20A018 Heroes by Jim Davies, 5/5/2020
Down the road a neighbor of mine erected this big sign for all to see. Nice that the family is grateful; nice for any who have been treating the sick recently to feel appreciated. For sure, many of them have been working long, hard hours and running a risk of infection a great deal higher than most.
Another neighbor told me of a friend who nurses at a NYC hospital; a month ago she went down with the Wuhan Bug and had a horrid week, feeling she was dying. But she recovered, and a few days later they had her back on the ward working 12-hour shifts. Yes, I think she qualified for that "Thank you."
Now that the peak is past, there's no need for any to stay home to avoid infection because nearly all of us are going to be infected and the more, the sooner it will all be over; because once infected one cannot contract the WuFlu again, nor pass it to anyone else. As Dr Bhakdi pointed out at the end of March, infection is absolutely not the same thing as suffering symptoms, mild or acute. Nearly all of us will sense no ill effect at all.
That notice got me thinking about heroism in the coming free society. What is it, exactly? - certainly not the same as altruism, the doctrine that we all are supposed to live for the sake of others. That deadly idea of self-sacrifice would fast reduce society to a bunch of scroungers and evildoers.
Morals and ethics (I often confuse the two) properly spring from self-esteem. Once liberated from the choking effect of government laws and religious rules, we can take pleasure in helping someone else, because it makes us feel good; and that feeling may even be boosted with thanks, as in the sign.
At the end of April I watched again my copy of Oliver Stone's superb movie, Snowden. I can't recommend it too highly. Ed Snowden is a very great hero of our time. He had a prestigious, well paid job with an NSA contractor, loved his work and earnestly wanted to serve his country, but came to realize that the "No Such Agency" was turning America into "One Nation, Under Surveillance" in flagrant contradiction of Amendment Four. He quit, taking a trove of documents with him on a thumb drive, and blew the whistle on the FedGov with help from the Guardian newspaper and its reporter Glenn Greenwald.
He has taken refuge in Russia, unable to return home without a high probability of being permanently imprisoned; the Whistleblower Protection laws are applied only to non-government employees. He has lost all his prospects of living well in his own country. But he has gained the enormous satisfaction of doing right. He exemplifies rational ethics.
I've been honored to meet several true heroes. I think of Murray Rothbard, one of the most brilliant economists of the 20th Century, who was denied numerous opportunities to become a distinguished professor because he insisted on teaching what he'd found to be true instead of what the Establishment wanted taught. He found a post eventually - not in the Ivy League, but in Las Vegas.
I think of the late Jim Lewis, who refused to pay the FedGov a dime in income tax because the IRS failed to show him any law that obliged him to do so; knowing very well that would land him in prison - as it did, for nearly a year. I think of Ed and Flicka Thrall of Connecticut, who refused to apply to his town for a building permit on the dance hall he built to his own, innovative design. He was repeatedly harassed, but they had enormous self-respect.
And I think of Irwin Schiff, who like Jim declined to help finance the FedGov after having discovered the absence of any law to require it; both he and Jim were deprived of good livings when they chose to do what was right, so as to maintain their self esteem; and Irwin died in prison.
Then there are Ross Ulbricht, who created an eBay-like marketplace, encrypted so that customers could buy and sell merchandise of which government did not approve; for challenging its supposed authority he was given life without parole. And Julian Assange, being steadily tortured mentally in London for acting as Snowden did, exposing some of government's evil deeds.
In the coming zero government society there will not be any laws to defy, so heroism will not take that kind of shape; but these heroes and many others will have helped bring it about. Heroism will take its more natural form, of going out of one's way to make the world a better place, for the sheer satisfaction that brings to oneself. There will be no such thing as "entitlement", so true compassion will flower again, and since all we earn will be preserved from taxes we'll have the means to help those we think deserve and need it, and gain huge pleasure as a result.
I've launched a supplement called Jim's Wuhan Bug Blog, here which offers a frequent commentary on the progress of the Corona virus outbreak. It is hopefully informative and stimulating and, of course, heterodox. Its entry for 5/4 contains some astonishing, breaking news.