How often over the last six months have we heard the phrase? Bear Sterns wasn’t, but AIG is. Now the federal government is requesting expanded powers to take over these companies that are deemed by someone as being “too big to fail.” Although this might theoretically be a better option for the taxpayer to have a supposed stake in these companies (by the government owning them instead of bailing out these corporations), the threat to liberty is likely greater. As companies are protected from the consequences of their bad behavior they will continue that manner of practicing business, destroying the economy. As the government sets a precedent of taking over businesses that “need to be protected” from failure, the tendency toward government ownership of the means of production may proceed unmitigated, with concerning fallout.
John Locke is credited with being the most influential English writer on those who declared independence from Britian and put forth the goal to “form a more perfect union.” His Second Treatise on Government is, perhaps, the most powerful piece describing the concepts that the people are sovereign and that government can only be done by consent and that once those who are appointed to govern stray from the mandate given by the People, that sovereign body (the majority of the People) can recall them and reassert its power to govern.
In this book Locke also gives an explanation of property that is reasoned, reasonable, and not capitalistic. In fact, Locke is considered by many to be the father of liberal economics (today’s libertarian economic viewpoint) as his ideas laid the groundwork for Adam Smith’s descriptions of a free market, of Frederic Bastiat’s utopia of free exchange of goods and services, and of Ludwig von Mises’ explanation of subjective value and the natural laws of human action and choice.
Originally posted by me at The Cause of Liberty
While driving last week, I overheard a video my children were watching (The Magic Schoolbus) about the critical interrelations that take place in the environment.
The story was about how putting artificial turf down (to keep the area clean) in a patch of rain forest resulted in the cocoa trees not making any cocoa beans. The artificial turf drove away the peccaries that were splashing mud onto the trees. The mud served as a habitat for the midge flies that pollenated the cocoa tree flowers allowing it to bear fruit.
So what do cocoa trees not being pollinated have to do with Frederic Bastiat?
In my previous post I proposed that corporatism is worse than socialism because of the inherent inequality that lies therein. However, it got me thinking about the natural ends of these economic structures. This is a line of thinking that I have considered before, but not to the point of writing about it.
Socialism is generally defined as holding in common the means of production and labor in an economy.
State socialism is when the government owns those means. This economic construct is laden with inefficiencies and lack of freedom and potential for oppression and force. Besides, it doesn’t work.
There is, however, a worse economic construct than socialism, and that is corporatism. Corporatism is the situation in which taxpayers support, via subsidy, private corporations and entities.
Originally posted by me at Cause of Liberty blog.
For millenia, logic (the ability to make step-by-step arguments and arrive at the same conclusion as another) was assumed to be a sound avenue for arriving at truth (an epistemology).
However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, this assumption fell into disfavor as society slowly replaced the pan-human capacity for reason with “group-think” ideologies that assume that different races and different socio-economic classes somehow have different “logics” (polylogism: multiple systems of logic).
I’ve been thinking recently about why we have such intense divisions within humanity. I think I have part of the answer and it comes down to the way conservatives and non-conservatives (liberals, libertarians, anarchists) see themselves and others.
Conservatives in the U.S. like to put forth the idea that those who founded the USA did so on conservative principles. Of the fundamental tenants (not dogmas or doctrines, according to Kirk) mentioned in the previous post, which are in agreement with the principles of the American Founding? A Whig in the British Parliament, Edmund Burke joined the Radical Whigs (there’s that darned r-word again) in support of the American colonists’ rights to self-government and to fight against an over-reaching monarch. And although most of his conservative writings were in response to the bloody French Revolution and the “radical” ideas of “liberty, fraternity, and equality”, conservatives promote Burke’s opinions on the American revolution and the fundamental principles of the American Founding as being, well, conservative. Let’s see how conservative those ideals were.
In an effort to understand conservatism, I started reading Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Kirk, via his influential book, is considered the Father of the conservative resurgence that occurred in America and Britain starting in the late 1960′s and reaching its pinnacle in the 1980′s with the Reagan administration in the U.S. and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. I was raised conservative and first became aware of politics when conservatism was at its apex, but my experiences in the world and a more nuanced study of recent (and ancient) history forced me to question some of my conservative heritage. After reading the introduction and first chapter, it is official…I have been declared a radical by the self-stated non-dogmatic conservatives.
Well, it now seems that we are down to two main presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Interestingly, both represent the more liberal portion of their respective parties’ ideologies. The question is, who should you vote for and why?