My Trip to the County Courthouse, by Kevin A. Carson

Note: I suppose we still have it easy in England. Here in Deal, I just shuffle into the polling station and tell one of the clerks who I am. He draws a line through my name on the electoral register and gives me a ballot. No formalities. The only pig is lounging outside, only there in the unlikely event that the party tellers start arguing over who gets first look at the polling cards. You might almost think that voting didn’t matter any more in England. It doesn’t of course – but this manner of holding elections dates back to a time when voting did count for something.

As for postal votes, you just write in – for yourself and all your wives and other women, alive or dead or still unborn, in many parts of the country – and the papers come back within five days. SIG

My Trip to the County Courthouse, by Kevin A. Carson

I just finished negotiating the bureaucracy at the Washington County Arkansas courthouse in order to get my mom an absentee ballot.

Both yesterday (when I picked up the application) and today (when I picked up the actual ballot), I had difficulty parking because of all the political campaign workers (including some of the politicians themselves) standing around with signs and obstructing the drive-thru area. I actually had to circle around and pass up empty spaces because the people holding signs didn’t give me room enough to maneuver and pull into the spaces at the proper angle.

On the plus side, one of the people holding a sign was mayor Lioneld Jordan. It’s not every day you get to glare at a mayor and refuse to shake his hand.

Inside, I had the joy of going through Security Theater with a metal detector staffed by County Sheriff’s Department deputies, taking off my belt and handing over my phone, keys and wallet. First of all, nobody in Al Qaeda is going to bother blowing up some chickenshit county courthouse in Arkansas. And second, if they did they’d be smart enough to find a way around that perfunctory bullshit.

Mayor Jordan and his campaign staff had apparently been taking in my (pro-gun, pro-drug, anti-police, anti-publik skool, anti-Walmart, pro-anarchist and pro-Wobbly) bumper stickers while I was in the building, because I was spared any attempted gladhanding on the way out.

Aside from that, my only inconvenience was finding parking at the brew pub (thanks to some wonderful folks playing the game of “make the neighboring parking space unusable as possible while technically keeping within the lines”). And now I’m working on my first IPA, getting ready to write some columns, and trying to rinse the memory of my “public servants” out of my mind.

6 responses to “My Trip to the County Courthouse, by Kevin A. Carson

  1. The Sean Gabb introduction is a bit odd. Do they actually have a pig outside the polling station in Deal?

    Of course some people use the word “pig” to describe police officers – but most people who use the word that way are criminals, and Sean is always going on about what an honest and civilised person he is.

    As for Kevin’s post.

    There are too many of these absantee ballots. No doubt Kevin’s mother honestly needs one – but the system (in most States) is a lot too loose (an open door to fraud).

    Anti Walmart in Arkansas?

    O.K. do not shop there (pay higher prices elsewhere) – but they have done more good in Arkansas than just about anything else. Although it would make a lot more sense for the company to move its HQ to Tennessee or Texas (unless the get special deal in Arkansas – it is a high tax State).

    Still, as stated, someone has a right to hate any store (or any person) they have a mind to hate – as long as they do not do anything about it.

    Pro Wobbly?

    What the old mass union that did not understand how a labour market works and thought it could increase wages by “collective action”? That is a very dumb thing to be pro.

    Pro drugs?

    Being anti prohibition makes sense – but being “pro drugs” is stupid (really stupid) drugs ruin a lot of lives (the arguement against prohibition is partly moral and partly practical – not that the illegal drugs are good things). Although I think that what Kevin wrote is not what he actually means.

    Not shaking the hand of the Mayor. Why? Does he support more local government spending or something?

    “I did not shake his hand because I am an anarchist”.

    Now would that be an anarchocapitalist? I am not at all sure that such a thing would work in terms of defence – but the sentiment is noble.

    Or would it be some Black Flag “pig” (thanks for the word Sean) whose only problem with the collective taking a third (or more) of what people earn, is that the collective does not take the other two thirds as well?

    And whose only real problem with the local police officers is that they might try and stop him stealing and murdering as much as he wants to?

    Would that be the way of it?

  2. Paul

    Your liking for the blubottles does you no credit. You had best just hope that they never find it convenient to get their hooks into you. You will find out what a “decent” bunch they are quick enough.
    As for the idea that they are there to save you from thieves and murderers–take a look around.
    They will be happy enough
    to persecute you for defending yourself tho’.

  3. Mr Ecks I work with police officers every day.

    Both in my present job and in my old job.

    They are O.K. – there are some “jobsworths” among them (but they are to be found in all walks of life).

    Certainly a lot better than the street gangs and other such that the “libertarian” left love.

    It is the political masters of the police (and their terrible statutes and regulations) who are the problem.

  4. Julie near Chicago

    Paul makes (as is his wont) a very good point. I’ll restate in my own fashion, as it’s a hobbyhorse of mine (lots of those jouncing around in the raccoon-infested attic Near Chicago, I’m afraid).

    When people talk about whether drugs ( whether possessing, using, or dealing in them) should be “legalized,” I always feel it necessary to say No, but they should (in the same sense) be **decriminalized.**

    “You want to legalize drugs!” carries an implication of some sort of “OK-ness,” using is OK, see, it’s perfectly legal. Now most people (I think) know on an intellectual level that that conclusion isn’t actually part of the package, but particularly in times like ours, where some Outside Authority is the Supreme Arbiter of OK-ness, people’s tummies tend to assume it is–except in areas where they feel they themselves have been burned, of course, as for instance in some deal where they felt themselves wronged; and there, the cry goes up, “there oughtta be a law!”

    Also, to “make X legal” implies a statute conferring the status of legality on the object or behavior–in other words, it implies the necessity of positive law in order to make things legally OK to have or do. (In the U.S. Constitution, the 9th and 10th Amendments were supposed to specifically shoot this argument down, but, alas….)

    Whereas, to **decriminalize** something carries no implication nor connotation that the “something” is “OK” per Supreme Arbiter of Everything–it just means “we used to lock you up for this and now we won’t.”

    I’m afraid I’m one of those people who go on about words, but I think it’s important to use the right word in cases like these, both because the wrong word is even more easily used to alter the meaning of the statement than is the right word; and because of the practical psychological effect.

    Besides, Paul is right. “Drugs” are dangerous things to play around with, even if quite a few manage to do it with no lasting ill effects–and in some cases, of course, there are positive benefits: Many dangerous drugs are valuable in medical treatments…morphine as painkiller being one obvious example. We don’t want to “make them legal” because they’re either relatively safe or relatively desirable; we only want to let people use them without threat of being punishable under law, because we have no right to deny them the use–as long as they behave themselves, of course.

  5. Julie near Chicago

    PS. Of course, the fact is that mostly it’s the choir (or at least the Sunday congregation) that’s interested in the above question. For most people, first you have to deal with the utility/social-benefit issue…you know, as much trouble as drugs and the drug culture and the drug dealers cause–and they do cause LOTS, we really should admit that up front–the worse damage comes from the fact that we’ve made possessing/using/dealing a criminal enterprise…>>let me count the ways<<…yadayadayada….

    It seems to me that if you can persuade people to at least consider that argument, you've got their brains at least thinking about the deal; then, stressing that you want to **decriminalize,** and what that really means, might sometimes bring the tummy on-board. IF it seems that might be working, then a discussion of the difference between legalizing and de-criminalizing might help to convince people who feel (FEEL) "it's just wrong!"

    Because you're not disagreeing with them in anyway–you maybe even AGREE–and the distinctive terminology helps make that clear.

  6. One of the big arguements of the pro prohibtion people is too say “you are pro drugs”.

    For once I believe that Kevin is an innocent party on this matter – the problem was poor use of langauge (a fault I share), he is not really “pro drugs”.

    It reminds me of the road issue – only an idiot thinks that people should be allowed to drive at any speed, and in any sort of car, and either way up both sides of the road and…..

    The point about being a libertarian is that one believes that rules should be thought out by the private owner of the road.