Saturday, August 28, 2010

The All But Forgotten Self-Governing Economy

Joel Bowman writes:

The inability of Mr. Bernanke – or anyone else for that matter – to hold back the tide of necessary correction ought to be obvious to all.

The study of economics wasn’t always the bottomless well of embarrassment it has come to be. There was a time when moral philosophers – as those of the trade were once known – spent their days pondering things of actual importance. They listened to the market murmurs of the day, instead of forecasting the unknowable events of tomorrow…they observed rather than tinkered…and asked questions instead of falsifying answers.

How ought members of a society allocate limited supply in an environment of unlimited demand? Is there a fair and equitable way to achieve such a goal? What controls, if any, should be employed to govern the process? Etc., etc., etc…

Although economics is itself an imperfect science, a “soft science,” as some assert, the perfect laws of science nevertheless bind it. Quantitative easing, for instance, is and always will be a bogus theory, a monetary mallet made of liquid, unable to bend anything into shape and forever doomed to flooding the system. Borrowing from one pocket to finance the other is a mug’s game; just as increasing the supply of money in a closed system must necessarily devalue all pre-existing units by a commensurate measure. Put another way, two plus two is never equal to five…never mind what the modern economist has to say on the matter.

Similarly, one can be reasonably certain that there are only two ways in which an economy, and indeed an entire society, is capable of governing itself. The first is by force; the second by means of voluntary cooperation. That both are mutually exclusive should be self-evident. One cannot be partly violated any more than they can be a little bit pregnant. The concept is oxymoronic, as well as ordinarily moronic. The idea is akin to that of a “voluntary tax.” Obviously, no such thing truly exists. It is a donation or it is an act of theft. Plain and simple.

Now wait just a moment, we hear some say. What about the rule of the majority? After all, we can’t very well wait around for everyone to agree on everything all the time. That may be true. But, to paraphrase an old adage, the road to ruin is paved with the whims of political expediency. A system built on a foundation of coercion is sentenced to failure, whether by invasion from without or revolution from within.

For its part, the voting process only serves to muddy the waters. Democracy, as Winston Churchill once observed, is the worst form of government…except for all those others that have previously been tried. Even if 99% of the people vote for some kind of sales tax, for instance, a full and very important 1% are still subject to what essentially becomes legalized theft...

It was perhaps David Hume who expressed it best when, in his monumental First Principles of Government, he wrote, “Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.”

Self government, through individual and collective acts of voluntary cooperation, therefore, seems to be the only philosophically consistent, defensible form of government available to man. The state, with its various forms of coercion, shrouded in the cloak of good intention and peddled by forecast-mongering central bankers, be damned.

read the entire essay

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