End Women's suffrage

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Many, many years ago (say 10 or 20), I used to get myself in trouble by talking politics and basically just trying to make a difference and make people look at things in different ways. Many people just hate that. You would think that through the school of hard knocks that I would eventually learn to just shut-up -- but alas, some people never learn. One thought experiment I used was about what happened when we gave the disenfranchized the vote, and how the country went downhill (in at least a few ways). I took some heat for this, but it's still valid to think about cause and effect.


How to pick a fight

One "discussion" that I've had many times before, but still fail to avoid, is that of suffrage (and the costs to society).

It goes something like this"

This country started falling apart right after we gave non-property owners the right to vote -- and got much worse when we gave blacks and women the right to vote...

That is usually about as far as I can get before many start jumping down my throat, and accusing me of all sorts of unpleasant things. Which would have made my point, if they had ever let me get to it.

The point that I was going to make was NOT that we shouldn't have "given" these people the right to vote -- just that there were high costs for doing so, and now our society is filled with emotion and nearly devoid of reason.

Back in the early days, when the founding fathers were young and spry imperialists, and they were taking the land away from the "Native Americans" (who were killing each other over territory and basically not being any nicer to each other than we were being to them), they understood what a Government should be about. Government was supposed to be the minimum amount of laws necessary to protect your freedom and keep others from taking your things -- like your life, liberty or property -- even if that is what you had just done so to someone else.

In general, the landowners (elite) had a lot of education, they were usually older and more established and they had a vested interest in the system. While the beliefs varied a bit (from libertarian to ultra-extreme libertarian), they were mostly in agreement that Govt. exists to prevent the heathens in society from robbing others of what they had earned, inherited, or already stolen. You should be allowed people to build things, and then pass them on to their heirs (unlike today's inheritance taxes).

Of course not all the rich landowning white men were smart or fair. And not all of them were educated or tolerant of others either. The majority of them were just about keeping others out of their shorts. There's a lot society could learn from them if people weren't so busy trying to rob and control each other.

Self-interest is good stuff. Most didn't have the time or motivation to attack everyone else through laws -- and would have found that offensive -- they were just trying to protect what they had and create a societal model in which people could live together (without trying to screw each other over). Society, freedom and the status quo needed to be protected, everything else was optional. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of that.

The slide began

Well then the "liberals" came along and society devolved. (In this context I mean liberal with changes -- not the political parties by that name or political philosophy -- to a point all politicians are liberals in the way I mean the word). These are the people that wanted change -- usually the malcontents, young and those that wanted either power or money. Since young men didn't have as much, they weren't as concerned about the system protecting them as they were about using the system to get things from others... and the corruption (of ideas) began. We started the slide from republic to democracy.

In a democracy, the way to get power or money is to convince the masses that things are unfair and if they just give you power or money, that you will set things straight. In other words, by making things more unfair (and pooling power), you will then have the power to make things fairer (doesn't sound like a very good philosophy when explained clearly, now does it).

Anyway, the malcontents convinced the public that control by the elite (rich), vested and more mature was a bad thing -- and that if we gave them the power, then things would change and be fairer. There was more of "them" than rich landowners -- so things did change, but probably not for the better (or fairer). All men were given the right to vote (within certain ages) -- but that meant many more young, uneducated men, without a vested interest in protecting what they had. The control shifted (slightly) towards less education, less wisdom, and less maturity.

The idea that the masses were wiser and less corrupt than the elite didn't hold up well. In fact, many things got worse (slowly). Everything got more politicized since you could use this newly created power of government to take money from others or force changes down their throats. The government was no longer about varying degrees of "protection" from others -- it became about varying degrees of force (how to make others do what you wanted, or give you a piece of what was theirs).

Civil war is an oxymoron

The change wasn't too dramatic -- and took a while for us to feel the effects. But as time went on, the battle over power kept on going. Eventually, it led to our civil war. Remember, this was a war over the issue of even more governmental control -- the war was not about freedom from slavery (anyone who has read any history should know this), it was about one group (the North) using force to cram their views down other groups (the South's) throat -- all in the name of the greater good. The ultimate and typical use of government power.

The results were that the power-mongers won. The Government furthered its shift away from being about protection of freedom and individual and state rights -- and towards being about centralized power, and about special interests driving their views through, against the will of others (always in the name of the greater good or that which is righteous). Again, more democracy and less freedom.

To flex their newfound power the victors decided that blacks should have the right to vote. Don't kid yourself, this was not out of altruism or any compassion for this "minority" (like our history books lead us to believe), it was done because there weren't many blacks in the North, and there were lots of blacks in the South. It is always easy to criticize someone else of being racist when you don't have to share your community with those that are different. So black suffrage was about government power and control.

The problem with this "solution" was that the blacks had been cruelly and unfairly kept ignorant and uneducated. They had existed in a society that hadn't treated them fairly -- and they had no vested interest in the status quo, nor had any "property" of their own. They certainly didn't fully understand what government was about -- and they hadn't been raised with the necessary investment in society that they belonged and had opportunities. (Actually, they didn't have many opportunities that they deserved -- and so for them, the right to vote was ONLY about change).

The blacks started to use the government (well) to protect their own rights and freedoms, briefly. Who knows what the blacks would have done with that influence over time -- society never got a chance to find out. The North had shown the South (and the world) that the law was a tool of force. The south was going to use that tool even more than before. They did their best to oppress the minority, just like the north had done to them. We got Jim Crow laws and all sorts of other perversions of what the laws had stood for. Again, the law diverged more from its intended purpose of protection of individuals to that of encroachment and controlling of them -- the lesson was "do unto others, only first!"

Once again society took another step backward. Now even more uneducated and poorer people were given the right to vote. Again, this group had less an interest in the status quo, and more interest in change and taking from others. It took another 100 years to get their influence -- but the effects have been felt. To this day, a large part of our society has been alienated -- and keeps telling itself that government should be about force and taking from others. Why shouldn't they? They've had a couple of hundred years to learn that lesson by being on the receiving end!

Suffrage

Well, history marches on. And Women (rightly) felt left out of the power plays. Why should others have the right to vote and not them? They wanted to vote too -- and they were going to protest until they got that power. Well-meaning people did honor their "right" (after some effort) -- again, too soon.

Society tolerated the "emotions" of Women in its patronizing sort of way -- and so society never taught or expected women to be reasonable. Women were not treated as adult, intelligent, educated, reasoning beings -- and so to a point they never learned how to behave like that either. So when society gave the semi-rational, compassionate, well-meaning, emotional, semi-educated (at best) women the right to vote -- they behaved (as a group) as one would expect them to. The nation shifted towards emotion over reason -- and more to the concept like "if you really cared enough for your fellow man (or rationalized that enough), then any irrational stupid law should be passed in the name of the greater good". We shifted even more from Government being the role of Daddy (protection, disciplinarian, and only preventing what was wrong), to that of Mommy (compassionate nurturer trying to do for you what you hadn't yet learned to do for yourself).

The Women wanted to flex their newly found muscles too -- and did so by passing temperance. It was easier than ever to get the masses of voters into some quick-fix cause, like the irrational and overemotional belief that if you outlaw something it will make the problem go away. Don't worry, Mommy will take care of you. They believed that change could only make things better -- and that it was for the good of the nation so it would all work out (ignore the loss of freedom and the costs). The results were years of civil unrest, turmoil and we made most otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. We filled our prisons, rewarded criminals, increased crime (including violent crime and organized crime) -- we started gang-wars, empowered corruption, then we created bureaucracies to attack the self-created problems. Finally, we reduced (and eliminated) some civil liberties -- all in the name of the alcohol wars.

We got lucky in that the response was so dramatic and so harsh that we (Society) was able to overturn that error (law) rather quickly. However, the real damage was done long-term. Another generation learned that it was acceptable to cram a bad law through -- and no one vilified the idiots that got the law passed in the first place. We had new compassion and tolerance -- for idiocy. And we followed the failed drug war (against alcohol) with another drug war -- just to prove we didn't learn anything substantial from that mess.

Sure Women deserved the right to vote -- but sadly, they only deserved it a generation or two after we had taught them, and demanded of them, the same responsibilities (towards logical reasoning, critical thinking, and self-preservation of the power that they had collected) as men. Not that the common men of this era were too much better (only a little). Again, the women had been a largely uneducated group of society that had little vested interest in the status quo -- they wanted change and power. Once again, the nation shifted more from Government from being about protection of where things were (and protection from each other) to a tool of force to cram views and agendas down others throats.

The Depression

We didn't look at the long term -- we took the quick fix, and let society "work it out". It was going to take a few generations for it to do so. Blacks absolutely deserved power and the right to vote -- long before they got it -- but not until long after they had been educated and integrated with society and had a vested interest in the society that they were making laws for. Women deserved the right to vote -- but they only deserved it a generation or two after we had demanded of them or taught them the same responsibilities towards logical reasoning, critical thinking, and self-preservation of the power that they had collected as men. It was going to take generations for society to adapt to either change alone -- but these changes came relatively quickly. We also had the industrial age and the "workers rebellion" in between (and around the same time). Again this was part good and needed -- with some bad costs mixed in. Workers were told to stand up for themselves and do collective bargaining -- the good stuff -- then they were programmed with dogma to hate their own employers and that they should abuse their new power as those above them had abused their power -- bad stuff. Then they were convinced that society would be better off if they used Government to further cram their beliefs down everyone's throats. Society devolved some more. Society was just taking punches left and right, and not having time to adapt. Then this all got combined with a depression and a lousy President (FDR). This whole generation was programmed (through dogma) that change and power could fix anything (even when it only made things worse). Or at least this president reflected that dogma (a society) with his policies -- depending on whether you think he was a leader or follower -- or more likely a little of both. Either way, society shifted towards more short-term compassion and less long term reason. In all this, we ignored the real issues and stopped being critical thinkers.

The depression was as much a problem of too much government, or the wrong uses of government, as it was with too little -- but only the "too little" gets the blame. Where is the balance? Are we taught in school about how the government contributed to the depression? I wasn't. Probably because as part of the solution, we decided to centralized power to control the schools (and the minds of youth) -- and somewhere in there our schools shifted from being bastions of conservatism (trying to ingrain patience and wisdom in our kids) to bastions of liberalism (teaching kids that compassion is more important than reason and that kids should care enough to cram agendas down each other's throats, in the name of the greater good). And our entire society shifted away from age, maturity, and wisdom, towards youth, energy and trying to fix every problem. Instead of learning how to accept the way things are or make slow continued progress, we are taught that everything has a solution and we should try the radical quick-fix schemes.

The next generation (that grew up in the '60s and '70s) was even worse. A small backlash in the '80s (if you can call a slightly slower rate of entropy a backlash), and now the '90s is back on track towards the loss of American ideals.

So what is the point?

I don't know if giving more power to the younger, poorer, less educated and less vested was a symptom or a cause of the problem -- but I know they are related. I suspect that it was a negative feedback loop -- with both feeding on each other. I do know that society has devolved (overall) from goals of allowing individuals opportunities to an attitude that force is a necessary tool and that we should tolerate it for the greater good. I also know that everything has a cost.

Each change in society takes generations to adapt to. People (individuals) don't usually change (or change very, very slowly) -- usually, you just have to wait until the next generation grows indifferent. But we didn't have time to digest the changes. It was a 1.. 2..3.. 4.. 5.. punch that shifted society way, way to what we call the left -- however, both the left and the right abuse the power it is just the degrees and issues that vary.

Our tolerances have gone the way one would expect when everyone is trying to screw everyone else over. Now people don't discuss issues, believe in spirited debate or try to learn from each other -- they jump down each other's throats because they know that those "others" are the "enemy" who will abuse Government force. How can you trust someone who is going to abuse any power that you let them have? Generations have taught them this. And almost no one in society argues AGAINST the power and the abuse of it or discusses the costs -- they just argue about if you give them more power how they will make things better. So the trend has gone on -- and the results are entropy.

The tools of force come with high costs of usage -- but we never learned the important lesson about those costs. No one draws attention to these problems -- and people keep trying to convince the masses that more change will make the problems better. We decayed from a set of rich elitists mostly using government just to protect their asses (and assets) -- to a bunch of fractionalized overemotional special interests all trying to use Government (a tool of force) to take from others (freedoms, money, power) in order to give ourselves special gifts, considerations, power, or to rob from one another in the name of our pet issue. We lost what it meant to be American (by and large), if we ever had it. Saddest of all, we are still one of the best places on earth when it comes to understanding the importance of freedom and tolerance in the first place!

So in America government stopped being about protecting individual rights (it may have never been that in other countries to begin with), and devolved into being about how to get away with encroaching on them. All this leads to the point that if you aren't thinking like a nice old, selfish rich guy (or as a hard worker that wants to earn the safety and security of becoming an old rich selfish person on your own) -- then you are probably thinking like the average American who seems to think that laws should be about getting as much power for your selfish special interest (in the name of altruism) or to infringe as much as possible on everyone else (in the name of the greater good). Because of this shift, society has learned to hate itself! All groups HAVE to look at each other with distrust -- because the others ARE trying to screw them. We aren't taught that absolute power corrupts, we are taught that if we only had more power then utopia could be achieved. And of course everyone has forgotten (or worse, never learned) that utopia is not a bunch of people all marching to your drum -- it is freedom from oppression, freedom from unfair and subjective taxation, freedom from 10,000 stupid laws trying to micromanage your life! Utopia is just that simple government and society that our founding fathers tried to create -- which was freedom from others attacking you to try to take away your life, liberty, and property in order to give you the opportunity to work hard, play hard, and thrive on your own.

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📚 References

Written 1999.10.03