Thursday, January 12, 2012

The hitching post and the missing horse

After many years in the land of the free, the first thing that I missed after coming back home to India, was a good hamburger. No one knows how to make a good hamburger like the Americans do. And gradually, I realized that there were other things that I missed -- a good pizza, a good beer -- and the super-ball Sundays, with their own fair share of pizza and beer.

And slowly, as I settled back, the list of the things from the land of the free that I missed, started shrinking. Mainly, because in India, I could get a pretty good pizza, and a pretty good beer. And that despicable game of cricket, sometimes offered the promise of sporadic violence. Just like football used to.

But there is something that I just can't find in India, however hard I look. And I must admit that I do miss it quite a bit, since it is probably the only political philosophy that I have ever found myself believing in. It really disappoints me a lot that in a country such as ours, with a glorious past of incompetent governments and nincompoops doubling as rulers, we have never once been attracted to the philosophy of Libertarianism. 

Libertarianism is all about respecting the liberties of the individual over the idiosyncrasies of the powers that be. In my pedestrian way of looking at things, Libertarianism is all about saying "Bah Humbug" to the government, its policies, and primarily, to the act through which it subjugates us all -- taxation.

The land of the free is going to elect a president soon. And the republicans, are leaving no stone unturned to select a candidate in the primaries, who can take on Mr. Obama. Perhaps, for the forty fifth time over, Mr. Ron Paul, the eternal Libertarian candidate, has thrown his hat in the ring. And perhaps, for the forty fifth time over, Desi Babu, has started hoping that he wins the nomination, and eventually, becomes the president of the mighty land of the free.

Mr. Paul, like our own Mr. Anna Hazare, has a huge fan following amongst the young and the disenchanted. People, who are most likely to be at the forefront of a democratic change, which is sometimes overstated as a revolution. But Mr. Paul, has been around in American politics for quite some time.  And before he started kissing babies to solicit votes, he was delivering them, as a full-time pediatrician in the great state of Texas.

In American politics, Mr. Paul has the unique distinction  -- of saying it aloud -- that the emperor has no clothes. And there are many, who are beginning to listen to him.

To republican hawks, the military is the backbone of American leadership in the world. To libertarians, it is a huge financial liability, that should be trimmed substantially, to save the country. To democrats, big government spending, as in the days of FDR, is the only thing that can rescue the United States from penury. To libertarians, both government and spending are evil, and a dramatic reduction in both is the only way to save America. Mr. Paul, has spoken time and again, against a big government, a large military, and a huge debt, brought about by the indiscriminate printing of a fiat currency, that the rest of the world cannot seem to have enough of.

Perhaps, when Mr. Paul did not get adequate coverage in mainstream media, in spite of consistently making it to the top three in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, it did raise quite a few eyebrows, even amongst his detractors, about the fairness of the system, that elects America's president. It remains to be seen if Mr. Paul's train will keep chugging along, with new coal being brought by hordes of young Americans, who are looking for an alternative to both Republicans and Democrats. There is talk that if Mr. Paul does not win the republican nomination, he will accept the Libertarian ticket this time, which has been kept reserved for him, many times in the past.

One of my libertarian friends had once lectured me about the libertarian character of the United States. The kind that comes from hanging around small town drugstores, talking about guns and the second amendment, and the rights of the people to keep Washington out of their bedrooms. And, he had told me about the need to have a hitching post in every small town, so someone riding a horse could "park" his "vehicle", just like public parking is made available to other taxpayers, who too are "looted" by the government for no reason at all.

It did make sense to me at that time. If I had a horse, and, if I did not have a car. I would definitely look for a hitching post. When I rode my horse to the town square, to visit the drugstore. And to talk about my second amendment rights with my buddies, who I am sure, would have liked their own hitching posts. For their horses.
In India, there have been multiple times when we  have lived with little or no government, or with completely incompetent governments. In fact, it would not be terribly wrong to say that we currently live in such exciting times. I have always wondered why Indians have never been open Libertarians.

Perhaps, centuries of repression under various governments prevents us from openly questioning the need for a government. Perhaps, we are nonchalant, because most of us don't pay any taxes, and so, don't particularly give a hoot if the government blows our money on alcohol and hookers. Or perhaps, we never bothered to retain the hitching posts for the missing horses in our city centers, as cars, trains and buses took over our lives. With the promise to deliver us somewhere, as long as we delivered a part of our paychecks, to the government.

Perhaps, someday, we will have our own Ron Paul. To tell us, that the emperor wears no clothes. At all.


  1. u want ron paul? u can have him..good riddance for rest of us...

  2. " In fact, it would not be terribly wrong to say that we currently live in such exciting times." Rightly said. Can't say much about Libertarians, but surely want to part of the change that our country so badly needs!

    1. I agree. But a small government and lower taxes, like Libertarians recommend, will definitely help.