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Is Resistance Futile?

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My son, Thomas, loves Star Trek [2] — all series, all movies, all of it.  And he's turned me into something of a Trekkie.

One of the most vile of all villains in Star Trek is the Borg [3].  The Borg is (or "are" – the correct pronoun is not obvious in this case) an immense collective, filled with drones, all of whom work only for the (alleged) good of the collective.  The drones are assimilated from other species that the Borg encounters — some drones are human, some are Vulcan, some are Bajoran – the list is long.  But once assimilated, each individual loses his or her individuality and becomes a cog in the giant, ominous, gluttonous collective.

Assimilation takes place when a member of the Borg collective — usually a drone, but sometimes the "Queen" — injects Borg "nano-probes" into a victim.  In very short order, that victim's individuality is suffocated by the nano-probes and the victim, once an individual, is now assimilated into the Borg, with no mind or will of its own, no desire for self-determination.

I thought of the Borg today when I read this report in the New York Times [4].  It's on labor-union efforts to constrain Wells Fargo's attempt to recover the money it loaned to the clothing maker HartMarx.  HartMarx is now bankrupt.  The following line is the one that brought the Borg to my mind:

Seeing a political and public relations opening, the workers
and their union are arguing that Wells Fargo, having received $25
billion in the bank bailout, should keep a 122-year-old American
company like Hartmarx in business and preserve some 3,600 jobs.

In other words, because Wells Fargo received government bailout funds, it is now (and likely forever) subject not to traditional rules of the market, but should be obliged to sacrifice for some alleged collective good — to do the bidding of government, which in fact means, in most cases, to be forced to satisfy vocal special-interest groups, regardless of the consequences that such actions have on the larger economy.

You see, bailout dollars are like Borg nano-probes: everything that they are injected into is assimilated into a grotesque and dangerous collective.  But with two important differences.

First, in some cases the victims of these political nano-probes requested assimilation.

Second, assimilation does not really promote the best interest of the collective; rather, it promotes only the selfish interests of parts of the collective — those parts that are politically well-organized and vocal (including, of course, the state itself).

Regardless of whether the victim asked to be injected with nano-probing bailout bucks or were injected with such probes unwillingly – and regardless of the motives of the assimilators — the result is the same: the collective grows and, as it does so, annihilates individuality, choice, freedom, and the institutions necessary for economic growth.

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