April 19, 2014

>The Democrats Privatize Wealth Redistribution

>George W. Bush redistributed more wealth during his presidency than any president had since Lyndon Johnson. Republicans really have never had any problem with redistributing wealth as long as the proceeds go to the right people. Since Medicare benefits senior citizens, a constituency that no election can be won without in the baby boomer retirement era, Republicans had no problem using the force of government to take money from one individual and use it to buy “healthcare” for another – as they did with their Medicare prescription drug benefit. Neither do they hesitate to redistribute to bankers, under the cover of “saving the financial system.” God help us if there is ever a constituency of senior citizen bankers.

In fact, if one looks at the federal budget as it existed before the massive bailouts started – pre-TARP – at least 80% of the almost $3 trillion budget amounted to wealth redistribution. Always there was some rationalization for why this or that group must receive federal funds “for the good of all.” The farmers must be subsidized because there is absolutely no way to sustain farming in a market economy. If large farming corporations weren’t subsidized, we would all starve. Medical research must be subsidized because we will eventually all die of cancer, AIDS, and other horrific diseases if the government doesn’t subsidize medical research. Corporations in general must be subsidized because if one were to go out of business, everyone would be unemployed.

The Democrats typically attempt to characterize the Republicans as racist or elitist because the Republicans have traditionally resisted wealth redistribution for the poor or minorities. However, the reality is that Republicans do this for the same reasons that Democrats resist redistribution to bankers and corporations (or at least they used to). The poor and minorities don’t vote Republican. That is the only reason that Republicans attempt to leave them out.

No one in America seems to know any American history. Following the American Civil War, when black voters universally supported the Republicans due to their perception that the “party of Lincoln” had set them free, it was the Republicans who promised “40 acres and a mule” to blacks and the Democrats who proclaimed themselves “the party of white men.” Enslaved by their former ruling class and now used as pawns in a political power game by the new one, the freed black voters of post-Civil War America serve as a perfect metaphor for the supposed “beneficiaries” of all government redistribution schemes. Whether it is elderly people trying to scrape by on a Social Security Check, poor people trying not to starve on public welfare, or Iraqi citizens enjoying their newly provided “freedom,” the so-called beneficiaries of government wealth redistribution are never the winners. It takes an alarming lack of skepticism not to ask who the real winners are.

As this new century has “progressed” (pun intended), even the blurry lines separating the two parties have begun to melt away. Remember that George Bush’s redistribution schemes also included stimulus “tax refunds” to everyone, whether they actually paid taxes in the first place or not. “Compassionate conservatism” was nothing more than a euphemism for attempting to blend traditional Republican rhetoric about “free markets” and “limited government” with thinly-veiled redistribution schemes. By doing so, Bush’s Republicans hoped to hold onto their own base while chipping away at the Democratic voting blocks by promising them other people’s money, just as the Democrats do.

Throughout the 20th century, the two parties employed this strategy of “borrowing a page from the other’s playbook” over and over, always hoping to win voters away from the opposition while retaining the loyalty of their own traditional supporters. It was this that caused many liberals to criticize Bill Clinton for being “too much like a Republican.” Why George Bush has managed to hold on to his image as an “extreme conservative” defies explanation.

Until now, there has always been at least one thing to say in favor of the Democrats. They have been honest about their intentions. They have come right out and said that their intention was to redistribute wealth in order to achieve “equality” or “social justice” or some other utopian goal. Certainly, no lucid American can deny that the Democratic platform has been a socialist one for at least the last century. It has been the Republicans who have deceived their followers to a much greater extent by promising them liberty and property rights and then redistributing almost as egregiously as the Democrats.

One hallmark redistribution strategy used by the Republicans was “privatization.” Somehow, they managed to successfully characterize forcibly extracting money in taxes from their citizens and redistributing it to private corporations as “free enterprise,” as if “private” and “free” were synonymous. Alexander Hamilton must have smiled in his grave.

However, the Democrats have truly broken new ground during this presidential administration. Not only have they managed to outspend the voracious Bush administration in just ten short months, but they have taken a page from the Republican playbook and actually privatized wealth redistribution. Formerly, however transparent the scheme, the money at least made it into the federal treasury for a moment before being paid out to the special interest that had bought it with votes. However, H.R. 3962, the so-called “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” dispenses with this formality. Now, using the coercive power of government, private citizens will be forced to pay their money directly to government supported health insurers whether they wish to or not. The veneer that this is “public money” being spent for the “public good” has been completely stripped away. There is now simply a government pointing a gun at its citizens and forcing them to pay directly to the special interest that has successfully lobbied for their money. Even King John of the Robin Hood tales did not extort for his friends this overtly.

A more perverse merger of left and right political corruption is unimaginable. Using the government’s numbers, this will provided coverage for 36 million uninsured Americans at a minimum of $15,000 per covered life. Assuming these numbers to be at least “in the ball park,” President Obama and his so-called liberals have just handed over a half a trillion dollars a year to corporate America (the health insurance companies). What true progressive could possibly support this?

The price of this corporate welfare, of course, is that any remaining vestiges of voluntary contracts between insurer and insured that health insurance still retained has been eliminated. Insurers are no longer allowed to determine rates demographically and based upon a real risk model. They are no longer allowed to offer diverse coverage packages to compete with one another for different customer groups. They now must offer low rates and uniform benefits to everyone as entitlements. Like individual welfare recipients, they have surrendered all of their liberty and property rights in return for other people’s money. They are now just one more arm of the state bureaucracy.

The worst aspect of this great fraud is the implications it has for the liberty of every American. The closest parallel to this heretofore has been automobile insurance. Americans have been forced to buy auto insurance directly from an auto insurer in order to exercise the “privilege” of driving on the government’s roads. This was of course enacted for the public good, to ensure that poor drivers could not bankrupt the innocent by demolishing their cars or saddling them with exorbitant hospital bills. However, as hostile to liberty as these laws are, they still leave the driver a choice. He can choose not to drive, however impractical or unrealistic that choice might be.

However, with this new bill, even that smattering of liberty is ripped away. Americans are now forced to purchase insurance from a government-protected and subsidized health insurance company merely because they are alive. Worse yet, they are not merely forced to make a single payment of tribute to satisfy their “individual responsibility.” They must go on paying, year in and year out, for as long as they live. They cannot decline. They cannot conscientiously object. There is no escape from this tyranny save one: death. For those individuals that can demonstrate that they are completely incapable of paying, someone else will be forced to pay for them. No matter what, the government’s corporation will be paid. Even life is no longer a right, but a privilege that the government extends to its subjects for a fee.

From 2001-2006, the Republicans controlled all branches of government. It was an horrific period of utter destruction of American liberty. The Democrats have now been given their chance and in ten short months they have far outdone the Bush Republicans for this dubious distinction. Make no mistake. If the Republicans regain power, they will be worse still. Americans should understand that they will affect no “change” in their government by electing either of these two parties. The federal government is a monster that has taken on a life of its own. Both parties are now its minions and are indistinguishable from one another.

Our Declaration of Independence says that “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Are we there yet?

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

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© Thomas Mullen 2009

>A Familiar Strategy?

>Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty. [1]

- John Basil Barnhill (1914)

Americans should be experiencing “déjà vu all over again” as Congress prepares for another weekend incursion into their rights via another two-thousand page bill that must be voted on before anyone has had a chance to read it. This time, it is H.R. 3962 “To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.” The next law that should be passed is that legislators and bureaucrats shall not be allowed to work on weekends.

That working Americans will rise early on Monday to begin another week with less protections of their rights and more of their property stolen is not all that should seem familiar. If anyone can remember as far back as the Bush administration (this new regime has been so bad that I am afraid people have forgotten most of the outrages of the last), a very similar dynamic played out. The very first bailout – of the banking industry – met with resistance similar to that against the proposed government takeover of the health care industry. The first attempt to pass the TARP bill failed.

For those watching the statements made by their representatives while opposing that bill, one thing should have been obvious. Those representatives feared their constituents. It was in their eyes and in their voices as they explained their opposition. I do not mean that they feared violence. They feared for their jobs and they feared whatever other consequences there might have been if they deliberately defied the wishes of those thousands of voters who had angrily called their offices. For a moment, our government worked as it was designed to work. The people spoke and their representatives heeded their wishes, however reluctantly.

Then, the uproar died down. President Bush emerged from his long, unnatural silence during the financial crisis and gave a speech designed to put that fear back into the hearts of the citizens, where our government prefers that it permanently reside. If the banking bailout wasn’t passed, Americans could lose their homes, their jobs, or their retirement savings. Financial Armageddon awaited if the bankers were not saved – for it is really the bankers that provide those things to everyone. Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke joined the chorus to help paint the terrifying picture of unspeakable horrors that awaited us if we did not give almost $800 billion to the Treasury Secretary to be redistributed to his friends on Wall Street.

It is unclear if Americans really believed the government or if they just ran out of energy to protest. Either way, the bill passed the second time it came up for a vote. Those same representatives who only days before were too afraid to pass it were now somehow emboldened and it sailed through with barely a whimper from the victims. What was different the second time around?

Hopefully, Americans took notice of the fact that their representatives do not possess the courage to pass a bill that they actively oppose, even if that opposition amounts to nothing more than angry phone calls. It is difficult to ascertain what reassured those congressmen enough to vote for the bill the second time. Perhaps the calls to their offices changed after the government’s scare campaign intensified. Perhaps some of the people who had called before the first vote called back and told those congressmen that they had changed their minds.

However, there is another possibility that is infinitely more disturbing. Perhaps by the time of the second vote, the pressure had died down out of sheer inertia. After all, there is probably some limit to just how long Americans can make calls, march in protests, or write letters while trying to do their jobs, raise their families, and live their lives. If I were trying to develop a strategy to pass a bill that most Americans oppose, I would consciously plan for exactly what happened during the banking bailout bill in 2008. I would let them scream, let them march, let them carry signs and write letters, and even let the bill fail to pass. And once the citizenry was sufficiently exhausted or had turned their attention to something else, I would put it up for another vote.

Personally, I would be surprised if this were truly a conscious strategy by most of our representatives, although I am sure that the dynamic has not escaped the notice of the most devious of the professional political crowd. However, whether intentional or not, this is exactly what happened with the banking bailout and it is exactly what is about to happen with so-called “health care reform.” All summer long, Americans called their representatives, marched in the streets, and even showed up in the capitol city itself in numbers far too large to support the claim that it was some sort of Republican PR campaign. At one point, the idea of a government-run public option was all but pronounced dead on non-arrival by media outlets, whether conservative or liberal in their bias. It has found new life.

The American Revolutiony War was by no means encouraging for the Americans for the great majority of the time that it was being fought. The Americans lost almost every battle, constantly outclassed by the greatest military force in the history of the world at that time. However, there was one advantage that the Americans had over the British – they were relentless. No matter how many battles they lost (and they lost most of them), the American army would not go away. After being repeatedly schooled by superior British generals at New York, Brandywine, and elsewhere, Washington showed up at Monmouth and fought the British to a standstill. In the end, it was he and the Americans that emerged as the victors.

This weekend, the British are back. However, this time they are not wearing red coats but instead masquerading as representatives of the people. They are bringing with them the same tyranny that they did in the 18th century – unjust taxes, illegitimate government power, and violations of the rights of every individual American. It is imperative that Americans once again refuse to go away. Millions have sacrificed time, money that they could ill afford to spend, and days, weeks, and months of their lives to write, call, march, and shout with all of their might against the destruction of our liberty that this government has accelerated with increasing brazenness over the past few years (under presidents from both major parties). It all goes for naught if our representatives learn that they need only wait for us to exhaust our energy before ignoring our wishes and trampling upon our rights as they please.

There is a disturbing sound in the air – silence. There is a feeling that the outrage has subsided and that the coast is clear for another weekend theft of our liberty and property. Let us not let last summer’s tremendous demonstration of the American spirit go to waste. If you opposed this bill the first time, if you traveled to Washington, spent money you didn’t have, took time away from your job or family to be sure that your voice was heard, it will have all been for nothing if they pass this bill this weekend.

Now is the time for Americans to be relentless. Call your representatives and let them know that what happened in New Jersey and Virginia a few days ago has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats – it is the fate of all incumbent politicians, from any party, that abandon their duty to protect the rights of the people. From now until Saturday evening, we must shout louder, march longer, and get angrier than we have ever been before. Do not underestimate the power that you wield and do not let this government monster outlast you. As we said over two hundred years ago to a government that had marched against our liberty, let us shout to our representatives as loudly and for as long as it takes – this far shall you go and no farther.

[1] Barnhill, John Basil (1914). “Indictment of Socialism No. 3″ (PDF). Barnhill-Tichenor Debate on Socialism. Saint Louis, Missouri: National Rip-Saw Publishing. pp. p. 34. Retrieved on 2008-10-16.

Michael Moore Wants to End the Fed (He Just Doesn’t Realize It)

 

“You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

- Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride (1987)

It is ironic that Michael Moore’s latest movie, Capitalism: A Love Story features two appearances by writer and comedic actor Wallace Shawn. There is even a clip of Shawn exclaiming “Inconceivable!” in his hilarious turn as Vezzini in The Princess Bride. However, the most appropriate clip from that movie would have been Inigo Montoya uttering the words quoted in the prologue of this article. Using one of Moore’s staple filmmaking techniques, he could have cut to the clip immediately after one of his own pronouncements about capitalism. For although Moore says the word over and over throughout the movie, it is apparent that it “doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.”

The closest thing to a definition of capitalism that Moore provides to his audience comes early on when he remarks, “Capitalism: a system of giving and taking – mostly taking.” He goes on to show a half dozen or so clips of people extolling capitalism for providing “the freedom to succeed and to fail” or hailing the virtues of competition. However, the common mistake made by both Moore when attacking capitalism and the Republican politicians he depicts defending it is their mutual failure to recognize the central tenet of capitalism: property rights.

True capitalism is based upon one simple principle: that all exchanges of property are made with the voluntary consent of all parties. Private ownership of property and competition – the other two components of capitalism in most traditional definitions – are actually results of this foundational principle. As all governments are institutions of coercion, there is no way for them to acquire property through voluntary exchange. Further, with all exchanges being voluntary, sellers must by definition compete with one another in order to sell their products. So, the foundation of “capitalism” is really the non-aggression principle applied to property. Capitalism requires that no one’s property can be taken from them without their consent.

However, Moore’s film does not examine anything close to that system, which Adam Smith called “a system of natural liberty” (the word “capitalism” was not coined until nearly a century later). There is a good reason for that – it doesn’t exist. What Moore mistakes for capitalism is really the soft fascism that has been increasing in intensity in the United States since the Federal Reserve and income tax were created and property rights were destroyed. He makes the same mistake that Republican voters make when they vote Republican politicians into office. They believe the politicians when they say that they support “free markets,” despite the fact that they go on to govern in exactly the opposite way.

The injustices that Moore depicts in his film are without exception caused by government. Not one can be traced to people voluntarily exchanging their goods and services with one another. What Moore represents as “capitalism” is really what Thomas Dilorenzo described as “Hamilton’s Curse” in his 2008 book of the same name. Without attempting to reduce Dilorenzo’s treatise to a few sentences, he generally describes the economic system whereby the government allies itself with the wealthiest segment of society in order to plunder the wealth of everyone else in pursuit of “national greatness” or “the common good.” The hallmarks of the system are corporate welfare, deficit spending by government, protectionist tariffs, and most importantly, a central bank with a government-granted monopoly on the creation of money.

This system purports to benefit society by encouraging the growth of domestic industry and thereby increasing the power and standing of the nation as a whole, as well as providing employment for the working class. However, like socialism, it must achieve “societal goals” by violating the fundamental principle of capitalism. It must violate the non-aggression principle by taking property away from people without their consent and redistributing that property to others. Some of this is accomplished through taxation. A much greater part is accomplished through monetary inflation.

It is astounding that most people are able to ignore the fact that the central bank is an instrument of theft and thereby completely antagonistic to capitalism. It takes an incredible dearth of healthy skepticism not to question the reason for legal tender laws, which force people to use the central bank’s currency. There is only one reason for these laws: without them no one would choose to accept an un-backed paper currency in exchange for their real goods or services. People are forced to use Federal Reserve Notes so that the government and its corporate allies can use inflation (expansion of the money supply) to transfer wealth from everyone in society to the privileged few who benefit from the transfer. The beneficiaries include corporate defense contractors, large farming corporations, Wall Street banks, and other “pillars of the economy.” It is inflation more than anything else that widens the gap between rich and poor. It is the chief vehicle for what Bastiat described as “the few plunder the many.”

However, Michael Moore does not recognize the right to the fruits of one’s labor and so he is completely blind to the difference between capitalism and the system promoted by Republican politicians (in deed if not in word). He fails to see that every aspect of our financial meltdown was caused by some violation of property rights, representing a departure from capitalism.

The money needed to extend all of those “deceptive mortgages” was created by the Federal Reserve out of thin air, thus diluting the value of all existing U.S. dollars. This was a theft from the holders of those existing dollars. Most of the loans themselves were guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie Mac, which uses the coercive power of government to force taxpayers to put up their money as collateral for people who would either not receive those loans or who would pay a much higher interest rate without it.  Again, this is not capitalist voluntary exchange but instead wealth redistribution and a distortion of the free market. Similarly, the hundreds of billions paid out to defense contractors and other beneficiaries of President Bush’s wars in the Middle East were also funded by inflation, which the Republicans overtly flaunted by cutting taxes while skyrocketing government spending.

Since he fails to recognize that it was violation of property rights that truly caused our economic meltdown, he doesn’t recommend the restoration of property rights as the solution. Moore blindly accepts the traditional “progressive” fallacy that free market participants can only benefit at someone else’s expense, instead of recognizing that people who exchange voluntarily do so to their mutual benefit. As a result, he accepts government’s role as plunderer of property and merely suggests dividing up the loot differently. He promotes the bogus idea that the government can grant rights to people, and suggests that the coercive power of government no longer be used to redistribute to the wealthy, but instead be used to redistribute to everyone else. He objects to a system wherein the few plunder the many, but suggests it be replaced with a system where “everybody plunders everybody.”

Moore asserts that FDR had the answer when he proposed a “Second Bill of Rights,” granting Americans the right to a reasonable wage, health care, a pension, and other entitlements. Again, as the concept of property rights is foreign to him, Moore is able to ignore the fact that granting a right to these things means that those who provide them have no rights. He extols the “justice” of labor unions, but ignores the fact that it was the unions that destroyed the U.S. automakers by claiming exactly these rights. It was actually an alliance between government and these unions – identical in principle to the alliance between government and Wall Street – that turned his beloved Flint into a ghost town. He suggests that we should set these forces loose upon all of society. His ability to ignore reality is, to quote Mr. Shawn, “inconceivable.”

Like all of his movies, Capitalism: A Love Story is very well made. Moore is exceptionally good at what he does, bringing wit, comedic timing, and emotional power to the screen. Also like all of his movies, he identifies real injustices and expresses appropriate outrage at them. However, throughout his distinguished career he has made the classic mistake of misidentifying the cause of the problems he depicts so poignantly on the screen.

He compares the United States to Rome and points to the similarities between our problems and theirs. He correctly identifies half of the cause of Rome’s decline and ours: the government’s unholy alliance with a landed aristocracy that plunders the wealth of the people for redistribution to the privileged few. However, he fails to recognize his solution as the other half of the cause of both Rome’s decline and ours: the rest of society attempting to share in the plunder by means of majority vote (democracy). It was both of these forces acting together which destroyed Rome’s currency and led to her eventual collapse. Like Rome, we are also afflicted with both of these ills.

The only real solution to our predicament is to implement a system that supports Bastiat’s third alternative – “where nobody plunders anybody.” It is only by following this principle that justice can truly prevail. The most significant step in achieving such a system would be to eliminate the Federal Reserve System. Neither the Republican system of plunder for the wealthy nor the Democratic system of plunder for everybody is possible without monetary inflation. There is no way that government could ever achieve either through direct taxation.

I believe that Michael Moore’s intentions are good. At the end of his film, he asks Americans to join him. I have an alternative proposition for him. If he truly wants to see justice restored in America, along with equal opportunity for all Americans to pursue their happiness, he should call off his misguided attack on capitalism and join us to End the Fed.

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

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© Thomas Mullen 2009

>What Is This Free Market We Keep Hearing About? Part II

>Previously, I wrote an article entitled “What Is This Free Market We Keep Hearing About?” In it I attempted to demonstrate that a free market is the only economic system compatible with liberty, in addition to being the system that will yield the best results for society. The dissenting views were familiar ones, which I will attempt to answer.

The first category of dissenting opinions came from those that somehow misunderstood the article to have argued that a free market exists right now, or has existed in the recent past (perhaps under the Republican regime that has thankfully gone the way of the hula hoop). For the record, we have not had any semblance of a free market since at least the New Deal, and probably not since the institution of the Federal Reserve and the income tax in 1913. If anything, we have had markets that have been “progressively” less free in each succeeding decade, the trend accelerating markedly during a few notable periods, including the 1910’s, the 1930’s, the 1960’s, and the present devastation of our liberty that is occurring before our very eyes. As I have argued more extensively before, the Bush years did not represent free markets.

The next broad category of comments could generally be grouped as those which implied that a truly free market system would amount to no government or restrictions at all and therefore necessitate that market participants would have to be trusted to “do the right thing” at the expense of their own profits. Those making this argument went on to say that history shows that “the corporations” or other wealthy market participants will always choose profit over the good of society.

This is a complete misunderstanding of the concept of free markets presented in the article and of the non-aggression principle of liberty in general. “Non-aggression” does not mean the absence of the use of force (government) under any circumstances. In a free market, there is a very necessary role for government to play, just as in nature there is an appropriate time for the use of force. Specifically, the government brings force to bear against those who have committed or are committing aggression against another’s rights. In a truly free market, the government prevents any party from using coercion or fraud to secure an exchange of property. If a company lies on its financial statements to attract investors or credit, it is the government’s job to prosecute those responsible for fraud. If a company employs violence or the threat of violence in trying to eliminate its competition, it is the government’s responsibility to prosecute the aggressor in defense of the victims.

However, if the company participates in exchanges of property whereby all participants voluntarily consent to the terms and all information pertaining to the transactions are represented truthfully, then that activity is beyond the reach of government, just as speech, religion, and conscience are beyond the reach of government because they do not represent acts of aggression against anyone else’s rights.

With the natural boundary of non-aggression enforced, the market requires no consideration for any participant other than the pursuit of profit. With truly free markets, it is never true that society is threatened unless firms sacrifice their profits to benefit society. Rather, firms can and should pursue only profit so long as they commit no aggression against another’s rights. The law should never be a positive force – it should never compel anyone to do anything. It should only prohibit certain actions, namely those that amount to aggression (fraud being aggression against the rights to property). It is this principle that is consistently violated by our modern brand of “regulation.”

This brings us to a third category of objections, namely that insufficiently regulated markets have resulted in the massive consolidations that have occurred over the past quarter century, decreasing competition and creating overly influential corporations that dominate markets and our government. This argument is rooted in the same misconception as the first – that we have had free markets at some point in our recent past. However, even if one argues that some “deregulation” has taken place and that is the reason for the consolidation, the position still begs one question. Why are new competitors not entering the market to compete with these overly dominant corporations?

There are only two possibilities. One is that the corporations in question have achieved natural monopolies. A natural monopoly is a good thing. It means that one firm is producing products of such high quality and such low price that no other firm is able to compete with it. A natural monopoly can only be sustained as long as the monopolist continues to offer products that consumers prefer over all others based upon their own voluntary decisions. Natural monopolies harm no one.

The only other explanation for a dearth of competition is that there are artificial forces at work that are keeping competition out. This means that market participants are not acting voluntarily, but make their choices under some type of coercion. There is only one entity that can legally coerce participants in any market – government. In fact, it has been the ocean of rules and regulations itself – in violation of every market participant’s natural rights – that has led to the dearth of competition in our supposedly free markets. This conclusion is intuitive. If the corporations are not natural monopolies then their competition must have been eliminated unnaturally or artificially, i.e, by the government.

It is abundantly clear that our labyrinthine regulatory structure is an artificial barrier to new competition, particularly since the regulations are now written by the very corporations they are supposed to govern. However, the root of the problem is not bad regulations or corruption. It is the fact that any barriers to human action exist at all beyond those that prevent aggression. Even without back door deals and outright corruption, these artificial barriers necessarily favor entrenched market players over new firms trying to enter the market, as compliance with regulation drives up start up and compliance costs beyond what all but the largest firms can afford.

The so-called “deregulation” in many of our markets did nothing to dismantle this quagmire of regulation, but merely eliminated barriers to consolidation while continuing to insulate established players from new competition. The results were predictable but certainly not the results of natural market forces. The proper solution to this problem is not to violate the rights to liberty and property by prohibiting one company from buying another, but rather to remove the further violations of those rights that our massive regulatory structure represents.

On this point there were some thoughtful comments attempting to determine whether corporations have rights or whether only people have rights. I would argue that the rights in question when discussing corporations are those of the shareholders, who retain all of the same rights to life, liberty, and property as any other market participant. Some argued further that the shareholders obtain certain privileges granted by government, particularly in limiting liability, that justify taxes or restrictions that would not be justified on individuals.

However, this argument ignores the fact that corporations are required to register and therefore declare to all of society their corporate status. As the decisions to form a corporation, buy its stock, lend it money, or purchase its products are all made voluntarily and with full knowledge of its corporate status, there is no justification for government to impose special restrictions upon a corporation outside of those disclosure requirements necessary to inform the public that it is a corporation.

Finally, there were those that argued that unfettered free markets result in corporations achieving too much “power,” rather than merely too much wealth. Corporate “power” is a misnomer. Power is the ability to use force. Only government has power. It is government’s sacred duty to wield that power only in defense of each individual’s rights. No matter how much wealth a corporation obtains, it exercises no power, unless it literally spends its capital to raise an army and engage in open rebellion. Clearly, this has not been the case. However, it is also clear that corporate or other wealthy interests have used their wealth to buy political favors and to induce politicians to pervert the laws themselves, leading directly to the quasi-fascist economy that we find ourselves confronted with today.

This has been a failure of government, not the free market. It is certainly not admirable when an individual or group uses its wealth to achieve injustice. Nor are interested parties participating in a free market when trying to bring government force to bear upon competitors or other market participants. However, it is ultimately government that is entrusted to preserve justice. The members of government are never compelled to allow wealthy interests to persuade them to abandon their duty. It is the government’s job to say “no,” and when they fail to do so they are destroying the free market, not licensing it.

This brief article certainly does not answer every specific argument made against free markets, but it does illustrate something common to all of them: all objections against free markets result from a misunderstanding of what a free market is. A free market is one in which no one’s rights are violated, resulting in all transactions occurring by mutual, voluntary consent. Participants in a free market practice the non-aggression principle. This does not require unrealistic virtue from market participants, because it is government’s duty to enforce the non-aggression principle. Every economic problem plaguing American society today stems from some departure from the free market, which is some violation of the rights of market participants. Justice is the protection of those rights. Social justice can only be achieved when absolutely free markets exist. Properly understood, freedom and free markets are one and the same.

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

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>What is This Free Market We Keep Hearing About?

>“…every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interests his own way and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of other men.”

– Adam Smith (1776)[1]

As President Obama and his pet Congress continue their crusade to expand the reach of government into our lives, “conventional wisdom” continues to tell us that socialized medicine, rampant wealth redistribution, and government control over one industry after another is “necessary” because of the supposed failure of the free market to adequately address the needs of society. The way the “free market” is characterized by politicians and media pundits, it is not surprising that most Americans seem to regard it as some sort of special interest group (Mr. Undersecretary, the gentlemen from the free market are here to see you). Doubtless, when most Americans hear the words “free market,” they picture the CEO’s of Detroit automakers flying in on corporate jets or Wall Street financiers busy mastering the universe. This mischaracterization of the free market is ironic, seeing as both of these groups have recently sought and obtained capital from people who were not free to refuse (taxpayers).

So, before trying to ascertain whether or not the free market has failed society, it is necessary to define exactly what it is. This is not so much difficult as it is inconvenient for those who either wish to exert control over our lives or who wish to be controlled by those that they believe can offer them security in exchange for their liberty – even if it means destroying liberty for everyone. For both of these groups, the “free market” is something that must be characterized as something that it is not. To recognize it for what it is would both threaten their own ability to justify their positions and concede to their victims that what they advocate is in fact abject slavery. Neither result is palatable to opponents of the free market, so gibberish is necessary for them from both a moral and practical perspective.

So, let us say here what it seems that no one anywhere wants to come out and say: the free market is simply all members of society exercising their inalienable rights. It is nothing more and nothing less. Any other system, by definition, violates some or all of these rights.

Every individual has a natural right to labor and to keep the fruits of his labor (his property). This is his only means of pursuing his happiness. There is only one role for government in this area: to defend the property of each individual against theft by another person or group. A truly free market limits government’s role in regards to property to this natural boundary – for any further role constitutes government committing the very crime it exists to prohibit.

Every individual has a natural right to liberty – to do as he pleases as long as he does not commit aggression against the equal rights of another. In a free market, there can be no “regulation” (as we incorrectly understand the term today). The laws that restrict human action must be limited to those few necessary to ensure that no individual is forced or defrauded while paticipating in an exchange of property nor forced to accept any terms that he does not freely consent to. As the quote from Adam Smith illustrates, one cannot talk about “free markets” without at the same time incorporating the Non-Aggression Principle of Liberty. While Smith is generally regarded as the “father of capitalism,” he never actually called his economic system by that name. Instead, he referred to it as “a system of natural liberty.” Given the confusion that now accompanies the word “capitalism,” it might be better to revert to Smith’s terminology.

Since a free market is by definition the only system that allows individuals to exercise their rights, to say that an unfettered free market does not work is to say that society will not work unless those rights are systematically violated and that those violations must be protected by the law. A greater perversion of justice is unimaginable. Yet, the majority of our elected officials champion exactly this. Sadly, the majority of their constituents blindly parrot their horrific slogans.

In response to this argument, the more cunning opponents of liberty will say that we have given the free market a chance to work and it has failed. False prophet of freedom Alan Greenspan is notable among this gang of vipers. However, any lucid analysis of the difficulties that we find ourselves in now can indisputably be traced to the aspects of our society that prevent free markets. Bad mortgage loans were made because government committed the fraud of monetary inflation combined with the theft of guaranteeing loans with taxpayer money. The skyrocketing cost of health care is a result of government committing the theft of taking money from one individual and using it to buy health care for another, suspending the natural law of supply and demand with artificial demand. Contrary to the idea that individual rights must be balanced with societal needs, it is the violation of individual rights that causes all of our societal problems, most pervasively our economic problems.

As it is merely the economic application of the Non-Aggression Principle of Liberty, the free market is the only system that allows individuals the ability to exercise their right to pursue their happiness. By doing so, they naturally seek to profit from their labor and compete with each other without committing aggression against each other’s rights. History shows that individuals acting in this manner produce enormous benefits for their fellow human beings. The steam engine, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, and virtually every other technological advance that provides a tangible improvement in the quality of human life have been the result of human beings peacefully competing with each other for profit.

Conversely, the atomic bomb, the concentration camp, and every other technology which serves the purpose of death, destruction, and enslavement have been the result of governments forcefully confiscating property from their citizens which would otherwise have been put to productive use.[2] It has only been by violating the individual, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property that any of these horrors were able to come to fruition.

The free market has not failed. The free market is Freedom itself, and while it has only occurred for brief moments throughout history, it has never, will never, and can never fail. When we are confronted with gibberish about the failure of free markets and the need for government to “play a role in the economy,” or for a “public-private partnership,” let us not let ourselves be led into a carefully framed argument about what might provide more health care, produce more automobiles, or save more jobs. Let us recognize these arguments for what they are: a declaration of war upon our inalienable rights.

As our Declaration of Independence states, government’s purpose is to secure our rights, including our inalienable right to a free market within which to exchange our property. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of this end, it is our right and our duty to alter or abolish it. Not only must we resist further government expansion into our economy, we must begin dismantling the institutions of tyranny that government has already established over the past century. Our representatives must hear this from us every day until they call off their attack upon our rights or until they can be removed from office. There is nothing in any of our lives that is more important than this right now.

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!
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[1] Smith, Adam An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations from An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations: Selections edited by Laurance Winant Dickey Hackett Publishing Indianapolis, IN 1993 pg. 165
[2] The reader should avoid confusing private companies developing weapons for the government with “the free market.” The fact that the companies are privately owned does not mean that they are operating in a free market. Quite the contrary. Since the buyers of their products do so involuntarily (taxes), the development of new weapons and subsequent sale of them to the government has nothing to do with a free market.

>Putting Some Lipstick on the Bailout Rip Off Pig

>I’m not sure what is worse: having your life savings and future stolen by armed criminals or having to endure the charade of a Congressional debate that attempts to portray the theft as something that is in the best interest of the victims. In case you have become distracted by all of the theater, allow me to state clearly what is happening right now. The federal government has taken the “liberty” of confiscating trillions of dollars from the citizens whose property they have sworn to protect. This has been done for no other reason than to prop up their failed monetary system so that they can continue to siphon off the wealth of the productive members of society – rich, poor, and middle class alike – and direct it to the privileged few who would not prosper in a truly free market. Regardless of the endless minutiae that is thrown at the American public over the next several days, weeks, or months, this is the REALITY of the government’s response to the predictable meltdown of their socialist monetary and financial system.

If a little diversion is necessary to distract people when an ordinary crime is being perpetrated, then obviously an extraordinary diversion is needed when you are perpetrating the greatest heist of all time. In this respect, for once, our federal government did not let us down. It began routinely enough, with Chairman “Mao” Bernanke attending a hearing in Congress to answer questions on the details of the heist, including how the loot would be split up, etc. Of course, it was immediately assumed by all in attendance that the bailout was going forward. So, in an attempt to appear to be “fighting for their constituents,” many of the Congressmen began arguing for a clause in the bill that would limit the compensation of CEO’s of companies that made use of the stolen money. The extent to which this was debated was practically insufferable, as the underlying assumption was that the American people are so stupid as to believe that saving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars would make some significant difference when they were being divested of trillions. Still, for decorum’s sake, somebody had to put some lipstick on this bailout, rip-off pig.

There was also some discussion about the clause in the proposed bill that would give the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve unchecked power to spend the money any way they want, without oversight by Congress. Under the pretense of them representing “the people,” many of the Congressmen blustered that unelected officials could not be entrusted with this much money without oversight by the people’s representatives. Of course, anyone that has seen The Godfather movies, Goodfellas, or Casino knows that infighting is common inside criminal organizations. What this really represented was a power struggle over how the loot would be split up, or at least who would decide how it will be done. The most laughable part of this is that even if Congress gets oversight into the bill, they have already demonstrated while squandering the other $3 trillion dollars that they stole from us this year that they are going to roll over and agree to whatever the executive branch wants to do anyway, no matter how unconstitutional or even criminal (is there a difference?) the policy may be.

Finally, there was also some discussion about not appropriating the entire $700 billion all at once. Honestly, some of the Congressman seemed genuinely concerned about the calls that they were getting from their constituents. Apparently, significant segments of the population in some districts had not slept through this one, and were letting them know that they weren’t happy about this latest scam. False Prophet of Freedom Charles Schumer suggested that perhaps Treasury could pilfer $150 billion now, and return at a later date to collect the rest. There are always those who lose their nerve in every crew.

At this point, it is probably clear that never was there going to be a debate about WHETHER OR NOT THE MONEY SHOULD BE STOLEN FROM THE PEOPLE AT ALL. By the end of the news coverage of the congressional hearings, the debate had been framed to focus on whether or not to let CEO’s share some of the loot, who would decide how it was divided, and whether or not it would be stolen all at once. Of course, the media outlets for both major parties (Fox for the Republicans and MSNBC for the Democrats) immediately took their cues and tried the best they could to characterize these trivialities as “weighty issues.” However, there was still a feeling of uncertainty in the air about whether or not the syndicate could actually get away with this. Never fear, because the best theater was saved for last.

I have to give some credit to the political professionals that are running John McCain’s campaign. I wouldn’t have given him a chance to win this election six months ago, when it became apparent that he would be the Republican nominee. Somehow, his campaign has managed to convince a significant amount of people that this man, who barely graduated from college, whose mental stability has legitimately been questioned on many occasions, and who literally cannot be trusted to give an unscripted statement within range of a microphone, should be the next president of the United States. His selection of Sarah Palin as running mate seemed to swing momentum to his side at a time when Obama was poised to distance himself in the polls. After more McCain blundering at the podium had revived Obama once again, giving him a six point lead in the latest national polls, the McCain campaign pulled off its greatest coup to date. John McCain was suspending his presidential campaign, and calling on Barack Obama to do the same. There was a danger that the heist wouldn’t come off without their help, and McCain was heading immediately to Washington.

Finally, this was the diversion that the plot needed. The media was energized. Fox’s Carl Cameron appeared onscreen literally out of breath (I hope he was acting) with the scoop on McCain’s startling decision. Now, the debate had really been framed. Should Obama follow McCain’s lead, or was this just a political move? Should the debates go forward? Who actually called who first? McCain or Obama? There was simply no longer time to argue dry, philosophical issues, such as property rights for instance. No, there was now high drama in the presidential campaign charade and a prime time television event that was in jeopardy of being cancelled. The heist was on, and all that was left was to make sure that Stacks didn’t fall asleep in the getaway truck.

While without question a political stunt, and what will probably prove to be a very successful one, there was a little sincerity amidst all of the theater. McCain called for a presidential commission including Republicans and Democrats. It was time to put politics aside. Obama said that this was “no longer a Republican or Democratic problem, but an American problem.” I would only add one word. It is not a Republican or Democratic problem, but an American Oligarchy problem. The oligarchy is in some jeopardy here, with its phony monetary and financial system in danger of collapse, and it is time to put the pretense of being ideologically different aside and work together to save it. I was reminded of Mel Brooks in the classic “Blazing Saddles,” when he said, “We’ve got to protect our phony baloney jobs!” If there was ever a question of whether we are ruled by “Republicrats,” that question has been answered now that the chips are down.

There is some hope, though. For once, Ron Paul was not the only one calling the system into question. Jim DeMint actually said that he was disturbed that free market capitalism was being blamed for the crisis when in actuality it was entirely caused by government. Richard Shelby said that he was opposed to the bailout, as did Jim Bunning, who has been vocally critical of the Federal Reserve. Most importantly, even though the media jumped right in line with the Republicrat spin to frame this debate away from the real question – can the government actually steal this money from the American people – they were nevertheless forced to report that large sections of the American public are ANGRY about this. Unfortunately, they don’t know exactly what to be angry at, and are probably going to be quite easily manipulated to focus that anger in the wrong direction. But they’re pissed, and they are not being quiet about it anymore. One thing is true: the American people have been poorly educated, misinformed, lied to, manipulated, and conditioned to a certain extent, but they are not stupid. They know something smells about this and they are starting to figure out what direction the odor is coming from. Once they rediscover their individual rights – the rights that cannot be bought with fiat money nor voted away in an election – the criminal gang is going to be in grave danger. This may be their last score.

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