Sorry– almost 600 words here, but I think you’ll like it.
My wife recently told me she might run for mayor of our small town.
Not being one to miss out on a good argument, I started strafing her with questions until I decided to try one I’ve been saving for a while:
Is there anything, anything at all, in human life or endeavor that you consider to be absolutely none of government’s business whatsoever?
She had to pause and think for a bit, because (and this is the point) few people ever consider the question. She disappointed me slightly by blurting out what I would have predicted (I bet 90% of you have already come up with the same answer): “Sex.” Then she caught herself, “Uh, between consenting adults, uh, of consenting age, uh, twenty-one.”
Age of consent, 21? That was a real surprise to me, coming from her. No matter. I then asked her, “You don’t favor government funding for AIDS research”?
“Should government be given any role in STD statistics gathering, prevention, cures, or any such related matters?”
Clearly, most people, when backed into a corner thus, will eventually admit that they do indeed believe government has some business in our sex lives, and that’s even before you get to the product of sex– children, and with that– raising children, child custody, child support, compulsory education, sex education and family law. (When our first baby was born, we were visited by a government case worker who interviewed us and inspected our house, clipboard in hand, to make sure we were fit to keep and raise our own child)
Again I asked: “Is there anything at all that should be entirely beyond the jurisdiction of government?”
“Yes– private matters. Some things are private”
“Such as..? We go to our neighbor down the street and buy a dozen eggs each week (they keep a few chickens). Is that a private matter?”
“I agree, but that $52 has to be declared to the IRS. Now let’s say word gets around and eventually everyone in our town goes to that neighbor and buys a dozen eggs each week. That’s around 500 dozen eggs per week, or $26,000 per year in gross revenue. Is that government’s business?”
“Yes, we have to collect taxes…but we could barter for the eggs. We can do yard work for the neighbor in return for the eggs.” (this is one of the infinite variations of; ‘other people should be taxed, sure, but we can find a way to sneak around it for ourselves without getting caught.’ This particular, instant knee-jerk reaction tells us a lot about politics all by itself).
“Sorry. That’s a taxable transaction according to the IRS, and if barter were to be made officially non taxable, you’d see a major shift in the economy as people found ways to barter and avoid taxation. Would you support that?”
“No. We have to collect taxes.”
On it went. The bottom line is; my wife’s initial reaction was that, certainly, there are many things that are properly none of government’s business. However, she would eventually say that each aspect of our lives, once I questioned her further, is actually government’s business in some way.
I ask you to consider the question, in this age wherein we have fallen to discussing (seriously, even) a ban on light bulbs, in this the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave: Can you name anything at all within the realm of human activity that in your opinion should be absolutely none of any government’s business whatsoever?