Today I rode over to the county seat and had a conversation with a man I know only by face, who recognizes my face in return even though he only sees me twice a year. Once I year I ride over there and pay my tag fees for the various vehicles registered in my name. The other time I come to pay the taxes on my property here in the county. He and I have to talk every time I come because it is his job to physically search me before I am allowed into the building.
The conversation turned, ironically I thought, on his desire to lament just how much of our money the government takes in taxes. He is of course paid out of those taxes, and is fully employed as a cog in the wheel of the tax-collection machine. His job is to protect the taxman from me, and to ensure that said taxman only encounters people like me after we have been carefully checked for arms.
It always strikes me as strange. The same government licenses me to carry arms, has my fingerprints on file and has itself investigated my background. They know who I am. The same government pays for its operations out of money that I or people like me provide. In fact, the reason I ever go there is just to provide them with that money. I always show up and pay my bill as soon as it arrives even though I could wait months to pay it.
Of course, the reason I pay it so quickly is that if I should forget, the government will sell my house and land at auction and evict me. Perhaps that's why they are so unwilling to trust me with arms around them, even though I'm coming -- as I always do -- to pay them what they ask at the earliest opportunity. Their own deep-set bad faith undermines our relationship. They cannot trust their citizens not to use force against them, even the ones who have always played by the rules and who have volunteered to be investigated, because they know how quickly they intend to resort to force if I miss a payment.
Seems like there's got to be a better way. The relationship between the citizen and the state should be a kind of friendship, ideally. You watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and you can see how the citizen used to participate in local government, indeed how citizens to really be local government.
Even in this very rural corner of a fairly rural state, we've gotten far away from that ideal.