SOPA and the oblivious

A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything away from you – including your Internet freedom.

That’s the thought that keeps running through my head as I contemplate the full-scale panic going on right now about SOPA, the “Stop Internet Piracy Act”.

It’s a bad bill, all right. It’s a terrible bill – awful from start to finish, idiotic to the core, corruptly pandering to a powerful special-interest group at the cost of everyone else’s liberty.

But I can’t help noticing that a lot of the righteous panic about it is being ginned up by people who were cheerfully on board for the last seventeen or so government power grabs – cap and trade, campaign finance “reform”, the incandescent lightbulb ban, Obamacare, you name it – and I have to wonder…

Don’t these people ever learn? Anything? Do they even listen to themselves?

It’s bizarre and entertaining to hear people who yesterday were all about allegedly benign and intelligent government interventions suddenly discovering that in practice, what they get is stupid and vicious legislation that has been captured by a venal and evil interest group.

Yeah, no shit? How…how do they avoid noticing that in reality it’s like this all the time?

The depressing part is how safe a bet it is that they’ll go back to being oblivious the moment their direct interests aren’t threatened. They’ll cheer for the next tax hike, the next round of environmental feel-goodism, the next political “fix” for the next transient market failure – and never notice that by doing so they’re creating the political conditions in which malignant growths like SOPAs inevitably flourish.

So here’s a clue: the only way to keep your freedom – on the Internet or anywhere else – is to defend everyone else’s freedom as well, by keeping your government tiny and starved and rigidly constrained in what it can do. Otherwise, the future you’re begging for is SOPAs without end.

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