the Saint of Traffic By-laws

Obey the New God

Nobody in the United States is untouchable by the law. Everyone has done something that could have resulted in fines or imprisonment. Everyone. It almost goes without saying, except that I had to say it in order for the next paragraph to make the right kind of sense.

The inculcation of patriotism into every one of us at a young age is identical in form to the inculcation of a sense of religion into church-goers. People have used processes of religion such as this one to set up this thing that behaves like a god: it demands reverence; it demands tithing. It has the power to make your existence miserable, should you incur its wrath.

And, again, everyone has given it cause. There is no one who obeys all the laws or scrupulously calculates his taxes. He does not drive 35 in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, nor does he come to a complete stop. The person who does that would be a saint: The Saint of Traffic By-laws. What kind of crappy saint is that? It’s the crappy saint of a crappy god.

Government and the government are constructs of human imagination and need. They are an attempt to make a real, live, actual god. A drunken, lurching, real, live, actual god, but a real one nonetheless.

Government is not now omnipresent or omnipotent, but we’re trying to improve this god by allowing it to learn how to keep better track of where everybody is, for example, by satellite tracking of our stuff. And if you know where our stuff is, you know where we are. That’s key for a god; You have to know where Your people are. And people are fine with that because they don’t really know what kind of power they’re giving this drunken thing. People aren’t ready (yet) to put computer chips in their bodies, so the chips are going into the cellphones for now.

We can almost pay 10 dollars online to find out where any person is within an error of fifty feet. And I see a day when we can almost pay 5 dollars.

Did the founding fathers know what they were doing? That they were replacing one god by another? I think so; I think the founding fathers knew that they were setting up a substitute god when they separated church from state. That’s practically a smoking gun. And I think they thought of it in just that way: that it was time to change gods. And they knew their new, stupid god would never work if the older gods were allowed to bind to it; without that separation the substitute god would never have taken hold.

And the fathers had reason to do what they did. The old gods hadn’t ever seemed to work out. Why not create a new one? Things couldn’t get much worse.

In reality, things got much better. For a long time. Because the substitute god was consciously made to be crappy, and was meant to stay that way. But now, because engineers–the priests of the crappy god–are able to build things with the potential to allow the government to know where we all are all the time, the god is becoming less stupid. It’s getting smarter, taking on more of the qualities of gods. This is not a good thing. This is not what the founding fathers wanted.

I’m not ready to watch the crappy god evolve and grow; to become less crappy. The reason this god is tolerable to me at all is precisely because it is so stupid. I’m not ready for the government to know where I am all the time. So the more ways I can keep actively bothering the record-keeping function of the government while keeping a low enough profile that I still adhere to the American Compact, the longer I can keep the lurching god off balance and dumb.

That’s the curmudgeon’s goal, even if he doesn’t know it.

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