Helping with a Hammer
I recently received an e-mail from someone complaining that I was giving Obama a hard time, even though he was doing his best to help us all out of our current situation. The e-mail was heartfelt and sincere (though I'm not entirely sure which of my rants it was in response to). But it was an outstanding example of how the mental "lenses" most people wear guarantee their perpetual enslavement.
People from both major parties can often be heard to opine that this or that politician is "working hard" to fix the problems of society, and "doing his best" to help the people. Let's set aside their assertions that what politicians do is done out of good intentions. Though I think politicians are all lying crooks, motives can be hard to actually prove. Actions, on the other hand, are pretty easy to observe.
A lot of people really and truly believe in "government" solutions to problems. However, that's only because they don't understand what "government" is, and what it does. Here is a simple way to understand it:
Suppose I offered you the following "service": I will come to your house, bringing with me a large rubber mallet, and I will hit you on the head, at carefully chosen times, in order to improve your life. If, for example, you are about to eat something I think is unhealthy, you'll get a clonk on the noggin. If you're about to spend money on an unwise investment, you'll get a whack in the skull. Furthermore, I will wield my hammer to persuade you to give to charity, engage in activities I deem useful, and do whatever else I think is good for you and for society in general.
So, how much would you be willing to pay for such a "service"?
Well, I have one more thing about my "services" that I should
mention: I'm not going to give you a choice about whether you use my "services" or not, or a choice about how much you will pay for it. I will use my hammer to make you pay as much as I deem necessary, for anything I say is worthwhile.
So, does that sound helpful? Do you think my "services" would be likely to improve your life, or improve society as a whole? No?
Well such "help" is exactly what "government" does, and it's all that it ever does. Government does not create any wealth.
Everything it "gives," it first has to take, which it does by threatening to use the club of "law." Whether by direct "taxation,"
the fraud of "monetary policy," "tax credits," or any other "legal"
incentives or disincentives, all "government" ever does economically is coerce people into spending what they earn the way the politicians want it spent, instead of the way the people who earned it wanted it spent.
The same is true of all other "laws." Every "law" is a threat backed by force (fines or imprisonment), either telling people they must do something, or they must not do something. In other words, all it does is limit the ways in which people can interact, financially or otherwise. It creates nothing, and it adds no new opportunities or choices. It's a club, and nothing else.
It's true, there are a few things which should be limited via the proverbial club (though whether "government" should ever be the wielder of that club is a topic for another time). In short, force or fraud, and nothing else, should be responded to with the threat of the club. And yet the vast majority of "laws," including the thousands upon thousands of pages of complicated rules and regulations about every product and activity imaginable, have nothing to do with preventing force or fraud, but are entirely about politicians forcing everyone else to do things the way the politicians want them done.
As a result, just how much good can be done by well-intentioned politicians (pretending for a moment that there are such things) via the club of "government"? For instance, how many ways do you think it should use its club on you, to coerce you into making "better" choices? Or are you one of those extremist wackos who think you're quite capable of making your own choices?
Back to me and my hammer, and my "services" described above, what would be the best thing I could possibly do to actually help you?
Simple: I could GO AWAY and leave you alone. Anything else would be both an insult to you, and an obstacle to you doing what you think is best. Likewise, the best thing the "government" goons, with all their various clubs and hammers, could possibly do for you, the nation, and society in general, is GO AWAY. So when's the last time you heard a president suggesting that? Could it be that all politicians of both parties are more excited about wielding that hammer and feeling the power it gives them, than they are about helping anyone (other than themselves)?
Of course. And yet most of the country not only fails to recognize that the "government" hammer is the cause of most of society's problems, but they still insists that there can be such a thing as "government solutions," as if all society needs is a few more well- placed hits with the hammer of "law," and everything will be fine.
They think all we need is the right guy, with the right intentions, wielding the hammer, and we'll all be saved. Good grief.