A Parable for Muslihoon

A certain man went to a far country…

The trains in Tokyo are everything you’re heard – crowded but clean and on-time everytime. The LED display told me that it was my stop, and that it was 21° outside. I’m an American so I had no idea what the “real” temperature was, but I was comfy enough in a button down and Dockers. I was making my way from lunch with a buddy in Otemachi to do the tourist/shopping thing at the shrine at Asakusa.

I was light on cigarettes because I was smoking the local brands. The Japanese smoke often and almost everywhere, but after my first pack of Seven Stars I can’t say that they’re heavy smokers. It’s almost like breathing air. Anyway, as I was light on smokes, after coming up out of the tubes I started looking around for a vending machine. I found a bank of them right across the street from the shrine.

There was a group of junior high school kids in uniform hanging out, drinking their bottled water and green teas. One of them had a Coke. They moved off in a pack at my approach. Maybe they were on a schedule, or maybe they were just scared off by the heavy-set gaijin walking towards them. I didn’t concern myself about it. I fed the machine 300 yen and got my cigarettes. I noticed that the machine next to me sold two kinds of beer in addition to various other beverages. I decided on a bottled water called Pocari “sweat”. It wasn’t bad.

Wait. Back up…

Junior high students + a beer dispensing vending machine? Never happen in the US. Hell, we’re worried about our kids having too much high-fructose corn syrup, never mind putting a Coors vending machine in their path.

I asked my buddy about that later. He replied that there’s a sticker on the machine which says you should be 20 before buying beer or smokes. That’s right. A sticker.

And there’s your answer to how libertarianism works with social conservatism. When people govern themselves well, they have less need of govern-ment. Granted, Japan’s not the poster child for small government by any means. But they didn’t have cops on the street corner making sure the kids only bought kid beverages either.

The Republican Party should start by defending, but not legislating, the “family values” that the social conservatives espouse and which the social cons see as under attack, and reinforcing the idea with the libertarian wing that they’re making smaller government possible by doing so. That means in the future leaving alone things like online gambling should go hand-in-hand with leaving alone things like nativity scenes and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Republicans should bundle those things together.

“Don’t render raising your kids unto Caesar.” might be a slogan that would sum it up.

Yes, this is an oversimplification. Whole volumes could be written on the topic. And I didn’t even touch on the American underclass, which believes they are responsible to no one for their behavior but that everyone is responsible for their outcome.

But you asked where to start…

If the social conservatives can find a way to influence cultural norms without doing it through law-making, then we have less need of law-making and enforcement, freeing up a lot of tax money and allowing us to lessen the tax burden. Thus achieving libertarian ends.

Just my 2 yen.

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5 Responses

  1. If the social conservatives can find a way to influence cultural norms without doing it through law-making, then we have less need of law-making and enforcement, freeing up a lot of tax money and allowing us to lessen the tax burden.

    “We” used to do it just fine back in the day by teaching common values, which were taught in the churches and schools. The television shows, movies, music, and other entertainment of the day didn’t undermine what parents were teaching in the home. Schools didn’t undermine parents by pushing a “progressive” agenda on elementary school kids in the hopes that they could raise a generation of iconoclastic activists.

    Cultural norms were enforced by the usual way: shunning. People who misbehaved were shunned by “polite society,” and shame was heaped upon wrongdoers. (Granted, sometimes this shunning didn’t include a possibility of redemption, and people were often convicted on appearance alone, but at least there was some peer pressure to do the right thing.)

    But we’ve had ourselves a president who does nasty things in the Oval Office and isn’t ashamed, celebrities who commit bloody murder and aren’t shunned, and a doctrine of “don’t judge” that utterly prevents people from having moral expectations of the rest of society.

    The only way “we” could enforce these things without law would be to persuade all (or most) people to return to old-fashioned values, to reinstitute shame for bad behavior, and to have high expectations of their fellow citizens. And the only way to persuade that many people would be to gain unfettered control over the media and the educational system.

    Short of a vigilante purge at gunpoint, I don’t know how we’re going to do that. And I absolutely don’t support any kind of violent purge.

  2. Hi, DiCentra. Thanks for stopping by.
    You’re seeing the issue here as one of enforcement, but how about persuasion? How about if the social conservatives offer an alternative? Alternatives to public schools? Alternatives to brainwashing liberal colleges? Alternatives to morally egregious programming on TV?
    Consider Veggie Tales, a Christian kid’s video series which is now on NBC Saturday mornings. They’ve watered down the biblical stuff, but the moral messages are still there. And since there’s a built-in audience for it, the broadcast should be profitable right off the bat. Everybody wins and nothing had to be enforced on anyone.
    That’s the kind of solution In talking about.

  3. You’re seeing the issue here as one of enforcement, but how about persuasion?

    Actually, I was seeing it as a matter of persuasion, which is why I mentioned the cultural influences (school, church, media) rather than laws. Back in the day, there was no need to make laws to prohibit same-sex marriage, for example, because no one was proposing it.

    Building an alternate conservative media and educational empire is probably the only solution, but that kind of thing takes major coin. Although it’s a cliché that the hyper-rich are conservatives, their conservatism is mostly fiscal. Morally, they mostly couldn’t give a crap. So I don’t know where, outside of Mel Gibson’s pocket, we’re supposed to come up with that kind of pocket change.

  4. Oh, and it’s dicentra or Dicentra, not DiCentra. It’s the botanical name of, ironically enough, the common bleeding-heart.

  5. Sorry I got the name wrong. I’ll make sure it’s right on the blogroll.

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