The Matrix

For those old enough, there was a film released in 1999 called the Matrix:

It depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, the Matrix, created by thought-capable machines (artificial beings) to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source.

Humans were an energy source for the machines.

When computer programmer Thomas Anderson, under the hacker alias “Neo“, uncovers the truth, he “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines” along with other people who have been freed from the Matrix.

But was the Matrix movie fiction?  Or was it a metaphor?  Are citizens (humans) more accurately the energy source for government (machines)?

Most Australians, and until recently TAFKAS, have lived under the impression that, although flawed in ideas and execution, the objective of government was to improve the welfare of the people.  Could it however be that we are all operating under a flawed assumption.

Could it be that Albert Nock, writing in 1939 was more right than he realised:

… like all predatory or parasitic institutions, (Government’s) first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity.

Many things become clearer if the operating assumption of government is that its purpose is not the welfare of the people but rather the welfare of itself.  Economic growth is important because it generates tax.  Jobs are important because they generate tax.  Investment is important because it generates tax.  Trade is important because it generates tax.  And all the efforts of government to promote growth, jobs, investment and trade are to ensure the government’s survival and prosperity.

Perhaps it does not stop with tax.  Bureaucratic mismanagement generates more and higher paid bureaucrats to supervise.  More regulation necessitates more regulators.  More crimes necessitates more courts and jails.

And the people, the citizenry, are the batteries that power the government machine.  Not the other way around.

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32 Responses to The Matrix

  1. Ian of Brisbane

    This also applies to trade unions

  2. Jonesy

    Interesting parrallel, however, like Neo and his brethren…we have the power to destroy the machines through the ballot box…or are we all embedded in the first version that, paradoxically, balances the equation making us believe we are living that perfect world.

  3. Rafe

    Yes see the idea that a tax cut is a handout as though the govt actually owns the money we earn and they generously let us keep some of it.

  4. Howard Hill

    And many of them are so inert so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to the death to protect it.

    There’s not enough of us to break the matrix, the rulers have ensured most are completely dependent on it.
    Good luck trying to break that dependency.

  5. Biota

    Much the same way that all TV is just a hook to hang revenue producing advertising on.

  6. Percy Popinjay

    Interesting that when Agent Smith first confronts Mr Anderson, the former notes that the latter “pays his taxes”.

  7. Fair shake of the Sauce bottle

    Keep taking the blue pill

  8. Ben

    I’m pretty sure there was some data showing the US government performed better during the funding dispute that saw Trump hold out federal funding except for essential government services.

  9. ACTOldFart

    Its worth noting that for a parasite (government) to be successful, it has to keep the host (private sector) at leeast alive and sufficiently able to obtain sustenance and nutrition. Hence corporate tax rates as high as the private system can bear and its worth them keeping on working, but not at or approaching 100%. There are already plenty of stories around about successful professionals for whom, thanks to tax, it’s not worth while to work more than 4 or even 3 days a week, a waste at the national level of important skills and highly expensive (usually taxpayer-funded)training.

  10. HP

    Government cares about the citizens like a farmer cares about his cows.
    It is a tax-farmer, if you will. And you are the tax-cow.

    I found that best predicts the actions a government will take with respect to its citizens.
    In particular healthcare, euthanasia policies (and why a government would be interested in those in the first place), all make more sense when you take into account the tax-farmer model of government.

  11. The BigBlueCat

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    I think we should all take heed of Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg … if only our political elite took the view that they exist for us, and not us for them. There are too few of them who take that view – the rest are full of their own self-importance as career politicians to understand why they are there – they have long-forgotten that they are supposed to serve the people. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  12. a happy little debunker

    Even in the dystopian future presented by the Matrix, the machines implicitly new wind power wouldn’t cut the mustard for their power needs.

  13. Roger

    Government is one half of the Corporate State, Big Business the other.

    Both would like to run rough shod over the rights of citizens and increasingly do so.

  14. Rhyl Dearden

    Was talking about this today – community organizations that used to raise their own funds by arranging fun activities that people enjoyed have been undermined by the view that self reliance is old hat, now you fill out forms for funding by government – state, local and perhaps Federal. This involves no effort by the members of any organization who then do not expect to be involved in future. Someone else will do it. All citizens become mendicants and lose any sense of self-determination.

  15. Chris of Sighs

    The Matrix was a documentary. The Smiths are only in your mind and you will only defeat them by working out they are not really there.

  16. Jonesy. You confuse politicians with government. Politicians come and go. Governments are forever.

  17. Lazlo

    Nock is quite right. The bureaucracy is a self-preservation society. Its holy grail is “funding”. Given that they have no other means to guarantee their existence, their behaviour is quite rational. They must forever be defending or expanding their claim on “funds”. None of them are going to say “fair enough, my job is unnecessary, I’ll go”. Multiply that a million times.

  18. Right. So what is the solution? Realistic suggestions only, much as we all like fantasizing about feeding the clowns to ravenous hyenas.

  19. Lazlo

    Good question Mr Rusty. Now we have identified the problem, the only solution is to say “no”.

    No, you will not get more, in fact you will need to get by with less. The inevitable outcome though is that some staff will have to go.

    So, Mr Rusty, the realistic solution is to sack people. Would you like to try?

  20. gowest

    That’s why they need global warming – more departments, more executives, all dependent on higher power prices (taxes) – still cant understand why Victoria and the union super funds want to make the turnbull investors richer at the expense of power consumers.

    never get between the public service and a tax – you will always lose.

  21. Lazlo

    You have got it gowest.

    No ministers or public service managers have the guts to take this on.

    The only time the public service contracted in recent memory was during Paul Keating’s 1991 recession.

    It will take the forthcoming Chinese recession to fix this.

  22. Nob

    For those old enough, there was a film released in 1999 called The Matrix

    No, but my grandfather used to tell me about it.

    Every organisation behaves like this as it grows.

    There has to be a nuclear option every generation.
    Even so it will grow again.

    What is the net effect of Thatcher and Reagan ?
    Government still grew but if they hadn’t happened how much worse would it have been for the UK and USA and the example they set? Would we still have the USSR not to mention its wars in Africa, Asia, Latin America?

    Is Trump making any headway?

  23. Paul

    Good question, Mr Rusty. Here’s my effort: In order to survive, government “intermediates” every transaction (or tries to) and the tool it uses is money. Change the way money works and everything else changes to accommodate. The best example of this is the economic experiment in Worgl, Austria, during the Great Depression. That experiment was an outstanding success, evidenced by the fact that the central bank (government) terminated it with extreme prejudice.

  24. So, Mr Rusty, the realistic solution is to sack people. Would you like to try?

    I’d love to fire the likes of Tony Jones and Martin Parkinson, preferably from a large cannon.

    But I’d prefer that the people change the rules. We (and every other Western Government) needs new limits placed on them by law, i.e. constitutional change. Something along the lines of;
    “The Government may raise no more than 10 taxes on the people and no tax may be higher than 20%”.

    The writers of the constitutions never foresaw the welfare state, “free” education, healthcare, nappies, gender reassignment, baby bonuses, the ABC, sinecures for maaaaates and the general scrap every 3 years to take as much money as possible from Group A to buy off Group B so they will elect you to fleece and featherbed even more.

    There has to be a nuclear option every generation.

    Yes, but there needn’t be.

  25. Texas Jack

    Stupid state NSW Liberals now refer to citizens as customers. Dystopia’s here.

  26. Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    The Matrix always implied a dualism. So what if the system went down- why would the consciousness of the individual be trapped there? If ‘Wolfenstein’ stopped working on my computer, I was never trapped in Nazi Germany. But the real self of the participants was supposed to be trapped in the illusion of the Matrix. Go figure.
    And I keep advocating time-share governments as a solution to a lot of democratic ills. My ideal is that if a person wanted to be a citizen, then he/she could join one’s local county, and for 11 months of the year, you would make some contribution to the public society (volunteer bush fire brigade, local militia, community service, etc.), and then for 1 month, you and 1/12th of the citizens would get together as the local county government, which would be more like a Swiss Canton in terms of powers. You could review all laws, and function just like bigger governments. Counties would send envoys to Regional conferences. And if we kept a system of seniority, based on when you joined, then the ‘head’ of each council would not be chosen by politicking, and thus there would be no claim of a mandate. Since all laws passed would be actions that then affect you for the next eleven months, I think that bureaucracy and politics would be under control. I cal this Eccentralism, from Eccentric+Decentralism, with the libertarian motto ‘Share Power’.

  27. Paridell

    For those old enough? It was 1999, not 1939.

  28. EvilElvis

    There has to be a nuclear option every generation.

    Yes, but there needn’t be.

    Yes, yes there does need to be. The constant blowing out the match and putting down the machete to diplomatically sort things out has lead us to this point and things will continue to descend. At least until the machete is swung and the match is dropped into the dry kindle of bureaucracy and dependency. Only then will people realise how much they’ve given up and how good just a little freedom feels.

  29. Shaun

    Jonesey you have been misplaced as the rules at the ballot box have been written by those who serve and thus the outcome is already determined before the ballot. It does not matter which party wins the vote as they all play by the same rules which are set and changed as per their requirements. The citizens need to realise the government are the enemy of the people. Only problem is the media is on their side too.

  30. Tim Neilson

    Government is one half of the Corporate State, Big Business the other.

    Trade unions?

  31. Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Get with the new maths, Tim! Trade unions are the third half.

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