Dwight Writes

2005-07-13

The Day My Eyes Were Opened.

The following story is pure fiction. No actual persons or events are depicted. I submitted it to Lew Rockwell .com, but he rejected it (very politely) saying it was slightly out of scope of his site. Oh, how the artist must suffer!

I was minding my own business, walking down a quiet road, when I was hit from behind by a speeding car. My body healed slowly. I was in a coma for several years. The world, meanwhile, moved on. Then, one day, June 22, I awoke.

Before my lengthy nap, my country was made up of 50 states, and had a large national government, control of which was bounced back and forth between the Republicans and Democrats like a volleyball. The day after a national election resembled nothing so much as the whoop of victory when your team had spiked the ball. Contentiousness between liberals and conservatives hung in the air every hour of every day. There was no political dialog, no back and forth of argument. There was only "spin", coming equally from left and right. Spin and invective. This was the atmosphere of my world before 6/22.

But the world I woke up in that day was entirely different. America still had fifty states, but long gone were the two parties, Democrats and Republicans. Now there were at least forty Non-Territorial Governments (NTGs). I was told that years ago, when the new system had first come about, the NTGs had advertised incessantly on TV, radio, the internet, and in every print media. That had calmed down as people got to know who was who. Now their advertising was more nuanced.

The Reds, for example. They had been the largest block to come out of the old Republican party. They experienced, as did the Blues (Democrats), a great number of schisms in the early years, but the party leaders maintained a sizable member base by adroitly adjusting their platform. Recognizing the new shape of the world that they had entered, they fell back to their roots: limited government, support for business, and a generic Protestant view of things. The neo-conservative elements found themselves left out in the cold, and their NTG, which split off very early from the Reds, never had the numbers to rise to anywhere near the top ten. War is just too expensive, when you have a choice. The only reason they had survived so long within the Republican party was that the religious conservatives cared less about reining in the war-mongers than fighting off the abortionists. They had their priorities, and were forced into the unpleasant alliance. That was no longer the case.

The Blues also remained the largest off-shoot of the old Democrats. They too went with their well-established base: support for the common man, the need for a sane health care system throughout the land, and personal liberty in matters of sexuality. They had to let the teachers go, as the public education system was just too far out of whack to be defended successfully.

So these forty or so NTGs operated the vestiges of the old federal government jointly, paying their dues to do so. Each department of the old government had been reconstituted as a business venture, jointly owned by however many NTGs had the chips to play. The NTGs haggled over the various programs, splitting things up, each agreeing to help pay for this, but refusing to have anything to do with that. They pretty much all agreed to pay to maintain the nuclear silos and subs, but put together a committee to chart a path to the future. After all, these programs were expensive, and each NTG had a stake in reducing costs. Low cost was obviously a selling point when your existence depended on holding on to your customers. And each year the customers, every citizen of the US that wanted to benefit from what the NTGs offered, would shop around for the best deal. In many essentials there was little to distinguish the Reds from the Blues on these points: each provided comprehensive insurance plans for health and post-retirement income insurance (what used to be called Social Security). Each NTG would of course trumpet how they differed from their main competition. In the end, cost was always a big factor, and so they strained every year to cut costs.

The old Postal Service was gone, but adequately covered by UPS and the other package deliverers, who easily stepped in with new services that more than matched the old. Also gone was the old Amtrak, but this too was replaced by a more robust rail system, owned jointly by a startup created by several of the freight train companies, along with some European and Japanese rail systems.

What had brought about this amazing change? It turned out that everyone finally realized there was no going back. The country had once enjoyed a fairly uniform view of moral issues. When this first began to unravel, most visibly in the decade of the 1960s, people thought things could go on with a tweak here and there. "Perhaps we could argue pursuasively enough so they would see that we are right and they are wrong", each side thought. When persuasion failed, the battle for raw power in the government was waged. Every political election, every appointment to the Supreme Court, became a pitched battle for power and influence. If they couldn't convince, they would seize power and control the outcome to their satisfaction. Many battles were won; final victory always evaded their grasp. I guess everyone just tired of the constant battles, realized the futility of it all, and began to look for another solution.

The solution turned out to be fairly simple: give everyone what they wanted. Instead of forcing everyone to work within a single, megalithic, monopolistic, involuntary, coercive government, where membership was based solely on residence, they created a web of interwoven non-territorial governments, voluntary, non-coercive, anything but megalithic. They gave the NTGs joint power over the goods that had once been the federal government, and gave all the people the right to choose what programs in that government they would support by letting them choose which NTG would control the distribution of their tax dollars.

Not everyone was happy, of course. Some who held great power in the old regime missed that, especially the part where they got to spend other peoples money. Many, who clung to the belief that those who were "right" should impose their beliefs for the good of all, missed the ability, experienced occasionally, to control others. But most were happy that the level of invective had dropped, and the work of apologetics could go on within a more tranquil environment; for each side on every issue continued to think they had always been right. Now they could put their money, their tax money, where their mouths were. Time would tell.

Lately the talk is about getting rid of the last remnants of what had been called the Internal Revenue Service. As the NTGs had whittled away their costs, they began to make most of their money selling insurance and security. Who'd have thought?

This piece of fiction is based on two pieces of non-fiction. The first appeared some months ago in LewRockwell.com [ http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/johnsson3.html ].

The second would be appreciated by the readers of LewRockwell.com [ http://www.misc-iecm.mcgill.ca/publications/white.pdf ].

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