Saturday, November 25, 2006

Response to Cato

Cato wrote a comment about my Thanksgiving Day post about the line-up and frisk routine I experienced at the county courthouse this past week. Cato thought it might be a good opportunity to use people's distress and annoyance to agitate for greater liberty. Well, maybe, but it got me to thinking.

Here is my condensed hypothetical notions of what really would happen if people started to bitch about long lines and such at government buildings:

Democratic Party politicians:
"We need to hire lots more clerks to serve the people! And we're sure people won't object to a small tax increase to pay for it , either. After all, there ain't no free lunch, eh? (The vulgar libertarian argumentation most often used by politicians.)

Republican Party politicians:
"We need to outsource this whole process to India, or hire temps, or part-timers to provide more convenient service at lower prices. An extra fee could be added onto licenses, permits, fines, or fees to pay for it if need be. After all, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, eh? And God bless America!

Green Party politicians:
All licenses will be issued on organically grown, solar-powered, recyclable fair-trade paper and.. (ad nausem). And if it costs more, well tough. It costs money to be eco-friendly, so shut-up and pay it folks! There ain't no.."

Libertarian Party politicians:
"We'll make jail inmates or welfare-receipients work as "volunteer" clerks for no-pay. After all, there ain't no...&tc.

" Licenses? We don't need any stinkin' licenses or state entities to make us have 'em either. Phooey on this whole business anyhow."

Cynical? You bet. But that's been my bitter experience when dealing with real issues through what passes for politics in this society.

So Cato, if you got any ideas that wouldn't result in any of the above catagories, please, I'd like to hear them.


Cato said...

Good points all, Massoud. What I'm thinking about may well end up like one of your example scenarios, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am thinking about more than just the public complaining about the poor service they're getting. I'm talking about exploiting weaknesses in the system which might force the system to either be redesigned at great expense or force the decision makers to back off from their decisions. Take my passport example:

1)Government mandates that all persons going to Mexico or Canada after January 1, 2007 will be required to have a passport.

2)As is typical, Government puts no additional resources to the cumbersome process of granting passports.

3)It doesn't take a genius to realize that there will be a huge influx of new applicants to process between now and the first of the year.

4)The people at the local passport office didn't seem to realize that there would be a huge influx of applicants to process. :)

Their solution: Take applicants only by appointment. Fifteen minute blocks. One must call in and schedule an appointment to speak with the bureaucrat. Every time the phone rings the bureaucrat stops what she's doing, answers the phone, checks the schedule, lets the caller know when the next opening is, and writes down their name. As of yesterday, appointments are already two weeks out.

So why not call in and schedule lots and lots of appointments? Give her any name you want. She just writes them down and fills up her book. Get family, friends, anyone to do the same. And then, of course, when the appointment times come and go and no one shows up, you've pretty much shut down the system. The decision makers will have to assess whether a total redesign of the system is worth it or if just eliminating the draconian passport requirement would be the best course. And of course any redesign will contain other weaknesses which may be exploited in turn.

You never wouldn't be the first time that a denial of service attack forced change. Massoud, I am pretty cynical about things too. And I'm way beyond thinking that a political solution is viable. But I gotta believe that thoughtful, targeted resistance is still an option.


The Anarchist Flamethrower said...

I see what you mean Cato, but...

So how about this? Some Gandhi/MLK style non-violent direct action perhaps? Have fifty or hundred (or as many as you get) show up at a border crossing with nothing more than a legit picture id and a birth certificate and demand to be allowed crossing? Remember Rosa Parks?

What can they do? Hold you all back or carefully check everyone? Bothering the local clerks isn't going to result in anything but the scenarios I already described, IMHO. And this will only “remedied” by the local authorities by denying you timely and convenient service or by increasing your taxes. Which will in turn again, likely as not, result in the scenarios described already.

You could just ignore the law entirely, as millions have done, and just run back and forth across that imaginary line in the middle of the night at will, and stay free of imperial entanglements altogether, assuming of course you don’t get caught by the Border Patrol, the Minute Men or the local thugs who prey on such free travelers.

The DHS has put forth these rules but makes implementation of them the responsibility of the local folks. The perfect statist dodge eh? Rules from DC that have to be enforced or complied with locally.