You’ve heard it before: “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” But is it true? Chris Campbell debunks this fallacy. In fact, “If you vote,” he says, “you have no right to complain.” Read on…
In times of uncertainty and stress, outlandish claims are a dime a dozen. For example, the accusation that Laissez Faire Today is part of the Illuminati and “suppressing the truth” about Ebola. In response to this charge, Chris Campbell dives down the rabbit hole and gives the conspiracy narrative some limelight. Read on…
There are two things you shouldn’t do this Election Day: one, vote; two, buy gold. Why? Chris Campbell explores this and more in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
You should be celebrating the coming Syrian war and Ebola. After all, they’re set to stimulate the economy, no? Chris Campbell explores this insane paradigm and uncovers what would happen if the government got out of the way. Read on…
Is your government too big? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today with six “red flags” to look out for. Chris Campbell covers everything from one ObamaCare whistleblower to the strange case of our new Ebola czar. Read on…
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Is Democracy really all its cracked up to be? Does Hong Kong really need it? That’s the question Chris Campbell ponders today as he observes the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has enjoyed low taxes, free business and trade, and high social freedom without our favored system of governing.
One CIA insider visited our Baltimore HQ yesterday. While here, he leaked 30 potential events to cause the next financial avalanche. Even more, he also gave us several ways everyday Americans can thrive because of these events. Why did he impart so much valuable information? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Instead of letting you choose, the government has found it fit to force one potentially dangerous medication on you and your family. Where is it? In your drinking water. Even more outrageous: While Uncle Sam forces medication down your throat, he also says you have no right to choose your own milk. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
ISIS’ spokesperson is a kid from Calgary who wants to “paint the White House black.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell asks one question none of the “officials” seem to care to ask: Why? Why are foreigners flocking to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS? Why is Saudi Arabia so keen on getting involved? How far does Obama really want to go? Find out inside. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
When Obama first announced U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, most people have no idea that it was to destroy U.S. military equipment in the hands of ISIS. How did ISIS get U.S. weapons? Chris Campbell blows the story wide open in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Every 37 seconds, an American is arrested and criminalized because of one racist and ridiculous law. Join Chris Campbell as he takes you back to when marijuana became illegal… why it’s hurting America… and why you should fight to end the prohibition. And it’s not so you can smoke it. Read on…
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
Think it’s impossible to escape Obamacare? Think again. Laissez Faire Today reader David F. shares how he did it and how you can do it too. Don’t see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story. Read on…
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
There are many theories to explain government. Most are nothing but scams, justifications, and puffery. One tries to put something over on the common man… the other claims it was for his own good… and the third pretends that he’d be lost without it.
Most are not really “theories” at all… but prescriptions, blueprints for creating the kind of government the “theorist” would like to have. Not surprisingly, the blueprints flatter his intellect and engage his imagination.
The “social contract,” for example, is a fraud. You can’t have a contract unless you have two willing and able parties. They must come together in a meeting of the minds — a real agreement about what they are going to do together.
But what is the “social contract” with government? There was never a meeting of the minds. The deal was forced on the public. And now imagine that you want out. Can you simply “break the contract”? You refuse to pay your taxes and refuse to be bossed around by TSA agents and other government employees. How long will it be before you are put in jail?
What kind of contract is it that you don’t agree to and can’t get out of? They can dress it up… print out a piece of paper… have a solemn ceremony in which everyone pretends it is a real contract. But it’s not worth the paper it’s not written on.
Also, what kind of a contract allows for one party to unilaterally change the terms of the deal? Congress passes new laws almost every day. The bureaucracy issues new edicts. The tax system is changed. The pound of flesh they got already wasn’t enough; now they want a pound and a half!
Here are the critical questions: Why do we let other people tell us what to do; are we not all equal? What is the purpose of government? What does it cost, and what benefits does it confer?
The Metaphor Doesn’t Work
A theory should explain something without reference to something else. That is, a metaphor doesn’t work. It’s just a description. If you say that government is a kind of “social contract,” you are merely describing how it seems to you… or what you think it might be comparable to.
Let’s try a simpler insight: Government is a natural phenomenon, an expression of power relationships, in which some people seek to dominate others by force. These dominators gather “insiders” together so that they can take money, power and status away from other people, the “outsiders.”
Many people think that government provides some service. That is true, but it is incidental. Governments often deliver the mail. But they don’t have to. They would still be governments even if they didn’t control the postal service.
And what if they didn’t have a department of inland fisheries, or a program to teach Democrats to count to 20? They would still be in the government business… and still have their helicopters, chauffeurs and expense accounts.
But if they lost control of the police or the army, it would be an entirely different matter. Force is the essence of government, not a decorative detail. Without armies and police, they would no longer be governments, but voluntary associations like the Kiwanis Club or the Teamsters union.
Government Is a Fact
In 2012, the U.S. faced a major presidential election. Several men and women came forward offering to take charge of the U.S. government. What exactly were they going to take charge of?
Government is a fact. It exists. It is as common as stomach gas. It is as ubiquitous as lice and as inescapable as vanity. But what is it? Why is it? And what has it become?
We know very little about the actual origins of government. All we know, and this from the archeological records, is that one group often conquered another. There are skeletons more than 100,000 years old showing the kind of head wounds that you get from fighting.
We presume this meant that “government” changed. Whoever had been in charge was chased out or murdered. Then someone else was in charge.
Tribal groups, or even family groups for that matter, probably had “chiefs.” They could have been little more than bullies… or perhaps respected elders.
Programmed by Evolution
Over the millennia, there were probably as many different examples of primitive “government” as there were tribes. Some elected their leaders. Some may have chosen them randomly, for all we know. Many probably simply conferred leadership by consensus. Some probably had no identifiable leaders at all. But it seems to be a characteristic of the human race that some people want to be in charge… and many people want someone to be in charge of them.
In adversity, there was probably an advantage to having a leader. Hunts were often collective enterprises. There were also group decisions to be made… about how food was stored or rationed out, for example… that would affect the survival of the whole group. Under attack from another group, a strong, able leader could make the difference between life and death.
We can guess that people enter into leader/follower roles today because they are programmed for it by evolution. Those who can’t or won’t be… well, perhaps they died out many millennia ago.
We don’t have to look back to the last glacial period to see what happens in small political units. We can see them today. They are all around us. Every church has its governing board. Every community has some form of government. Every corporation… group… club… every place where humans get together seems to develop rules and power relationships.
Leaders arise. Informal groups typically yield to the strong personality. Juries try to control it. Families resist it. Dinner parties try to avoid it.
But that’s just the way it is. Some people seek to dominate. Others like being dominated.
Trouble is, there is usually more than one person or one group that wants to do the dominating. This leads to conflict. Treachery. Murder. Rivalry. And elections. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re talking about the origins of government and trying to guess what they were like.
A Matter of Scale
On a small scale, we conclude, governments are both extremely variable in form… and extremely limited in scope. That is, how much governing can you get away with in a small group? Not much. You can boss people around, but they won’t take too much bossing. And there is always a rival bosser who is ready to topple the big boss if he should lose his popular support.
In a tribal setting, we imagine that the strongest, fiercest warrior might have been able to set himself up as the governing authority. But he could be stabbed in the back as he slept… or even shot with an arrow in a “hunting accident.” Even in the best of circumstances, his reign wouldn’t last much longer than his own strength would.
In a small town, government proceeds tolerably well. There is not much distance between governors and the governed. The latter know where the former live… and how they live… and how little difference there is between them. If the governors overreach, they are likely to find themselves beaten in the next election… or in the middle of the street.
But as the scale increases… as the distance between the governed and the governors increases… and as the institutional setting grows and ages… government becomes a bigger deal. More formal. More powerful. It can begin governing more grandly.
Higher up on the Ladder
The first large-scale, long-term government we know about was in Egypt. After the unification of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms in about 3,150 B.C., the Dynastic Period began. It continued for two millennia, not ending until the Romans conquered Egypt in 30 B.C.
We don’t know exactly how government worked during those many centuries, but we know that a theory of government arose out of them. At the time, it was not considered a theory at all, but a fact. The ruler was divine. A god.
As a theory, it is a good one. It answers the question: Why should you take orders from another human being? In Ancient Egypt, the question didn’t arise. Because Pharaoh was not another human being. He was something else.
Precisely what he was… or what people thought he was… is not clear. But the archeological record shows that he was treated as though he were at least a step or two higher up on the ladder than the rest of us. If not a full god, he was at least a demigod… on the mezzanine between Earth and heaven.
Article originally posted here.