Tuesday, April 26, 2016

More government not the answer

(My Clovis News Journal column for March 25, 2016)

Want to mess up something? Stir a bit of government into the mix. Want to destroy it beyond all hope of repair? Try to fix the resulting mess with even more government.

We've seen this happen with health care in America. And with education, security, transportation, justice, the economy, addiction, crime, and every other area of life someone decided needed just a little government "help". Usually justified either by "safety" or "fairness".

Unfortunately, most people soon stop being able to even imagine a free market in the areas in which government has been inserted. When the trouble continues, they blame any remaining freedom for the problems, rather than realizing it's the coercion inherent in government which causes the failures.

Due to their misunderstanding of the situation, their inevitable solution is to mix in even more government.

It's like trying to purify drinking water by adding buckets of raw sewage. Or even one teaspoonful at a time. What results won't be something I'd drink.

If something is needed and people want it, they will find a way. To pretend that without government, roads (for example) wouldn't exist, is to claim no one wants good roads enough to pay for them unless forced-- under threat of violence-- to give money toward the cause. You're claiming business owners don't value roads to bring customers to their shops. That people don't want roads leading to places they want to go. That cooperation is impossible. It simply isn't reality.

When someone imposes a government "solution", it drives out innovation and keeps an even better solution from being found. If you are forced to pay for the government option it means you may not be able to afford a solution someone else has discovered. Because you are forced to pay for government schools whether you use them or not, you have less money to invest in education.

One of the crazier justifications for government intervention is that it will save money. Exactly how limiting competition, funding a huge bureaucracy, and layering on pointless red tape is supposed to save money, I don't understand. History supports my skepticism. Sure, the initial false estimates of the costs are always lower, but those are never accurate. Sometimes too low by an order of magnitude. When the bill comes due, there are always expensive surprises and unintended consequences which shouldn't surprise anyone.

With government, I suppose we should be grateful we never get all we pay for. The alternative is unthinkable.


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Better tools

If someone can only think of one way to deal with a particular issue, and you point out why you believe their way is wrong, they can get really angry over it.

I guess I can understand. They had a tool, and you've just taken it from them- or made the argument why they should lay their tool aside.

That might upset me, too.

No one doubts aggression can be "useful". But there is always a better way- one which doesn't involve aggression. It might be harder to find. It might be harder to implement. It may not have the instant results you want. But you still have no right to initiate force.

And, if you don't think you can afford something, stealing it is a "useful"way to get it. But theft is always wrong, even if you call it "taxation", "fines", "asset forfeiture", "property codes", "zoning laws", "fairness", "common good", or various other euphemisms thieves prefer. You still have no right to steal.

If those are the tools you reach for when a problem crops up, you need better tools. And since using government to "solve" your problems is always a use of theft and/or aggression, using government against people is not the best thing to do.

My only exception to that would be when you have the chance to use government against itself. In that case, I think it's hilarious to see government eat itself. Just be very careful- anytime you involve government at all, you increase your risk of being caught up in the carnage. Just make sure it's worth it to you.