What’s It To Me?

When I was a boy, one of my playmates was Joe. Joe’s mom was a fussy housekeeper, and wouldn’t let us in her house unless we removed our shoes. We thought that a bit strange, but, after all, it was her house, and her rules. So we removed our shoes. That was a nuisance, however, so we didn’t go into her house very often. Of course, if she had ordered us to remove our shoes before entering into ANY house, we’d have laughed, and ignored her demand.

Employees at a local electronics store are identified by their bright orange t-shirts, with the company logo in green on the shoulder. No one questions the right of the company to direct their employees’ attire, especially since it makes them easy to spot if you need to inquire about the location of the electrostatic whizzbang converters. Naturally, if the store demanded that everyone, in any location, wear a bright orange t-shirt, no one would take that seriously.

Members of the fraternal organization Old Age Friends (OAFs) must wear beanies, with propellers, at any function at which they appear as a group representing OAFs. Some of the members don’t like this, but, after all, they want to belong to OAFs, and this is the price they must pay. No one would ever suggest that OAFs could order everyone, member or not, to wear a beanie with propellers, or, for that matter, without propellers.

And, if push came to shove, people could refuse to work at the electronics store with the bright orange t-shirted employees, or avoid joining OAFs, with the silly propeller beanies, just as we, as kids, seldom went into Joe’s house, where we had to remove our shoes. There’s no question that firms and organizations, and even households, can make rules, and enforce them, as regards their members or employees. But for those of us who are neither, so what? What’s it to us if some are willing to wear propeller-bearing beanies, or bright orange t-shirts?

There is an organization that writes rules and regulations with a zeal and determination that is amazing, and depressing. It is, of course, that group calling itself “government,” whether the local town hall, the statehouse, or Washington D.C. Well, let them. They can, and do, fill volumes with their rules. The same question: so what? What’s it to us?

No one will ever ask why the electronics store, or OAFs, or even Joe’s mom, can’t give orders to everybody, because everyone recognizes that the authority of OAFs, or the electronics store, or Joe’s mom, doesn’t extend beyond their doors. Where does the authority of “government” end?

It appears that the jurisdiction of the Rulers extends to everyone, willy-nilly, within the boundaries they have set for themselves. How do we know this? Because they say so. And where did they get this authority? They gave it to themselves, although they may profess that it originates with the people they dominate. In this there is a trace of the truth, for in acquiescing to their demands, we tend to legitimize their right to make them. But whereas one can quit one’s job at the electronics store, and turn in the orange t-shirt, or resign from OAFs, giving up the propeller-laden beanie, or even stop going to Joe’s house, can one disassociate oneself from the Rulers? Can you resign, or quit, your status as “citizen?” A clue: the Confederacy tried it.

A closing thought: how ironic that “government,” piously declaring itself a defender of our freedoms, is the only organization making freedom impossible. If you insist that you don’t want to wear a beanie, or an orange t-shirt, and thus will avoid association with the organizations requiring them, no one will think you strange. If you insist that you don’t want to don the trappings of citizenship, and would thus like to disassociate yourself with an organization that requires it, you will be considered peculiar, possibly even dangerous. Your person and property are yours to control, except when dealing with the Rulers, in which case they will claim greater sovereignty over them than your own—in the name of protecting your freedom! How do I resign from this outfit?

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