One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

The government, federal or otherwise, has no business model because it is not a business.  We know this at the outset because government does not compete on the market for people’s money, as every other business must do.  As a monopoly of violence it seizes the money it needs through taxes and monetary inflation.  As long as the government doesn’t get carried away by taxing and inflating too much, most people, many of whom call themselves libertarians, regard this setup as necessary.

In America Loves Paying Taxes Vanessa Williamson writes:

In national surveys, over 95 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “It is every American’s civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes,” and more than half see taxpaying as “very patriotic.” One man from Ohio called it a responsibility to “the Founding Fathers.” A former Marine said taxpaying is “the cost of being an American,” while a man from California said tax avoidance is the equivalent of “shorting the country.”

Comforting, isn’t it?

Every business if it is to stay in business must produce a profit.  It must make more money than it spends.  Competition will force companies to keep its prices as low as possible while still bringing in enough revenue to make a profit.  Without a sound business plan that adjusts to attacks from competition and changing consumer preferences, a firm’s existence will be short-lived.

Consider the once strong demand for MS DOS personal computer applications in the early 1980s (I had a side business writing them). When the Mac came along in 1984 with its graphical user interface Microsoft was caught flat-footed.  Users no longer had to type cryptic commands they couldn’t remember at a blinking cursor; they could do everything they wanted from pull-down menus and a mouse.  The Mac was the computer “for the rest of us.”  Bill Gates immediately ordered creation of a DOS shell he called Interface Manager, later changed to Windows.  It lacked the elegance of the Mac but it sustained the company’s leadership until they created a Windows OS from scratch.

Apple helped Gates by failing to include a killer business app with their radical offering.  Critics said the little Mac couldn’t do anything except paint pretty pictures.  And at a price of $2,495 ($7,604.88 in 2024) it sold poorly.  Later, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple after his dismissal by the company’s board, he decided to empower individual users instead of hidebound organizations and developed a successful marketing strategy with the lowercase “i” and colorful, more powerful home computers.

Assuming he’s allowed to vote freely with his money, the consumer always benefits from innovation and competition.  Companies gathering the most votes stay around and possibly grow, but are always subject to the changing preferences of the ones putting their money down.

One of these things is not like the others

One could argue that government does indeed have a business plan, and it is straightforward and unique.  Having far more guns than other organizations and virtually limitless latitude to use them it gravitates naturally toward force rather than persuasion.  When it needs more money it doesn’t innovate or economize, it plunders the public.  Resist and you could end up dead, and everyone understands this.  Judging it as we would a business organization it stands out starkly as criminal.

Apple, Microsoft and over 12,500,000 other companies would never get away with forcing people to deal with them at prices they dictate.  Don’t like iPhone’s price?  You don’t have to buy it.  Don’t like any pocket phone (as with my antiquated friend in the Ozarks)?  You’re free not to buy any.  But with government that relationship changes.

Should we wonder why our economy has become a house of cards, when we have a government-provided counterfeiter directing money matters?  Fiat money inflation is the heart and soul of government’s “business plan.”  It conjunction with the Fed it creates gargantuan mountains of debt it never worries about because it’s powerful enough to force taxpayers to pay the interest on it.

Do we need gangsters running out lives?

The argument that the kind of government we have — a monopoly of violence — is necessary lacks non-contradictory support.  No other entity can legitimately initiate force except this one we call government.  Where did it originally get that authority? Did you and I vote for it?

Mises in Omnipotent Government writes:

With human nature as it is, the state is a necessary and indispensable institution. The state is, if properly administered, the foundation of society, of human coöperation and civilization. It is the most beneficial and most useful instrument in the endeavors of man to promote human happiness and welfare. But it is a tool and a means only, not the ultimate goal. It is not God. It is simply compulsion and coercion; it is the police power.  p142

Since we can’t recruit angels “Human nature as it is” applies to those conducting state affairs too, which is why we’ve seen so few Ron Pauls and an onslaught of Joe Bidens.   Since no other entity in society possesses this power are we not granting validity to contradictions?  And by what definition has any state in history been “properly administered”?

Later in the same book he writes,

When the men in office and their methods no longer please the majority of the nation, they will—in the next election—be eliminated, and replaced by other men and another system.  p152

Does that sound like what has happened in the US?  Each administration seems bent on outdoing the previous one in loss of rights and economic destruction, while enhancing the power and pelf of the elites.  If the majority love big government, and the country’s schools are promoting it, voting won’t fix anything.  And as we’ve seen recently voting has been a coup under cover of legitimacy.

If nothing else the free market is a problem solver.  The popular idea that the free market is subject to failure is a fallacy, while government failures constitute mankind’s history.  In A Critique of Interventionism Mises wrote that “Measures that are taken for the purpose of preserving and securing the private property order are not interventions in this sense.”

Because of the criminal nature of the state, market forces and their long history of success are the only means “for preserving and securing the private property order.”

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