One of the most personal reasons for contempt of government is that government forces people to act against their own consciences.
As you know, I’m not a believer, but I think what Obamacare is about to force on the people who own Hobby Lobby is beastly.
When Catholic institutions objected to provisions of Obamacare that went against their principles, the fedgov carved out a feeble and bureaucratic “religious exemption.” However, Hobby Lobby — being a business run on religious principles but not being a specifically religious institution — doesn’t fit into the loophole. So government inflicts pain to get “compliance.” (Hobby Lobby has appealed. This could get interesting — though most likely it’ll just result in either another wimpy loophole or an order to comply.)
And all this over employer-supplied insurance — a dumb idea that originated in the first place from federal mangling of the economy. It would simply not be an issue if individuals were free to make their own health care and health insurance choices.
Nothing’s new in this, of course. Not in forcing people to act against conscience. Not in punishing those who refuse. And especially not in bureaucratizing the process.
When the U.S. had the draft, for instance, if you objected to military service on religious grounds and you belonged to certain recognized religious denominations, you might be treated lightly while still being forced to serve the state. But if you objected on grounds of your own private morality, or if you individually refused cooperation with the entire system … then you could be hit with any sort of punishment, even to the point of absurdity.
And for a long time now, the fedgov has “allowed” bureaucratic religious exemptions to Social Security. But try being Joe Singleton and telling them you neither want to pay for nor receive SS benefits on the grounds of conscience. Different story.
And when Vivien Kellems refused to be a tax collector for the state, the IRS did everything it could to bankrupt her.
Speaking of that, on the entire subject of taxes, millions are forced every day, right now, to pay for things they don’t believe in. Or to pay for things they know can be done better without the coercion. Because there’s an impersonal layer of bureaucracy standing between us and what our labor finances, most people find ways to accept this. And naturally, if we hold 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — that is, if we get bureaucratic approval to pursue things we believe in — the government will tolerate small acts of conscience on our part at reduced tax rates. Hooray for loopholes, eh?
Of course, the fedgov isn’t the only government that tries to force people to surrender their own beliefs to the state. Kentucky has recently made some interesting news for attempting to compel non-theists to worship Their Almighty for the sake of “homeland security.” (The claim that they’d put anybody in jail for a year is probably misleading, but the law is still crazy outrageous.)
How can you claim freedom when government routinely suppresses or punishes individual conscience?
Voltaire famously said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Well, what’s absurd to me might make perfect sense to thee, and vice versa. But when government routinely forces us to act against our own beliefs — or else — it creates cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance creates such internal discomfort that, faced with the conflict between belief and action, claim and reality, most people will take the path of least resistance to restore balance. “The government must be obeyed” is the path of least resistance. And from that philosophical atrocity arises all the other atrocities governments are so fond of committing.