I’m working in Wisconsin this week, and tonight I stopped in a local brewery to try some samples of their ale offerings. An older couple – Mike and Cathy sat down next to me and we had a pleasant conversation about our ale choices and our thoughts about the tastes. We seemed to share similar tastes with Sour Ales and Stouts.

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Soon enough, the conversation turned to where I was from and what I do. When I mentioned that I was from Michigan, we started to focus our discussion on the failed state project of Detroit. We talked about how taxation and regulation have strangled the city and how entrepreneurs are popping up, avoiding the taxes and regulations, and helping to rebuild the city.

There was much agreement on how corporatism has destroyed competition. We discussed the water issue that is going on right now and how so many people are getting their water shut off for non-payment of bills. We discussed the monopoly that the City of Detroit claims to have on water supply and how the city made it “illegal” to catch and store rain water and how the city’s monopoly on water supply has eliminated competition and the possibility of more and better water supply options.

Mike then suggested that “we” should redefine what a city means and that the tax base of the suburbs should be incorporated into the city to help the situation. He suggested that more government regulation and oversight would “fix” the problem.

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Mike said that pooling more tax money into the city would make the problems go away – declaring that the issue is that there’s not enough money. I suggested just the opposite – that the issue is there is not enough freedom and that the government should go away.

He got defensive and said that taxes are our responsibility! He said that there would be chaos if we didn’t pay taxes – no roads! No police! No fire protection! He said that we’re a civilized society and that if we didn’t pay taxes we’d be like Iran or Syria. I reminded him that both of those countries have taxes and governments.

He insisted that taxes are our responsibility and we are civilized countries. If you don’t pay in Syria or Iran, they will kill you. I asked him, depending on your level of resistance, how that was different here?

He said, “It’s much different! They won’t kill you. They will keep telling you that you must pay (and it’s your duty, mind you) and if you don’t then you’ll go to jail.” I asked him, “What if I resist? What if I don’t pay and refuse to go to be kidnapped and put in a cage?” “You can’t say that!!”, he exclaimed, “It’s not kidnapping if they have AUTHORITY!”. Ahhh…

I asked him if I kidnapped him and put him in a cage, if that would be OK. He said “no, of course not but I don’t have AUTHORITY.” “Where does the authority come from?”, I asked. He said, “from the people!”

I told him that I’m one of “the people” and I didn’t consent to this. I never, ever, not even once, granted permission or authority to anyone to kidnap me and cage me. I asked him further, “what if I resist being kidnapped or caged?” He said, then you’ll probably be tazed or killed. So I asked him again, how that is different from Iran or Syria?

He got very upset. Mike put his beer glass down. Looked me in the eye – and I saw both denial and awakening both vying for position. I wondered if emotion or logic would win his heart and mind. He got up and left. Cathy sat there, apparently stunned at her husband’s response. After a few seconds, she stood up, wanting to go after him. We thanked each other for the conversation and she apologized for her husband’s response. I told her that there’s no need to apologize – we’ve all been lied to our entire lives and it’s hard for each of us to come to terms with the reality that we are faced with.

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Statism is a disease. It’s infected almost every human being on the planet. Statism is the belief that it is acceptable for a small group of people that call themselves “government” to initiate force or violence against peaceful people or their property. Statism is the belief that it’s OK to point guns at people to make them comply with the opinions of the ruling class. Statism is the gun in the room that no one wants to talk about.

It doesn’t matter if it’s chambered for 7.62×39 or .223 or 9mm – the gun is in there, and it’s real. It doesn’t matter if they call themselves “The Republic of Iran” or “The City of Detroit” or “The State of Wisconsin” or “The United States of America” – the gun is still in the room, and the gun is real. Whether or not we wish to see the gun is really up to us as individuals.