Should stormtroopers be tracked and traced?
People acting on behalf of The State should never be anonymous.
Although there is no shortage of reasons to find this image disturbing, why do they not have ID badges? And are the gas masks to prevent them accidentally inhaling the helium from the children’s balloons they burst or are they really just covering their faces?
A physiotherapist once told me it was rare to find a consciously fraudulent practitioner in his field because a certain threshold of sociopathy must be reached to be untruthful while you have your hands on a person.
Most processes do not have an in-built correction mechanism though. So part of the art of system management is identifying the points of maximum leverage - identifying where many complex rules can be replaced by fewer simpler ones. It's not at all easy and choosing the right path is often tantamount to understanding the whole system. As with the notorious crèche example that opens Freakonomics - where charging parents for late pickups made them more frequent, not less - the rules in a real-world scenario are often unintuitive and so require someone with both understanding and backbone to implement them. These are not qualities overflowing in our governing class.
So the systems equivalent of virtue signalling happens instead, where a rule or action is chosen solely to make it look like you really care and to show how hard you are trying. This option always exists - in the words of H.L. Mencken:
“..there is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong”
For example, a rule insisting all pilots must remain awake throughout a flight sounds like you’re mandating the blindingly obvious; whereas in fact letting them nap is likely safer and 70% of pilots agree. But airline executives repeating “No sleep for you!” allows them to posture to the casual observer how much they care about passenger safety.
Wrong-headed rules that work only as soundbites aren’t exceptions - almost every public policy decision made by our esteemed “leaders” is made like this. It’s about the perception first and beneficial consequences are happy accidents. This necessarily means that organisations run by The State drift towards decay and death.
Henry Hazlitt wrote a book about this almost eighty years ago, reducing the voodoo which is modern economics into this obvious but ignored principle:
"The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
The best rules work effortlessly and simply. Having someone make their bones before joining the mafia meant you didn’t have to worry about whether they were trustworthy or do lengthy background checks, they were necessarily all-in. It worked for decades - the mafia remained an unproven conspiracy theory until Peter Valachi in 1963.
Do our politicians seek such simple and future-looking rules? No. One disadvantage of simple rules that work well in the background is … that they work well in the background. That is, there is not the attention and credit that comes with an air-headed but theatrical and public decision.
For these reasons and others, Hans-Hermann Hoppe proposed that a monarchy may be preferable to a democracy. Rather like the hands-on nature of physiotherapy, a monarchy has a self-correction mechanism built into it; kings and queens make good decisions because the price for bad ones will be paid by their children. They have a vested interest in the capital value and strength of the country - whereas now, we elect politicians for a term and their main aim is looting the public purse and passing on this cost to the present and future populace.
If we escape the digital prison currently being constructed for us, we can only get back a functioning society with simple, effective laws and a small government. What simple rules might help with this?
Almost every workplace requires that you call in and speak to someone if you are ill and cannot make it into work. It’s harder to be dishonest on the phone than with a text or email. And even in a car when you can see the other person, the distance and anonymity matters - in the words of Louis CK: "I am the worst person I can be when I'm behind the wheel.....put a couple of pieces of glass and some road between you and there's nothing you would not say" (I won’t butcher his jokes, watch it instead).
Which brings us to now. In what might be mistaken for parody in less insane times, tow truck operators turned up in Ottawa in green ghost masks and with the company name on their vehicles covered up (thanks to C. J. Hopkins).
Anyone not terrified by this is out of their mind. We need to relearn the fundamental signs of when The State has crossed the line while “helping” us.
Surely every person acting with the power granted by The State must be easily and readily identifiable. With this rule, The State would now have to persuade someone to put their face and identity behind every attack on the peaceful protestors. And if The State cannot find such people - and the green mask clearly shows they could not - isn’t this a sign it shouldn’t be done at all?
Of course, Trudeau or any would-be dictator is not at all interested in complying with the law and could easily ignore it. But this is not the only reason for a rule - it’s also easy to step over a picket fence surrounding a garden. It’s not really there to prevent access - it’s to make sure that someone who does enter your property can’t pretend later that they thought it was a public area. Once you catch them garden-side of your fence, you can make decisions about self-defence, say, and later be sure that you can prove they knew they were trespassing. Without the fence, this is less clear. With a rule such as this, everyone could see these anonymous stormtroopers and tick one more box on their checklist to know now that Trudeau is walking on their garden and kicking the heads off flowers.
Taking Hazlitt’s advice, we would now go on to examine the unseen consequences of this rule. However, I’m going to contradict myself entirely and pause here - what could possibly justify this?