Found Words – Peter Baldwin

In honor of the Slouch in the Washington Post – “pay the man”


“First and simplest: Should we expect states to be uniformly one thing 

or the other? States are lumpy. They may focus their energies and atten- 

tion on certain matters while ignoring others. They may not be consis- 

tently laissez-faire or interventionist, but be so in one respect and the 

opposite in another. Why do those easygoing, anarchistic Germans allow 

their citizens to drive as fast as they please on the Autobahnen, take their 

clothes off and drink alcohol in public, and set off fireworks on a practi- 

cally military scale at New Year? While the kadavergehorsam Americans 

enforce the pokiest speed limits in the Western world, prohibit public 

drinking, keep their citizens in sartorial purdah, and mandate boring, bang- 

less New Year’s Eves? Why do the French, whose police boast of an ability 

to get their man within twenty-four hours and who parade about with 

armaments otherwise reserved for the military in full combat readiness, 

regard American antismoking laws as health totalitarianism? The inter- 

esting question, from a comparative point of view, is why a given state is 

preoccupied with certain matters while ignoring others.”


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