State Permission Slips
By Eric Peters
Licenses are chicken and egg. To qualify for, say, a road racing or heavy truck (commercial) license, one must already have attained the necessary skill. The license is a kind of after-the-fact “yep, he can do that.”
But the fact is he could already do that.
Was he any less able as a road racer or heavy-truck driver the moment prior to the state’s conferring of its seal (and permission slip)? Does possession of the permission slip make him more able?
Of course not.
Learning – and acquiring additional skills – that’s great. Whether we’re talking reading more books or attending Bob Bondurant’s school of high-performance driving. But this granting of permissions (always conditional, often arbitrary) by the state – whether for driving or other things – is inherently dangerous, on multiple levels, as well as (arguably) a moral wrong.
Dangerous because it presumes the state is the infallible arbiter of competence. This is so obviously false that further discussion ought not to be necessary. Unfortunately, it is necessary because it’s not obvious to all too many people. Who fail to notice that there are plenty of incompetent – but fully licensed – drivers as well as doctors and many other such. Licensing is dangerous precisely because people have been conditioned to presume that someone who is licensed is (ipso facto) competent. If that were the case, the medical malpractice court docket ought to be a tenth of what it actually is. And road Clovers who tailgate, refuse to yield, have great difficulty parallel parking – and so on – would be on the bus instead of behind the wheel.
And yet, they abound behind the wheel. How is this possible?
At the same time, competent people are excluded or restricted – and punished – not for any lack of competence but merely because they lack the state’s permission to do “x.”
A good example being kids in rural areas who grow up around machinery and who are often operating heavy machinery such as tractors and balers before their voices begin to change. By the time a country boy is 14 or 15 years old, he may have more experience behind the wheel (of many things) than most 25-year-old city boys. Yet he’s not allowed to drive – legally speaking – until he turns 16 and obtains the necessary permission slip and even then, in most states, his permission slip (license) is restricted.
This is idiocy – and unfair.
But that is what the state specializes in.
And gets away with – because of the weird habit of mind that afflicts all too many people which causes them to ascribe perfect wisdom or at least superior judgment to this construct called “the state” – which when you think about it has no real existence whatsoever. There are only people – some of them invested with authority over other people. But the very justification given for the conferring of this authority – that people cannot be trusted, are irresponsible, exercise poor judgment, require supervision – applies just as much to the people invested with authority as it does (if we accept the premise) to the people over whom authority is exercised. It must be so, logically – unless one takes the position that people invested with authority are superior people – and it’s pretty clear in most cases they’re not.
Often, to an appalling degree...
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