I am about as liberal as anyone you will ever meet.
I believe in your right to do or say whatever you want without the government getting involved, as long as you aren’t directly reducing another persons rights to do or say whatever they want without the government getting involved.
In short, I believe in personal liberty.
I say this because I want you to know that if you support “traditional values”, misogyny, and conservative or liberal authoritarianism we won’t be friends. And I want you to know that if you support personal liberty and freedom of expression, we will likely get along.
But why do I have to preface what I’m about to say? Because what I’m going to say has been coopted by “traditional values” and the conservative right. It’s been maligned as an old white man Republican viewpoint (full disclosure, I am a white man myself, but I prefer the term Norse badass). My next statement is not a Republican viewpoint and is about as punk rock as you can possibly get.
Taxation is Theft and the Government is Evil
This is going to be a long conversation spread out over many essays. It’s as much for me as it is for you. And I’m going to take my time on it. Because it’s important. Right or left, everyone wants a quick catchy tag line. They want to punch down on the opposition and look cool. But reality is full of grey nuance. Finding the truth in that nuance is murky at best. So, we need to start with some basic concepts and frameworks.
First, let’s talk about evolutionary theory. The theory is simple. The most well adapted, the fastest, the strongest, the best equipped will win. The less equipped will not. Often with gruesome consequences. Someone gets eaten, and someone gets to eat. That is reality. It’s as real as gravity. It’s also cruel. Because in advanced society, we don’t eat our weak. We protect them. At least, we are supposed to.
Below is a video of government agents (the police) forcibly vacating a homeless shelter in San Diego. We are supposed to be an advanced society, right? Right? We don’t eat the weak anymore. We just abuse them and neglect them.
So, we live in a world ruled by evolution. But evolution can be bad and abusive. And we don’t want to be bad or abusive. We want to see homeless people in houses. We want to see them in jobs and rehabilitation programs. We want to see clean streets. So, why is San Diego, one of the richest cities in the world, so inundated by homeless people. Why is California, the most socially progressive state in the country, completely helpless when it comes to caring for and protecting homeless people?
An Example of Government Evil and Waste
In 2016, Elvis Summers of Los Angeles began building an innovative new solution to deal with the expanding homeless crisis in LA County. Tiny Homes for homeless citizens. Each home was built with a smoke detector, locking door, four walls, and a roof. Just enough security and space to provide a homeless person with a safe space to be. A space to securely store their goods and belongings. Enough space to start building back into society. This project cost 1200 dollars per home. The project was immediately successful. Homeless people began to migrate from their tents to these new and much more secure structures. Many homeless people professed a feeling of hope and safety at this new opportunity. And then the City of LA came in and bulldozed the homes, claiming that they were not adequate for human occupancy due to their lack of electricity or running water. Ironically, the move put those same homeless people back on the streets, where they had no running water, electricity, or proper shelter.
Then, 4 years later, the same city government built their own tiny homes. The price-tag came out to 5.1 million dollars. These tiny homes have electricity but no running water. These same tiny homes effectively cost the City $43,000 dollars per home (5.1 million dollar budget divided by the 117 residences built). The City was able to provide a not insignificant improvement on the design of Evis Summers… for 36 times the price. This is the government.
The Government Is Incompetent and Overbuilds Everything
Elvis Summers had an extremely specific and simple goal for his project. Provide homeless people with a significantly improved temporary shelter so they could have a safe place to live while trying to rebuild their lives. The single most important part of Elvis’ project was the locking door. Homeless people suffer from constant theft. You can’t leave your tent to go look for work, because someone is going to come in behind you and steal your food, your clothes, your drugs. This lack of security makes life extremely difficult. Like swimming up a river. You just can’t make progress. The goal was never to provide homeless people with long term housing with all the amenities they could want or need. It was to fix a specific and important problem, so that homeless people could stop swimming upstream.
In business, there is a concept called The Minimal Viable Product. In other words, “What is the simplest, most cost-efficient method to resolve this problem?” This is the guiding light for organizations which look more like tadpoles then sharks. They can’t afford to fight massive, long battles or sustain major conflicts. They must find food fast or starve. It took the City of LA an additional 4 years to finalize their homes for homeless people project. And when their project was complete, it had the exact same goal, provide minimal housing for homeless people so they could stop swimming upstream. But the government solution came too late, and the government solution came with far too high a price. If you live in Los Angeles, and you pay taxes, you paid for city workers to tear down the shelters built by Elvis Summers and his team of volunteers. They had raised $95,000 dollars to continue building houses on skid row. If you live in Los Angeles, and you pay taxes, you also paid for the city to replace those torn down shelters with nothing for four years, and then a 5.1-million-dollar replacement project. The government took your money and then used it to hurt other people, and then overbuilt (by 35 times the cost – They claim that the cost is really $3000 per home, but don’t factor in all the non-direct costs) a solution to try and fix the problem they themselves made by hurting other people. Not only did they functionally steal your money, but they also then lit it on fire.
This example is just one of thousands. Let me give you just a few more.
The War in Iraq.
The War in Afghanistan.
The War on Drugs.
The US Department of Defense Budget.
The Patriot Act.
I should not need to explain any of those bullet point examples. No further background should be required. My point is simple. The government is not your friend. The government is the bully on the block who wants your lunch money. And he’s also the popular kid. He’s good at sounding nice when he wants to. So sometimes, you want to give him your lunch money, because maybe this time he might give you a doughnut. But he never does. And if you don’t give him your lunch money, he will give you a black eye.
In future essays, I will discuss some ideas and thoughts about how we can make this better.
Don’t worry, I’m not a Randian, so I’m not going to go too crazy. I do think the government does have a purpose, and I don’t think we should worship at the altar of the corporation. They have their own pile of bodies.