Monday, March 26, 2007

The Joy of ... 3

TF Stern has written a fairly lengthy reply to Part 2 of this. I won't quote in detail here, and my reply that follows is lengthy enough as it stands...

There are a number of issues that come out of his piece. None of them pertain particularly to RKBA other than the indirect "defence against a rogue government" justification. He details at some length how he sees his God-given rights have been eroded by government. He gives a number of personal examples that I can relate to the frustration of having to work through.

In that particular vein, the first obvious question is, "How far would a government have to be 'rogue' (in terms of eroding the people's rights) before the well armed populace militia took up arms against it?" It seems that none of the examples he lists are sufficient for a general (or even individual) uprising. Nor am I yet convinced that the existence of that well armed militia is sufficient to prevent a government from passing those laws as Dave Justus has been suggesting.

I have the distinct impression that it would take something akin to the re-introduction of slavery for that to actually occur. Then would occur the question I have been putting along the lines of "take arms against who?"

As it stands, the impression I have of this as a justification of RKBA is rather like saying “I wanna gun. Now I gotta have a reason to have one”.

I hear what TF says about protecting the family and hearth from the bad guys because the police will not arrive until everything is over, and then they might try and find out whodunnit.

In NZ, there are instances where that has happened, and the Courts have generally been fairly generous in the consideration of what is "fair and reasonable" defence. At the same time I have to note that there are probably as many who have been shot (one particular farmer was shot by a person inknown, the police think at a distance of 500m or more), or robbed when absent from their property (having a beer in the pub or shopping with the missus). By far the worst is the "home invasion" crime. You answer the door and someone asks if they can use your phone. Next thing you are hogtied on the floor and being beaten up, your wife is being raped, and the house is being systematically ransacked for credit cards and cash. There might be one or two of these crimes in a year. Total time from answering the door to being incapacitated; perhaps 2 seconds. Or do you answer the door every time with shotgun in hand?

I doubt if, under NZ laws, I would be granted a permit to own a gun if I wrote on the application alongside reasons for wanting one, “So that I can take my rightful place in the people’s armed militia to protect my God-given rights from being eroded by corrupt and illegal government”. But then the thought occurs to me – has anyone tried that in the US in recent times? (Note here that it is me being registered, not the gun).

That leads to the second question which, in my mind, is equally obvious. “If your government is so unpopular, why is it still holding power other than because people are still electing them to hold that power?”

This is the direct application of my contention that “the Ballot Box is my most powerful weapon”.

It is also the first weakness in the democratic system it seems. It matters not who is elected, there will always be those who are dissatisfied with the outcome; usually those whose candidates were unsuccessful. To that extent, at least, I have good reason to be dissatisfied with the actions of virtually all of the governments since I qualified to become a voter. I console myself with the knowledge that one can not have everything in life just perfect. If I had of gotten my way every time, there may well have been a lot more people looking to take up arms against the government.

I have worked some thirtymumble years in a profession which itself (nothing to do with State or governmental requirements) has required me to attend each year a minimum number of “refresher and developmental courses” – annual cost about NZD2000. That requirement was dropped about ten years back for the “kind” of accountant that I am – Cost and Management, and my ticket is/was for “Associate” membership – primarily because there was little if anything that was “developing” in this arm of the profession. My boss on the other hand has a fairly heavy training schedule that has run the past five years and has come out of the recent changes in international agreements on financial reporting (IFRS). I am aware (because I have a cousin who is a GP) that medical practitioners are required to undertake minimum annual training and refresher courses. The value of that is suspect given that most of the courses seem to be promoted by drug companies… is that a governmental or professional requirement? I believe it is professional rather than statutory.

But that leads to the next obvious question – “Would the statutory/government requirement for the maintenance of professional standards be an imposition upon the freedoms of the members of a profession?” I think not.

A person is not required to join that profession (and here is a very big clue to the question I put on the end of “For the Joy of… 2”) but has the choice knowing what are the requirements of membership. TF was not “coerced” to take up work as a locksmith. He chose that line of business. That choice must surely have considered (as did mine to become an accountant) the possible disadvantages.

I believe (there is no NZ statute on locksmiths that I can find) that there is no registration and control of locksmiths in this country. The vast bulk of the key-cutting industry is the little kiosk in the mall or the local hardware store. The more specialised work for electronic car locks and things of that nature would fall into much the same category but more through the vehicle franchise holders.

For the safe-makers and really complex work there are perhaps three companies in Auckland. They live or die on their reputation.

It is a different matter when one starts to impinge upon the “security” industry. There is a national association of the security service industry (at one stage there were three of them) which governs professional standards and acts as a central contact point between the industry and government. The governmental control of security personnel is (as you might imagine) pretty strict given that they are in effect a privately owned and operated set of mini-police forces. They have no greater power to detain or to control than a member of the public. People working in this level of security are required to hold a license. They are required to renew that license every two years, and the requirements include disclosure of any and all criminal convictions, three “good character references”, and public notice of their intention to apply for renewal so that if you or I have good reason to believe an applicant is not of good character then we can object to the issue of a license. Applications are also vetted by the Police.

But then I come back to my last question – “Is it an imposition on a person in the security industry to require him to register every two years?” He enters the work knowing the rules, the rules are applied… There was, I have to admit, a considerable raruraru from the industry when the new law was made by the government. The leading security companies at the time at least knew that the days of the “cowboy industry” (with no regulation at all) had to end. Several instances of security personnel using their position to steal from clients (including the mysterious disappearance of a Chubb cash vehicle with about $600k on board) was sufficient to require gate closures before the horses got too far down the road and the industry knew that was the case.

To close, there are points where I can agree with TF's sentiment. There is a row going on at the moment with the city council wanting to control advertising signs and hoardings. It is an interesting debate of “God-given right” to advertise a business on one hand, and the aesthetics of a business or shopping centre on the other. While I might side with the "right to advertise argument", I just know that there are people who will abuse the privilege of being able to advertise. They are the ones who erect the biggest sign, out of all proportion to the need, "just because they can...".

Final note, regarding employer control over an employee when not on duty…

I must look back, because I think I made mention of this in my own blog. There was an instance in the last year or three of a rural sole-charge policeman who was at a party, had had a few, when reports came through of a fatal car accident about 10km up the road. The emergency services (volunteer fire, volunteer ambulance) left immediately. Then the policeman realised that he had one of the vital life-saving pieces of equipment in his car and that he was the only person in town trained in its use. He drove to the accident, did his duty (remember that he was off duty at the time) when the boys on duty turned up from town about 30 mins later. One of the first things they did was to breathalyse the policeman and he was over the legal limit. He was charged and put through the DIC processes. When it came to Court, the Judge expressed great sympathy with the policeman’s position (described it as totally untenable and the policeman as a hero) and issued an orbiter dicta that the incident should in no way affect the guy’s employment. There was considerable public debate about “unfair special treatment” but I know who I side with… He kept his job.

I hope that it is noted by the idle reader of these comments that I have at no point argued against TF’s position. I might disagree with him, in some instances quite considerably, but it is fair to point up difference without saying “this is right, that is wrong”. I think that the most fascinating part of all is that the “God-given” nation seems to be taking the freedoms from its people; the secular nation in which I live is well regulated (and in some instances well over-regulated) but in general there is little to which I have any objection other than good-intentioned Greenies wanting to change the law on smacking kids (and I am sitting firmly on the fence on THAT one).


T. F. Stern said...

Probligo, This just won't sit in the corner, now will it?

The fact is that government is implementing a form of slavery each time it violates it roll and consumes bits and pieces of the God given rights I mentioned. In all but a few rare cases, such as the medical professions or the engineering professions, government has no business requiring anything to include a license to do business or yearly mandated schooling. Those are individual rights which can easily be covered by voluntary membership in trade unions; the key difference is that by doing it voluntarily the right remains in the hands of the individual but when government insists upon it, the right no longer exists.

As you say, this could go on and on. enough...

Dave said...

I have never suggested that a well armed militia would prevent the passage of these sort of laws from the perspective of the government being afraid to limit freedom because of fear of an armed response.

My point in that was that if the citizens of a democratic nation respect the sovreignty of their fellow citizens enough to allow them to defend themself, they will also respect their sovreignty in other areas. When they lose this respect in regards to them defending themselves, one can also expect them to begin restricting other rights, eventually removing the very foundations of democracy.

My argument is that gun rights are the canary in the coal mine. The canary won't itself stop the poison air, but if the canary is alive you know that you are fine too.

Typically license requirements for professionals either starts out as, or quickly becomes, just another form of rent-seeking which allows professions to artificialy control the number of people employed in said occupation and thus charge higher prices for it. It is economically inefficient and particularly damaging to the prospects of poor people.