Thursday, November 03, 2005

beyond comparison

While talking to your garden-variety statist, he will often dismiss your free-market proposals by pointing to a common situation and inadvertently make a direct comparison of the two.

Take FDA regulations:
"After all" he intones, "look at the Vioxx scandal -- if it weren't for the FDA regulating medicine, people would be dropping dead of heart attacks all over the place."

Or housing:
"If it weren't for the regulations, landlords wouldn't care about their tenants; apartments would be in worse repair than today; senior citizens would be frozen stiff in their unheated rent-controlled apartments; rats and all other vermin would no longer be the unwanted guests, but be elevated to permanent resident status; et. al."

Or banking:
"If it weren't for the FDIC, banks would collapse all over the place, and hundreds of hard-working people would lose their savings, their homes, etc." [editor: He might specify "AMERICANS" instead of the generic term "people" at this point to curry nationalistic brown-nosed debate points]

Or utilities:
"Look what happened when they deregulated the energy industry- the 2004 blackout in the northeast, the Enron scandal, etc."

Of course, at this point we could all just take one step back, and attempt to show how all of these problems (taking for granted that these are even problems!) are just the symptoms of an earlier government intervention, but again, at this point you have probably -

A) lost interest by either party to continue said discussion


B) have rambled off into half-a-dozen supporting arguments, which at that point the auto-statist conditioning has already rebooted the interlocutor's brain software to forget your earlier points, and to begin hitting you with questions you have already effectively dealt with.

I tend to be amazed of how these conversations just keep on revolving around and around [editor: redundant???] and don't ever make progress, and so one invariably heads back to option A in polite company, or the missing option F$@#! when quite heated with conversational fervor.

The main problem here is that the statist-conditioned has difficulty with conceptualization of ideas free of the present regulated condition. He will therefore compare any free market proposal to that of the regulated state, no matter how many times you insist that any so-called "deregulation" is a misnomer, and at best exists within the matrix of the regulated state and thus subject to the unintended consequences onset by Leviathan's meddling.

That off my chest, I would like to recommend a two articles series (first, second) by Stefan Molyneux, the second which grapples with the topic of this blog post. To quote a nice portion of it, and highlight what I consider the most salient point:
A basic fact of life is that people respond to incentives. The better that crime pays, the more people will become criminals. Certain well-known habits – drugs, gambling, prostitution in particular – are non-violent in nature, but highly desired by certain segments of the population. If these non-violent behaviours are criminalized, the profit gained by providing these services rises. Illegality destroys all stabilizing social forces (contracts, open activity, knowledge sharing and mediation), and so violence becomes the norm for dispute resolution.

Furthermore, wherever a legal situation exists where most criminals make more money than the police, the police are simply bribed into compliance. Thus by increasing the profits of non-violent activities, the State ensures the corruption of the police and judicial system – thus making it both safer and more profitable to operate outside the law! It can take dozens of arrests to actually face trial – and many trials to gain convictions. Policemen now spend about a third of their time filling out paperwork – and 90% of their time chasing non-violent criminals. Entire sections of certain cities are run by gangs of thugs, and the jails are overflowing with harmless low-level peons sent to jail as make-work for the judicial system – thus constantly increasing law-enforcement budgets. Peaceful citizens are legally disarmed through gun control laws. In this manner, the modern State literally creates, protects and profits from violent criminals.

Thus the standard to compare the stateless society’s response to violent crime is not some perfect world where thugs are effectively dealt with, but rather the current mess where violence is both encouraged and protected.

Before we turn to how a stateless society deals with crime, however, it is essential to remember that the stateless society automatically eliminates the greatest violence faced by almost all of us – the State that threatens us with guns if we don’t hand over our money – and our lives, should it decide to declare war. Thus it cannot be said that the existing system is one which minimizes violence. Quite the contrary – the honest population is violently enslaved by the State, and the dishonest provided with cash incentives and protection...

If anyone was wondering, and before I forget-- there is no editor; that is just the other me who likes to over-comment, but can't figure how to do it glibly.

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