Sunday, May 10, 2009

the state is no protector

one of the keys to breaking through the propaganda and learning the truth behind the state is in realizing that politicians, bureaucrats, regulators and the like are nothing more than people, just like you and me (except maybe a little more ethically challenged). do you think you could "run the country"? well, they can't either. they attempt to always find the one-size-fits-all solution for a nation of individuals, each with their own values, preferences and needs.

we should all know by now that no one has the right to impose his will on others. so, of course, politicians, bureaucrats and regulators have no right to do what they do. that's obvious. what i want to point out, though, is the absurdity of the idea that they can correct, through their monopoly on force, the misdeeds of others.

if we recognize that men are imperfect and that some are always going to seek to do unethical things in order to benefit from others in the short term, then we should be able to understand that allowing these people access to centralized power can not fix that problem. in the market, those who use unethical practices cannot stay in business. the competition will soon consume their customer base through more ethical service. at least there is a backstop for such behavior. in government, however, there is no such safety net. not only is it manned by the same people making up the society in which it, purportedly, seeks to establish order, but it attracts the very people from whom it is established to protect us. corrupt individuals are far more likely to benefit from inclusion in the state than they are in business, because there are no competitors out there to punish them for their transgressions. but the fact that they have such a position opens up more possibilities for those in the business world to gain privileged access to shelter from the natural consequences of the market by creating partnerships with such corrupt individuals.

so, a corrupt or unethical businessman eventually runs himself out of business, while a corrupt bureaucrat faces no such threat, but, in fact, allows the aforementioned businessman the ability to continue his endeavors by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with the bureaucrat. this is the reason we so often see the revolving door between regulators and big business employees. former regulator becomes executive at "company a", former employee becomes regulator.

the fact is that there is no way to prevent people from doing bad things, but there are things that can be done to limit such occurrences. creating a system of monopolistic coercion, such as government for them to gain control of is not one of those things. the market has the best mechanism to deal with such violators by allowing them to be taken down peacefully by competition.

ever notice how, even though regulation is constantly increasing, we never seem to see a reduction in the amount of safety issues or crises? it's no coincidence, but the manifestation, in reality, of the ineffective and even dangerous use of the state as a device for regulation. as poor as the state is at protecting society from virtually any perceived threat, they are equally poor at regulating markets (which are, in fact, self-regulating). so, there is no point in continuing to ask for greater state regulation of this or that. asking for such is similar to asking for more institutionalized chaos and an increase in unethical behavior. no one wants that, do they? then stop asking the state for more of it.

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