Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A One-Two Punch to Statism

A couple excellent articles on Lew today. I’m sensing a theme here.

First, Anthony Gregory examines whether libertarians "worship" the free market, counters that it is the Statist alternative which is hypocritical and, in principle, barbaric.

The socialists used to believe markets could not produce wealth for the masses, feed and clothe them. Now they have mostly abandoned that argument and focused on the inequalities and obscenities of mass production. They even belittle those of us who defend the market as being beholden to materialism, commercialism, and mere things as opposed to people. Yet at the core of all their demands for a thousand new government programs is a demand for material goods. Those who chant that health care is a human right are really talking about bottles of antibiotics, surgical tools, hospitals and beds for the infirmed. Those who demand more money for schools are similarly talking about books, chalkboards and other physical goods. They are just as materialistic as we are. They see dollar signs on everything too. For them, all of social life also revolves around commodities. The only difference is how they seek to get goods to those who need them. We see cooperation and voluntary exchange, rather than robbery, as the answer.

Then, Robert Higgs, in a recent speech , labels the State as "the most destructive institution human beings have ever devised." He elaborates:

All governments are, as they must be, oligarchies: only a relatively small number of people have substantial effective discretion to make critical decisions about how the state's power will be brought to bear. Beyond the oligarchy itself and the police and military forces that compose its Praetorian Guard, somewhat larger groups constitute a supporting coalition. These groups provide important financial and other support to the oligarchs and look to them for compensating rewards — legal privileges, subsidies, jobs, exclusive franchises and licenses, transfers of financial income and wealth, goods and services in kind, and other booty — channeled to them at the expense of the mass of the people. Thus, the political class in general — that is, the oligarchs, the Praetorian Guards, and the supporting coalition — uses government power (which means ultimately the police and the armed forces) to exploit everyone outside this class by wielding or threatening to wield violence against all who fail to pay the tribute the oligarchs demand or to obey the rules they dictate.
Good stuff, indeed!


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