The photograph of a horribly facially disfigured woman in France, suffering from a rare incurable facial tumor appears on BBC Newsonline with the article about how she has been refused by a court in Dion to engage a doctor to help her die. "Even if the physical degeneration of Madame Sebrie merits compassion, this request can only be rejected under French law," the magistrate said. Madame Sebrie, who can no longer see properly, taste or smell, and reports how children run away from her in the streets, says she will go to Switzerland if necessary, but doesn't think she should have to do this. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7301566.stm)
My interpretation of this woman's situation is that she has determined that her life no longer brings her happiness, but instead each day decreases the lifetime happiness she has to date accumulated. Each day brings her more physical and mental suffering, and she wants to end the decrease of total happiness she has achieved to date. This former school teacher and mother of 3 has made a decision that only she can properly make and wants to proceed with an action, apparently with the the assistance of a physician who would be agreeable, though no mention was made in the article if she had already identified one. She did say, however, "I now know how to get my hands on what I need, and if I don't get it in France, I will get it elsewhere." The fact that some others have the legal entitlement to prevent this woman from having a specific voluntary mutually beneficial interaction with someone else is tragic in this case, but oh so very common.
Four Iraqis are featured in another article at BBC Newsonline (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7297284.stm), each of who has fled the violence in his/her (hir) home country and is currently in a limbo state in another country, awaiting some sort of legal recognition by the government there (or elsewhere) to be allowed to live and work productively. Each of these individuals is educated and willing to work, but the government forbids others to employ them until particular legal requirements are met. The fact that employers exist who would employ these individuals makes no difference, nor would it even if the individuals are willing to do any type of work at all. What is clear for each of these people leaving Iraq is that it was not something they appear to have had a long desire to do, something that from their youth was an ambition they sought to fulfill. In fact, it appears more like they would like to be able to live peaceably in the country of their birth, but have found that an impossibility due to the violence there, much (?most?) of it as a result of non-Iraqis.
Another feature article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7283640.stm) is written about vigilante or militia groups controlling most of the various slums in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil "run by off-duty or former police officers and firemen, who throw out the drug gangs and claim to offer protection to the community, but at a price." The author quotes a resident, "They control everything, they make demands, they kill. If you don't follow their way and do what they say, you go straight to the grave." No mention is made, however, of the fact that the human interactions that result in the great deal of violence - manufacture and sales of one or or more substances - are that way because those interactions are decreed illegal by the government. It wouldn't matter if the substances are chemicals that can bring on particular mental states or chemicals (and everything is in fact a chemical, our bodies are themselves mobile chemical factories) that provide energy for bodily metabolism (food!). If a government has labeled an item - or an action - illegal, the result of banning it will be an underground market that very often brings with it violence if there is a great amount of demand. In other words, if a lot of people want what a government has decreed is forbidden, and are willing to pay for it, there will be some who are willing to take the risks and protect their investments to provide that product or service.
In each of the situations above (and they are but a very few of the ones that exist everywhere), the government in the particular geographical area has created a problem for the people being written about. Laws forbidding these particular and other individuals from interacting in what each has determined is beneficial to hir lifetime happiness has created personal tragedies, each multiplied hundreds, thousands and even millions of times over.
Some will say that governments are needed because too many people are unable to make sound decisions, that like children they need to be protected from themselves in many (and in some jurisdictions, all) areas of their lives. Others will say that governments are needed to protect those in a certain geographical area from others coming from "outside" who would relocate and "take away jobs", or needed to provide a "level playing ground", or needed to keep markets "orderly". Many will say that governments are needed to guard and defend the locals and territory from belligerents within and outside who would do harm. These apologists/defenders often go further to predict that chaos is the inevitable result of failure to have or maintain a government, or one sufficiently strong. They point to violence in the streets of some area nearby or at a distance and decry the lack of government control that has resulted in the apparent chaos.
Prevention of chaos or assurance of order is what the vast majority of individuals want for any environment that they use, whether owned by themselves or someone else, for the simple reason that planning of their life activities has the best possible chance to maximize the lifetime happiness of each (which is always the goal of each person's life whether or not consciously recognized). Rule by others - whether an individual or a small or large group - over a person's possible choices is paternalism, like the treatment of children/dependents by a parent, and not even a wise one, but rather a parent who wants to keep hir children always dependent. Individual self-order without rule by others is the social system whose members are humans, who have become fully adult. Just as people can become physical adults, so can they become social adults - if only they are allowed (and even required in the sense that they will not achieve their desires unless they do) to socially mature sufficiently.
Understanding the social interaction methodology by which more individuals would progress to become fully socially mature adults requires a paradigm shift in thinking about human interactions. I invite - and even challenge - those who seek a society of individuals interacting to mutual benefit (or are maybe only curious at this point) to read "Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Human Interaction" and then review the twin frameworks of the Natural Social Contract and Social Preferencing, both of which flow from that basis. The example tragedies I provided above, and the almost countless others that exist everywhere, need not continue. Human beings are capable of becoming socially mature, capable of creating a society where social maturity is the norm. The Theory of Social Meta-Needs with its twin implementation frameworks provides the methodology of a goal society - and a goal must always be identified before any course can be set, otherwise a repeated return to one's starting point or an even more undesirable end is almost certain.