According to this guy
September 18, 2002 9:33 AM   Subscribe

According to this guy we have become an over-regulated society, directed towards obedience, bordering on totalitarianism. While much of what he says here is not new to us, it does appear that with each new law put into effect, we are incrementally giving up more and more of our freedoms. So, when is the breaking point? Some laws and regulations are necessary, but have we already gone too far? (More interesting/entertaining rants from him here.)
posted by eas98 (22 comments total)
it does appear that with each new law put into effect, we are incrementally giving up more and more of our freedoms.

while not always true, I've been saying this for some time. Real reform and cutting down on the red tape and bureaucracy would be nice. Otherwise, it just seems like the old Microsoft Windows effect: Adding on so much shit til the whole thing gets pulled down.

this was more in response to your remarks than the article.

The article itself reminds me of the obvious criticism from the flick Brazil, with the never ending beauracry. Obviously we're nowhere near that level of idiocy, but there's a lot of it rampant.
posted by trioperative at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2002

then I see the ad for his book at the bottom. uggh.
posted by trioperative at 9:45 AM on September 18, 2002

Damn right, and in 1964 people could get LSD and MDMA legally, not like now where they'd arrest you.

On the other hand there are probably a lot of things that would get you arrested in 1964 that's tolerated now, like selling pornography or engaging in homosexual behavior.
posted by bobo123 at 9:53 AM on September 18, 2002

Devo was right. Freedom from choice IS what we want.

Look, let me just live my meaningless little life with the ILLUSION of freedom, and I'll happily buy your lattes. Real freedom entails real responsibility, and we've made clear that we want anything BUT that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2002

Did it occur to this nabob that perhaps the reason why you need to catch fish in designated areas is to ensure that there will be fish to catch in the future?

Goddess save me from the "good ole days."
posted by tommyspoon at 10:28 AM on September 18, 2002

Icky, icky Mac quotes. There ottabealaw!

Have we given too much power over to the authorities out of fear?
Out of a denial of personal responsibility?
Or simply because we can't be arsed?

Who cares? Have some soma and lets get pneumatic!
posted by bonehead at 10:34 AM on September 18, 2002

Bobo hit the nail on the head. We get freedoms, we get them taken away. Minorites, women, the disabled, gays are far more free than they were 40 years ago. I have the freedom to check into a motel in rural NC with my multi-ethnic girlfriend, which I certainly wouldn't have been free to do in 1964. I'm free to not wear a freaking tie to work. I'm free to practice just about any religion I want--how many of your parents ever knew a Wiccan? or even a Buddhist? How many of you do? I know I feel far, far more free than my parents ever did, free to live how I want, with whom I want, where I want.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:35 AM on September 18, 2002

well, the article didn't say 'get rid of all the laws'. i think we can all agree that laws are necessary in many cases. But absurdity needs to be dealt with.
posted by trioperative at 10:35 AM on September 18, 2002

So, when is the breaking point?

Right now. Annie, get your gun.
posted by rocketman at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2002

Go to some other countrys and it feels more free in some ways. Then you know what freedom means.
posted by stbalbach at 10:42 AM on September 18, 2002

have we already gone too far?

Three letters: FDR.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:10 AM on September 18, 2002

Ol' Fred seems much more worried about losing his right to an unlicensed dog than losing his right of habeas corpus.

Totalitarian? Yeah, Fred's a reg'lar cowboy Solzhenitsyn.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:34 AM on September 18, 2002

Used to be if you wanted a dog, you got a dog.

I think I'm smitten with that sentence, and will be using it in my daily vernacular accordingly.
posted by redsparkler at 11:44 AM on September 18, 2002

The law is something that's always going to be evolving. New situations involve new moral dilemmas, new transgressions, so new laws are written. Societies changes its consciousness about something being wrong, so laws are repealed. I wasn't around in 1964, but I'm not convinced that the people who were have significantly less freedom now. We've recognized and fixed some problems, and created some new ones, which in turn will have to be fixed.
posted by orange swan at 12:13 PM on September 18, 2002

well, the article didn't say 'get rid of all the laws'. i think we can all agree that laws are necessary in many cases. But absurdity needs to be dealt with.

I think you caught the essence of the problem here triop ... the difficulty of saying what necessary, and what is absurd (or at least superfluous). The vast majority of lawmaking is - I think - driven by a sort of "triage" mentality ... i.e., it is to solve a perceived problem for an established constituancy.

Numerous difficulties come from this - like the fact that the implementation of the laws are often more relevant than the language of the laws themselves, and often either completely fail to address the problems the laws are written for, or have quite unintended side-effects whose magnitude is much greater than intended effects are. Or the fact that almost no one bother to write sunset provisions into laws ... so many stay on the books permanently - far past the time when anyone even remembers what the problem they were supposed to solve was. (As a great example of this sort of absurdity - it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk in Detroit, which, on the face of it, would seem to be a terribly petty thing for lawmakers to bother with ... especially those that have been to Detroit lately ... but the law is from early in the century when tuberculosis was rampant, and public health officials were attempting, within the limits of the science at the time, to figure out how to contain it).

What one person calls unduly limiting, or absurd, another person will call a necessary solution. (for instance, I wonder what what this fellow would think of someone photo-copying his book, scanning it, and putting it on the web to be freely downloaded - I suspect he would consider all that bothersome paperwork surrounding copyright and intellectual property laws to be pretty freakin' important, but others find such things extremely limiting and intrusive).

Go to some other countrys and it feels more free in some ways. Then you know what freedom means.

America (only my opinion) strikes a fairly good balance when it comes to free nations passing laws. Brazil, for instance, seems a bit freer to me, and there's a sort of wild, anything-goes air about it, but by the same token, the last time my wife and I were in Sao Paolo we hired a car to take us the two blocks from our hotel to an ATM, because the chances of actually having our cash after the two block walk back would have been iffy.

On the other extreme is Singapore. Lovely place. Extremely safe and well ordered. But this is achieved by laws that go to an almost inconceivable level of minutae, and produces a sanitized, almost antiseptic feeling.

Yes - compared to the various approachs taken by other nations, America seems to do things pretty well.
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:26 PM on September 18, 2002

Seems to me that for every one law repealed, probably at least 20 new ones are enacted. So this 'evolution' actually has a direction..

Generally speaking, most new laws enacted restrict us a little more, one at a time...
posted by eas98 at 12:27 PM on September 18, 2002

I think tommyspoon was barking up the right tree with the comment about fishing. Fred Reed is clearly someone I would not want to trust to hold up his part of the stewardship of the commons. Laws are often seen as protecting the populace as a whole from the actions of a few wrong-doers, but in this country we have a constitution which has just as much emphasis on protecting the minorities and dissenters from the populace. Would you trust Reed to support your rights to a fair trial if you had done something he disapproved of? Would you trust Reed to defend your right to seek legal redress if you had incurred some tort from an entity he felt was ... whatever it is that he values?

I can't help but feel there is a strong core of sheer irresponsibility in the whole article. This guy scares me.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 1:06 PM on September 18, 2002

If Jello Biafra and Jack Palance were to somehow have offspring, this would be him.

Seriously though, it's unsettling because he's right in some aspects. Too many people, too many opinions on how things should be. There will be conflict when too many outside factors effect other people's lives. Now, I say live and let live, but there's a point where if too many factors are affecting your life negatively you feel something must be done about it. , on paper there's no good reason why societies shouldn't be able to work it out peacefully and in a civil manner, but just think of the sheer volume of conflict in every aspect among societies. Too many variables, too many different sides of the story.
posted by spungfoo at 1:25 PM on September 18, 2002

Actually, I noted the part where he wrote something like you have to let your daughter have an abortion without notifying you. Interesting ...
posted by JKevinKing at 2:22 PM on September 18, 2002

MEME OF THE DAY (as seen on a tee-shirt) :

Balance the State budget!
Legalize Marijuana!
posted by kablam at 3:01 PM on September 18, 2002

until the people of this country get over this idea of big government is best mentality, expect to see the current disregard for individual liberty to continue. We have this knee jerk reaction to problems in this country by looking first at government to solve all problems. Big Government politicians sure don't help the quest for individual liberty by inserting chaos into the situation by intrusive government regulation and then on the other side of the token by running for re-election campaigning to fix it. When usually the problem in the first place is created by a regulation or law to begin with. The only way I see this type of reasoning on the part of the citizens to start to cease is to properly educate people what it means to forfeit your individual liberty in favor of the state. But unfortunately even the most educated amongst us still consider the state as the answer to problems. And the merry go round continues..

posted by ZupanGOD at 2:44 AM on September 19, 2002

If you've read this far without clicking those links, be warned: this guy's a full-on bigot.
posted by sudama at 4:57 AM on September 19, 2002

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