Leave Us All Alone! We Can’t Breathe!
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The last words out of the mouth of strangling victim Eric Garner are actually a metaphor for how libertarians feel about the entire welfare-warfare state under which modern-day Americans have been born and raised.
Don’t his words express precisely how we libertarians feel? Leave us alone, we say to the state. Get out of our faces. Get out of our lives. You’re suffocating us. You’re killing us — literally, spiritually, financially, and economically.
Thomas Jefferson described this phenomenon in the Declaration of Independence: His government was sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
There is hardly any part of our lives that government officials aren’t involved in. They just won’t leave us alone. Drug laws. Economic regulations. Income taxation. IRS audits. Asset forfeitures. Home raids. Secret surveillance. Draft registration. Permits and licenses. Minimum-wage laws. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Terrorist blowback. Checkpoints. Perpetual crises and chaos.
It never stops.
Just leave us alone! Go away! You’re killing us, and you’re killing a lot of people overseas too.
The direct cause of Eric Garner’s death was obviously the chokehold that the cops put on his neck, which prevented him from breathing.
But let’s face it: The real cause of death was his selling of individual untaxed cigarettes, in violation of law. That’s what they were arresting him when they killed him.
Oh sure, they call it “resisting arrest.” That’s what they always call it. But the truth is that they killed him for selling individual untaxed cigarettes in violation of law.
Under libertarian principles — indeed, under the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, which Americans celebrate every Fourth of July — a person has the fundamental, natural, God-given right to sell whatever he wants to sell without governmental interference, including booze, tobacco, marijuana, fatty foods, or whatever.
My hunch is that deep down Eric Garner understood that. My hunch is that that’s why he was saying, “Stop harassing me. Leave me alone!”
In the 1950s, the cops killed a man in Utah named John Singer. He wasn’t selling cigarettes. He was refusing to send his children to public (i.e., government) schools. At that time, it was illegal, believe it or not, for parents to homeschool their children. But Singer was willing to violate the state’s compulsory-attendance laws to save his children from the mental destruction that takes place in the state’s schools.
When the cops came to arrest John Singer for refusing to comply with some judge’s order, they shot him dead. They said it was because he was “resisting arrest.” The truth was that they killed him for refusing to send his children into the state’s schooling system.
Leonard E. Read, the founder of The Foundation for Economic Education, once pointed out that if you fail to pay your taxes, they will kill you. That might sound ridiculous on first hearing it. But as you carefully follow the chain of reasoning, you’ll see that Read was right. When they finally come to enforce their tax lien on the tax resister’s home by evicting him and giving the house to the new owner, they will kill the tax resister who forcibly resists the eviction. They will call it “resisting arrest” but the truth is that they will have killed him for not paying his taxes.
Eric Garner had six children, who he was obviously trying to support. He was doing that by selling cigarettes. I wonder how much money he earned doing that. What a wonderful testament to the Great Society and the much ballyhooed “war on poverty.” What greater testament to “loving the poor” than killing a poor man for selling individual cigarettes to support his family.
Despite his anguished plea — Stop harassing me — just leave me alone — the cops simply couldn’t do that. They obviously felt compelled to continue going after him. The law is the law.
The death of Eric Garner — indeed the death of so many other black Americans at the hands of the cops, especially in the war on drugs — is the culmination of the welfare-warfare state way of life and what it has done to America. They’re killing people overseas. They’re killing people here. With impunity.
We are the serfs. They are the masters. We arrived at the destination of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom a long time ago. They kill us because they can. And we all know that nothing will happen to them.
Is the solution better cops? Better police training? Better chokeholds?
No, the solution is to dismantle all the stupid rules and regulations that control or regulate peaceful behavior, which they rely on for harassing people, eating out their substance, abusing them, torturing them, and killing them. The solution is to ditch the serfdom way of life. The solution is to dismantle the entire welfare-state, warfare-state way of life that is alien to our heritage of liberty. When that happens, we won’t need so many cops.
In other words, go away. Just leave us alone. You’re suffocating us. You’re killing us.