As libertarians, we often get caught up in the details of how a voluntaryist, non-coercive society should work. We talk about dispute resolution, private roads, victimless crimes, state violence, ad infinitum. We think a lot about philosophy. Murray Rothbard or Milton Friedman? AnCap or Paleolib? Can you be a libertarian and a feminist at the same time? (Yes, you can, if you don’t mind living in perpetual cognitive dissonance).
But when you’re arguing with your LibDem-voting parents about why their “right not to get shot” doesn’t clash with your right to self-defence, I think you have to look at it simply. You have to point at the elephant in the room. Socialism/central planning/“cohesive society”/whatever else they want to call it - it’s a complete and utter con.
It’s kind of like a Ponzi scheme, if a Ponzi scheme manager could put a gun to your head. But the point is the same: stealing from those who have a little by promising them that they’ll get more in the end. The only ones who win are the con artists, i.e. politicians, the quango execs, and anyone else with their faces in the trough. They spout so much utter nonsense, it’s easy to get lost in the mazes of their ideology. They speak about “ideals”, pretending they’re not taking from you, they’re giving it to others. They’re only after the mysterious 1%, they’ll take care of the 99. No, they won’t. They’ll steal and waste.
Here’s a list of reasons you can use in your next family gathering or dinner party full of Radio 4 listeners as to why socialism is utter bollocks by its very nature.
1. The individual knows best how to take care of him or herself, if he or she is allowed to do so. If the State takes that away, no wonder people can’t seem to take care of themselves anymore. Even with the best intentions, the State is unable to take care of the individual as well as he or she can. Socialists will tell you they’ll spend your money better than you can. If I redistributed a penny every time I heard statists argue “we can’t let people have/do X because they’re too stupid”, I’d have paid the housing benefit for the entire James Turner Street at least once.
2. No State institution cares one whit about anyone except those who are running it. The only concern of any charity exec or civil mandarin is his or her own job security, not “the poor”. They are not more “publicly spirited”, they’re just less proficient at a marketable skill.
3. Socialists don’t care about helping the poor, because if they did, there might not be anymore of “the poor”, and then what would the socialists do? Also, see 1. Socialists seek to take away people’s ability to take care of themselves by taking away their money. Because that means job security and a state of perpetual “poverty crisis”.
4. Socialism takes away people’s money and opportunities for change. Economic productivity falls, but costs keep rising. This cycle is perpetuated until there’s nothing left. This is what happened in the Soviet Union, and this is what will happen to the “social democracies” we’re told to look up to, once they squander all the money their free-market ancestors raised. Norway is an exception, at least while the rest of us drink their oil.
5. Like any cancer, the State is programmed to grow uncontrollably. The more taxes and regulations there are, the more useless pen pushers can have a cushy job and a gold-plated pension.
6. Regulations are self-defeating, because they can’t solve the issue of government workers, who create those regulations, from doing a bad job enforcing them. Also, those regulations do not serve the public, they serve those who made them up.
7. The public sector can never be as efficient as the private, because private business earns money by giving people what they want, while the public sector steals money. There’s no incentive to do a good job.
8. If private enterprise is crowded out by the public sector, that enterprise falls pray to all the bureaucracies and regulations imaginable. In the market, the customer is always right. In socialism, the Great Leader is always right.
9. When the Great Leader becomes always right, concentration camps rise up. When the state regulates your property, work and business, it owns your property, work and business. People become resources, and their value is measured in how much tax they can pay. That’s why road safety/anti-alcohol/anti-smoking/anti-obesity campaigners stress how much money is lost by people dying in car accidents. Because to the State, you are your tax bill, and if you die early, you’re stealing.
Once again, this post was inspired by an insightful and clear-headed Lithuanian blogger.