SNOHOMISH WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER Sunday, August 25, 2019   
Snohomish Times News
Home | Business News | County News | Entertainment | Local News | Photo Gallery | Prep Sports | Roads Traffic News | Snohomish News Archive | STSPN.COM

Authoritarianism is Self-Defeating

Harvey Field
Published:2010-08-29 Opinion
Authoritarianism is Self-Defeating    Print Snohomish Times    
Authoritarianism is Self-Defeating

by Kevin Carson
I got a (simultaneously horrifying and amusing) news item in the latest U.S. Pirate Party newsletter, about a new program in Cleveland to monitor recyclable bins with RFID chips ("Privacy Trashed," August 24).

"This whole 'chipping' of garbage cans began in England and now it is spreading to our shores. Basically, they're using RFID (radio frequency indentification) chips to ensure that people are recycling. The chips monitor how many times a recyclable container is brought to the curb. If you haven't brought out your recycle bin in awhile, expect to have your trash rooted through."

This is just another example of the utter stupidity of the typical lawmaker's mindset. It's like it literally never occurred to them that people might try to circumvent laws.

A good example is the sign on the gas pump: "The penalty for stealing gas is loss of your driver's license. If you steal gas, this could be the last time you drive." So I'm not afraid to steal gas -- but I'm TERRIFIED of driving without a license. Do these Barney Fifes even think, or do they just assume that passing "a law" on paper will have some magical effect on reality?

Any kid who ever squeezed the toothpaste tube and wet his toothbrush to look like he'd brushed his teeth could figure out how to thwart Cleveland's idiotic recycling program.

I believe strongly in recycling, and normally separate all my recyclables into the bin. But if this RFID program were implemented where I live, I'd STOP recycling. I'd just carry the empty bin out to the curb and bring it back once a week to fool Big Brother, and then I'd cram the trash cans with recyclables.

I recall a similar high-tech handwashing verification system in the news about ten years ago, that used embedded chips in name badges to check if employees had gone near the sink or turned on the water after using the toilet. As with the recyclable bin, any kid who ever faked brushing his teeth could easily thwart this. And even though I'm normally quite fastidious about washing my hands, I'd be sorely tempted to whiz on them and fake a handwash just to prove to myself that management's smug confidence in their own authority over me was unwarranted.

As it is, I frequently leave notes on those "Employees Must Wash Hands" signs: "How do you plan to enforce this?" My goal is not only to undermine the authority of anonymous sign writers in the eyes of the public, but to make management look ridiculous and ineffectual in the eyes of workers and get them thinking in general terms about how much of management's authority is unenforceable. And if I can make management paranoid that their authority's held in contempt, I've hit the trifecta.

This is one of the ways that authoritarianism, and statism in particular, defeats itself. It really seems never to have occurred to these smothering schoolmarms that there's a nontrivial minority of the population (and I'm one of them) that takes such intrusive attempts at micromanagement, and our would-be overseers' smug confidence in their own authority, as a challenge. People like me make it our mission in life to prove that "you're not the boss of me." And offensive enforcement measures like RFID chipping recyclables bins will be guaranteed to provoke the behavior they're trying to discourage.

It's really comical just how clueless they are about the counterproductivity of such heavy-handedness. Take, for example, the anti-drunk driving PSAs put out by the Arkansas State Police: "If you drink and drive, you WILL get caught, and you WILL go to jail." Even the most dull-wittedly obedient citizen out there will immediately discern that such an extreme assertion of their enforcement capabilities is a bald-faced lie. Just about anyone who drinks at all can probably recall -- even if they don't want to admit it -- more than one case where they got behind the wheel with blood alcohol that was technically over the limit, even if it was only after two or three beers, and DIDN'T get caught. Assertions of enforcement capability and threats of punishment that clearly can't be backed up seem almost calculated to bring the state into contempt.

In other words, they done goofed -- and the consequences will never be the same. Sometimes it's almost as if Matrix reality has commercials for red pills embedded in it. The beauty of it is, the Matrix generates its own glitches.




Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Bridge work to close lanes on I-5 Bridge work to close lanes on I-5
Bridge work to close lanes of southbound I-5 in Snohomish County starting Saturday, Aug. 24


Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Free Car Wash Free Car Wash
This Thursday: Brown Bear offers free “Beary Clean” car washes at 26 tunnel locations


Published: Sunday, August 18, 2019
Financial Advisor Sterling Gurney gets CFP Financial Advisor Sterling Gurney gets CFP
Financial Advisor Sterling Gurney of Edward Jones Receives CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (TM) Certification


Published: Friday, August 16, 2019
Confirmed Hepatitis A Case Closes Lynnwood Restaurant Confirmed Hepatitis A Case Closes Lynnwood Restaurant
Patrons are encouraged to contact healthcare provider for vaccine


Published: Thursday, August 15, 2019
Snohomish County Solid Waste Launches New Webcams Snohomish County Solid Waste Launches New Webcams
More Time for Other Things Campaign highlights new facility web cams and streamlined commercial services


Rairdons Monroe Dodge

Snohomish Sports Network

Advertisement

Live Police Scanner

Snohomish County Sheriff, City of Snohomish,
Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Everett - Police & EMS/Fire


Advertisement

mondotimes
The Worldwide Media Guide

 


SNOHOMISH contact