Any economic discussion is useless when we don’t look at human action. We can talk all day long about government intervention, business regulation, stimulus packages, bailouts, taxes, deficits, etc. But what do these terms really mean? What do they mean in terms of human actions taken?
After all society is nothing but a sequence of different actions taken by humans, every second of the day. Economics is nothing but an analysis of a very specific subset of those actions, namely those that are motivated by or lead to changes in the money prices of goods.
Business regulation, in these people’s minds, really means that that same group of people hires individuals and purchases guns in order to force others to comply with orders decreed. If the subjects fail to comply, they will be fined, if the fine is not forthcoming, letters will be sent, if the letters are not answered, armed thugs will arrive and and force them to hand over the requested fine.
If the thugs are still met with non-compliance, they will kidnap their victims and order that they be prosecuted and thrown in jail, the laws being such that they will be prosecuted and thrown in jail. If those same people dare to raise a gun to defend themselves and their property against this intrusion, they will be shot.
The stimulus package is nothing but a debt that is taken on on behalf of the taxpayers, and then spent on things that benefit the contractors and individuals who receive the money first. This is happening in an environment where the majority of people is in too much debt already.
But taking on more debt is not going to get anybody out of this predicament. It is not some lofty, imaginary government that ultimately owes the money, it is the taxpayer whose tax payments will be used to repay the debt in the future. That same taxpayer who is already underwater and has spent too much of his money already. But how is that tax money taken from the taxpayer. Well, just read what I wrote one paragraph above and substitute “tax” for “fine”.
Every single government policy will always lead you back to these basic facts. When a government official says “we need to do xyz”, he really means “our armed gunmen need to extort money from individuals so we can do xyz”, there is simply no way around this.
The politicians in power of course don’t have much of an incentive to talk about their policies in those terms. If they did, they would immediately reveal the cruel, unethical, mafia-style character of every single one of their actions.
Some people will try and make the argument “but the majority agreed to it”. So what? What does that mean? Since when is the majority right? Heck, the majority elected Hitler into office! The fact that the majority agreed/consented with something does not in the slightest make that thing right.
If the majority of people in your house agreed that it was just to take your money via aggression, would you say that that makes this a just undertaking? Is in not rather oppression of a minority? What if all the people on your block agreed that it was appropriate to steal your property and you are the only one objecting? Does that give them the right to do so?? What if all inhabitants of your town or city were to come together and declare it just to take your money or your home from you, and threatened you with kidnapping and throwing you behind bars if you dared to resist. What if every single person in the country joined the mob and declared it just to take your possessions? Does that make it just? Is it not rather the exact opposite, a monstrous injustice, a mass crime on a colossal scale?
Then those who run out of arguments to support the validity of the state will tell you that after all, you are getting something in return from those who use aggression to obtain your property. But how ridiculous is this? Why would they ever give you more in return than what they took from you, without infringing on someone else’s rights in precisely the same way. All the odds are against the idea that money handed over to a bureaucratic institution will be utilized in your best interest, it is impossible to evade The Trouble With Bureaucracy.
Furthermore, even if they did give back precisely what you were forced to hand over, what in the world would the purpose of this exercise be, other than a gigantic waste of time and resources? On top of that, how do they even know what to give back? Did they ever ask you? Were you presented with a menu to choose from? What if you don’t want the things they claim to be giving you, what if you don’t think they are worth even a fraction of the money you handed over? But does anyone give you the choice?
But let’s play along with this fantasy and assume they do give you something you specifically asked for in return. What if it has flaws? What if it doesn’t work in a way that caters to your needs? Does anybody ask you for feedback on how specifically to improve the good that was provided to you … you know, all that stuff that private businesses do, so long as they are not subsidized or bailed out by … *sigh* … the government? But notice how I am having to make the most ridiculous of assumptions in order to try to find a slight justification for the existence of the state. And yet, it is still impossible to find one that even remotely makes sense.
Then they will bring up the argument that you chose by voting. OK, let’s assume that fantasy was true, and Barack Obama presented every single good he is going to provide in return for your tax money. (The argument fails there already but I am trying to be as open as possible to all the boring justifications people will come up with again and again.) Then that immediately begs the question: What if you are one out of the 80% of the population who did not vote for him? Surely the person advancing the argument that you made a choice by voting can’t deny that in that case you did NOT vote for the choices presented and should not be obliged to hand over your property at gunpoint.
When confronting people who have unlimited faith in the validity of government with those facts, one will likely always be confronted with rolling eyes, aggravated temper, ridicule, name calling, and other immature reactions. But there is one thing that you will never encounter: A reasoned refutation of the facts presented.
Ethics, Human Nature, and Government are crucial concepts that need to be understood. So long as they are not, people will continue to be surprised about all the governmentally induced failures that will have been, from my point of view, as predictable as ever.
And finally, a nice clip that supports the point I am making above: