Friday, May 05, 2006


State Owned

The underlying assumption prevalent in modern and historical public policy arguments, is that the pursuit of state-directed activities are considered the pinnacle of individual existence. As I have mentioned before, when someone slacks off at work, their productivity declines and society loses and we all die a little inside.

Whether it is a decline in the state coffers or in productivity, the state and therefore society is viewed as the ultimate goal and owner of all that exists in society.

What brought this up?

Upon reading Jacob Sullum's book, I ran across a sentence that inspired this post. When England's King James I (Scotland's James VI) took the throne in 1603, he published A Counterblast to Tobacco. This just happens to be one of the earliest anti-smoking tomes. Anywho, James worried about this habit, as Sullum put it:

The king worried that dependence on tobacco whould make his people unsuited for war--since they would yearn for the weed during battle--and deplete their property. (Tobacco was still a luxury; during the Elizabethan period, the historian Egon C. Corti reports, it sold for its weight ins ilver.) "Is it not the greates sinne of all," James asked, "taht you the people of all sortes of this Kingdome, who are created and ordeined by Gof to bestowe both your persons and goods for the maintenance both of the honour and safetie of your King and Commonwealth, should dispable your selves in both?" Thus he forthrightly asserted a permise that today's anti-smoking activists, who aslo complain about tobacco's impact on the public treasury, prefer to leave unspoken: that the function of the individual is to serve the state.

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