Ron Paul’s Revolution: A Manifesto, is without a doubt a cornerstone and gem in Libertarian literature. Some might call it a “soft landing”, but it’s a fantastic entry into exploring Libertarian thought in a perfectly succinct, enlightening, genius way. No offense to Human Action, but to hell with Human Action! I’m joking of course, but this little guy at a whopping 186 pages (if you include the edition with a chapter on the economic crisis) covers all the basic principles of liberty ammunition for any debate, enlightening conversation, and just straight up knowledge to make you a little less dumb. Now unlike my fellow colleagues of this blog who have been around the liberty block a bit longer than myself and are probably a few or 20 IQ points higher than me (if you believe in that garbage), I’m kinda lazy. I don’t really feel like doing an entire book review, despite how I just went off on how short and awesome it is. I feel like my favorite chapter would suffice though, so for brevity’s sake, I would like to highlight my favorite parts of this chapter that I find are most compelling…Oh and full disclaimer, I haven’t read Human Action, but you probably might have guessed.
In Chapter 4: Economic Freedom, I like to think of this as Ron Paul’s “taxation is theft” chapter, but the Super Saiyan form in an eloquent Ron Paul, Southern Gentleman fashion.
In a free society, or economy in this case, everyone has a right to their life and property. Likewise, you don’t have the right to infringe on anyone else’s property. Don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff. The government is hurting you by forcing you to pay taxes.
The system is set up where people try to use the government to dominate each other. It’s a welfare pissing contest. The people shouldn’t let government do things that individuals couldn’t get away with (taxation = theft, conscription is slavery, war is mass murder, etc.). Let’s not forget, the poor aren’t the only ones who benefit from the state’s free goodies. The rich manipulate government too. Ron Paul explains that “the rich are more than happy to secure for themselves a share of the loot – for example, in the form of subsidized low-interest loans (as with the Export-Import bank), bailouts when their risky loans go sour, or regulatory schemes that hurt their smaller competitors or make it harder for new ones to enter an industry.”
Hopefully you’d agree that the popular opinion in the US is that the government shouldn’t steal from the people. The state shouldn’t be able to pick favorites and grant special privileges to certain industries either, or else that shows those guys are more important than everyone else in the country. State interference in private industry by arbitrarily deciding who’s a winner or loser makes for a super toxic, immoral, politicized body politic. That’s not what the Founders wanted.
Government power should just be used to protect individual rights: life and property, NOT control the economy. That’s OUR job as consumers by voting with our dollar in the free market to say what goods will be provided and a what price. We dictate supply and demand. This creates competition amongst businesses to decrease cost and increase quality. Government only distorts this beautiful equilibrium.
Take sugar for example: the US limits the amount of sugar imports to raise the price on American consumers which hurts you and me and makes the sugar corporations richer. The sugar industries are incentivized to lobby the government for quotas to stay rich and screw us. It’s only a few people who benefit, and the cost on consumers is hardly noticeable. But you gotta consider all the other industries that lobby for the same privileges.
As mentioned before, I believe that humans are charitable by nature. Through voluntary association, The People will subjectively decide which programs mean the most to them, and need funding through voluntary action. In the private sector, experts in these industries actually face risk when they contribute their own capital to these programs. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of the private donor to deliver the highest quality of service to the public in these specific fields and industries. He carries the appropriate knowledge to know where to efficiently contribute how much money should be spent where. Without a proper understanding of the industry, what gives the government cronies any right to say how much money should be spent where? Nothing. They’re incompetent, and are only in it for themselves as bureaucrats.
Less money would be needed for welfare if done privately. Like many government programs, most of the budget (70% in welfare’s case) is spent on the employees to administer the programs. Emphasis on “administer”, or administration: a select few/minority group of people (bureaucrats) at the top making these decisions that usually benefit themselves and NOT the program. This example perfectly demonstrates how easy it is to manipulate government run organizations over private ones. The State wrecks the economy through intervention: artificially manipulating prices, hiking them so companies become lazy and less competitive, and putting them out of business. Therefore, a quasi-state-monopoly is created through corporatism. Similarly, the state takes advantage of the Federal Reserve by constantly printing money to pay for public programs which makes the rich, bureaucrats richer, and the public is provided an awful service.
“Given that the politically influential and well connected – neither of which includes the middle class or the poor – are the ones who tend to win privileges and loot from the government, I do not understand why we take for granted that the net result of all this looting is good for those who are lower on the economic ladder.”
We’re only free individuals if we can keep all of our hard-earned money. The state forces us to genuflect, be its bitch and cave into giving it our money. Otherwise, we face the consequences of death, prison, and high fines. Our property rights aren’t being protected when this happens, If that’s not protected, then none of our rights are. It’s like if you’re a slave being able to do whatever you want, except keep what you earn. Get an A+ on the test? Too bad. We gotta bump you down to a C so we can redistribute the rest of your accomplishments to the class so they can all have at least a passing grade. Taxes are no different.
The notion of a free economy gets mistakenly seen as “pro-business”, where the rich take advantage of the poor. This is wrong, and big business is just as guilty as small business when it comes to using the government as a tool to succeed. Businessmen are still human. They’re not all bad actors, and will try to get ahead as easily as possible. However, honest businessmen and entrepreneurs are the ones we should look up to and admire in society because they make everyone’s lives better by taking risks we’re not willing to take.
Economic historian, Burton Fulsom, points out that there’re two types of entrepreneurs: market and political. Market is the entrepreneur based in the private sector, whereas political is lobbying the government for your free goodies that are provided via stealing from the American taxpayers.
Like income tax, the draft is a form of slavery. Those appendages of the state basically legitimize that they own you and you don’t own yourself. You’re not allowed to make decisions for yourself. That’s not freedom. That is slavery. The government will just pity you and let you keep some of the leftovers after you earn it, HOWEVER you earn it! This isn’t how a free society prospers because individuals need as much capital as possible to invest and make an economy blossom. Government prevents this from happening through intervening via taxes, regulations, lobbies, tariffs, sanctions, you name it. Ending the income tax all together and not replacing it with anything at all would cut government revenue (wasted tax payer money) buy 40%, but this idea isn’t discussed because it would destroy the state if placed on the surface in the public eye.
We’re brainwashed in school that without government regulation, free market capitalism will create monopolies and everyone will be enslaved and poor. That’s exactly what we’re told what happened in the Great Depression. That’s just a scare tactic to make us want mommy and daddy government to take care of us. We’re being lied to want coddling of the state so it can take our rights away by imposing more and more government regulations in the economy. Economic freedom is individual freedom. That is the weapon against the state.
There is no doubt that America was much poorer 100 years ago. However, it’s because the economy wasn’t near as productive as it is now. Productivity happens when government is out of the way, and innovation and technological advancements are then allowed to take place and create prosperity. The state is NOT capable to make that happen. The more capital people have and the richer people are, the more productive they will be. More goods will be made in the market at lower prices and at higher qualities, leading to a higher standard of living. Taxing the rich is counter productive to this phenomena because it’s their capital that is invested and makes this happen in the first place. It would be stupid for them to keep it all to themselves in the first place. When people have more money and capital, the economy will remain productive, yielding a prosperous and free society. Economic freedom is individual freedom. Taxation is a war on the people by stealing their capital and restricting their economic freedom. Therefore, taxes are a war on peace and prosperity.
Wealth is already naturally redistributed. This is because those with capital invest in business and industries to increase production and provide goods and services to the public. Prices remain affordable via competition amongst businesses. Government laws and regulations in the market place stifle this growth. Many large industries have lobbyists to lobby for regulations in the economy that big business can handle, but smaller companies can not. This weeds out the smaller companies and removes competition, as well as decreases the quality and quantity in the market for consumers to choose from. Then the vote of their dollar becomes meaningless, and their economic freedom is lost. The “redistribution” of wealth has then been suffocated by the state.
The golden moment of this chapter is when Paul highlights the influence of Ludwig von Mises. Mises showed us that the economist’s job is to speak truth to power. When this happens, the authorities see you as an enemy, and you should wear that as a badge of honor. Your truth is their weakness. The fact that you’re right and they’re wrong, makes you powerful and them weak. That’s the power of truth. Become an enemy of the state.
I find what is most important about this chapter is that The People have the power to end the state through embracing capitalism. This can only be done if we exercise our economic freedom without government intervention disrupting our prosperity. Providing any private sector solution to a public sector program’s problem is kryptonite to the state. Thus, posing an end to the income tax, or funding unconstitutional wars as solutions is not allowed to be discussed, because the government depends on the success of the private sector: entrepreneurs, small businesses, people like artists or freelancers in the gig economy. Our success and the fruits of our labor are stolen for “just causes”, or for the greater good/public sector government programs, that don’t actually get properly funded. Government can’t do this because there’s no true profit motive behind it and there’s no risk or stakes involved. This is literally why we can’t have nice things.
It’s up to us as individuals to find the alternatives to government. That’s why you have economists like Mises who advocate for the Austrian School of Economics. This school of economic thought is based off embracing the free-market. Austrian economics is the sword to slay the dragon of the state. Private actors and entrepreneurs voluntarily making decisions based on their emotions, needs, subjective value, and self-interest. This is the only economic system which will make us the most free.
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