Libertarianism: the radical idea that other people are not your property!
I was recently sent an email from a local businessman who railed against the anti-business mentality of the current Democratic administration. He described in some detail how Barack Obama doesn't have a clue as to how businesses create things including jobs. No argument there. He details the utter incompetence of agencies like the IRS, the gross misapplication of unemployment benefits and of course our favorite non-government, government agency, the U.S. Postal service (made private by Republican Richard Nixon of course). I'm sure he could have made a longer list but brevity is after all a virtue. He goes on to show how we spend more than we take in and how a private family doing the same thing would quickly go belly up. Again, he's just talking about what constitutes responsible behavior. He then concludes that the solution is to elect a select group of conservative tea party folks with business experience or at least business knowledge and who presumably, along with others of like mind, will put the country on the right track.
While well meaning, let me address each of these points in some detail.
- Whether Barack Obama has a clue as to how a business is run is probably not debatable. In my experience most liberals don't understand how reality works let alone business. They follow blindly the crap they were taught in government schools about how robber barons exploited the masses and how free enterprise caused the Great Depression. As a class, they are incredibly illiterate when it comes to economics. 95% of liberals could not in a few words describe the process by which prices are arrived at in a free market.
- Are conservatives any better? By and large conservatives have a better instinctual understanding of market forces and are generally distrustful of government domestic interventions in free markets. Those conservative patriots who adhere to the precepts of constitutional republicanism, while not necessarily understanding all of the economic mechanisms usually get it right simply by following the Constitution as it's written – not as they want it to be like liberals like to do. However, 95% of the entire society, including conservatives, are abysmally ignorant enough of fundamental economic principals that the typical conservative cannot put a cogent argument together for the elimination of minimum wage laws (when you price someone without skills out of the marketplace, they are likely to remain unemployed and not acquire the skills for further employment). So while their instincts might be sound, their ignorance sometimes allows them to support policies contrary to free markets.
- The incompetence of government is very easy to document. From criminal justice to war to welfare, there isn't a single example of competence coupled with lawful application of the Constitution anywhere. Another word for incompetence is government. The most legitimate aspects of government like war making, the police power and the courts could all be done by private business more efficiently – and with someone really looking over their shoulder, with more justice than the criminal mafia who purport to represent us.
The commentator then goes on the show how much more we spend than we collect and shows how bad that is. Ignoring for a moment that the Republicans controlled both branches of the Congress and the White House at various times over the last decade, it's not clear how this new group will be any different. Remember the contract with America. Radical stuff for the socialists in the Democratic party but when push came to shove, Republicans loved their beloved welfare state more than they loved a lawful government. After all, they proved in the first decade of the 21st century that pesky little requirements of law like declarations of war and writs of habeas corpus are not to be observed any more. If this new crop of Republican reformers were calling for Obama, Bush, Clinton and Bush to have cells in the same jail block, I might jump on their band wagon.
While Obama is really bad let's look further at the Republican record. Did the last Republican president really do any better than Obama or his predecessor?
The bank bailouts alone establish that Bush didn't believe in free markets. Turning over control of the money creation system (which the Congress did when it create the Federal Reserve system in 1913) by turning it over to a private banking cartel headed by J.P Morgan is manipulating markets at it's most fundamental level. G. W. Bush perpetuated a process to insulate the banks from their own incompetence and fraud - this is hardly a free market policy. What Bush should have done is arrest the officers of every Federal Reserve bank in the county and put them on trial for terrorism. Further, after shutting down the Fed as an illegal and unconstitutional entity, the paper debt the U.S. Government owes them can be canceled, removing a huge chunk of our national debt. Like banks in general, all debt is created by the obligation to repay it and banks charge interest on something that doesn't really exist. Chaos perhaps for one week and then a bright financial future as hard based money reasserts itself - if a President actually understood what is going on. No Republican who is likely to be elected has the cojones to do this however.
The Republican policy of emphasizing low taxes especially for the entrepreneurial class misses the point. It's not about taxes stupid – it's all about spending. Because Republican voters will never vote to repeal the social safety net of social security, Medicare and Medicaid, let alone their glorious warfare state, Republican politicians will never - I repeat never - propose it. All they will do is nibble at the edges and that's the best you could say for Bush. Privatize Social Security like they privatized the Post Office? That really worked out real well. I guess this bunch of Republicans is just smarter than the ones who took us off the gold standard and got us into this current mess! Can't blame that on Democrats. You guys really should have prosecuted that SOB for his petty crimes. Then we wouldn't have to deal with G.W!
All the while when Bush was signing those bills indicating the parts he wouldn't enforce because he disagreed with them (which undoubtedly God told him to do!), he missed a golden opportunity to turn things around. Having taken the oath of office to uphold the Constitution, the President has an affirmative obligation NOT to enforce any unconstitutional statute. The president can order all federal agencies that do not have a clear Constitutional reason to exist, to immediately cease operations. The President can unilaterally rescind any prior executive order. The big one of course is the IRS. Stop the illegal extortion by putting a thousand IRS employees in jail in one week (their crimes can be easily documented) and our long nightmare will be on the way to being over.
- And Republican businessmen need to remember that one of the greatest crooks in the late 20th century (after the baby killer Lydon Johnson) was Richard Nixon, who created the EPA by executive order and signed OSHA into law. Those agencies are at the top of most business people's hate list and they were enacted by Republicans! So, be careful who you vote for!
In the end it all ends up being about our tribe. Our tribe good, their tribe bad. Actions of Republican presidents condemned by Democrats are OK when done by one of their own (the ordering of the death of foreigners by drones). Actions of Democrat Presidents, condemned by Republicans are OK when done by their own (new welfare programs, Obamacare versus No Child Left Behind). Walter Williams said it best a few years ago when he pointed out that what is wrong with our country is that everyone is more than happy to have others give up their freedom for the things they themselves want.
When I hear any group say, and that includes libertarians, that if we only elect a person or group of people things will start going better, I just want to drink excessively and throw up. This was the cool aid that the Perot followers drank in the 90's. Remember how he was going to get under the hood and fix the engine of state. Yes Ross, but to what end? They get it backwards. Politicians are a class of parasites that suck off of your money and political power by doing some of the things that you want. Of course if the things you want (like some help for your ailing business or your social action lobby) require that money and power be taken from others, then you are in effect voting for your own destruction. This is why you will destroy your society and nothing will change.
Until citizens put the liberty of other citizens ahead of their own by only supporting a regimen that consistently protects persons and property rather than exploiting them, you will continue to see encroachments on both. Until you start criticizing those in your own tribe as loudly as the 'other', you will get more of the same. Until you stop hoping some white knight (Ron Paul comes to mind) will come along to finally put things to right and realize that the problem is the person looking back at you in the mirror in the morning, nothing will change.
None of us can change the other. Even using the blunt instrument of government force, you cannot change others only coerce them. The only one you can change is yourself.
Mike Nixson is a political activist and entrepreneur and writes for Piercing The Illusion.