Teaching the Difference Between Free Choice, Victimless Crimes and the Role of Government

By the Left Coast Rebel


I'm currently a third of the way through a very interesting business law course and loving the chance to engage in just a bit of friendly philosophical sparring with my professor and classmates.

The course work this week delves into usury laws, so-called payday loans and statewide statutes involving gambling. We've been given the option to argue either side of each issue and conclude if we think usury laws and the "disproportionate" state legislation regarding gambling loans (rather, taking out loans to gamble) should be targeted by the feral government.

Unfortunately most of my classmates travel the road of government essentially doing everything it can to protect people form themselves (which I, of course couldn't disagree with more) but a few of my compatriots have a middle-of-the-road take.

For example, a student named Michael -- who happens to be a really smart chap and is quite younger than me -- is leery of the government micromanaging every aspect of what can be considered victimless crimes...


Here's how I responded to him:

Hi Michael, I agree that we shouldn't outlaw gambling (even on credit) or high interest rate loans but it can be reasonably argued that these things should be limited (as I argued in my post). 

And I also agree with you that there is no such thing as a victimless crime. What it really comes down to what we think should be criminalized or targeted via regulation from a societal standpoint -- and the essence of this is philosophical, i.e. what we think the proper role of government should be in a free society. 

Every single "vice" or choice in our complex modern society -- from eating too much fast food, drinking in excess, not exercising, driving a fast car (or a hybrid that is dangerously inadequate in an accident with a large truck) -- can produce a victim. 

Should the government then attempt to legislate the risk out of every single area in life? Or should it let free people freely choose (for good, or bad, or worse) what to do and how to live life? Something in between? I'm interested in what other people here think.

This little exchange enlightened me to a much Bigger Idea: Small nuggets of wisdom will change our nation - not fighting in the political streets.

It's effortless to scream, "liberals and Democrats suck!!" at the top of our lungs a million times on Facebook but infinitely more challenging to actually reason with our fellow citizens and change hearts and minds for liberty, one heart and mind at a time.

What do you think?

7 comments:

  1. I think government has a proper place such as maintaining infrastructure, national defense, criminal and civil courts, responding to societal change reasonably and properly, maintaining a minimal level of social security and safety nets.

    And you are quite correct Tim, screamingtt liberals, or libtards suck is counter productive. There is in fact a lot of quite bright liberals that actually can and do argue their points well and with reason. No one is right 100% of the time, nor is any party or ideology.

    Excellent thought provoking post.


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  2. I have replied three times to this post, and even though I tried to shorten my comments, I was unsuccessful. This is a great post. It is a mind bender when you really look at it in depth, and I loved the exercise of trying to put it in perspective. Kudos.
    As for K T Cat, I saw your post and remembered the vid from several years ago, which was obscene in its arrogance.
    What i fear is the intended victimization of our nation by a group so venomous, it is unbelievable.

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  3. Thanks, trailbee. I guess the point I'd make is that these aren't victimless crimes. In the end, the rest of us are the victims as we pay for the stupidity. The people gambling, smoking weed, etc. never feel the consequences and so they keep doing it. It's like a science fiction story where one guy gets tortured, but the pain is felt by someone else.

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  4. What a horrible viewpoint: "Crimes aren't victimless because government is taking responsible peoples' money to pay for the problems irresponsible people create for themselves."

    Ummm... No. You can't claim we need MORE government control because of ... morally hazardous government policies. That's just an ever-increasing spiral of moral hazards where more funding enables more bad behavior which then requires more control and more funding. It's a circular argument. Eventually these policies ENCOURAGE irresponsible behavior because idleness and neediness is rewarded and productive citizens are asked to contribute more. That the is OPPOSITE of the social pressure that is needed.

    Talk to an addiction therapist about the role of the "enabler". It's the person with sympathy and caring toward the addict, and their sensibilities drive them to do whatever they can to "help" the addicted person. The actual effect of this is that the addict is LESS likely to deal with their addiction, due to the assistance of the "enabler".

    Your idea that we are all victims because of the enabling role of government assistance just brings to light the damaging effect of bureaucratic entitlement programs.

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  5. "This little exchange enlightened me to a much Bigger Idea: Small nuggets of wisdom will change our nation - not fighting in the political streets.

    It's effortless to scream, "liberals and Democrats suck!!" at the top of our lungs a million times on Facebook but infinitely more challenging to actually reason with our fellow citizens and change hearts and minds for liberty, one heart and mind at a time."

    I couldn't agree more on that point - it's the reason I started my own blog in 2008. Political fighting needs to be hand-to-hand combat and not trench warfare. By that I mean getting out and talking to people about ideas - community outreach - rather than proclaiming our correctness. It needs to be a dialogue not a monologue. That's the only way to overcome the media and institutional advantage (schools, government bureaucracy, unions etc.) liberals have over us. My earliest blog posts were about talking to people face to face and putting their concerns and issues in the discussion and tackling them from our perspective. It's much more relatable and harder to refute that way.

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  6. As a human being, I have the right to make my own arrangements with other human beings so long as they do not violate the equal rights of others. That includes arrangements that may not end up being beneficial to me. In other words, I have the right to be stupid and make mistakes. Other groups of people, (government, unions, or the like) do not have the legitimate power to use force or coercion to interfere.

    If this sounds like boiler plate, it's because it is. Nevertheless, it is correct. It also defines the legitimate role of government in a free society rather nicely.

    Therefore, all laws to regulate interest rates and loans (and the like) are by nature incompatible with a free society. It's a pity we do not live in a free society because, although Utopia is not an option, life could be so much better in so many ways.

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