California’s Senate unanimously approved a bill proffered by Sacramento Democrat Richard Pan on May 18. The bill “would allow so-called beer bikes to operate on streets, but leaves cities to decide if alcohol is allowed on board.”
Why are “beer bikes” so important to Senator Pan? If you guessed “because he likes freedom,” you’re wrong. According to the Associated Press, he’s concerned that “current state law does not include a definition for this type of vehicle, creating legal uncertainties.” Pan may or may not like beer bikes, but he’s deeply worried that something, somewhere, might be happening sans the supervision of Richard Pan.
This is just today’s example. I come across stories like it on a daily basis. A kid cited for running a lemonade stand without a permit. A traveler robbed of his cash by “law enforcement” on the claim that unless he can explain it to their satisfaction, some crime must be involved. And so on, and so forth.
Somewhere, some politician gets a bee in his bonnet and a law gets passed. Not in response to some clear, present, actual danger, but to ensure seamless regulation of all matters, large and small, such that nothing, anything, ever goes unaddressed by the political process.
This attitude, which drives modern American politics, stems from the doctrines of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, founder of the political ideology known as fascism. As he put it: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
Mussolini only had a couple of decades to implement his ideas before World War Two and death interrupted him. Unfortunately, a more slowly moving version of those ideas took root in America around the same time under other names (“progressivism” being the most popular and enduring).
Today’s politicians surpassed Mussolini’s control fetishism long ago. We’re fast approaching the “progressive” ideal embodied by the ant colony in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King: Ubiquitous signposts reminding us that “EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY.”
Not that today’s “conservatives” are any better. They’re every bit as keen on controlling others as “progressives” are; they just have different notions concerning which strings to pull on their puppets (all of us who aren’t politicians, that is). As Richard Nixon might say, were he still alive, “we’re all progressives now.”
Well, maybe not all of us. If you prefer freedom, look for the “Libertarian” label when next you vote.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
- “Pan Fascism: Mussolini was a Piker,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 05/20/15