Sunday, October 23, 2011

Legislating Morality - a Yakuza Case?

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it 
not for themselves." Abraham Lincoln

Just a short post today about how I think people are confused with their ideas on how the government should legislate what we do and do not do in our daily lives. The idea that the government is here to help and protect the population flies against the historial record and defies common sense and the public's common experience. Examples? Need I remind dear reader of WWII? Minamata, TEPCO, Fukushima, tainted HIV, etc. etc. Oh! I could go on and on!

It's been decades of constant government growth and legislation (in Japan and elsewhere) on how we act, what we eat, who we associate with, what we put in our bodies, how our money is to be handled and who we go to war with... 

Decades of this and look at what we have today!

In Japan alone, a short list of recent debacles would include a graying and dying Japanese economy with no good prospects for the future; crippling debt that the Japanese people will never be able to repay; over 15.7 percent of the Japanese population under the poverty line; an increase in crime and a decline in morals... Do I even need to mention inept government handling and a constantly rising tax burden?

And yet, even with this record of repeated and consistent failures over the last two-plus decades, people still wish to legislate the behavior of others!!! 


Being a true anarcho-capitalist and a true conservative at the same time, let me state my opinions in a few points:

1) No wars
2) Limited and decreased taxes
3) Small government (#2 fixes that)
4) People are free to do as they please as long as they do not interfere with others

#4 means that people can do whatever they want - anything they want - as long as they do not bother or burden other people. That includes drugs, gay marriage, abortion, worshipping Zoroastrianism, dressing like Sailor Moon, driving drunk, drinking in public, smoking in public, refusing to serve anyone you wish in a private establishment, buying AKB48 CDs... etc. etc.

As an aside: I know many will say, "But drunk drivers kill people!" Yes. They do. It's illegal to drive drunk now, but people still do it. 

I suggest, instead of criminal court, these things are settled in civil court... Instead of going to jail for killing someone while drunk driving (and becoming a cost burden to others) I think, should you lose in civil court, you could be fined millions of dollars. Perhaps you'd pay 25% of your income for the rest of your life if so deemed in court, perhaps your wife and kids would lose your house and a place to live. I think that might motivate people to have insurance and think twice about drinking before driving.

The current laws prove that legislating this sort of behavior has had limited success at best.

But, this post is not about legislating drinking and driving, it is a complaint about how I still, to this very day, read curious stuff from people asking "Why doesn't the government outlaw this or that?" These questions are often asked by the very same like-minded people who, last March after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, asked "Why doesn't the government take over Fukushima Dai-ichi?" Sure. They ask this question a few sentences after they had just, moments before, complained how the government was in bed with TEPCO and allowed TEPCO to do shabby work and cut corners on safety.

Am I the only one who doesn't see this huge contradiction?

One group arbitrarily will stop you for no reason whatsoever.
The other won't talk to you unless they have a reason.

Today, I read an interesting blog about Yakuza in Japan. The writer posted;

"The yakuza, Japan’s organized crime groups, have close to 79,000 members. It’s very hard to understand why they are tolerated in Japanese society and not simply banned."

I wrote: 

“It’s very hard to understand why they are tolerated in Japanese society and not simply banned.”
Am I the only one in the room who finds this sentence completely ridiculous and absurd? What the writer is asking is “why doesn’t the government outlaw an underworld organization?” Duh? If they weren’t outside the law already, they wouldn’t be underworld, would they? Or do you think they need to file a business permit with the government to run a Yakuza organization?
This writer confuses issues here. Seems like another socialist who thinks the government can legislate morals, habits and associations… You know, like how drunk driving is banned or driving without a seatbelt or even eating Fugu not prepared by a pro or even gambling?… Wow! You mean even though those are against the law, people still do it?
Who’d a thunk it?

And, to be fair, the writer of the article, Jack Adelstein graciously replied: 

The yakuza are recognized organizations by the Japanese government. They are regulated and monitored but their existence is not illegal per se. You note: “why doesn’t the government outlaw an underworld organization?” That’s not what I wrote.
If you’d like to understand more about how the yakuza are semi-legitimate entities please go to the National Police Agency Website and download the following file. It should answer most of your questions.
It may be that regulating organized crime groups rather than banning them works better at maintaining public order than banning them and driving them completely underground.

Thanks Jack. You are a good guy! I guess my writing must be poor because that wasn't really the point of my comment at all. My point was - what I consider to be - an absurd notion that anyone would even want to government to pass anymore legislation on anything? Especially if that something has any isues to do with our daily lives? Haven't the government passed enough laws already? Haven(t they done enough damage already?

(I am of the thinking that whenever these laws are passed, they create far too many bad effects. It's the law of unforeseen consequences as written in Henry Hazlitt's classic, "Economics in One Lesson." This is, after all, not really a legall question but an economic one....

But I digress.

Jake Adelstien is a well known (and excellent writer). He is an expert. Of anyone, he knows that the Japanese government and police have traditionally had many ties to the Yakuza too. I am thinking that, whenever I hear about this sort of thing, I am reminded of the great quote by Thomas Pynchon from Gravity's Rainbow:

"If they can get you to ask the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers."

In short, what I mean is that Japan has so many huge problems that affect people's daily existence and lives, worrying about the Yakuza is a side-show and just another excuse for the the police to insist that their budgets are kept up for next fiscal year... Just like prostitution, drugs, seat belt laws, blah, blah, blah. 

This is a very broad topic. Please refer to: "Sex Services in Japan First to Get Back to Business After Earthquake." 

Prostitution and the free exchange of time and services between two consenting adults is a free market ideal and a business that's been around since the beginning of society. No amount of government legislation will ever change that. Making laws that makes these activities illegal is pure nonsense.

You cannot legislate morality.
I applaud these businesses for getting back on track early and creating jobs for people. The economy needs it.
Anyhow, my point is back to the government interfering with our daily lives too much as it is already. Enough is enough!

If more government control and legislation over our lives were the answer to our problems then the Soviet Union would have been a very successful country.

The mere fact that the Japanese government has taken much more control over the Japanese economy over these last 20 + years - and the results of that control - shows that we need much less legislation and not more.

Writers who call for more legislation on anything just haven't been paying attention.



Kevin Riley said...

As a libertarian, I strongly agree with:

"4) People are free to do as they please as long as they do not interfere with others"

However, you've gone too far with "buying AKB48 CDs" :-)


Anonymous said...

A succinct response to recent calls for more legislation is British libertarian Sean Gabb's. Key graf: "The moment you ask for a control to be imposed, you put your trust in people you have never seen, who are not accountable to you, who probably do not share your own values, and who will, sooner or later, use the control you have demanded in ways that you find surprising or shocking."

Jimbo said...

I read 'Tokyo Vice' a few months ago and loved it. It is a great read for anyone interested in organized crime.

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