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  • So, we drive on the right and our homes are our castles – or not

    Posted by Ginny on August 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Freedom is greatest within restraints and boundaries. Sure, on some slippery slope with no constraining adverbs, this seems contradictory, but we recognize daily that minimal, enforceable and enforced, laws provide predictability, enable true freedom. Would my freedom be enlarged without the first limit society imposes as I leave my house: driving on the right? Seinfeld’s Kramer attempted to “free” the lanes but caused chaos. I cheerfully accept it because it simplifies more than limits; I go over my grocery list or laugh with Limbaugh; someone more productive might create a poem or solve a physics problem. Without limits, we would be on guard, slow to a crawl, choose a tank, hoping, as my brothers put it, to be the shearer and not the shearee in an inevitable collision. I remember a homesick Iranian engineer telling us still he didn’t want to return – here drivers stop at red lights, even alone at night; there, every intersection was a free for all. Too much order suffocates but with too little concentration is difficult.

    Property rights are the bedrock on which our independence is built. A trust society internalizes some constraints. I want to live where we don’t need house keys and car keys can be left in the car. Another’s property is assumed so firmly to be theirs that no one even has to suppress desires. I may expect too much, require a still distant level of internalization. If the locus of responsibility is personal, individual and we share that value, we all become adults, all become responsible. But every night the opposite is argued (not very seriously: few are convinced that stealing Nike shoes or Gucci bags feeds starving children) by protesters. When the St. Louis couple described marauders pointing out rooms the “peaceful protesters” intended to occupy, the couple were frightened by barbarism.

    But laws are pointless if not predictably enforced. Buying and selling property is defined in legal records; we assume an implicit contract – that the government will back those deeds. A city government that gives the right of one citizen’s property to another – even for only a weekend’s pillage – betrays its responsibility and that contract. That is far more of a betrayal than the rioters’. The city itself, its government, sheds centuries of custom and law.

    The complicated feelings of renters toward landlords or government tenants include varying degrees of respect. Leases and the power of the local government to back both renter and landlord rights is fraught with complexity but also reassurance. The purpose is to bring peace of mind to both by defining and clarifying duties and rights. My friend describes the contracts she reissues each year to her renters as a defense of standards in an increasingly standardless world. She asks of her tenants and they of her a respect for each other’s property, each other’s rights. Her affection for Sowell, Himmelfarb and Prager doesn’t surprise. They speak not only of honesty and order, but also what leads to joy and peace. Expecting prompt payment of rent is balanced by her tenant’s expectation that if needed a plumber or roofer or electrician will be called promptly, paid cheerfully. Lives with good landlords and good tenants are predictable and pleasant. Such lives are surely richer and freer than those of the charming protesters in St. Louis.

    I wouldn’t want by force and privilege to take another’s house, for what peace would there be in such possession when the next year “privilege” and “power” might change? Of course, other’s houses may be attractive, but they are not mine – they are not what I worked for, saved for, they are not what I chose and reworked to meet our needs. Our house is, above all, ours. Once it was others and it may be yet others. Property is not trivial. Without property rights we are often less able to express our implicit rights, those of our Constitution. It is not just or really most importantly a matter of dollars, though money is important. Our homes become both shelter and perch from which we voice opinions and faith, offer hospitality and sympathy, reinforce values and taste, raise our children. Much of the fervor for the second amendment is recognition of its role in protecting property, both enabling other rights. Expressing ourselves – our opinions, our faith – is harder if our homes are not our castles.

    One of the more irritating revelations of the last months has been that some elected officials do not see duties in their contracts – only power. A mayor sympathetically addresses some citizens (those with political power and privilege as well as the power of bats and lasers and bricks): “Sure, tear up the houses and the businesses over there, or over there, or really everywhere; we won’t stop you.” Taxes become extortion, not a freely entered transaction with services rendered by both and values shared. The idea of the government as our servants, of we as their employers becomes farcical. An unjust application of laws tells us who is privileged: it is certainly not the shopkeeper expected to pay a full year’s taxes before being issued a permit to clean the rubble of a business long nurtured but, rather the privileged rabble who produced the rubble. Such chaos and injustice and unpredictability leaves citizens with little energy or ability to innovate, create, produce. They are too busy just trying to keep steady in a tempest. Treading water becomes an achievement.

    Our city government is not perfect but it is good. The utilities run smoothly and aid comes quickly, the garbage is picked up by people who are competent and have a sense of humor, but above all, we feel safe on our property. We neither fear nor disrespect our police and the court system tries (whatever dilemmas human nature throws at it) to achieve justice. But watching the news each night, I feel I should knock on wood when concluding this way. How long can that be our view of our city, state, nation?

     

    31 Responses to “So, we drive on the right and our homes are our castles – or not”

    1. Foxfier Says:

      One of the more irritating revelations of the last months has been that some elected officials do not see duties in their contracts – only power.

      That is the problem with what I’ll call the “progressive” movement, for lack of a better term, in a nutshell.

      They want rights without the matching obligations. The law protects them– but not those they target. Basically an out-growth of the “rules for radicals” tactic of being deliberately rude but hiding behind other folks’ good manners– you can spit on the soldier because even though he is able to kill you, he won’t.

    2. David Foster Says:

      In general, we have a problem with people who are given a grant of authority for a specific purpose and choose to use that authority for *other* purposes.

      Political officeholders are the most obvious example, but there are also an increasing number of examples in business.

      Shareholders of AT&T have delegated authority to the CEO of that company, who in turn has delegated it to the executives of their CNN subsidiary, for purposes of making money. Is CNN’s extreme and often irresponsible “progressive” position really a reasonable use of that delegation? Does it really represent the optimum use, in *business* terms, of the resources invested in that subsidiary? If not, I’d say it’s an abuse of authority.

    3. PenGun Says:

      “I want to live where we don’t need house keys and car keys can be left in the car.”

      That is where I live. I don’t believe my daughter has ever locked her door and I don’t lock mine. My keys are in my Samurai and live there. We are very civilized in this part of the world, and the general lack of desperation, is certainly part of that. Our sick and poor are taken care of, the sick somewhat better than the poor, but there are so many programs for medicine etc etc, so that the poor are not that badly off.

    4. MCS Says:

      There’s a scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where George Bailey throws a rock through a window of a derelict house that eventually becomes his home. It’s an unsubtle reminder of the seductive attraction of wanton destruction. Let he who has not felt it cast the first stone and know.

      There were many differences between the American Revolution and the French. A lot can be summed up in the history of Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster, first for the Crown and then for the nascent republic.
      http://www.benjamin-franklin-history.org/postmaster-general/

      In France his fate would have almost certainly been the same as Antoine Lavoisier.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Lavoisier
      Or Russia.

      Our Revolution was very much about building on what was, rather than starting over from the leveled rubble to build some “perfect” system. History shows which approach worked best. The revolutionaries never seem to realize that the rubble will most likely be covering their graves.

      The principal of conservation is very powerful in science and engineering. A simplistic explanation might be that everything comes from someplace, may be transformed but can’t be destroyed. The founders (ours) understood history as a continuum, much the way we understand energy or matter. That human institutions and motivations don’t appear out of thin air, that there was very little truly new under the sun if you knew where to look.

      Cloture in the Senate is nearly dead and will probably not survive another year. The idea behind it, that passing legislation on a purely partisan basis is dangerous, is surely dead. The idea that Senators had an obligation to consider legislation and appointments on their merits rather than blindly follow party diktat has predeceased it.

      I have no better basis for predicting the outcome of the next national election than anyone else. I fully believe that a Democratic sweep will be quickly disastrous. The present climate doesn’t give me much confidence that a decisive Republican victory will be any better in the long run. A few “kids” that get off on breaking windows and setting fires doesn’t concern me as much as the fear that their elders seem to have lost the ability to govern themselves.

    5. Christopher B Says:

      PenGun, like every “Don’t let a crisis go to waste Leftist”, mistakes cause for effect.

    6. Sgt. Mom Says:

      We- that is – most of us obey laws because a)habit, and b) we can see the sense of those laws, and c) what would everyone think of us if we didn’t? We understand the logic, intent and plain old courtesy, and as long as most of us do obey the laws – well, most things go along swimmingly. It’s when the laws are arbitrary, put out there for no good reason that we can see, and enforced unequally – then we will get a wee bit fractious. And eventually stop obeying laws.
      Something which certain governors with delusions of authority may just now beginning to discover.

    7. PenGun Says:

      “PenGun, like every “Don’t let a crisis go to waste Leftist”, mistakes cause for effect.”

      Not at all. We are a free and fairly happy people in Canada. We take care of our people. That is why I and my daughter can leave our doors unlocked. A more desperate society will have far more crime. Can you leave your door unlocked for decades?

    8. MCS Says:

      There were more places like that down here, I lived in a couple. They tuned out to be very hard places to make a living. With the luxury of an outside income, I might still be there.

      I notice that Canada is very quick to criticize other country’s handling of “refuges”. They seem rather less anxious to absorb any that don’t have the requisite several hundred thousand to buy a passport.

    9. Kirk Says:

      “We- that is – most of us obey laws because a)habit, and b) we can see the sense of those laws, and c) what would everyone think of us if we didn’t? We understand the logic, intent and plain old courtesy, and as long as most of us do obey the laws – well, most things go along swimmingly.”

      I think that what a lot of the Left absolutely misses is that there’s a not-insignificant part of the American population that are basically high-functioning sociopaths who’ve reasoned their way into following the rules of society. This, I believe, is due to the “escape hatch” effect that the US has had for the last few centuries–The disaffected and rebellious have come here in disproportionate numbers.

      It’s an interesting idea that was first proposed to me by a Texas German–It was his contention that the US and German immigration to the US are what enabled the Wilhelmine German imperium–If all those Germans who didn’t want to be scooped up by conscription hadn’t had the outlet of emigrating, then the discontents of 1848 would have likely led to an actual blood-on-the-streets revolution. If only because the “don’t want to be conscripted” types would have had no options. It was his opinion that the mere existence of the US as an option led directly to the militarization mania of later years–All the sane Germans left, rather than stay and argue.

      The US served as an outlet for all the discontented of Europe, and selected for those with the gumption to get up and leave. That’s left a legacy in the population that I strongly suspect is going to prove to be entirely ungovernable by the left, no matter how hard they try. If that component of high-functioning sociopaths starts seeing less and less value in participating/conforming with the “rules”, then the rule-makers are, in a crass word, fucked. What happens when the majority refuses to kow-tow to the minority, and indeed, chooses to eliminate them?

      I don’t think that the grass-roots participants in BLM realize what they are doing, or how thoroughly they’ve damaged their own case. The cops were killing a lot fewer black males than the general public is going to, once they decide that they can’t live with black criminality. There is no way that 13% of the body politic can achieve anything without moral suasion, and once they’ve discredited that, well… It’s going to be monumentally ugly. BLM is in the process of pissing away their moral high ground, and the after-effect is going to be very, very ugly.

      It’s only going to take a few more cases like that of Cannon Hinnant, and people are going to start taking proactive measures. That won’t end the way the fantasists think it will.

      If you want to declare race war, and win? You’d better be at least 50% of the demographics…

    10. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I can honestly agree with the theory of your Texas-German acquaintance, Kirk. (and yes, for my own books, I did a very deep dive into the historical background of those rebellious and free-thinking Texas Germans. They wanted nothing to do with the way that the various German states were going, and loathed that their sons would be conscripted for endless wars…)
      Supposedly, my own English great-grandfather had enough of it all, in the late 19th century. From the testimony of my great-aunt Nan, Great-Grandpa George send his sons to Canada/USA to get them out of the way of being conscripted for war. Alas, the older of the two volunteered for it, anyway.

    11. PenGun Says:

      “I notice that Canada is very quick to criticize other country’s handling of “refuges”. They seem rather less anxious to absorb any that don’t have the requisite several hundred thousand to buy a passport.”

      Yeah we are hypocrites as well as everyone else, no doubt at all. As well, I live on Vancouver Island and its sorta special in that the people who moved here were not trying to find a career, but escape from the normal grind. So of course an island full of hippies, is gonna be kinda laid back. Hell, the thieves here are failed hippies, so you can imagine the level they are operating at. ;)

    12. MCS Says:

      Good Lord! Pengun actually agreed with someone and it was me. And I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket.

      It’s the Canadian politicians that are hypocritical and I’d hate to have to depend on ours being any better. The country couldn’t function if most Canadians didn’t realize that there will always be more people with their hand out than a small country can support, or a big one for that matter.

      There’s a lot of stuff getting close to the bottom of the hill. There’ll be a reckoning when it gets there and everyone is wading in it up to their necks.

    13. Raymondshaw Says:

      What happened Penny? Did they steal your stash?

      I live in rural Central Arizona. After living for 24 years in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area,
      I take considerable care to practice good security habits. So, yes, I do lock my car and house doors.
      But I probably don’t need to. The only people who have traveled my 250′ crushed rock driveway in years is me, me friends and the UPS driver.
      Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses have stopped trying. Plus, Arizonans are well-armed. Everybody knows that. A well armed society is a polite society.

      If I lived on a sparsely populated island, I would take extra pains to be well behaved. If you transgress against someone who doesn’t forgive,
      it is a lot harder to seek escape to safety. Best to mind your Ps and Qs.

    14. PenGun Says:

      “What happened Penny? Did they steal your stash?”

      No one has ever done that. I used to lose bits of plants to kids back when I grew, but around here we all kinda know each other. So I used to put a couple of plants out where they came in, with a note saying if they took more, I would tell their parents. ;)

      You sure are a paranoid bunch, maybe its all the stupid guns. I know everyone, including the boys (hell’s angels) and at one time was a VP of Satan’s Choice. But my daughter is far more feared than I am. She will keep me safe. ;)

    15. Ginny Says:

      MCS
      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment.
      Your point that some disciplines see themselves as building on what went before and others don’t reminds me of Pinker’s criticism of the “blank slate”. The founders used history to understand human nature when they built the architecture for a human society. Like Pinker, they went to Biblical narratives and to the Romans and the Greeks. The romantics/French revolutionaries and later Marxists saw no need for such study. However, pretending human nature doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. The social sciences seem to set off on quests to explain and then waste their time finding the equivalent of pi or proofs of the most basic of Euclid theorems. Of course, we with reasoning and free will are complex – always, I hope, less unpredictable than the elements or the theorems.

      PenGun
      I have trouble thinking CVSs are looted for drugs and Nikes for sneakers out of desperation. I, too, have lived most of my life in flyover territory where doors are seldom locked. That is because here people feel seldom feel deeply aggrieved. These are not areas with high salaries but few are homeless. Not, of course, that we aren’t all a bit drawn to that cold adventure of breaking a boundary by breaking a window. But your sense of America as a desperate place strikes me as removing responsibility from those looters and with that any chance they can grow up.

    16. PenGun Says:

      “I have trouble thinking CVSs are looted for drugs and Nikes for sneakers out of desperation.”

      I don’t know what a CVS is and I don’t know anyone with Nikes. Its not unlikely a lot of locked doors are more about the locker, and less about the danger inherent in leaving them open. My landlord locks up the house and chains up his gates. I asked him why and although he has never been robbed, he is still paranoid about thievs. I would think many places in America are just as safe as where I live, but with one rather large difference. We are very seldom armed. The only guns around here, I know about, are pretty well all 30-06 deer rifles.

      We have recently made all kinds of em’ illegal to the great consternation of many. ARs are out, and really anything military is not allowed. Works for me. ;)

    17. Raymondshaw Says:

      <>

      So, they did steal your stash! By the way, I suspect that the miscreants parents were grateful for your generosity in providing for their spawns intoxicant needs. Otherwise, the little bastards would be raiding their parents stash.

      Shorter Penny: Assault Rifle bad, Assault Daughter good!

      So, stupid guns have agency, stupid people don’t. That’s leftism for you.

      Penny, your whole shtick is a hot mess. Here’s a thought: Rely on yourself to get out of the messes that your own stupidity gets you into in life, and let your capable and fearless daughter edit your nonsensical blog posts. Better still, start your own blog which can be followed by the universe of people who care about your profound eruditions, which is no one.

    18. CapitalistRoader Says:

      I don’t know what a CVS is and I don’t know anyone with Nikes.

      The Actual Pauline Kael Quote—Not As Bad, and Worse
      The clearest example of the bizarrely naive quality of hermetic liberal provincialism was attributed to the New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael almost 40 years ago:

      I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.

    19. Foxfier Says:

      Having guns, locking your doors when you judge there is a risk, and thinking about what you would do if there was a home invasion are no different than having fire extinguishers, fire-alarms and practicing emergency escape routes.

      It is an incredibly rare situation that most likely will not happen, but responsible people tend to prepare for the worst case when the cost is low but the reward is high. By taking the responsible steps, they make it more likely that the worst will not happen.

    20. PenGun Says:

      One of my favourite Zen stories, when I was young and learning about Buddhism, was the one about the Zen Master and his apple orchard. He had a nice orchard at his monastery and when they were ripe, the locals would often steal some of his apples. Late one night he hears some people in the orchard and goes out to have a look. Seeing the guy up in the tree, he went and got a ladder and put it on the tree. He was worried the thief might hurt himself getting down.

      In your country you would shoot him. Have a nice life. ;)

    21. Foxfier Says:

      *pats on head*

      Sure, whatever makes it easier to get through your day, justifying that you depend on others to take responsibility for you. Not like it’s uncommon for those who depend on others for their safety to try to cast the dereliction of duty as somehow noble, and while doing one’s duty to the best of one’s ability is somehow crass or even a moral flaw.

    22. PenGun Says:

      “Is pleased, can you do behind the ears, I am a Fire Dog. ;)”

      Foxy, you are a bit hard to understand. So he should have shot him, I guess maybe a sword, to do his duty?

    23. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Don’t forget the rest of that story, Pengun.

      Because the Zen Master showed such concern for people stealing apples from his orchard, soon he had no apples left. Then when winter came, his children had no apples to eat and were starving to death.

      Zen Master went out into the street and asked passers-by for alms, so he could feed this children. He recognized some of the people who had stolen apples from his orchard, but they walked on by and refused to help. When he tried to plead with them, they kicked him and left. As the Zen Master was lying on the ground bleeding, all he could see was the big maple leafs on their T-shirts.

    24. Foxfier Says:

      PenGun-
      Your “Zen Master” story is of a man whose “care” was for the immediate possible harm of someone in front of him, while having no care for the wrong he was encouraging them to do to others and themselves. He could have offered the apples as a gift in any of a dozen ways, including simply putting out a sign that said “you are welcome to the fruit in the first row of trees, please enjoy the apples” or inviting people to harvest them with him.

      Instead, he chose to encourage people to take that which was not theirs, without care for the corrosion of charity that comes with encouraging people to feel entitled to that which others have.

      But oh! Look, when the thing he encouraged put someone at risk, in front of him, he was willing to take a small step to try to help the thief.

      Your bad faith attack about how the horrible, nasty people who do not encourage people to destructive acts would just shoot the person doesn’t hit home any more than an accusation of cannibalism would, because it is not just wrong– it’s wrong in a way that is so far off it’s not even insulting. Just kind of pathetic.

    25. PenGun Says:

      You guys are weird. A parable goes … whoosh … right by you. Still you are not the sharpest knives in this drawer, that’s for sure.

    26. Xennady Says:

      It’s only going to take a few more cases like that of Cannon Hinnant, and people are going to start taking proactive measures. That won’t end the way the fantasists think it will.

      Just in case anyone reading this doesn’t know, Cannon Hinnant was a five-year old boy shot in the head for the crime of being white, by some black guy who wanted revenge on white people because insanity. He was shot while riding his bike, in his yard, in front of his sisters.

      Meanwhile, I’m supposed to feel bad about a serial felon who died from a drug induced heart attack after resisting arrest. The story of Cannon Hinnant will be buried and mentioned at most once in the media, that of you-know never stops getting mentioned. The actual footage of events had to be leaked, or it likely would have never seen the day. As far as I know, it was leaked to a foreign outlet- and I bet the so-called US media has never mentioned it. But since I don’t see any of its product, I won’t ever know if I’m right.

      Anyway, I think a great deal of those proactive measures have already taken place. I note the never-ending gun buying spree aimed at “zombies”, and I’m pretty sure the movement for concealed carry was inspired by the never-ending crime wave by the same, which our media doesn’t want to mention. Many anecdotes redacted for brevity.

      If you want to declare race war, and win? You’d better be at least 50% of the demographics…

      Well, one anecdote- years ago I got into work and someone was watching a youtube video. It was some black guy trying to talk down a room full of other black guys who were all worked up to start shooting. In the couple minutes I stuck around to watch he was telling them to watch out, because white people taught young girls to shoot AR-15s. I think his point was that they were going to get massacred, so put the crazy in a box.

      In light of recent events, I don’t think that message took.

    27. Foxfier Says:

      *pats PenGun on the head again*

      Like I said, whatever helps you sleep at night.

    28. Joe Wooten Says:

      Can you leave your door unlocked for decades?

      Allow us to send a few of the denizens from the south and West side of Chicago to live on your little island and see how long that lasts. Where I grew up in West Texas no one locks their doors or vehicles then and now. It has to do with trust and the fact that you can get an ass full of buckshot if someone catches you stealing from them. Glasscock County is 900 sq miles with ~1800 people (about half Mexican descent) and trust is widespread.

    29. MCS Says:

      I spent a lot of time in marginally less rural (desolate?) places in the Panhandle and Colorado and left my pickup parked on the street loaded with whatever and unlocked, often with the windows rolled down without any problems, until there were.

      I also remember the time the Deaf Smith County Democratic Chair was caught with a quarter million dollars in stolen farm machinery in his yard.

      As I said, very hard places to make a decent living.

    30. Joe Wooten Says:

      I spent a lot of time in marginally less rural (desolate?) places in the Panhandle and Colorado and left my pickup parked on the street loaded with whatever and unlocked, often with the windows rolled down without any problems, until there were.

      The biggest problem with leaving your vehicle unlocked with the windows down in those areas is that folks will fill you passenger seats with surplus zuccini, yellow squash, tomotoes and beans…….

    31. Mike K Says:

      Good grief. Responding to PenGun is like playing solitaire with a blindfold. He exists to preen himself.