Friday, 2 January 2015

Making Things Right

False Messiahs

We are not sure if you have noticed, but the world is slightly short of being a perfect place.  People die, for one thing.  They get ill and suffer and expire.  Moreover, accidents happen.  On other occasions, human beings become angry and in a fit of rage they attack and murder other human beings.  Worse still, some coldly and systematically plot the demise of neighbours. 

You get the point.  We could go on for a long extended description of all the things which are wrong with the world.  In fact, the world would not contain all the books that would need to be written to describe exhaustively every aspect and scintilla of imperfection on this terrestrial ball.  The Christian calls this imperfect state of the world fallen.  The world is filled with evil (natural and unnatural).  Moreover, we--human beings--are responsible for the world's fallen state.  The world was originally created to be without sin, evil, or wrong.  We humans (not Nature, not the animal kingdom, not the solar system) brought all this evil and imperfection to this planet.  In a fit of galactic stupidity we decided to rebel against our Creator and replace Him with ourselves as gods.

The fallen condition in which we live necessarily means that humanity spends a great deal of time and effort combating evil and protecting itself from the worst excesses of wrong.
  In this struggle fallen man finds himself searching for saviours of one kind or another.  A saviour is someone or something which will solve our problems and roll back (or at least contain) the dangers on every hand. 

For some, their saviour is wealth or enough money to build a moat defending them from harm or attack.  Wealth can protect from hunger, disease, crime--a whole host of impending threats.  For others, their saviour is an abstract facility, such as the facility of human reason.  If only we could all ratiocinate better, the world would become progressively more perfect, less fallen.  (This particular option is a thin disguise for the actual case: everything would be solved if other people would agree with me.)

Still others place their faith in a particular ideology.  The Greens, for example, believe that perfection would be achieved on every level if only there were less human beings and they did less.  The Greens believe that fewer, more quietistic human beings would solve all the world's problems.  Human-less Nature is the saviour, humanity is the great threat and evil.  At root, the Greens detest the human race. 

But for the vast majority of people in the West, their saviour is the State.  Government, with its rules, regulations, conventions, education systems, taxing powers has the potential to be the saviour of mankind.  Any imperfection encountered can be vanquished with more state controls and rules.  This leads to a widespread faith in the Plan.  Government rules and regulations will solve all evils: actual and potential.  Behold, O man, your god.  Humankind will save itself through the government's all encompassing Five Year Plan. 

Except it won't, of course.  The gummint has so far failed to stop people getting ill.  Last time we checked, people still die.  They lose their tempers.  They fight and quarrel.  They get drunk even when alcohol is verboten.   In fact, it would appear that every marginal increase in state rules and regulations actually provokes unintended consequences that make the world more fallen than it was before some politicians and their cheering crowds got some bright ideas. 

So strong is the faith in government that people get positively angry if someone suggests to them that the state is incompetent--necessarily incompetent--and that it will only make things worse.  The outpouring of anger at such a seditious, blasphemous idea exposes the religious foundations of statism in bright relief. 

Here is just one example of the myriad failures of the government as our god.  Some important folk decided in their wisdom that one death on the roads was one too many.  Zero tolerance for road deaths.  How will this be achieved?  By the Plan.  The bureaucratic plan will comprehensively rule and regulate road behaviour so that all road deaths will be prevented in the future as we enter a more perfect world. 

First come the rules--constantly modified and tinkered with--to remove the imperfections of fallen human behaviour.  Then comes the hectoring.  This is followed by policing the rules: stops, breath tests, fines, suspensions, cancellation of drivers' licenses, seizing of vehicles--we would need several long paragraphs to itemise all the compliance and policing powers and actions to ensure rule-compliance.  The  more zealous and comprehensive it becomes, the more risks and potential accidents there are.

How does that work?  Rodney Hide explains a present reality with which we are now all familiar:
Overtaking on the road safely and within the law is now all but impossible.

The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h. The police are applying zero tolerance. You can now be ticketed at 101km/h. The speed limit for heavy vehicles and cars pulling caravans, boats or trailers is 90km/h.

Do the maths. In good driving conditions we are advised to apply the "two-second rule". At 90km/h that's 50m. So you pull out 50m behind a truck and trailer, the truck and trailer is 20m long and you pull in once safely 50m past. You have to make 120m to pass safely.  If the truck is doing 90km/h and you stick to 100km/h it takes 43 seconds to gain that 120m.

At 100km/h you will have travelled 1.2km. You must allow for a car coming towards you at 100km/h. To pass safely you need 2.4km of clear road.  That doesn't happen often.

So you wait for a passing lane. The traffic behind the truck and trailer builds up. Finally you get to a passing lane. The front cars take off - at 100km/h. I drove Auckland to Queenstown these holidays and typically only the first two cars would make it past.  I would then watch in horror as a couple of frustrated drivers would try to pass the line of cars and the truck and trailer without the benefit of a passing lane or a clear road. It was frightening. And predictable.
The rules and regulations increase risks and cause more accidents.  Most police officers are smarter than the politicians, though, which is a saving grace.  They use discretion--that is, until some mid-level police bureaucrat demands proof of compliance with the plan--and then it all turns to custard. 

The solutions lie in the government being retired as the omni-competent saviour of us all.  But the world will still be fallen.  Men will still manufacture saviours of all shapes and stripes.  Their solutions will only serve to exacerbate our fallen state.  Their saviours will only make the world more imperfect. 

There is only one amongst the human race who alone is qualified to be our Saviour.  He alone can deal with our fallen condition at its root.  All the rest only add to the curse.

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