Why do we live under a monopoly when we don't have to?

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Published : June 23rd, 2021
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Category : Editorials


“there are strong reasons to suppose that civil war would be much less likely in a region dominated by private defense and judicial agencies, rather than by a monopoly State.  Private agencies own the assets at their disposal, whereas politicians (especially in democracies) merely
exercise temporary control over the State’s military equipment. . . . In the 1860s, would large scale combat have broken out on anywhere near the same scale if, instead of the two factions controlling hundreds of thousands of conscripts, all military commanders had to hire voluntary mercenaries and pay them a market wage for their services? — Robert P. Murphy, But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?


In today’s world we have nothing but coercive governments, and aside from politically-slanted media few people would say our social and economic life is in good shape and getting better.


Where is the evidence for this dim perspective?


Clearly, coercive government is not bad for everyone under its rule.  As one example, roughly half the people don’t pay any income tax, while the heaviest burden falls on relatively few high earners.  Sounds a lot like slave labor since those who create wealth for the benefit of others do so under compulsion.  Only a marginal few think this way, so the racket sails on with the blessing of moral leaders, until it either collapses or Atlas decides he’s had all he can stand.    


But what exactly is the problem with a central government that rules an area with a legal monopoly of violence?  True, the world is ruled by a multitude of bickering and sometimes threatening monopolies, with media struggling to hold the lid on government genocide, but if things work out for Klaus and Bill someday soon they will all be rolled into one big happy monopoly-fest with one Woke military force securing our safety.


But wait a minute — monopoly?  No one likes a monopoly except the monopolist and its close friends.  Any long-standing monopolist will necessarily have a lot of friends, government being the prime example.  But rather than exonerate its malfeasance, it only obscures it.  It also explains why a formal definition of government rarely appears in big media.  If people thought of government as an honest-to-God monopoly with all its documented evils they might infer something is terribly wrong with the world — but government’s grip on education and media keeps that threat a whisper.


Regardless, let’s keep this bad boy


But here’s the odd part: The great majority who see the evil in government don’t want to get rid of it altogether.  Not only do they want to keep it small, but they consider it their ideal political system: Limited government.  It’s like shrinking but not eradicating a cancerous tumor.


What’s their argument for limited government?  It is a belief that free markets are incapable of providing security from domestic and foreign threats, and are incapable of providing a legal system for securing property rights and settling disputes.  And there’s the argument that without coercive government gangs (warlords) would take over, as Robert Murphy addressed.  Free markets have never had a turn at bat, but limited-government advocates somehow insist free markets have built-in deficiencies: Markets deliver the goods, but they don’t answer the call for traditional government services (defense, courts, and police), in their view.


They don’t answer the call because they’ve been forbidden to answer the call.


They also somehow think limited government will stay limited.  They are big on history yet didn’t get the memo: Governments grow, and as they grow they take a great many down with them, through intent and incompetence.  This is anything but a secret.  Any night watchman government that wants to flex its muscles can create a crisis.  Emergencies call for extraordinary measures, and though the emergency might end only some of the measures go away.  Government thus accumulates an inventory of interventionist statutes, such as the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 and The Current Tax Payment Act (withholding tax) signed into law on June 9, 1943.  Free-market economist Milton Friedman had a hand in creating withholding legislation, commenting in his memoirs, 

At the time, we concentrated single-mindedly on promoting the war effort. We gave next to no consideration to any longer-run consequences. It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom. Yet, that was precisely what I was doing.

Free markets can provide for all our needs, if only we let them.  


The first step in living under a free market government is to announce you want to.  For more information see my book, Do Not Consent, or watch my YouTube movie of the same name.


***


George Ford Smith is the author of nine books, includingThe Flight of the Barbarous Relic,Eyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American RevolutionandThe Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of LibertyHe is also a filmmaker whose works include Do Not Consent- Think OUTSIDE the voting booth, Breaking Free from 2020, Last Day, and Risky Pinch Hitter.

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George F. Smith is the author of The Flight of the Barbarous Relic, a novel about a renegade Fed chairman and the editor of Barbarous Relic.com.
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