Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It’s Not ‘Broke’ and They Can’t ‘Fix it.’

This morning I was reading an old article in The Freeman (it’s a good entry-level source to get acquainted with the ideas of liberty).  The article was about education in the United States.

The author makes the point that two key fallacies when thinking about government education are:

1. That the government school system is a failure, and

2. That the government can fix it.

You can read the details in the article, but here is the gist:  the government’s school system is doing exactly what it is designed to do, even though to many observers that seems like “failure.”

Then thinking that government could “fix” this is nonsensical.  Government doesn’t see any core problem to “fix.”

These are points well-taken, and it seems they apply to more governmental undertakings than just education.  Many of us today observe our culture and economy, and think that government has made many mistakes.  We also tend to think that if we elected the right people, many of these problems could be “fixed” – or conditions at least improved.

In most cases the projects of our governments are not “broken” at all.  They are doing exactly what those who conceived, designed, and foisted them upon us intended for them to do.  And if we elect a new set of people thinking they will “fix” these problems, we will be disappointed.

The real problem is that governments are doing many, many, many things that governments should not do – should not even attempt to do.  The only way to “fix” such problems is to make sure that governments leave such problems alone.

One good example is unemployment.  Let’s assume that this means that there are a significant number of people who want a job, but cannot find one.  What is the typical governmental response to this problem?  You have heard the current poor excuse for a President, and many others before him, harp on and on about what government will do to “create jobs.”

But other than hiring people to work for the government, governments, and especially presidents, cannot “create jobs.”  The fact that they even talk about such a thing reveals that they are liars.

People who start businesses create jobs.  There are always people around who want to start some kind of enterprise, and they will attempt to do so if the government leaves them alone.

That means things like:  don’t tax, don’t regulate, don’t attempt social engineering.  All the things governments can do to allow jobs to appear are “don’t.”

We have foolishly accepted the idea that things like subsidies of business from governments will “create jobs.”  You must think economically here, but this is a good example.  A governmental subside is the government giving someone some money to, say, help start a business.  While is sounds nice, you have to think through the process to see what is really happening.

Governments help start businesses governments want, not necessarily ones consumers want.  To do so, governments must take money from taxpayers.  However, some or many of those taxpayers would have used the money government took from them to fund some kind of enterprise, which now will not exist.  Whatever it would have been would have been a direct response to what consumers want, not what governments want.

So what seemed like government “help” was really government control of businesses, that is, of people.  This is how government “help” is always government destroying freedom and liberty.

This November it is possible that we will elect all sorts of new people to Congress and local offices.  People have the idea that many government programs are broken and can be fixed.  If we proceed on that basis, we might get a somewhat new government with new ideas of how government can fix things and should “help” us better.  But exactly because of that, if we do it, we will not recover liberty.

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