Capitalism Facilitates Mutual Aid
Capitalism Facilitates Mutual Aid. It Can’t Be Dismissed as “Selfish Materialism” by David Gordon
Many people criticize the free market as “materialistic”; it reduces everything to monetary values. Murray Rothbard analyzes this charge against the free market, and in this week’s column, I’d like to consider his distinct perspective. He first sets the stage:
One of the most common charges levelled against the free market (even by many of its friends) is that it reflects and encourages unbridled “selfish materialism” Even if the free market—unhampered capitalism—best furthers man’s “material” ends, critics argue, it distracts man from higher ideals. It leads man away from spiritual or intellectual values and atrophies any spirit of altruism.
Rothbard answers this criticism in a striking way. He says that money is just a means, not an end. People seek money to get whatever they want, but the ends people have need not be “selfish” or “materialistic.” It’s up to each person to decide that for himself. He says,
In the first place, there is no such thing as an “economic end.” Economy is simply a process of applying means to whatever ends a person may adopt. An individual can aim at any ends he pleases, “selfish” or “altruistic.” Other psychic factors being equal, it is to everyone’s self-interest to maximize his monetary income on the market. But this maximum income can then be used for “selfish” or for “altruistic” ends. Which ends people pursue is of no concern to the praxeologist. A successful businessman can use his money to buy a yacht or to build a home for destitute orphans. The choice rests with him. But the point is that whichever goal he pursues, he must first earn the money before he can attain the goal.
An objection that might occur to you is that some people take it as their goal to make as much money as they can. They don’t want the money to buy other things: they just want more and more money. But Rothbard could answer this by saying that this is just another goal. The free market doesn’t tell people to pursue it.
Rothbard next turns to what I regard as his best point. Suppose you think that people ought to devote themselves totally to serving others: they ought to be complete altruists. Rothbard, I hasten to add, doesn’t hold this view. But, he says, even if you do hold this position, you should still support the market, People who make money in the free market are those who best satisfy consumers. If you want to help others, then, you should try to make as much money as you can. The contemporary “effective altruism” movement has accepted this argument, or a variant of it, although I doubt they got it from Rothbard. People in this movement think that you should try to get a high-paying job so that you can donate what you make to others.
Rothbard explains his argument in this way:
Whichever moral philosophy we adopt—whether altruism or egoism—we cannot criticize the pursuit of monetary income on the market. If we hold an egoistic social ethic, then obviously we can only applaud the maximization of monetary income, or of a mixture of monetary and other psychic income, on the market. There is no problem here. However, even if we adopt an altruistic ethic, we must applaud maximization of monetary income just as fervently. For market earnings are a social index of one’s services to others, at least in the sense that any services are exchangeable. The greater a man’s income, the greater has been his service to others. Indeed, it should be far easier for the altruist to applaud the maximization of a man’s monetary income than that of his psychic income when this is in conflict with the former goal. Thus, the consistent altruist must condemn the refusal of a man to work at a job paying high wages and his preference for a lower-paying job somewhere else. This man, whatever his reason, is defying the signaled wishes of the consumers, his fellows in society.
If, then, a coal miner shifts to a more pleasant, but lower-paying, job as a grocery clerk, the consistent altruist must castigate him for depriving his fellowman of needed benefits. For the consistent altruist must face the fact that monetary income on the market reflects services to others, whereas psychic income is a purely personal, or “selfish,” gain.
As I mentioned, Rothbard isn’t adopting altruistic ethics. To the contrary, he rejects them. He points out that a consistent altruist would have to reject the pursuit of leisure. If you rest from work, you are depriving others of time you could spend helping them. Rothbard uses this point to criticize W.H. Hutt’s version of consumer sovereignty, but the point applies also to contemporary altruists such as Peter Singer.
This analysis applies directly to the pursuit of leisure. Leisure, as we have seen, is a basic consumers’ good for mankind. Yet the consistent altruist would have to deny each worker any leisure at all—or, at least, deny every hour of leisure beyond what is strictly necessary to maintain his output. For every hour spent in leisure reduces the time a man can spend serving his fellows.
The consistent advocates of “consumers’ sovereignty” would have to favor enslaving the idler or the man who prefers following his own pursuits to serving the consumer. Rather than scorn pursuit of monetary gain, the consistent altruist should praise the pursuit of money on the market and condemn any conflicting nonmonetary goals a producer may have—whether it be dislike for certain work, enthusiasm for work that pays less, or a desire for leisure. Altruists who criticize monetary aims on the market, therefore, are wrong on their own terms.
Rothbard makes another brilliant point. He says that the free market deals with goods that are exchangeable but that these don’t have to be material goods. But if people keep trying to get exchangeable goods, the marginal utility of such goods falls. This means that the marginal utility of nonexchangeable goods increases. In other words, the development of the market economy makes the pursuit of these goods more valuable. The free market doesn’t deter people from pursuing nonexchangeable goods but, in time, makes it more likely that people will seek them.
The charge of “materialism” is also fallacious. The market deals, not necessarily in “material” goods, but in exchangeable goods. It is true that all “material” goods are exchangeable (except for human beings themselves), but there are also many nonmaterial goods exchanged on the market. A man may spend his money on attending a concert or hiring a lawyer, for example, as well as on food or automobiles. There is absolutely no ground for saying that the market economy fosters either material or immaterial goods; it simply leaves every man free to choose his own pattern of spending … an advancing market economy satisfies more and more of people’s desires for exchangeable goods. As a result, the marginal utility of exchangeable goods tends to decline over time, while the marginal utility of nonexchangeable goods increases. In short, the greater satisfaction of “exchangeable” values confers a much greater marginal significance on the “nonexchangeable” values. Rather than foster “material” values, then, advancing capitalism does just the opposite.
In his analysis, Rothbard applies a tactic he frequently uses, to devastating effect. He takes an argument he opposes and shows it leads to the opposite conclusion its proponents draw from it.
“He says that money is just a means, not an end.“
Expanding the Kingdom of God – and raising your own family, the building blocks of the Kingdom of God – takes money.
It is theft to merely steal this money from others via taxes. And it is very unwise to become dependent on an organization or a rich man for funding.
We must earn the capital we need, to expand the Kingdom of God. This means starting and building great, profitable, successful businesses. Or at least, being a successful professional, be that a skilled & professional HVAC installer/repairman, or a skilled and professional system engineer.
“A successful businessman can use his money to buy a yacht or to build a home for destitute orphans. The choice rests with him.”
This is biblically correct: the money is in your hand, and you – as God’s liege, God’s vassal, God’s servant – decide what to do with it. The State is not God: it has no God-given right to tell you what to do with your own money, or your own property.
The Biblical tithe is 10%. If that successful businessman spent that 10% on a variety of Kingdom-building endeavours – maybe orphanages, maybe Christian legal defence groups, maybe missionaries, maybe drilling clean water wells in Uganda, maybe at his local church – and spent some of the rest on a yacht, that is perfectly fine with God.
Pay your tithe. As God’s representative and servant, His Priest and His King, you decide where that tithe money goes. And God will hold you to account.
As for the other 90%: there are restrictions on that too, but far more loose. Just don’t break the law with it: booze and gambling are unwise, but not Biblically banned (but no drunkard will enter the Kingdom of God, though). Adultery is explicitly banned, though.
I Corinthians 6:9-20, ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Not “hate your body”, but “glorify God with your body.”
Back to Rothbard via Gordon:
“Suppose you think that people ought to devote themselves totally to serving others: they ought to be complete altruists. Rothbard, I hasten to add, doesn’t hold this view. But, he says, even if you do hold this position, you should still support the market, People who make money in the free market are those who best satisfy consumers. If you want to help others, then, you should try to make as much money as you can. The contemporary “effective altruism” movement has accepted this argument, or a variant of it, although I doubt they got it from Rothbard. People in this movement think that you should try to get a high-paying job so that you can donate what you make to others.”
I don’t think that most people should devote themselves totally to serving others (although some may be directed by God to take this path). A 10% tithe (after taxes) is fine: God does not need 90% – or 100% – of your earnings.
That being said: the Christian who totally wants to devote himself to serving others should, indeed, press to be the best worker/businessman he can be. Ethically, as well as in service, as well as in handling money.
For most, though, building a Godly, Just, and Compassionate family and raising the children in the fear and admonition of God (instead of powerful politicians and their snake-scale smooth promises of Free Stuff) is the way to go.
Build the future. Help the children choose the right way for them to expand the Kingdom, and give them the tools, advice, and love they need to win for Christ, while crushing the serpent under their heels.
Good and hard.
“If, then, a coal miner shifts to a more pleasant, but lower-paying, job as a grocery clerk, the consistent altruist must castigate him for depriving his fellowman of needed benefits. For the consistent altruist must face the fact that monetary income on the market reflects services to others, whereas psychic income is a purely personal, or “selfish,” gain.”
The man, he’s got a point.
“In other words, the development of the market economy makes the pursuit of these goods more valuable. The free market doesn’t deter people from pursuing nonexchangeable goods but, in time, makes it more likely that people will seek them.”
The more you are earning, the more you can give without any kind of painful pocket pinch.
We need lots and lots of business-canny Christian businessmen who build businesses with plenty of happy customers, and with the kind of profits to financially shove the Power-Hungry, Law-hating Establishments and Guilds back down the hellhole they crawled out of.
I prefer the economic power of persuasion, to the political power of badges and guns. Unarmed – but creative, entrepreneurial, and fearless – Christians won the battle against Rome, and they can do it again against today’s self-worshipping Caesars.
Note that I still prefer my Christians armed for self-defence… a lesson Marxists and Muslims will joyfully remind us of if we choose to forget it.
Our lives are valuable. And we have the Biblical right to defend innocent life – including our own! – with lethal violence against the criminal.
Even so… the battle for public opinion is to be won by persuasion and facts, science and logic and proof. Unlike the Progressives, we don’t need to use the force of the State – men with guns – to silence our opponents, as we have better logic, better proofs, and speak the truth.
Th sword that Christ carries comes from His mouth – His tongue, His cutting and commanding Law-Word – and is not a weapon in His hand. His Truth, His Law-Word, is the weapon that will conquer the world.
Hebrews 4:12, ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Revelations 19:11-16 ESV
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Amen, and Amen.
One more thing: God’s Word is not only cutting and commanding, but also creative: the Light of Truth blazed forth because He declared it.
Genesis 1:3, ESV
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
John 1:1-3, ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Amen, and Amen!
Blesses be those who love the Lord, and obey His Word!
As for His enemies?
Let them wail and gnash their teeth in the dark.
Christianity and the Development of Human Capital: Challenging the Narratives
Christianity and the Development of Human Capital: Challenging the Narratives by Lipton Matthews
Undeniably, the advent of Christianity has fundamentally transformed the world. But this startling fact has been obscured by thinkers eager to depict Christianity as a backward religion that derailed progress. The conventional narrative suggests that Christianity is an archaic religion responsible for thwarting science in the Middle Ages and delaying the transmission of human capital. However, modern research has provided a corrective to these falsehoods by illustrating that Christianity was instrumental in enabling the acquisition of human capital in Europe and the developing world.
Many universities during the medieval ages bore the imprint of Christian scholars, especially the University of Salamanca. Medievalist Edward Grant posits that the medieval university encouraged students to engage in a rigorous analysis of classical texts and that religion and natural philosophy were studied separately, since natural philosophers were not expected to invoke religion as an explanation when discussing secular controversies. Moreover, contrary to popular orthodoxy, the predominant belief in the medieval era was that the earth was round rather than flat. The fable of the flat earth was promulgated by writers like Washington Irving and John Draper.
The evidence reveals that rather than inhibiting intellectual progress, Christians jump-started the human capital revolution. According to one study, the early development of the Netherlands is traceable to the efforts of the Brethren of the Common Life in the fifteenth century. Promoting literacy was crucial to the missionary project of the BCL because believers needed to be literate in order to comprehend the Bible. Also, by adopting a socially inclusive approach to religion, the BCL succeeded in transmitting education to the masses.
Another important point is that the BCL emphasized individual responsibility and facilitated the accumulation of human capital by advocating book production. In the cities where the BCL were active, their project resulted in higher literacy rates and faster population growth during 1400–1560. Unsurprisingly, education made citizens more enlightened and likely to demand accountability from the political establishment, and this possibly explains why cities with a higher concentration of BCL members were likely to support the Dutch Revolt in 1572.
In Germany, Bible reading similarly became the norm in primary schools due to the influence of the Pietists. The premium religious movements placed on literacy played an instrumental role in the advent of mass literacy and the acquisition of human capital. Reassessments of Weber’s theory of the Protestant work ethic have demonstrated that Protestantism is linked to economic growth through the human capital channel.
Protestantism implored believers to obtain a decent education that would equip them to interpret the Bible, yet indirectly this also fostered critical thinking by stimulating demand for secular knowledge. Sascha Becker and Ludger Woessmann unpack the implications of the Protestant Reformation in a landmark study:
As an unintended side effect of Luther’s exhortation that everyone be able to read the Gospel, Protestants acquired literacy skills that functioned as human capital in the economic sphere…. The Protestant Reformation had very long-lived economic consequences, spanning several centuries. Protestantism led to substantially higher literacy, which in turn led to economic progress.
Likewise, there is also supporting evidence that Christianity aided in the prosperity of the developing world. Robert Woodberry opines that in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, “Protestant missionaries initiated mass education, printing, newspapers, civil society, and colonial reform movements and they inculcated democratic skills through churches, church synods, and ecumenical conferences.” Missionaries served as a countervailing force to the authority of colonial settlers, who were committed to undercutting black entrepreneurship.
They introduced formal schooling and updated farming techniques to ameliorate the living standards of black Africans. With the assistance of missionaries, a black middle class emerged that threatened white settlers. Woodberry shows how these settlers impeded the progress of black entrepreneurs:
As black businesses and farms began to undercut white establishments and as more blacks began passing the educational and economic requirements for voting, whites instituted a series of new laws to diminish the quality of African education, to restrict black land ownership, to undermine the competitiveness of black businesses, and to raise the requirements for voting. These laws designated most of the best land for white use only and confiscated many farms blacks had already purchased by designating the area for whites only…. Thus, white settlers actively undermined the development of a black middle class, preferring a system of poor blacks and wealthy whites.
Can you imagine how successful black entrepreneurs would have been if the efforts of missionaries had not been sabotaged by racists?
The literature on the effects of Protestantism is extensive, and it complements newer studies refuting the assertion that Catholicism is incompatible with human capital formation. A recent study by Felipe Valencia Caicedo avers that today educational attainment in Guaraní areas where the Jesuits conducted activities is still 10–15 percent higher than in abandoned mission areas and even Franciscan mission areas. Another crucial finding is that the Jesuits promoted technical education, thus directly fostering the accumulation of human capital. So, again we see that Christians were actually intellectual pioneers.
The involvement of the state in education is quite recent, and for most of history, education was sponsored by philanthropists and Christians; therefore, without the intervention of Christian activists, educational standards in the West would be lower. So, whenever critics argue that Christianity retarded development, we ought to remind them that Christianity is largely responsible for the human capital revolution.
“According to one study, the early development of the Netherlands is traceable to the efforts of the Brethren of the Common Life in the fifteenth century. Promoting literacy was crucial to the missionary project of the BCL because believers needed to be literate in order to comprehend the Bible. Also, by adopting a socially inclusive approach to religion, the BCL succeeded in transmitting education to the masses.”
Don’t wait for the mystical-magical, never-to-arrive-day, when your pastor – or any other Anointed Religious Professional – will take this advice and put it to work.
Do it yourself… and get the blessings from God poured onto YOUR head.
“The workman is worth his wages.”
And God ACTS.
“In Germany, Bible reading similarly became the norm in primary schools due to the influence of the Pietists. The premium religious movements placed on literacy played an instrumental role in the advent of mass literacy and the acquisition of human capital. Reassessments of Weber’s theory of the Protestant work ethic have demonstrated that Protestantism is linked to economic growth through the human capital channel.”
I can’t believe that those Pietists ever were worthy servants. It is astonishing to discover.
It’s about as impossible as having a bunch of White Pinko Socialists – instead of actual White Conservative Christians – push for the freedom of Black America.
(Especially as it was those Democratic Progressives who brought Jim Crow up into a a national scale!)
Life goes down strange roads, sometimes.
“Likewise, there is also supporting evidence that Christianity aided in the prosperity of the developing world. Robert Woodberry opines that in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, “Protestant missionaries initiated mass education, printing, newspapers, civil society, and colonial reform movements and they inculcated democratic skills through churches, church synods, and ecumenical conferences.” Missionaries served as a countervailing force to the authority of colonial settlers, who were committed to undercutting black entrepreneurship.
They introduced formal schooling and updated farming techniques to ameliorate the living standards of black Africans. With the assistance of missionaries, a black middle class emerged that threatened white settlers. Woodberry shows how these settlers impeded the progress of black entrepreneurs […]
“These laws designated most of the best land for white use only and confiscated many farms blacks had already purchased by designating the area for whites only…. Thus, white settlers actively undermined the development of a black middle class, preferring a system of poor blacks and wealthy whites.”
Can you imagine how successful black entrepreneurs would have been if the efforts of missionaries had not been sabotaged by racists?”
Right-wing humanism easily trumps the explicit Word of God, in the eyes of many conservatives.
“Blood and Soil!”
“Me and Mine!”
“Tribe above Law, above Justice, above God Himself!”
God saw, and allowed the theft in the first half of the 20th century, in return for the breaking of the British Empire — and, less obviously but more destructively, arranging for the decline of the British people, by their own choice and their own hand.
(White Conservative Americans would be wise to take note.
Blood’n’Soil Black Conservatives, too…)
The British would have been best served by forgetting about Empire in the first place: just send the missionaries who are willing to work in order to win.
(Even at this very day, the Americans would benefit with the same switch.)
If Empire it had to be, though, that Empire had better hew close to the Law of God if it plans to be a benefit and a glory to the world, and not a cost and a shame.
“The involvement of the state in education is quite recent, and for most of history, education was sponsored by philanthropists and Christians; therefore, without the intervention of Christian activists, educational standards in the West would be lower. So, whenever critics argue that Christianity retarded development, we ought to remind them that Christianity is largely responsible for the human capital revolution.”
Spelling out the obvious that is mysteriously not mentioned in either the denominational churches, or in the Ivy League universities.
And certainly NOT the Public Schools!
That unified, highly selective silence…
A Truly American Dream
A Renewed, Libertarian America: What Must Be Done by Archie Richards
The following policies would result is a more peaceful and equitable society:
— Federal legislators are limited to one term each, with much reduced pay. Senatorial terms are cut from 6 years to 4. These changes would make Congress less responsive to constituent demands, inducing people to meet more of their needs in the private sector. After the government incurs a deficit, the remuneration of legislators and administrators is reduced during the year that follows. Judges are limited to ten-year terms.
— The government is isolationist. The U.S. State Department and its embassies are abolished. The U.S. leaves the United Nations and requires the United Nations to leave the United States. The U.S. defends the nation from military and electronic incursions only from Mexico, Canada, the sea, the air, and from space. Its navy stops patrolling the world’s oceans.
— Private-sector Americans, including those engaged in trade, tourism, and private foreign aid, may be as interventionist as they please. Military weapons owned by private parties may be stored in America for use by them elsewhere. The U.S. government does not ensure the safety of its citizens abroad.
— The Federal Reserve Bank is abolished. Attempts by anyone, never mind a government agency, to regulate the economy cannot help but make things worse. The Fed has greatly increased economic volatility, making life especially hard on the poor during downturns. Keeping interest rates low increases the value of assets. Since most assets are owned by the prosperous, wealth has become ever more unequal. The government’s monopoly over the dollar is removed. Anything may serve as a currency. Currencies are freely exchangeable, allowing the people to choose which ones are most convenient and best hold their value.
— The Civil Service System is abolished. The former spoils system did little damage and created far less incentive to expand government.
— The premiums for health insurance are low, since policyholders pay all of their medical costs up to the year’s substantial deductible. Policyholders thereby become familiar with healthcare costs, and competition between suppliers drives the costs way down. After a person’s deductible is spent, the insurance company covers all health costs. Younger people leave most of their deductibles unspent.
— Government has nothing to do with education. Many government schools are poor, especially in low-income areas, and universities are replete with idiotic notions. All schools are owned privately, for profit or non-profit. With taxes lowered, the prosperous would likely compete as to who can provide the most help to central-city schools.
— Government stops gathering statistics, because the statistics induce the government to try to solve problems, and most such solutions make things worse. Statistics are collected and paid for by the private sector.
— Bank deposit insurance is terminated. The guarantees have caused depositors to care about the rate of interest and the convenience, but not the money’s safety – a partial cause of the nation’s enormous expansion of debt.
— Government zoning impedes free markets and is abolished.
— Federal laws that support unions are repealed. The interaction between employees and employers is none of the government’s business. Workers can unionize, but without government backing.
— Government’s flood insurance with excessively low premiums is terminated. When floods occur, the costs are spread among all the people or added to the debt. The benefits to the few seacoast dwellers are substantial and obvious. The per-capita costs to the many Americans are small and hidden.
— The Jones Act restricts American shipping and imposes significant costs on Americans. It is abolished.
— The government stops paying farmers for staple commodities, especially corn. The subsidies have lowered consumer costs of staple commodities and contributed to widespread obesity.
— Drug testing is not performed by the government. Bureaucrats avoid blame by keeping effective drugs off the market longer than necessary. More lives are lost from the delays than are saved by ensuring the drugs are safe.
— Government funding of scientific developments has politicized science and is terminated. Scientific development is funded exclusively by the private sector, partly in concert with the military.
— All tariffs and impediments to trade are repealed. Nations that do not impede international trade are more prosperous and more equitable.
— Gun controls prevent good people from owning guns. Bad people obtain them anyway. Gun controls therefore make things worse and are abolished.
— Government does nothing about viruses. Corrective measures, if any, are taken within the private sector.
— The forfeiture of privately-owned assets to benefit police departments is terminated.
Dynamics of Government
Like everyone else, government bureaucrats act in their own best interests. Having no profits, they measure their self-worth by expanding their budgets, avoiding blame, and increasing their power over others. They generally avoid actually solving problems, because doing so would render their jobs unnecessary. Government’s principal objective is to expand its reach and power. With few exceptions, government is the worst and most expensive way to do anything.
With big government, the rich gain wealth faster than the poor, because legislators reward the rich for their campaign gifts. With small government, the poor gain wealth faster than the rich, probably because they’re willing to work harder.
Media stories about government are newsworthy. But unless wrongdoing or sex is involved, stories about individuals going about their private affairs are not newsworthy, since they usually affect only the individual involved. The media’s natural inclination to favor government is a danger to society and is partly corrected by education.
Providing the following provisions are first enacted, the funding of police departments is much reduced:
— Members of the public may carry weapons, hidden or not, without licenses. The public would largely police itself, as occurred successfully in the 19th Century. Trying to prevent unbalanced people from owning guns is the job of the private sector, not government.
— The disastrous war against drugs is terminated. Drugs are treated as medical problems, not crimes, and information about drugs is taught in schools.
— Prostitution is legalized. What people choose to do with their bodies is none of the government’s business.
— Since unions try to prevent bad cops from being fired, police departments may not unionize.
— Businesses that fail to obtain suitable property and casualty insurance cannot obtain financing. Insurance companies coordinate with banks and finance companies to determine the proper conditions.
— Cameras at intersections are operated by a consortium of insurers. If a car has not stopped appropriately, the owner is automatically sent a ticket and notified that his auto insurance premiums have been raised.
The Federal Debt
The default of at least a portion of the federal debt is closer than people realize. If the cost of carrying the debt rises even to the current rate of inflation, it would crowd out current expenses and force at least a partial government default.
The federal government owns 28% of the nation’s land and almost $5 billion of gold. It should transfer these assets to private parties in return for their accepting portions of the nation’s debts. Rivers, inland waterways, lakes, swamps, aquifers, mountains, forests, prairies, deserts, tundra, roads, highways, bridges, dams, reservoirs, the national parks, and the 12-mile band of ocean that rings the nation could all be exchanged for debt relief. Amtrak, urban transportation, airports, and the postal service should all be privatized.
The owners of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, for example, could earn money from those who use the waters for irrigation, transportation, manufacturing, fishing, drinking, and recreation. After Congress decides the extent of liability by the owners for floods, the values of these rivers would be sky-high.
Policies that Especially Hurt the Poor
The following government policies make life more difficult and more expensive for the poor and are terminated:
— Government lotteries are advertised heavily in poor areas, encouraging people to treat them as investments, not entertainment. The lotteries create gambling addictions and breed poverty.
— Used automobiles are bargains. The prosperous pay heavily to buy new cars. The non-prosperous underpay to buy them subsequently. This substantial, non-governmental, income-transfer program operates now because government interferes relatively little with automobile marketing. But land-use, building, banking, environmental, farming, mining, water, tax, and who knows what other laws interfere with real estate sales, preventing a much larger income-transfer program from operating with housing.
— Occupational licenses require fees and long periods of training, restricting the number of people in the professions. The resulting shortage of workers elevates the prices of their products. The poor can’t afford the fees and expensive training to join the professions, but they pay the higher prices when they buy the products.
— Rent control enables older, relatively prosperous tenants whose lives are stable to enjoy low rents. But after they vacate the apartments, the rents are raised. The higher rents are paid by younger, less prosperous people who move frequently.
— Many small businesses are exempt from paying minimum wages. After government requires larger companies to raise minimum wages, the number of employees who begin being paid below the minimum greatly outnumber those who enjoy the higher minimum wages.
— Regulations often raise child-care costs beyond the reach of lower-income parents, preventing them from obtaining jobs.
— The Social Security system transfers money from workers to retirees and holds no investment reserves. With the number of retirees growing faster than the number of workers, the system is certain to fail.
— The life expectancy of black men is shorter than that of white women. Since Social Security benefits terminate when a person dies, the FICA taxes paid by black men support white women, but not the other way around.
— Anti-gouging laws force down the prices of products during emergencies, reducing the supply of the products, especially in poor areas.
— Taxing the rich at high tax rates hurts the poor, because the rich have less money available to create jobs.
Without government holding them down, the poor would pull themselves out of poverty. Any social safety net that’s necessary would be supplied by the private sector.
Government’s Proper Duties
The long-term results of the following government duties are beneficial:
— The federal government defends the nation and sets and enforces immigration policies.
— The states set and enforce election laws.
— Local and state governments enact basic laws, keeping people from hurting others by force or fraud. They are backed by the police, the armed citizenry, and the courts. The owners of roads and other infrastructures furnish their own police forces.
— The enforcement of contracts and adjudication of lawsuits are discharged by the courts to the extent those issues are not resolved by mediators.
Most laws and government regulations cause long-term harm. The government sector therefore constitutes less than 5% of the GDP.
Since the government sector has grown during most of the years since 1900, the long term has come home to roost, making the nation more and more dysfunctional. Government’s increasing use of force induces increasing violence among the people.
The private sector creates a solution whenever there’s a purchase and sale – literally billions of times a day. On all such occasions, the buyers and the sellers feel that they benefit.
Transactions expected to be beneficial may of course turn out to be mistakes. Some people make more mistakes than others. The only solution is the individual’s effort and learning.
Since government resists change, the only solution for its mistakes is to make government much, much smaller.
If you’re as confident of the coming Great Default as I am, it will be financial pressures that will be the initial driver for a sharply smaller government.
But if you want to institutionalize that small government – and thus, institutionalize liberty, and peace – you are going to have to re-ground society on the Law of God, and not the Law of Powerful Men.
And you will need men who look up to God for their daily bread, and not to Smiling Socialists (Nationalist or Internationalist) and their deliberately murderous and uncaring, man-crushing, liberty-shredding, starvation-and-poverty building bureaucratic machines.