R.J. Eskow recently penned a smear piece on Salon.com against people who believe in freedom, raising 11 questions that supposedly demonstrate why libertarians are hypocrites when it comes to their beliefs. While most authors would attempt to address Eskow’s sophistry by providing answers, I’m going to use a different approach. I’m going to come up with 11 questions for statists that turn the tables on Eskow’s line of reasoning, while simultaneously proving answers to the questions Eskow raises.
Could political parties, public sector unions and political elections exist in a world where the use of force to take property from another person is impossible?
It seems to me that taxation is a necessary component for any of those entities to exist. If all transactions were voluntary, people would simply vote with their wallet by voluntarily subscribing to the “government” services they desired. I wouldn’t have to elect my local sheriff if I could simply chose which protection agency I wanted to protect me by setting up a subscription in the same way I subscribe to cable, internet service, health insurance, etc..
Is our statist willing to admit that the production of consumer goods is the result of many voluntary transactions, each of which entails the reward of profits and the risk of losses?
From where I stand, the state is a net destroyer of resources. It wastes money on bridges to no where, big digs, nuclear weapons programs, the arming of rebel forces, bank bailouts, etc.. etc.. Again, if all transactions were voluntary, the public would have a choice in which projects were funded and which ones were not.
Is our statist willing to acknowledge that there is a difference between the voluntary collective organization of private sector workers and imposed unions?
Most libertarians I know don’t have a problem with collective bargaining, as long as each member of the collective has voluntarily chosen to associate with that collective. The problem with unions today is that people don’t have the option of bargaining individually if they don’t like what the union is doing.
Is our statist willing to admit that most “regulation” is written and drafted by existing industry in order to create barriers to market entry or increase profits by forcing consumers to buy unnecessary additional products/services?
Just look at health insurance, illegal to sell across state lines, you can’t pick and chose specific illness coverage from different providers, forced bundling, etc.. Energy markets are basically imposed regional monopolies, with regulations prohibiting competition. There are licensing requirements that impose outrageous restrictions for cab drivers, hair stylists, landscapers, etc.. etc.. All of these were lobbied for by existing industry in order to protect their market shares. Besides, who regulates the regulators? Ever hear of regulatory capture?
Does our statist believe mob rule is a legitimate form of governance? If yes, explain why mob rule is a better way of regulating industry than letting people decide on their own which products and services they can buy.
In a free market, business that don’t serve the public interest wouldn’t last long. Just look at Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares to see what I’m talking about. When restaurants fail to live up to customer expectations, they get run out of business. I’ve never seen a Kitchen Nightmares episode where state health inspectors were the cause of a business failing, the market is what takes care of regulating bad businesses.
Does our statist use wealth, that was taken by force from people who earned it legitimately, from voluntary trade, in order to preach against those who earned their wealth from voluntary trade?
I find it to be a bit absurd to argue that the government is what creates wealth, and that businesses could not produce wealth if the state wasn’t there to tax them. Today, private industry spends twice as much on private security as the state spends on police forces. Private industry protects itself because the state is too incompetent and incapable of doing so.
Does our statist believe that thoughts or words can be a form of tangible property, which people may legitimately protect through the use of force?
Most libertarians I know are opposed to intellectual property laws. Of course, there are still plenty of libertarians like Ayn Rand who believe ideas can be property, but this view is not commonly held among academic Austrian School economists today.
Does our statist recognize that democracy is simply a more palatable term for mob rule?
Democracy is simply mob rule with some window dressing applied to give it the air of legitimacy. Mob rule has lead to some pretty heinous collective actions. The gassing of the Jews, the state imposed slavery of blacks, Jim Crow laws, hyper-inflation, eminent domain and numerous wars, just to name a few. I doubt Microsoft would go around committing genocide if there was no state. Why would they want to kill off their customer base?
Does our statist friend recognize that large corporations have no armies or police with which to threaten our freedoms, and that if they were to act against the wishes of the public, the public would simply cease to buy their products/services and put them into bankruptcy?
The idea that private corporations pose a threat to our freedoms is laughable. Private corporations are nothing more than voluntary associations of people who have decided to work together in order to facilitate a division of labor. There’s nothing inherently scary about that. What is scary is when those private corporations can use their wealth to put politicians in office. The state can then act as the corporate gun, doing the bidding of the corporations who put them into power.
Does our statist think that Marx and Lenin were off the mark in their economic theories, or does he agree with Marx, who assumed that mob imposed collectivism can lead to a happy prosperous society?
Not much needs to be said here. Mises refuted the logic of Marx in his epic, “Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth.” His prognostications took form with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Any time collectivism is imposed, costs increase and quality declines. That’s not to say that all places that have socialized industry have poor quality, but rather that all places that have socialized industry could have a better level of service and quality for less cost if they were fully privatized instead. The difference is relative, not absolute.
If you believe in collectivism, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgement against communism rendered decades ago by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the impoverished condition of those remaining states where government controls the means of production?
If history is to be our guide, those places with the most state control over industry tend to be the worst economic performers. When voluntary trade is allowed to flourish unhindered, we get periods like the industrial revolution, with job abundance that was so plentiful there weren’t enough workers to meet the demand for labor.