It seems a rotten shame, that with all that money you and I are forced to pay him, our President cannot find a decent tailor. He draws a salary of around six times what we do, plus a lavish expense account and a specially equipped 747 at his beck and call, yet... no clothier in the Capital can keep his fly fastened!
This column, as regular readers know, tries to tells the truth without fear or favor, and so it's my mildly painful duty to report that my libertarian friends appear to be divided about the significance of all this. The rift is far from serious, but in recent days I've stumbled upon two opposite interpretations. Both, naturally, come from a common premise: that force must not be initiated. That's at the center of all true belief in freedom.
Interpretation #1 is quite similar to the conservatives' viewpoint: that it is unforgivable for our President to fool around. If he can't be trusted to keep his word to his wife, how can he be trusted with the affairs of State? - it's a good point, how indeed. If he lies (and boy, how he lies!) about Gennifer and Paula and Kathleen and Monica and un-numbered scores (so to speak) of other doubtless delectable bimbos, how can anyone trust his word about Middle Class Tax Cuts or the End of the Era of Big Government?
They are right, of course, there's no denying it; we can't. Slick Willie is as phoney as a three dollar bill, and the only puzzle is how long it's taken the D.C. Press Corps to 'fess up and begin to tell us about it.
As Gennifer Flowers said in reply to Larry King's January 23rd question about whether she believed Paula Jones' story, "Oh, sure, of course Bill would drop his pants in a hotel room." Without pausing to think, she told a zillion watching Americans on her excellent authority that it was Business As Usual for the "leader of the free world" to respond to the slightest sexual invitation at the drop of a... zipper. Which brings us right back to the quality of tailoring in Washington, D.C.; and, if you must, to The Character Issue.
But then there's Libertarian Interpretation #2, which would resemble what some liberals might have said, had they not been hijacked by the FemiNazis. It asks, What the heck, Bill has affairs, so what? They are trivial; we should criticize (and impeach) him for his real faults, which are far more serious. I must say, I tend to prefer this second perspective myself. Strictly from first principles and with the possible exception of Ms Jones, Bill Clinton has not initiated personal force against a single female, so why all the fuss? - if anyone has a right to complain it's Hillary, and she isn't, so let's all go home and leave the philanderer to his games. All work and no play would make Bill a dull boy.
Bill? - Bill Who?
Whichever of those two views you like best, I believe we ought to consider a third; that this would all be insignificant if there wasn't a President, and there's a President only because there's a Government, and as I may have mentioned here before, I'm darned if I can see the need for one. And if there wasn't a government, William Jefferson Clinton would be usefully employed; he's very smart, he's a wonderful talker, an accomplished liar, a good saxophonist and highly popular with the ladies. With talents like those, he'd surely have a distinguished career in a free society. The mendacity would hold him back from the highest pinnacle of success, but he'd do okay.
That's if he could discard that attribute of every politician, his thirst for power; to control other people, to force them to his will at gunpoint. A free market has no demand for skills like that. All its transactions are voluntary.
"Absurd!" call out my many critics, accompanied by the crack of a thousand jerking knees (and the distant strains of a sax?) "How could we possibly do without government, especially in this complex modern age! You're insane!" Well, if "insanity" means questioning Authority and developing a thoughtful disagreement with what 95% of the population takes for granted, then, yes, I plead insane. After all, this column doesn't serve up warmed-over normality.
How? - rather easily, I suggest. The White House would be sold, probably as a museum, to show future generations how weird things used to be; the tour guides would tell of the former entrance fees to the Lincoln Bedroom, and display the desk of Monica Lewinsky, and show where those Nixonian expletives got recorded.
The other fine stone buildings would all clear the market and find buyers, for a variety of useful purposes. Washington would produce goods and services that people wanted to buy, instead of being forced to buy; and so would bring its residents an honest living, albeit perhaps less lucrative. Such change would be vast; but after a decade or so, people would wonder how it was ever otherwise.
The Nation's defenses would be decentralized, right down to each well-armed neighborhood and household; no foreigner, having before him examples like Ulster, would waste his manhood by invading such a hedgehog of a country. Each American would keep what was his own, without fear of arbitrary redistribution - and by investing each for his own retirement everyone would end up three times richer than Social "Security" now permits. And when Bill Clinton's zipper and pants again succumbed to the influence of gravity, and some snitch called a reporter to tell him, the bored response would be: "Bill who, did you say?"
Poverty would vanish, because no licensure or minimum-wage laws would prevent any young person accepting whatever employment and wage was offered; the few who remained in squalor would do so strictly by their own choice, and so be "rich" by their own estimate. The other few whose natural disabilities made work impossible would be well and lovingly cared for, as throughout history prior to this disastrous Century, by those wishing to give them charity.
And prosperity would mushroom, as regulations and taxes were trashed; even under those vicious restrictions the natural enterprise of this partly-free people has brought amazing wealth to the world in the 20th Century. In their absence, the progress of mankind in the 21st will be unimaginably rich.
|© Copyright Jim Davies 1999|
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 242
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