March 22, 2010
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. (Link to article)
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” which refers to making futile changes to a failing situation. This November’s elections will be such a case of rearranging the deck chairs on Titanic America, because the real problem that needs to be addressed is systemic, and serious systemic changes need to be made.
There will be those who will say, “No, no, don’t say that, we have a chance to win back both the House and the Senate this November!” But these are times that call for a dose of reality. Unfortunately, many people involved with the Tea Party movement seem to have the misguided notion that the Founders’ structure of the federal government is adequate, but that the people in Washington just need to be replaced. However, the Founders’ forming a federal government with centralized power and authority and a compulsory territorial monopoly has been shown to be an immense error. Inherent in such a structure is the violation of property and individuals’ rights to life and liberty, hence America’s steady moral decay over the last century. And inherent in federalism is the violation of state independence and sovereignty.
The elections of 1980, 1994 and 2000 did not reverse Big Government. When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, the “conservative” president not only didn’t cut entire cabinet-level departments as promised, he added three new cabinet-level departments. After cutting taxes, a year later Reagan signed what was then to be America’s biggest tax increase. Reagan also signed one deficit-laden budget after another, and during Reagan’s presidency, the National Debt skyrocketed along with all the regulations and bureaucracy he promised to cut.
Following the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” the federal government continued to grow out of control, and, after 2000, the younger President George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” – i.e. more socialist redistribution of wealth schemes – and expanding the military industrial complex only fed Leviathan much more.
As economist Murray Rothbard noted,
…first, left-liberals, in power, make a Great Leap Forward toward collectivism; then, when, in the course of the political cycle, four or eight years later, conservatives come to power, they of course are horrified at the very idea of repealing anything; they simply slow down the rate of growth of statism, consolidating the previous gains of the Left, and providing a bit of R&R for the next liberal Great Leap Forward….
Rothbard and economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe have written extensively on these issues. In his book, Democracy: The God That Failed, Hoppe explains how democratic governments have contributed a great deal to reversing the process of civilization. The real achievements of democracy have been the empowering of some people to legally extract private wealth and property from others, and empowering the political class to use coercion and brute force against others to achieve certain goals.
At the heart of the problem are the temporary nature of democracy and the exploitative nature of a system of compulsion and monopoly. Economically, according to Hoppe, unlike in a monarchy in which the king owns the country’s territory and has a long-term interest in its capital value, in democracies the ruler is a “temporary caretaker,” and
a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.
Hoppe expands on those ideas:
…a private government owner (a monarch) will want to avoid exploiting his subjects so heavily, for instance, as to reduce his future earnings potential to such an extent that the present value of his estate actually falls. Instead, in order to preserve or possibly even enhance the value of his personal property, he will systematically restrain himself in his exploitation policies…. In distinct contrast… public government ownership will result in continual capital consumption. Instead of maintaining or even enhancing the value of the government estate, as a private owner would tend to do, a government’s temporary caretaker will quickly use up as much of the government resources as possible….
Therefore, a distinct characteristic of government, or “public sector,” activity is lack of incentive and ability in long-range planning, and, because “societal planning” cannot take individual market factors into account, economic calculations are impossible. In the public sector, political calculations are necessary.
For example, in 1990, just after a war initiated by Russia against Afghanistan, and seeing how the people of a territory did not like being invaded and thus the underdog Afghans put up a good fight against the mighty Russians, one might think that then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush would foresee that his invading Iraq (a country that did not attack the U.S.) would have negative long-term consequences for the U.S. But Bush took U.S. forces into Iraq, and increased forces in surrounding foreign lands, at America’s long-term expense. Bush’s son, the younger President George Bush followed in his dad’s footsteps.
Without regard to America’s capital value and actual long-term economic interests, politicians have acted largely on self-interest and short-term exploitation of the system of democratic governance.
Moreover, because of corporate-statism, America has also experienced such short-sightedness and parasitic consumption among America’s business sector. One example of that is the federal government’s October 2008 Wall Street Bailout, which further discouraged long-range planning and productivity of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions.
America is now suffering great economic turmoil while rewarding the short-term, immediate gratification of the Wall Street fat cats. As a major contributor of pervading societal moral decay, the Wall Street Bailout has been an example of activist government redistribution programs that discourage saving, investing, long-range planning and responsibility.
Over generations of electoral rearranging of deck chairs and further expansion of government’s size and power, America has experienced a decline in personal responsibility and traditional values. As a consequence of Social Security, families’ responsibility for the care of their elder members is transferred to anonymous neighbors. President Obama’s threatened government takeover of the entire medical system will make FDR’s New Deal pale in comparison.
Thus, America’s structure of government’s territorial monopoly and legislative rule has turned society from one of natural laws guarding individual rights to one of man-made laws that have allowed citizens to covet others’ wealth and property, and has enabled politicians to rise to the top with proficiency in rhetoric but no abilities in producing anything of actual value to others.
The 2010 delusion of correcting government’s mistakes has already begun with Scott Brown’s recent election to the United States Senate. After having voted for socialized health care and fascist insurance mandates in Massachusetts, and opposing cutting the state income tax, Brown was falsely promoted as a conservative Tea Party candidate. And already the Tea Party movement itself, supposedly one promoting independence and limited government, is being pulled into a life of dependence on the GOP, a party glued to the false security of dependence on centralized Big Government’s monopoly of territorial protection. As author James Bovard observed,
We now have the Battered Citizen Syndrome: the more debacles, the more voters cling to faith in their rulers…. The greater the government’s failure to protect, the greater the subsequent mass fear – and the easier it becomes to subjugate the populace.
One way to prevent a huge societal disaster is by decentralizing, the dismantling of the federal government and letting the states have their independence and sovereignty back.
The total destruction of the United States of America will have been wrought by the U.S. federal government. Instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with more electoral changes, the way to save America will be by decentralization and a return to the sanctity of private property rights, freedom of association and contract, and totally unrestricted free trade and commerce.