Don’t Blame the Bureaucrat

--Last week, you might recall, we wrote a letter to the democratic socialist titled, aptly, Dear Democratic Socialist.

And it was a hit!

With your help, on our Facebook page alone it was shared, upon writing, 259 times.

We wrote the letter because most people who call themselves “democratic socialists” have, we noticed, two obvious attributes:

1] They are hyper-sensitive about social issues.

Which is certainly not always a bad thing. Unless, of course, mixed with number two…

2] Unversed in basic economics, how wealth is created and how living standards are raised.

Meme

Armed with even a little bit of economic knowledge, we reckoned, the democratic socialist is more likely to see why the only fair is laissez-faire.

The only faire is Laissez-Faire

They will, we believe, see how to treat the disease rather than screaming that someone needs to cure all the symptoms (without a clear and viable plan to do so, we should add).

They’ll see how taking other people’s money by force is not the “cure-all” that fixes society’s ills. And instead, only tends to cause resentment, division and more poverty. (A full century of failed policies should’ve proven this point, but who cares about facts when it’s other people’s money, amiright!?)

And, finally, they’ll see that government is not the “great leveler” it’s made out to be.

One needs only to take a step back from identifying with the circus to see that, in the end, intentionally or not, our government has only served to turn us against one another for its own selfish benefit.

No matter who wins the White House, we can count on two things as certainties: The government will grow and “the other half” will be pissed off.

What’s at root of this problem? Well, it seems that a good chunk of America blames the voluntary marketplace (the free market) for problems that are clearly created by meddling bureaucrats and central planners.

The government, they say, hasn’t protected us enough from the horrifyingly volatile world of grocery lists, laundromats and coffee shops. Market failures, they conclude without much supporting evidence, are to blame.

The free Market Meme

Why, you ask, do many millennials think we need a grandparent figure to watch over the shoulder of capitalism?

Hmm. We wonder…

Capitalism Meme

For example, here’s a response we received to our Dear Democratic Socialist article from, we suppose, a democratic socialist.

It’s a comment from Daniele C., who, unfortunately, is but a microcosm of what America has come to believe about the free market.

She wrote:

Daniele CXXXXXX: This sounds like 1920s America, when free market meant absolutely no antitrust laws, no anti-monopoly laws, no laws regulating commodities trading to keep costs of staple food items affordable, no laws keeping deadly sweatshops from bringing the only employment available for most, no laws preventing child labor.

Aaah, those were the golden days before the completely unregulated market and completely unregulated lending industry sent our economy into a depression so powerful that the government had to become the primary source of jobs for everyone until a world war made the government the primary customer for large employers.

Laissez Faire proponents never seem to read and apply Theory of Moral Sentiments before they start talking about Wealth of Nations theory. How can you possibly expect economic liberty in a system that requires sociopathy in order to succeed?

It takes a special kind of morality to pick profit over people and, no matter how moral a business owner is, the market will inevitably force that person to pick money over being a good human being because centuries have proven that capitalism has a single moral compass: profit.

And that moral compass is why sociopathy is rewarded. If it were not, then why are people going to bed hungry in this country? Why are people in this country unable to drink tap water with getting sick — which, by the way they still have to pay for and would have absolutely no recourse in a free market system which, time has proven, would have all of necessities of life dominated by monopolies and trusts so there would be no choice to purchase tap water elsewhere.

The free market is a destructive economic system. It is not a liberating system.

We’re going to respond to her directly in tomorrow’s episode. If you want to take a crack at debunking any of her points (there are plenty to go around for everyone), send it over to us at Chris@lfb.org.

Stay tuned for that tomorrow. In the meantime, we have something else for you to chew on…

Over the weekend, we picked up a book edited by Llewellyn Rockwell titled, The Economics of Liberty. Today, we’ll feature a favorite essay from the book from Rockwell himself.

There’s still light at the end of this dark tunnel. And, today, Rockwell will reveal a hint on how to find it — and how to fight “the great enemy of our time, the Leviathan State.”

Read on…

Our Tentative Economic Freedoms

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, The Economics of Liberty

Despite the vast U.S. government intervention into our economy, which Ludwig von Mises called “a method of bringing about socialism by successive measures,” we are still relatively free. But this sort of system, as Mises also noted, is inherently unstable.

It must always be moving either towards or away from omnipotent government. And the bipartisan ease with which U.S. government spending and regulating keep growing demonstrates where we’re moving, and why our remaining freedoms have an uncertain future.

As the Founders of our country knew, freedom can only be securely grounded on inalienable rights. At the very least, a free economy means the right to liberty and property — not as contingent or subject to government defined duties or responsibilities — but as absolute. But since these rights are no longer secure in America, our economic freedom is tentative, subject to revocation at government caprice.

The institution of private property has been most subverted, beginning with the income-tax amendment of 1913, which contains no legal barrier to the government’s confiscating all American income. Only public opinion stands in the way.

The great libertarian Frank Chodorov called the income-tax amendment the “Revolution of 1913” that undid the “Revolution of 1789.”

Said Chodorov: “No measure in the history of our country has caused a comparable disregard of principle in public affairs.” And indeed the amendment undermines our property rights, as does the power of local governments to seize homes, businesses, and farms for non-payment of property taxes.

Another culprit is the Federal Reserve System and its legal monopoly on counterfeiting. The Fed is empowered to inflate without limit, since the courts ignore the monetary clauses of the Constitution. When the Fed uses its inflationary power, it engages in mass thievery, which weakens private property and economic freedom. As Henry Hazlitt notes, “Inflation is an immoral act on the part of the government.”

Yet despite its immorality, the Fed enjoys prestige and economic legitimacy. Thanks to decades of disinformation, most people believe that central banking is a barrier to inflation. Of course, as Hazlitt says, despite government’s attempt to portray inflation as “some evil visitation from without,” it is “the result of deliberate government policy.”

With the income tax and the Federal Reserve, the president and the Congress can seize enough of our money to finance socialized medicine, socialized daycare, environmentalism, the drug war, or any other interventionist project.

So much for private property. But what about economic liberty?

In America, no private enterprise is free from bureaucratic coercion. To a shocking extent, our regulatory masters exercise unchecked and autonomous power. Under existing law, no industry is safe from nationalization by presidential edict. No piece of land is immune from the government’s power of eminent domain. The drug war and RICO have institutionalized the government’s power to seize any property it deems ill-gotten, not only before conviction in a court of law but even before an indictment. Our right to work is merely contingent, subject to revocation by the legislature and the courts.

Under this system, said Albert Jay Nock, the “Individual has no rights that the State is bound to respect: no rights at all, in fact, except those which the State may choose to give him, subject to revocation at its own pleasure, with or without notice. There is no such thing as natural rights; the fundamental doctrine of the American Declaration of Independence, the doctrine underlying the Bill of Rights, is all moonshine.”

Moreover, the government immunizes itself from responsibility for its failures. For example, the Great Society — and its counterparts in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Kinder-Gentler administrations — have created and sustained an urban underclass.

In the name of helping that underclass, the government has destroyed the core values, families, and communities of two generations. The result, after piles of money spent on government and its friends to “fight poverty,” is a holocaust of no-go zones where drugs, child abuse, prostitution, and illegitimacy are the norm; government schools promote immorality: entrepreneurship is outlawed; and brute criminals run free.

But no one blames the bureaucrats. “Since the State creates all rights,” said Nock, “and since the only valid and authoritative ethics are State ethics, then by obvious inference, the State can do no wrong.”

Despite the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, let alone the traditions of Western civilization, the state does indeed view itself as the source of rights, only to be dribbled out if its subjects fulfill their alleged duties or responsibilities to society (by which is almost always meant the government). We have all been indoctrinated to accept this view, at least since Woodrow Wilson and the “Progressive” Era.

The correct view was stated by the great conservative libertarian Frank S. Meyer, co-founder of National Review: the rights of human beings “are not the gift of some Leviathan” and the duties of human beings are not “tribute owed to Leviathan.”

Only when the absolute rights of liberty and property are again recognized will our economic freedom be secure.

That is why our energies must be focused not only on teaching economic truth, but also on fighting what Meyer called “the great enemy of our time, the Leviathan state.”

Regards,

Llewellyn Rockwell
Founder, Ludwig von Mises Institute

P.S. You can download The Economics of Liberty for free at the Mises website here.

Chris Campbell

Written By Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell is the Managing editor of Laissez Faire Today. Before joining Agora Financial, he was a researcher and contributor to SilverDoctors.com.