Thursday, February 03, 2005

Who is Master and Who is Slave?

I was already in a bad mood as I drove to work this morning. I used up a goodly number of the bad words in my vocabulary as I drove from the small village where I live to my office in London, Ontario. Why I was in a bad mood is none of your !&%$#!! business. What I am going to write about below, however, is very much your business.

I sat down at my desk, removed the lid from my extra-large Tim Horton coffee cup (one cream, no sugar, in case you ever drop in to see me,) turned on my monitor, loaded my browser and settled back to read the news. One of the very first articles to catch my eye was this: Man battles state over working sons.

Do you still seriously believe that the state is your servant and that you are its master? Although the situation described in the captioned article is taking place in the state of Washington, it could just as well be in any other American state or in Canada. We have lost control of the agencies and government departments that were set up to serve and protect us. Now, we are enslaved to them.

I want to be very clear about this. I am all for worker safety. I am all for worker remuneration suitable to the job performed. I am all for responsibility to others and I am damn well all for personal responsibility. What I am not for is when watchdog agencies run amok and go far beyond their mandate. What I am not for is politicians creating legislation that any moron should know is going to be abused. What I am not for is when businesses lobby for legislation, ostensibly designed to serve the 'common good,' but which is in reality a way to block entry to a given market. The legislation makes compliance difficult and expensive. Many businesses simply can't afford to comply, effectively forcing them out of the market or keeping them from entering the market in the first place.

Some thirty years ago, I was invited to a meeting. Also invited were owners of other transportation-related companies in London, Ontario. My courier/messenger company was already a significant player in the local market and the other business owners enjoyed similar success. Although we were all involved in some sort of transportation service, none of us competed directly with each other in any significant way. There were, perhaps, six or eight business owners in attendance. The meeting was called to order. We all listened attentively, wondering what was so important that we should all take valuable time from our busy schedules to attend.

We found out. The gentleman who had extended the invitations to us all, started by telling us that the overall state of the vehicles used in transportation services in our area was deplorable. To make things worse, drivers weren't being trained properly. Many drivers were sloppy and inappropriately attired. Blah, blah, blah. We heard a lot about how bad things were. Some of us even agreed that there was some room for improvement. Each of us thought that our own company, and everything we did, was perfect. But those other guys, man, 'there otta be a law' to make them perfect too.

There ought to be a law. Yep, that's what this was all about.

The meeting leader laid out his plan. We all listened carefully. What he proposed was to standardize everything. There should be special licensing, he said; a different type of license for each of the business groups represented at the meeting. The city of London would administer the licensing. To pay for the costs of enforcement, license fees would be assessed per vehicle. All of this, he stated, was to 'protect the consumer.'


When he finished speaking and asked for comments, I got up and asked everyone in the room to raise their hand if they would have been able to comply with the proposed regulations, and pay the proposed license fees, when they had first started their business. Not a single person raised his hand. So, I said, this is really only a ploy designed to protect us all from competition, to keep us at the top of our respective heaps, to create near-monopoly control for each of us. No-one disputed that.

I stated unequivocally that I would have nothing to do with anything that interfered with the right of entry to any business and that as far as I was concerned the meeting was over. The intent behind the proposed licensing and enforcement was dishonest, dishonourable, disgusting.

Nothing ever came of that meeting, thank goodness. The reality is this:

* No-one has to work for a company that uses unsafe vehicles.
* No-one has to contract with a company which uses drivers who don't shower regularly.
* No-one has the right to demand legislation or regulation which is designed solely to protect market share, especially while piously claiming it is for the 'common good,' or for 'consumer protection.'

The problem is that the public falls for this crap. They bow at the altar of big government, refusing to consider that anything that is done in the name of 'the public' could be counter-productive, unethical, just plain wrong.

In the specific case of the story which amplified my wrath this morning, part of the fines and penalties levied against Jude Doty were for safety-related infractions. Have you read the article? The kids worked near heavy machinery. They rode on the top of houses as they were being moved from one place to another. Was it intelligent of the father to allow his kids to do this?

Maybe not.

I might not allow my son to climb onto a moving house. Or work near heavy construction machinery. But then, he hasn't spent all of his short life around a company that moves houses. He wouldn't know what to do to keep safe. He wouldn't have had the experience and training that the sons of Jude Doty have. When I was twelve years old, I did a lot of dangerous work. I lied about my age and got a summer job at a building supply company. I drove a front-end loader. I worked around heavy equipment. No-one ever trained me. In fact, hardly anyone in the 1950s, unless he worked for a huge company, ever got trained in anything, at least not in what we understand as training today. Now, we are treated like idiots. We are treated as if we could not possibly survive without the long arm of the state to protect us.

Increasingly, many of us can't survive without the state. Our governments have us just where they want us... helpless, dependent, servile. And we deserve what we have, for not having the gumption to tell all these meddling morons where to get off and to get the hell out of our lives.

Jude Doty was also fined for having his children work for him. He broke laws and contraved regulations designed to 'protect' children. He should probably be taken out and shot. Right?

What a bunch of crap.

Children need to work. They need to learn how to be responsible, how to contribute to the family, how to co-operate as part of a team. My own son must work around our home. Some of the work he does is paid for by his mother or me because it is considered above and beyond what might reasonably be expected of him. Some of the work he has to do is unpaid. Chores. Take out the garbage, clean the cat poop from the litter box. Clean his room. I tell him that his share of household chores is the price of admission to the family. Things need to be done in every home. Everyone in the family should contribute, even kids. Sure, Mom and Dad do the bulk of the work, but the kid(s) need to know that they too share in the responsibilities of maintaining a home. Where else, but at home, are they going to learn this? At school?

I don't think so.

Let's all stop asking for more legislation. I think we should vote only for politicians who promise not to pass any new laws or regulations and who pledge to start repealing many of the thousands of existing laws that no-one understands or even knows about. Many outdated and useless laws could, at any time, be used against peaceful, hard-working citizens who are just trying to survive in an increasingly frustrating and confusing world.

I am not, nor will I ever be, a slave to the state. Judging by much of the writing in the blogosphere and in the increasingly libertarian tone of editorial opinion in the traditional media, many others feel the same.

Thank goodness!

1 comment:

  1. I like it when you get riled. You have great skill and clarity when expressing your opinions about the so called equability of today's cradle to the grave society preferred by the many who want whatever can be gained, without the tried and true ageless dictum of earning through your effort what is deserved. Somewhere on the way from there to here we have lost the significance of the satisfaction derived from making things happen, instead of waiting for things to happen. I have sent this anonymously because I'm still having problems with my blogger connections. All the best Sieg.