When people cannot for some reason govern themselves – they turn to a small group of people to do it for them. They lack the belief in their own abilities to fix something, so they turn to an outside force to level the playing field. The irony here is that the playing field itself was never tilted to begin with. As such, it is the idea that everyone is equal regardless of physical or mental attributes that grant the illusion of a tilted field.
Yet illusions can destroy entire towns. Such was the case in Mariestown.
Peaceful petite Mary is intimidated by 6’3” guy walking past her down the street. To make Mary feel more secure – a police force is enacted by fifteen others just like Mary.
It is not wrong for Mary to feel uneasy at the giant walking by her – especially if he appears rough around the edges. It is a natural reaction that warns of possible danger. It is therefore not only natural but smart of Mary to want some kind of protection. However Mary needs to consider the cost of protection, as well as its long term effects.
Fifteen Mary’s will rarely pool their money to buy a police force to watch over all of them – they could not afford to. In the old days, the Mary’s used to limit their activities to safer areas where help could easily be found. Such Mary’s see the other ladies carry means of protection, and scowl – after all, they live in a civilized society where no protection should be needed.
After enough badgering at town halls, the Maries finally get the police they called for. The problem then becomes that the town cannot afford to pay such a force a full wage equal to the towns average income. As a result the new force is only 2 men, and a jail house. This works okay at first as the town is fairly small.
Yet the now strained town budget takes a sudden hit when bad wiring in the court house causes it to burn. The fire department responds, but is not big enough to save the whole building so it loses its west wing. It cannot afford to replace this wing because it used its extra money to hire the police and build their little jail which so far goes unoccupied. This will soon be remedied.
Court fees are raised temporarily to pay for the damage. In a small town this never bodes well. Even worse is that the Mary’s no longer stay in safer places being that they have police now. And yes, they still refuse to arm themselves. They start realizing that the scummier parts of town they had previously avoided did not seem so bad after all. One night Mary is mugged. Mary screams for help, and before the thief can finish claiming her purse, one of the other woman of the town shows up, and maces the heck out of the thief – then promptly commences giving him the beat down of a lifetime. Mary is thankful to the woman, and then promptly heads home.
The next morning Mary is at the police station. Angry and indignant, she demands to know where they had been. They tell Mary that they were stopping another one like Mary from being robbed, and did not even know of her own little situation. Try as she might, the Mary cannot find a problem with them.
At the next town hall, several such occurrences have happened. In nearly every case, one of the Mary’s was saved by a passerby or one of the police. The one exception was where one of the Mary’s had not called for help, and had walked through the alley behind the bar to take the short cut home – a move she never previously would have made. However it is enough for all of the Mary’s to give the mayor a good reaming, and demand a larger police force.
The other women of the town are beyond appalled. Never in all of their years had anything like this happened, and now these Mary’s who had acted stupidly and refused to try to defend themselves were costing them and their significant others a good amount in raised taxes. To add icing on the cake, the courthouse remained unrepaired. The voices of the other towns woman were ignored though in favor of the pestering busybody Mary’s who claimed that the crime was always there – it was just a matter of time until they became victims of it.
These Mary’s pointed out to the Mayor that other larger neighboring towns had sizeable police forces and had no issues. This of course was nonsense. The neighboring towns had crime to – they just did not see it because they did not live there, and they just took the word of the busybodies of the other town that a police force was the answer.
More police were hired, and revenue was needed to pay for them. The question was how to pay for them.
The busybodies noted that drinking was not taxed. Surely alcohol was the cause of this whole mess, so it should be taxed, and the profit sent to the police.
The mayor held a special town hall to vote on the matter. It just so happened that most people could not make it, as a recent rain had created flood damage to crops and other businesses that needed their attention. So it was not surprising that the 15 Mary’s and their whipped men voted in the majority favor.
The next night the bar was full of some really angry patrons. Many of them did not even know about the special town hall, and the few who did refused to believe that the mayor would be idiotic enough to abide by the resulting vote. However the bartender could not operate without the Mayor’s approval, so he had to add the additional cost of the tax to his drinks. After a few drinks, the bar settled down to a fairly normal (albeit slower) night.
The next day the mayor’s treasurer came to collect the taxes from the bartender, and he was astounded at the amount collected. A whole week like this and not only could they pay the salary for the newly expanded police force, but they could fix the courthouse.
A week later however the business owners noticed that they were not selling as much of their wares as they usually did. Even the bartender was complaining about a slow in sales to the mayor.
The next town hall was packed. Suddenly the 15 Mary’s and their parties were outnumbered, and shouting matches soon erupted, filling the hall with a deafening roar that gave the mayor the worst headache of his life. Having enough, he called everyone to order. The new law would be given two weeks, and then if people still wanted the new law repealed (along with the police force), then it would be so.
Two weeks of nothing followed. Everyone in town – even the local urchins – was on their best behavior in hopes that this new law would go away, and the town could prosper again.
It never happened. The town hall was held as agreed, but the mayor came to a startling conclusion. He had determined that no crimes had been committed, and that it had been worth the slow in prosperity. Try as they might, the townspeople had no answer for that for at heart, they were mostly a fairly moral people, and maybe there was something to all this.
Yet most people in the town were either shop owners and workers and it was not long before their meager pickings started to grow slim – and at this rate, no one would be able to save for the coming winter – much less its festivities. So after the following town hall meeting, they had a meeting of their own. At the meeting, they mostly decided to brew their own drinks, and put their money back into their regular expenditures. Who needs a tavern?
The following week the town hall was interesting to say the least. The police were complaining because their pay was a fraction of what it was. The Mary’s were complaining because their protectors were suddenly not being provided for. The mayor knew that his town loved their nightly drink, and figured out that they would be brewing their own to avoid the tax at the tavern. So he then decreed that no home brews were allowed, and anyone caught violating that would face a stiff fine or jail.
After a week or two of cat and mouse, the police started getting more aggressive in their searches to have their pay reinstated. How could they feed their families if they were not paid doing their job to keeping the women safe? You see they now had a vested interested in going beyond protecting and serving, and into the realm of law enforcement.
It was the last town hall that would ever be held in which the people had a direct vote. However the vote was no longer in favor of the townspeople. You see now the police were voting with their significant others, the bartender was voting to get his business back, the busybody Mary’s who started the whole thing were voting with their whipped men, and the town and its happy treasury was voting. So it came about that Law triumphed over rationale, justice, and moral code. Not that the law or those who clambered for it would think so – but then again – it’s all a matter of perspective is it not?
Over a hundred years later the town was now a city, with all the ghettos and slums a city could be expected to produce. Crime was overall far higher than it had ever been. Yet in spite of that, all the new Mary’s could say is this:
“Thank God for the police, for they keep the crime low, and keep order in our city. Without them, gangs would be running the streets, and mobs would be looting and stealing everything.”
It would be a funny twist of irony. That is, if it were not the story of almost every modern city in America today.