I am surprised that the simple point I attempted to make in the post called Drinking and Democracy about adult universal franchise being inconsistent with treating adults like irresponsible children provoked so much controversy. Call me dense but I am at a loss figuring out what exactly the objections are.
One person said that prohibiting drinking is good because drinking leads to problems. I am sorry but I don’t understand the logic of prohibiting an action which in the normal course of events is not harmful to the person, and more importantly it does not harm those uninvolved in the activity. Drinking, in the normal course of events, does no harm to the person drinking nor to others. Of course, a drunk often harms others as well as himself. So drunk driving should be prohibited, not drinking per se. That drinking engaged in excess leads to harm is no reason to prohibit drinking and the government that gets into the business of prohibiting normally harmless activities is a government which I would not submit to.
A government’s job is to protect people from other people, and does not extend to protecting a person from himself. If a person is a minor, that is the job of the parents or the guardians of the minor. If an adult is incompetent in some regard—for instance if the person is mentally retarded or addicted—then the government may intervene. But government interference in the lives of normal competent adults is extremely pernicious. Sure alcohol is harmful when ingested in large quantities over long periods of time. So is fat. And so are sugars. When will the benevolent government tell you how much and when you are allowed to eat? And where do you draw the line? You want the government to dictate what you should read? Who you should sleep with? You want the government to tell you what to think or better yet do your thinking for you?
I think that overall we Indians are brainwashed into thinking that it is alright for the government to control, having grown up in the benevolent shadow of the paternalistic government of Cha-cha Nehru and his feudalistic socialism and its oh-so-wonderful command control license permit quota raj. We don’t question the intrusion of the government in every aspect of our social and economic lives, in our private and public lives. Not having lived in a truly free society, we even lack the imagination to consider what a free society is like.
Let me hasten to say that anyone who pipes up at this point and says, “Yabbut the US is not free either, by this definition of yours,” will be taken out and shot at dawn. I am not arguing that US or any other society is free or not. I am saying that we should live in free society. And to do so, we have to make our society free. And to make a free society, we have to be able to imagine what a free society is. The evidence so far about our ability to conceive of a free society is not very encouraging. We don’t live in a free society primarily because we appear to lack imagination.
So ladies and gentlemen, I wish you a good life under the caring clutches of a benevolent and interfering government which will tell you what you should do, how you should live, what thoughts you should think, and most importantly who you should vote for.