Friday, June 13, 2014

Liberals, Shocked, Shocked that Government is Force

One of my favorite themes is that our liberal friends are a little to quick to suggest that the kind of government they advance is really just the benign program of a bunch of kindly librarians.  This allows them to forget, as they crunch down ruthlessly on anyone that disagrees with them, that government is force.

Now David Brat, economics professor and giant slayer, has dared to write that the "government holds a monopoly on violence."  He has even referenced Nietzsche and the last man.  And liberals from the Wall Street Journal's news side to the liberal blogosphere are hyperventilating, according to Charles C. W. Cooke.

OK. I get it.  Liberals really don't want the idea to get about that government is always and everywhere an overgrown band of thugs.  They don't want you to think that if you don't take care to limit its power government will sooner or later come and get you.  That's because they want to increase the powers of government.

I recently wrote an emailer that government can do three things: it can do war, it can do jails, and it can do loot.
I was at a party last night with a bunch of liberals, and afterward my mind was in a frenzy.  And I thought: government can do three things: it can do war, it can do loot, and it can do jails.  So it tries to solve every problem either with a war, such as a war on poverty, or a jail, such as our national child custodial facilities called "schools", or a handout to its supporters, as in Medicare, Social Security, handouts, crony capitalism, etc.
He replied by raising the question of "regulations" and imagining that I would characterize regulations as jail or loot.  It's true that it does seem a bit extreme to think of regulations that way.  But I'm reading Matt Ridley's Rational Optimist right now and his sweep of history has trade originating way before the start of cities, and even farming.

In other words barter and exchange are not a new and frightening thing that started with the industrial revolution.  It's been going on since the dawn of time.  Because Ricardo's law of comparative advantage applies to all living things, because everyone benefits from specialization and the growth of the "collective mind."  And most "regulation" of business was fully covered in the common law, which was judge-made law that evolved out of the legal conflicts between merchants.

But of course that wasn't good enough for the educated youth of the 19th century and it is certainly not acceptable to the progressive ruling class of the 21st century.  They want power, not justice.

Yeah.  There is a role for "regulation" but the problem is that it's a two-edged sword.  You can use it to curb corporate monopoly power, but what do you end up with?  You end up with the Interstate Commerce Commission that was supposed to curb railroad monopolies and ended up preserving the transportation status quo in a century-long railroad bankruptcy.  How do you know if your regulation is curbing monopoly and "externalities" or setting you on the road to "regulatory capture?"  The answer is that you don't.  The answer is that any government regulation will probably end up advantaging some special interest.

Start with Obamacare, which was advertised as bending the cost curve and reducing the cost of health insurance for the average family by $2,500 a year.  But now we read about the Obamacare "risk corridors" that are intended to bail the insurance companies out of losses in the transition period to full Obamacare.  What's that all about?  I thought that the whole point of Obamacare was to curb the eevil insurance companies from ripping us off.  The fact is that a monster government program like Obamacare has unlimited opportunities for special interests to carve out cozy little monopolies and subsidies that are too small for the media to sniff out and scandalize.  Of course it is.  Because we know that government regulation almost always leads to regulatory capture.  Because government is force.

And when it comes to green subsidies to green crony capitalists the media doesn't show up, because they favor subsidies and monopolies when it serves the liberal agenda.

Dave Brat is right.  If you don't start your day remembering that government is force, then you are already half way to deluding yourself that your program of government force is nothing more than a couple of librarians discussing a poster celebrating literacy.

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