Apropos Austrian Aphorisms

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Why government wants ignorance

By no means is finding someone to espouse the greatness of universal literacy a chore, especially among politicians. Yet for all of their pandering, these very politicians would never desire for people to be literate on one subject matter: government itself. If the public were ever clued into the innerworkings of the government, government would cease to be. What other explanation can there be for why the law is not required reading in government schools? The government wants an ignorant population.

I received a parking ticket the other day for parking against the flow of traffic in the adjacent lane. What a silly law, I thought! Let the roads be privatized and we'll see if such an absurd parking restriction would stand. It certainly doesn't in the parking lots of any business for many people often "pull through" a parking spot or back into a parking spot to park against the flow of traffic. I then asked myself, "How was I supposed to know such parking was illegal?" The only parking signs around stated only the times I could park on that side of the street. No, I, the average citizen, was expected to have taken it upon myself to read and digest every aspect of the law to know what I was and wasn't allowed to do. Such is the result in a society that does not respect property and voluntary exchange—everything is subject to the whims of the State.

Why wouldn't the government require reading of the law in its schools, just as it does of its propaganda (i.e., American history textbooks)? Surely an understanding of what you can and cannot do is just as important as an understanding of how just and right our government has been throughout history is to developing a sense of patriotism.

But to think this is to misunderstand the purpose of the State. Government can exist only so long as it has a means to provide for itself. Its only means of provision are what it receives from its populace through taxes (i.e., theft). And, as Butler Shaffer points out, government relies upon you breaking its laws for continued revenue—revenue at a level optimal for further intrusion into the lives of its citizens. If the citizens knew what the laws were they wouldn't break them so easily and ignorantly! Why, if that happened, the government would have far fewer people to incarcerate and extort for its own subsistence. The government lives by the death of others, which is why it promotes and tolerates ignorance.

The proper understanding of the State is a fundamental educational bulwark to its encroachment and growth. Instead of the government's legal texts being required reading, the only required legal reading should be Frederic Bastiat's The Law.