Many debates about government policy fail to note the nature and scope of government involvement in the issue under debate. From Jeffrey A. Tucker at aier.com:
The number one problem of all public debate about politics and economics is the failure to name the state. If this would change, so would public opinion.
There is no shortage of examples. People talk about health care for all, solving climate change, providing security in old age, universal educational access, boosting wages, ending discrimination, and you can add to the list without end.
That’s one side.
The other speaks of national identity, protecting jobs, making us more moral, forming cultural cohesion, providing security against the foreign enemy, and so on.
All of this, no matter how fancy the language, is obfuscation. What all of this really means is: put the state in charge. What’s strange is the unwillingness to say it outright. This is for a reason. The plans the politicians have for our lives would come across as far less compelling if they admitted the following brutal truth.
There really are only two ways to allocate goods and services in society: the markets (which rely on individual choice) and the state (which runs on compulsion). No one has ever found a third way. You can mix the two — some markets and some state-run operations — but there always is and always will be a toggling between the two. If you replace markets, the result will be more force via the state, which means bureaucratic administration and rule by force. If you reduce the role of the state, you rely more on markets. This is the logic of political choice, and there is no escaping it.
We have so many laws and regulations meant for our own good, our own protection, that it’s impossible to see how anything can go wrong. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:
BALTIMORE – We were disappointed to see the pedestal… naked… forlorn… its statue gone… its purpose defunct.
For more than a century, the bronze statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney – gravely pondering the weighty issues of the mid-19th century – graced the park.
Now he is gone.
Justice Taney’s statue in Baltimore has been hauled off
No Decisions Necessary
Now, we are so much better people.
Because now we have so many rules, regulations, and protocols, we have no choice in the matter. We no longer have to be wise, clever, or good. No pondering necessary. We just have to obey!
For example, you have thousands of choices about which drugs to take.
Many of them will kill you, but you don’t want to go to the grave after taking an “illegal” drug. Better to take a doctor’s prescription; then your grieving spouse can sue somebody.
No fanny pinching without prior consent! If your wife tells you it’s okay, tell her to put it in writing. And consult a lawyer.
Unless, of course, you are famous or powerful; then, the President of the United States of America says you can do whatever you want.
And no tax avoidance… unless it is specifically authorized in one of the 71,689 pages of the U.S. tax code. Or perhaps in the 459-page Senate tax reform proposal.
That is progress! Everything is carefully laid out for us.
“Take off your shoes… take out your laptops…” The SEC gives us 80 years of rulings to guide our investment morality.
And if the impulse to say something hateful to your neighbor comes over you, you’re saved: It’s against the law. Discrimination is unlawful, too.
And according to a full-page warning in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, it is against the law even to “steer” people to neighborhoods where you think they will be more at home (that is, where other people like them live).
To continue reading: A Luddite’s Guide to the Future