Posts Tagged ‘Government’

INTERVENTION

June 24, 2010

INTERVENTION

Why does our Government insist on tinkering with the free market economy? Don’t they trust us to handle our own affairs? Or is it just lust for power and wealth? Politicians have certainly increased their power through the years, ignoring all the limitations on Government power written into the U.S. Constitution. Politicians are also under pressure from lobbyists, pressure groups, and campaign contributors to intervene in the economy in their favor, or to support their pet projects.

But Government has really botched all interventions intended to improve our economic affairs. First, what they do to the economy violates our freedoms. Moreover, they never succeed in achieving their stated purpose. And, worse yet, they cause disastrous, unforeseen problems. But worst of all, with each failure, and each resulting problem, instead of backing off, Government blames the free market, and adds more interventions in a vain attempt to fix the problems that the earlier interventions have caused.

The free market gives each person the opportunity to achieve the maximum satisfaction with the means at his disposal. In the free market, every exchange involves two people, and each of them profits by the exchange. Each one has acquired something he wants more than what he gave up.

Any interference with the free market can only inflict a loss on one or both people, either by preventing the exchange, or by forcing it to be made on terms that harm one or both people involved in the trade. Government intervention can only reduce the satisfaction of the people affected.

When intervention blocks people from their own priorities, they will seek other ways to achieve their goals. People are ingenious at solving problems, and many will find unforeseen ways to get around these interventions, or to use the interventions in unforeseen ways to their own advantage. Many others will soon follow suit. Unfortunately, those who try to control the destiny of others always fail to foresee this. They always underestimate the ingenuity of man.

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REFORM THE GOVERNMENT

June 15, 2010

REFORM THE GOVERNMENT

If it is possible for any people, in any country, to regain their freedom, it should be possible in the USA. This is because our country was founded for freedom, and everyone, and every politician, at least gives lip service to freedom. It should be possible to shame our congressmen, senators, and president into reversing the trend to Federal control of every facet of our lives.

In 2008 Ron Paul ran for the Republican nomination for president. His program was smaller government with a return of our freedoms and a sound dollar. His record in Congress showed that his program was for real. In debate with the other candidates he won every round. Yet, the media ignored him and the public didn’t understand his “End the Fed” message, so he lost the nomination

Since then, back in Congress, Ron Paul has entered several bills to halt the theft of our freedom. Each bill was blocked by tactics to see that none of these bills could ever come to a vote. Freedom is not on the agenda for either the Republicans or the Democrats, but neither are they willing to be seen to vote against freedom. The News media are almost completely dedicated to a welfare-statist, anti-freedom program. And the voters aren’t even interested.

This means that regaining our freedom is a long-haul task: a complete re-education of 2 or 3 generations of voters, so they can force the politicians to re-build the system and return to a Constitutional government.

This requires many things:

The voters must understand and care about freedom. Many don’t realize how much freedom we have lost, and many don’t care. If we can’t convince the voters how much freedom they have lost, where the trend is taking us, and how important it is, freedom is lost. I’m afraid apathy is the greatest threat to achieving the goal of freedom.

The voters must be informed enough to understand why and how we are losing our freedom, so they can engage intelligently in the process of reversing the trend.

Voters must think critically enough to see through politicians’ waffling and promises and lies, and discount the bias of the media and pundits.
Voters must be focused enough on the issue of liberty to abandon party affiliation and bogus issues to vote for candidates who will focus on freedom.

Members of the Supreme Court who ignore the Constitution in their decisions must be impeached. This court is the last bastion of freedom in the government. Test cases should be devised to reverse old decisions which violated the Constitution and stole our freedom.

We must impeach the president every time he exceeds his Constitutional powers. In the past century, they have all done it. Now it is routine.

Once we have enough freedom minded men in office, Congress should repeal thousands of laws which have chipped away at our freedom through the last 200+ years. This will mean shutting down scores of Federal Bureaus.

Easy? No. Impossible? No. But not this year, nor even this decade. Possibly we could achieve it in a century, with some really dedicated people spreading the word, and inspiring the populace.

Such is the route to reforming our government. Truthfully, I doubt we’ll ever achieve it, because of voter apathy, and the very nature of government. Power corrupts. Deceiving apathetic voters is easy.

GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY

June 10, 2010

GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY
Just what is a nation? Is it the piece of land within some borders? Is it the people living therein? Or is it only the citizens therein? Is it the government of those people? What does citizenship mean?

I’m asking you to think from outside the box of the system we were all born into, and try to bring some insight into something so ingrained that we never really question it: the nature and purpose of government. I know that anarchy sounds scary, but anarchy is simply the absence of government. Thinking about anarchy could be a very powerful tool to understand government, and perhaps improve it.

From my perspective, government has always been an institution of power which enables some of us to use the rest of us, and to use the land, to their own benefit. A democracy or a republic is government which permits us some degree of choice of which bandits will “protect” us, just as the local mafia “protects” us. Democracy obliges politicians to offer us something in return for our votes. Usually we elect the ablest liars.

Conquest may clarify the relationship between people, land, and government. When we won the war with Mexico, the USA acquired what now comprises California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. The inhabitants came with the land, and became Americans. They had no choice in the matter. So do the people own their land or does the land own the people? It seems from this example that the government owns both the land and the people. Wars are fought between governments to determine which government shall own the disputed land and people therein.

Do we really own the land we buy? I believe not. If government can tax us for “owning” the land, then the government really owns the land and we are paying rent to the government for the privilege of using it. When we “buy” the land we are really just paying the former “owner” for the transfer of the privilege of renting it from the government.

Who really owns the land becomes even more apparent when the government uses the power of eminent domain to take the property from you, compensating you with whatever amount it considers fair. That’s generous of government, since it really owns that land already, and you are just renting it. Government is just terminating your lease.

Income tax implies government ownership of people, and of what they produce. I have had the personal experience of having to file income tax returns for 2 different countries every year for several years.

From 1979 to 2000, I was resident in Scotland. Then I returned to the USA. I retained my US citizenship throughout that period, but was officially resident in Britain. During all that time, I had to file income tax returns for both countries.

The USA and Britain have a tax treaty agreement. The country of residence (Britain) at the time of the tax has first claim on my income. The country of my citizenship (The USA) has a second claim. If the American tax calculated on my whole income for the year exceeds whatever I have paid to Britain, I owe the USA the difference.

From this I deduce that, as a US citizen, the US owns me, and while I’m resident in Britain, the US shares that ownership of me with Britain.

Absolute proof that government owns us is the conscription of soldiers in time of war. The USA used conscription in the Civil War, WW1, and WW2.

So here’s my analysis; a nation is a territory with set borders. The land and the people therein are the property of the government. Wars are simply struggles between governments to secure ownership of the land and people.

A Libertarian/Anarchist Approach

As a libertarian, and a tentative anarchist, I find the power of government to be the big problem. With government, the government is sovereign and we are its servants. In the free market, the consumer is sovereign. He chooses those who serve him.

To view government from an anarchist or libertarian perspective, lets assume that government is here to provide some essential services for us, its citizens. How could we get the benefit of these services, but avoid the coercive monopoly of government?

Let’s see how a free market approach could provide these services. The free market prohibits coercion, and that eliminates monopoly. Suppose we have competing governments competing to provide us with their services. Such governments could offer services paid for by fee per service, or by subscription. You choose the government that offers the best value for money.

If you are disappointed with your choice, you can shop for a better deal from another government. Or you might get one service from one government and another service from some other government. There would be no room for politics, just competition. Competing governments would have to be efficient and honest to get and keep customers/subscribers/citizens. Government would be your servant, not your master.

The term “government” would hardly be appropriate in such a situation. “Service Provider” might better describe the new role of government.

Anarchist proposals are similar to this but they tend to designate these servants as insurance companies. Individual companies might specialize in one service such as education or roadways. Some might provide groups of related services such as police, courts & prisons. An insurance company might insure your life, safety, & property in conjunction with providing home security measures and police services. A free market in the services that governments provide would give us many choices. Competition would assure value for money. Wasteful bureaucracies would disappear.

Under competing governments, you and I might subscribe to different governments. In any transaction between us, we should agree in advance which government shall be given authority in case of a dispute. The Anarchists have this sort of problem worked out in some detail. Such arrangements would probably give us arbitration courts independent of the other services of government. The free market always produces solutions to problems with variations to suit everyone. I suggest you read “Chaos Theory”, by Robert P Murphy, ($8 from Mises Bookstore)

NOT A CONSPIRACY

June 4, 2010

NOT A CONSPIRACY
When I talk about the interaction of government, lobbyists, cartels, and the unfree market, I’m not talking of conspiracy. All of these things happen as the result of the basic rule of Austrian economics; people act to satisfy their wants.

All of the problems of government intervention in the market result from this same basic rule. If people find that the easiest way to fill their wants is through the political route, they will use it.

Politicians find that the easiest way to get elected is to spend big money on TV Ads. The easiest way for a politician to get big money is to accept campaign contributions from corporations, unions, or lobbyists. Then they feel obliged to enable legislation favoring their contributors. That may sound corrupt and unprincipled, but it is legal, so it happens.

The basic root of the problem is simply the fact that government is power. Power does corrupt, and it attracts parasites. And government without power can hardly be called government.

In the USA in the 18th century, for whatever reasons, many people chose to be doctors. There were plenty of them, at least in the more settled areas away from the western frontiers. They were in competition with each other so they weren’t getting rich. Many of them, however, were not willing to accept the effect of supply & demand on their income.

They formed the American Medical Association (AMA) and set about lobbying congress for the powers they needed to limit the supply of doctors. Eventually they got the law passed and proceeded to close down most of the medical teaching schools and set rules and quotas for those remaining. In time they managed to reduce the number of doctors and greatly increase their incomes.

This was not a conspiracy cooked up in secret. It was a very open, legal creation, by government, of a cartel, or union, or guild, whatever you like to call it. The same thing occurs in any system involving licensing, be it lawyers or taxi drivers.

The involvement in government regulatory agencies of the industries the agencies are supposed to regulate is also the simple consequence of people seeking to fill their wants. They find that the political power of these agencies is the simplest path to create a cartel, get preferential treatment, and exclude competition.

It is so likely that any regulatory agency will be captured by those to be regulated that there should be no attempts to create such agencies. We would all be better served by government if all such existing agencies were shut down. Cartels, unions, and guilds benefit producers at the expense of consumers. Government regulators, instead of preventing this, end up enabling it.

FALLACY: WAR BRINGS PROSPERITY

May 15, 2010

FALLACY: WAR BRINGS PROSPERITY
Yes, it does, to a very few. Perhaps I was one of them, for I worked for years designing military electronics. To the rest of us, it can only reduce our prosperity. War is destruction. Bullets, bombs, bombers, and warships use a lot of labor and materials, to kill and destroy, and be destroyed. All of this productive effort, labor, and material must be diverted from the civilian market and civilians must do without. Yes, in wartime everyone employable is employed, and making higher wages, but paying higher prices with the inflating currency. Everything is in short supply but money, so rationing doles out the limited supplies available. Real income is much reduced.
Certainly the men drafted into the armed forces have a much reduced lifestyle, with low pay and intervals of boredom, interspersed with plenty of violence, discomfort, danger, crippling injuries, and death.
NATIONAL SELF-SUFFICIENCY
When a nation takes action to make itself self sufficient, it should serve as a warning to other nations to expect an invasion. War is really the only reason for a nation to be self sufficient. Before World War 1 started, Germany stocked up on imported supplies, worked frantically to develop substitutes for critical materials, and then overran some adjacent territories which could supply some essential materials, “in order to be self sufficient”.
Specialization and trade bring us rich rewards, providing every person, city, state, and nation with things which others can produce better than they can. The wider the area of trade expands, the better off we all become. Self sufficiency can only reduce our wealth, because in each exchange, both parties profit. In the extreme case, where each person is self sufficient, trading with nobody else, we would again become hunter-gatherers, and most of us would starve to death, with those remaining living short lives in extreme hardship.

FEEDBACK

May 9, 2010

FEEDBACK
Hello, there,
Is anybody listening? I’ve had very little feedback and no real disagreement in comments to my blog entries. Is my blog too far out? Is it too bland? Or just plain boring? I’d appreciate any comments, but especially disagreement. Then I’d know if I’m getting my message over to you.
Wordpress.com gives me daily readings on how many “hits” are made on my blog. I may get 16 on an occasional good day but mostly 2 or 3 each day. So I haven’t captured much of an audience.
I feel that I have an urgent message to get out. Our free market is definitely not free. We are constantly being manipulated and robbed by government, partly on behalf of pressure groups, lobbyists, and campaign contributors, but mostly on behalf of politicians and bureaucrats. They have an insatiable craving for power. They intervene in the market in many ways, but the greatest intervention by far is the manipulation of our money supply.
When Ron Paul ran for the Republican Nomination for President, the biggest plank in his platform was to shut down the Federal Reserve System. Nobody out there had a clue as to what that was all about. Few Americans have had any schooling in economics. Of those who have studied it, nearly all were taught some form of fallacious Keynesian Economics. I think we all need to understand economics. It is vitally important to our freedom and the ultimate survival of humanity. The fundamentals of free market economics are really simple. Only the manipulations of government make for the weird convoluted, impenetrable economics of Keynes. Real (Austrian) economics could and should be taught in high school and even in grammar school.
If the market is not free, then we are not free. Please comment.

The Tax-Free Society

May 8, 2010

The Tax-Free Society
This is something that Libertarians consider seriously, and it deserves our serious consideration. The Anarchists propose to eliminate taxes, eliminate government and privatize all government functions. Libertarians propose to eliminate most of these functions, leaving a bare minimum of government. Of course these services incur costs and need financial support, but that would be paid, voluntarily, to one of competing corporations, by monthly subscription or fees per service. In many cases an insurance company might provide several of these services.
The immediate objection will be this: some people can’t afford to pay for these services. Must they then live without the safety and justice these services provide? I have 4 answers for that
First, charity is the only chance of survival for people who are really unable to provide for themselves. They must accept what charity, freely given, will provide for them. Any effort to force people to support others is a return to the welfare state and a violation of their freedom. It is in fact serfdom. My perception is that people are very charitable and in a tax free society the truly needy would be pretty well provided for.
Second, people who have very limited means can economically provide many of these services for themselves. With a burglar alarm system, a gun, and the ability to use it, you can protect your life, property, and family, and carry on guerrilla warfare (the most effective kind) against an invading army.
Third, we have the impression that the poor now don’t pay taxes. They do, and the sales tax, property tax, and stealth tax burden them more painfully than people who are better off. The welfare state is mostly a mirage, a trick with smoke and mirrors. A competitive system to provide them with the services they want would serve them better at much lower cost than the wasteful political system which serves us poorly at great cost.
Fourth, If you feel that you couldn’t afford to pay for those services, stop and think. Who do you think is paying for them now? You are, through your taxes. You’re also supporting a huge bureaucracy. A bureaucrat has very little incentive to give you good service. He has a secure job with good pay, lush fringe benefits and retirement pension, all because he has no competition.
You may believe that you pay in more than what you get out of the system (and that’s true for most of us). If that’s OK with you, then that’s a fine charitable attitude. But, honestly, if the tax were voluntary, would you contribute as much as you’re now paying?
Perhaps you would stop to consider that you’re contributing to things you don’t approve of. Private, voluntary charity gives you the option to choose which causes to support, an how much to contribute.. Private, competing service providers would give you the option to get only the services you want, and to select providers that give you the best value for cost.
Now consider all the people who pay their taxes unwillingly, because taxation is compulsory. Do you approve of serfdom?
On the other hand, you may believe that you pay less than what you get out of the system. You’re probably wrong, because you aren’t conscious of the stealth taxes and the taxes that you pay indirectly, such as the property tax on the home you rent, and corporate taxes which are passed on to you in the price of the goods and services you buy from them.
Nevertheless, supposing that you really profit from the welfare state, how do you feel about the fact that you live partly on money taken forcibly from others? Do you feel better about that than you would feel about being supported by voluntary charity? The government tries hard to convince you that you are entitled to these things. If so, who is obligated to provide your “entitlements”? The government doesn’t have the means, other than what it takes coercively from taxpayers.
So here we go. Here are suggestions of the ways we could provide essential services without taxes in a system of anarchy (no Government) with free market solutions:
POLICE PROTECTION
We have private police systems now. They serve us well. Without the corrupting protection of the political system, and the spur of competition, they must serve efficiently, respect our rights, and minimize violence. They could be financed by subscription, by fees per service, or through an insurance company which insures your security. Such police would not be obliged to protect non-payers.
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM: COURTS
The libertarians have some very interesting ideas here. Courts, and judges, would be private competitive organizations, paid a fee for their services. They would apply common law, which is well established and serves us well in civil lawsuits. They would mostly arbitrate between 2 parties. The parties would choose the court, and if they couldn’t agree on that, their 2 choices of courts would choose another court to settle the suit. The sentences would mainly consist of fines, with the “guilty” party paying court costs and reparation to the victim, NOT to the state.
PRISONS.
We now have privately operated prisons. Although they work for the government, they have proven more effective, safe, and efficient than government owned prisons.
The libertarians, however, prefer a system in which the criminal lives outside of prison, works to provide for his necessities and pay off his fine, and is prevented from “disappearing” by technical means such as a radio beacon or other surveillance, under the control of a private organization which guarantees his detention and behavior. He would be a slave until he pays his debt to his victim.
ARMED FORCES.
Private armies can be on call or created quickly by private competing organizations, strictly for self defense. An anarchic society wouldn’t be a desirable target for invasion, for there’s no government that they can take control of, and each resident would have to be conquered individually. For defense we wouldn’t need nuclear missiles or bombers. The armies could be financed by subscription or by the job, or through an insurance company which insures your security. Such armies would not be obliged to protect non-payers. Each member of society, in an emergency, could voluntarily serve as a guerrilla fighter to defend self, family, and property.
EDUCATION
All schools at all levels would be private competitive organizations. Costs would be paid by students, their families, or voluntary endowments. Scholarships are already a popular form of charity.
STREETS AND HIGHWAYS
Many Libertarians want this to involve private ownership of all streets and roads, paid for by tolls as with our present toll roads. I differ on this. I think that the ownership of a strip of land completely surrounding my land, (as the streets do) is an absolute monopoly which could make me virtually the slave of the owner of that land. The only solution I can see would involve severe limitations of the ownership of that land which would assure me of reasonable access to the rest of the world. Perhaps roads would be built on the fringes of my property and yours, under lease with the stipulation that we shall have reasonable access to this road and the connecting system of roads.