Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why Freedom/Autonomy Must be Surrendered in Any Collective Effort...

Recently Olympic swimming champion, Michael Phelps, made the news smoking marijuana from a bong.

As a result local law enforcement in his area have promised “an investigation” into criminal wrong-doing AND Kellogg’s has ended their contract with Phelps.

The drug legalization crowd are “outraged,” but that outrage is hard to figure, considering that many of these same pro-Pot people are some of the biggest anti-smoking (tobacco smoking) nazis themselves.

Could it be that they believe marijuana to be more natural and somehow “healthier” than tobacco?

Studies show that marijuana smoke has twice the tar of regular cigarettes and 70% more Benzydrine (a carcinogen) and due to the deeper inhalation used in smoking marijuana, two marijuana blunts (cigarettes) are said to be equivalent to more than twenty regular cigarettes!

But more than all that, it’s really a matter of freedom and how so many people misunderstand what “freedom” really is.

For instance, “Where does Kellogg’s get off severing their contract with Michael Phelps over some harmless marijuana smoking?”

Funny story.

Kellogg’s contracted with Michael Phelps, in part, because of his homespun image and the fact that he makes a good role model for kids.

Kellogg’s, as you might be aware, markets its breakfast cereal products primarily to kids.

Kellogg’s has a Corporate reputation to maintain. As a result, Kellogg’s has a right to protect its property (in this case, its reputation) and Mr. Phelps’ marijuana smoking, breached that contract, allowing Kellogg’s to sever ties with Michael Phelps.

When that was done by the Atlanta Braves with pitcher John Rocker, over some insensitive things Mr. Rocker said about New York City, everyone apparently understood that...or didn’t care. Well, there’s no reason for such folks to care now either.

Another thing such folks fail to realize is that “freedom” is NOT the “license” that says, “EVERYONE has a right to do whatever they like, so long as they don’t deliberately hurt anyone else.” At least, that’s NOT “freedom” as defined by America’s Founders, enshrined in our Constitution and other documents. THAT “freedom” is clearly defined as “LIBERTY,” which is actually, the antithesis of license! Liberty is merely complete self-ownership and the grinding burden of full, self responsibility that comes with that. Under LIBERTY, we are each entitled ONLY to the amount of license we can individually afford. The well-off can afford more risks!

True FREEDOM cannot exist absent INDIVIDUALISM.

In a collective, the group, volk or collective has a right to limit the risks and actions of its members.

Ironically enough, that turns America’s Founding ideals upside down. America’s Bill of Rights was a statement BY individuals LIMITING the actions of the group and its representative, government, while collectivism empowers the group to limit the action of individuals.

And collective efforts ALWAYS require the surrendering of individual rights for the “greater good” – for the benefit of everyone else.

Anti-smoking statutes, bicycle helmet laws and seat belt laws have risen in response to government, in effect, becoming “the insurer of last resort” for its people. In doing that, it has chosen to LIMIT the risks taken by those it insures, which is a wise and necessary policy.

Should we move to a government-managed form of “universal healthcare” it only stands to reason that government will limit risk even more, in effect micro-managing the lives of those it directly insures...and for good reason!

Once government is insuring the people, it must go about limiting the risk factors that raise the costs of insuring the people – smoking (ALL kinds of smoking), trans fats, over-eating, etc. etc.

Health control is one of the best and easiest ways to introduce complete people control, as once people are made to accept the government micro-managing what they eat, how they eat, etc., there’s little rationale left for resistance to complete control – what to believe, how many (if any) children we may have, what kinds of work we’ll do, etc.


Seane-Anna said...

While I agree that Kellogs has every right to end its contract with Michael Phelps, I feel sorry for him. In the larger scheme of things smoking pot just isn't on the same level as a lot of other things Phelps could've been doing. To me he's still a hero.

JMK said...

Agreed Seane-Anna....and Phelps abilities cannot be questioned or diminished by DUIs and petty drug offenses.

Subway hasn't ended its contract with Phelps, although Kellogg's markets more to kids and that coupled with his earlier (2004) DUI arrest probably posed to much of a liability for Kellogg's.

Personally, I feel the same way about open borders as I do about drug use - in a free society, where EVERYONE is solely and fully responsible for his/her own well-being (providing our own incomes, healthcare, etc) I'd support open borders as WITHOUT a welfare system in place, such a policy would only draw those who came to work and seek their fortunes. Likewise, so long as you and I aren't paying into the care and upkeep of our neighbors, what do we care what risks (illicit drug use, reckless motorcycle riding, smoking cigarettes, etc) they take?

Once we're paying into that upkeep and some governmental apparatus is charged with providing those things (healthcare, welfare benefits, etc.) we have an interest in limiting the risks of others and government is charged with running such programs as cost-effectively as possible.

That is what makes LIBERTY incompatible with such an environment (governemnt provided sustenance and healthcare).

machinepolitick said...

Good article. I really think the celebrity culture in America is getting out of hand. Whether or not Phelps looses a contract shouldn't even be news.That is between him and his sponsors.
Kelloggs is a private company, which should be able to run their business as they see fit. Phelps violated the contract and is paying the consequences. I doubt he will go bankrupt as a result.
I don't support the war on drugs, nor do I have a personal interest in the legalization effort. I don't partake, but I also don't think the government should dictate harmless behavior. You are right about what sort of path we will be on with socialized medicine. The government will take it as a license to dictate behavior and squelch individual freedoms.
As you said, liberty and freedom come with responsibility. The biggest one is taking care of yourself.

JMK said...

"You are right about what sort of path we will be on with socialized medicine. The government will take it as a license to dictate behavior and squelch individual freedoms." (MP)
That's certainly the idea MP.

For instance, in NYC the State legislator has passed "Cancer Bills," the "Heart Bill," and the "Lung Bill" for firefighters.

Since firefighting puts people at risk for a wide variety of cancers, lung ailments and heart damage (under that Bill, any damage to the (I believe) left side of the heart is considered job-related) with all those ailments covered by an expensive disability pension contract, guaranteeing the recipient 3/4s of their last year's salary going forward...doesn't the FDNY, the City of NY and the State of NY have vested interests in reducing those member's "at risk" activities (ie. smoking both on and off duty, etc.)?

It would seem they do, as adding extraneous risk to such an extensive benefit can incur substantial costs.

machinepolitick said...

Government controls are infuriating at best. It is infinitely more so when they want to screw over people who keep the public safe. So much for lookingout for the little guy.

JMK said...

Politics is ALL about control MP.

That's why it's good to see artists who are recognizing that big-government zealots are just as dangerous as are anarchists and the most radical of religious zealots.

The popular culture has the ability to subtlely shift public perceptions and many Conservatives don't fully recognize what a powerful force that can be.

It certainly has been a force for the negative in the past....far too much of our media and entertainment still is.

machinepolitick said...

That's why it's my goal to fight back. Interestingly enough, there are more like-minded artists out there than you would think.

Seane-Anna said...

"...there are more like-minded artists out there than you would think." Then where the HELL are they, MP?!?!

And as for the "war on drugs", I have mixed feelings about it. While I understand the libertarian argument against prohibition I also feel that many of those making it have a utopian view of both liberty and drug use.

While liberty is certainly to be preferred over tyranny, it is NO panacea for the ills of society. The idea that if we just get government off our backs and out of the way heaven on earth will break out is just dumb.

Furthermore, I feel that the real reason a lot of libertarians want to legalize drugs is not because of freedom issues but because they just don't see anything wrong with drug use. They appear to believe, as a matter of dogma, that it's not drug use that causes social problems but the prohibition of drug use. Remove the prohibition and you'll end the social problems. I couldn't disagree more.

Alcohol is by far the most used and abused mind altering drug in the country. When it was relegalized in 1933 after 13 years of prohibition none of the problems caused by alcohol use/abuse went away.

To this day alcohol use/abuse plays a major role in creating and/or exacerbating crimes and social ills from drunk driving to domestic violence. And when the consequences of those crimes and ills affect people other than the alcohol user/abuser and his/her immediate family, that's when government starts to get involved. So government prohibition is often--but not always!--a reaction to the natural deleterious effects of drug use/abuse.

I think the debate on drug prohibition vs. legalization would be more honest if libertarians admitted that such deleterious effects of drug use/abuse actually exist.

machinepolitick said...

I agree with your points Seane-Anna, and that is one of the reasons I hesitate to label myself Libertarian.I don't like being painted with the pothead brush, and it's not an issue that should dominate a campaign. I don't know what the solution is for any substance abuse issues. I just have a serious problem with a program that gives the government so much power. The other side of the coin is the innocent people who are robbed of property and wealth under the pretense of the War on Drugs. I'm just pointing out that there is just as much room for abusive behavior in the government as there is in the private sector.
As for your comments on Liberty, it depends on who you're talking to, as to how that definition would apply. I'm not an anarchist; I understand the need for government and rule of law. However, our government has grown so large and intrudes so much in our lives, that I can't accept it anymore. It appears to be getting much worse,much faster,as well. I think a lot of people misunderstand what freedom entails. It requires a great deal of personal responsibility and hard work. Freedom doesn't mean get as much as you can by any means necessary. That is why a system of government is necessary.
The problem I have with the major parties is their desire to gain power and dictate people's behavior. They talk pretty about doing what is right for the people,but they seldom achieve that goal. The separation of powers and checks and balances written into our Constitution by the founding fathers are being deteriorated every day.
It would do a lot of people some good to read up on American history, and if they're really up for a challenge, some Ayn Rand. The entitlement mentality of the modern American is going to destroy this country.

JMK said...

“While liberty is certainly to be preferred over tyranny, it is NO panacea for the ills of society. The idea that if we just get government off our backs and out of the way heaven on earth will break out is just dumb.” (Seane-Anna)
Liberty is definitely NOT a panacea at all Seane-Anna, and no Libertarians I know claim it is.

All they (and I) humbly claim is that LIBERTY (full sovereignty/self-ownership and the grinding burden of self-responsibility that comes along with it) is the BEST possible environment for mankind. NOT because it's "easier" or even "fairer," it's neither of those things, in fact, it's an environment in which, as Aristotle once put it, "The strong take advantage of the weak and the smart take advantage of the strong." It's ONLY "the best possible environment" IF you believe that we are each SELF-OWNING individuals, doomed or determined to be fully responsible for ourselves.

As for alcohol prohibition, the Volstead Act FAILED!

Prohibition on alcohol failed, because it created a flourishing underground economy, that swelled organized crime’s coffers and drew in even the wealthiest, most influential Americans in both business and government. ONLY the poor were prosecuted under prohibition and even they had their “back woods stills.”

As I said, in a FREE SOCIETY (one predicated on the LIBERTY America’s Founders bequeathed us, for instance) open borders and drug legalization (or at least decriminalization) make sense!

We DON’T have that (a FREE/rooted in individual LIBERTY society) any more.

We have a welfare apparatus and that drives far more people here illegally than does the will to work. That’s the primary reason open borders cannot work within a modern welfare state, the other is that ILLEGAL immigration drives down the wage floor (the price of unskilled labor) which, in turn, drives down wage-rates overall.

Likewise, we have a government that’s already paying for appx. 52% of all healthcare expenditures (government workers healthcare, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.), so it is charged with delivering that healthcare in the most cost-effective way. One of the best ways to do that is to LIMIT/restrict risk on the part of the recipient.

Has cigarette smoking fallen off in recent years?

YES it has.

By government design?

Absolutely. You don’t think those anti-smoking laws, the second-hand smoke campaign, etc. hasn’t served to make smoking far less acceptable than it was 20 years, even 10 years ago?

They sure have!

Same thing with alcohol.

The drunk-driving campaigns along with a similar health campaign used to combat cigarette smoking has greatly reduced the alcohol consumption in America. “The overall per capita level of alcohol consumption peaked in 1975, and began to decline during the 1980's. The decline has continued with consumption dropping 43% since 1975.”

ONLY free (self-responsible, with no government assistance) people have a right to take on any amount of risk they so choose. Once the consequences of my risks (health-wise or otherwise) are covered by the government (my neighbor’s tax dollars), then my risks (and yours) are NOT our own and when the costs from the consequences of our risks are spread around, then our neighbors via government have every right to limit our risks and control our behaviors...and THAT is the beginning of tyranny.

What we SHOULD expect, given the ballooning growth of government is ever more such restrictions – on alcohol, tobacco, trans fats, salts, sweets, etc. under the aegis of “reducing health risks.”

That is the costs of having “some government on our backs.” The more government we have on our backs – the steeper those costs get!

I have no problem acknowledging the deleterious impact of drugs and alcohol, Seane-Anna, BUT my basic inclination is I don’t really care that much about my neighbor’s health.” For me, so long as I don’t have to pay for his/her treatments, health issues or clean up the inevitable mess, I really don’t care if 10,000 or 10,000,000 of my fellow citizens destroy themselves via their own free will by using such substances. That’s one of the joys of individual LIBERTY – we aren’t compelled to care one way or another about what our neighbors do, or don’t do.

We can each ONLY change/improve ourselves and that is all that we’re charged with.

I believe LIBERTY is mandatory and “God given,” just as Jefferson claimed it was, and yet, even I accept that when “someone else pays for something, they have a right to set the rules of use” – that is, when government takes on the burdens of our healthcare, it then has a right, in order to rein in costs, to limit its recipient’s exposure to risk, etc.

For you, that choice should seem even easier. You seem to support prohibitions based on the harm drugs and alcohol do to others, so government’s increasingly limiting our behaviors and risks to keep down the costs of the healthcare it provides really shouldn’t be a problem for you at all.

We can have “All the license (the ability to do whatever we wish, so long as we don’t harm others) we can afford” under LIBERTY, but there can be no such license once the consequences of our behaviors and risks are paid for by others...even if it’s our collective government.

And as for, “...there are more like-minded artists out there than you would think."

“Then where the HELL are they, MP?!?!”

They’re all around us.

I’ve linked to some of Alvarro Alvilar’s works and blog rolled MachinePolitick.

They’re out there.

Even in the mainstream entertainment industry, we have the Zuckers (I’ve linked to some of their hilarious spoofs, like the one on Madeline Albright dealing with various tyrants, in the past), David Zucker recently put out the flick An American Carol lampooning Michael Moore (played by Kevin Farley), and Ben Stein recently released a GREAT film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, that every American should see.

There’s a LOT out there, but the MSM isn’t going to hawk it! Why would they?!

But if we don’t look for it and support it...that’s ALL on us.

American Ideas Click Here!