegal," and worse, "It's fine for me to do this even if it's illegal, so long as I am not caught." This legal/illegal societal outlook is, functionally, a shame society, or a step backwards for civilization.

The advantage this new shame society provides for government is power, since people are used to an accept regulation of all aspects of their lives. The advantage it provides for people is that they may shirk responsibility and ask the rest of society to bear the consequences of their actions for them. In short, in a shame society such as we're building, you never have to grow up and potty train.

So, Mr. DeVore, I reject your asinine bleating about how we don't have an idealized libertarian society. Our society's decline is in large measure your fault, most recently demonstrated by your corrupt involvement with the farcical budget process that highlighted the illegitimacy of the California State government. We can take steps toward implementing practical libertarian philosophy right now that will at least move us in the right direction. All you have to do is grow a pair of political gonads and stand up for what you claim to believe in.

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