Libertarian Commentary #16-12E, by Nathan Barton
We all think of “institutions” as being at least essential, if not always good. Churches, schools, banks, the press, and so much else were taken for granted as GOOD things for centuries, but today we get enough information to be able to see them for the horrible things that they often are. Here are a few stories to help us understand why our libertarian future is going to be better off without the overwhelming domination of these institutions. Some version of them may exist, but they will be far different.
Is college good for you? Not for millions of people who have gone deeply into debt getting what seems more and more like a worthless piece of paper. The Foundation for Economic Education reports that barely half of student loans are being repaid today. Or paid on at all. (I know one person who owes $60,000 in loans, has for at least three years, and hasn’t paid back a PENNY. In part because he can’t get a job, and in part because the “business management” degree he got is worthless, and the private, on-line school he owes the $60K to has all the scholarly qualifications of your typical ghetto grade school.) Meanwhile, the colleges (and not just these internet horrors) keep jacking up their prices as they get more and more staff and more and more amenities. It is, more than ever, a scam, just as it has been for 40 years for all but a few professional and technical degree fields. No wonder the squatter in DC (and at least Bernie Sanders) are touting free college education: because that is exactly what 90% of them are worth.
Which is why I really like this article by Gary North which was republished at Lew Rockwell. He calls for using triage in education: not for students, but for public school systems, including the vaunted charter schools. (Which are just “lite” versions of government-run, tax-funded schools.) It is indeed time to put the school systems and educrats out of their (and our) misery. Sadly, too many private and independent schools today ape their “betters” and are just as bad as the government versions, but we can have much better now and in the future.
Mama’s Note: I’m in full agreement that the “state” must be removed from all aspects of education, but that doesn’t excuse people when they take on debt without doing any real investigation and responsibility for the contracts they enter into. Nobody is forcing them to commit to these contracts, and they should know whether or not the “certificate” will be acceptable to potential employers before they sign on the dotted line. Scams and fraud can’t exist without clueless and careless “marks” to be taken advantage of. And, of course, the government guarantee of these “loans” is also a part of why people get careless.
Banks are, I guess, useful – or have been in the past. That is one reason that they are so corrupt today. And the bigger they are, the more corrupt. This next story could be movie material. Someone figured out a way to steal $100 million from the Federal Reserve, the FedGov Central Bank. It wasn’t the Fed’s money, of course. It belonged to the dirt-poor nation of Bangladesh, that Muslim country that used to be East Pakistan and part of India. They hacked the system, sent the money to the Philippines and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) electronically, and then transferred it to casinos there, where it got paid out in cash. Or so says International Man [http://www.internationalman.com/articles/robbing-the-federal-reserve-and-getting-away-with-it]. The Fed says they can’t do a thing about it and that besides, it wasn’t their fault – the hackers had all the right codes and magic words so the Fed thought that they were legit. One more woe for this incredibly arrogant and stupid institution. And a reminder that we (even if we don’t have $100M) can be robbed electronically with great ease. Are you prepared? In the libertarian future, more ethical (and competent) institutions or un-institutions will be available: perhaps credit unions, and peer-to-peer banking, which BitCoin and others are evolving into.
Mama’s Note: In the meantime, it only makes sense to use a “bank” as little as possible. Only leave as much as strictly necessary in a checking account, and pay cash for everything if you can do so. These days, the “rewards” on most credit cards pays more than the paltry “interest” on bank accounts, and more places all the time offer discounts for cash. If you have money left over at the end of the month, you might consider buying silver or gold, maybe other durable goods. The more people who do this, instead of allowing the bank to use their money, the better.
Once upon a time, people actually BELIEVED the mainstream media. Walter Chronkite on TV and the big-city dailies and the small-town weeklies were often our only source of news. Then they were corrupted, and the alternative media (print and especially electronic) rose to resist and fill the need. But today, those are sliding down the same gutter as the MSM.
Yes, I just have to yell at another website again. Humans Are Free has this “great” article on how legalizing “weed” has been doing wonderful things. “The Mexican drug cartels are finally meeting their match as a wave of cannabis legalization efforts drastically reshapes the drug trafficking landscape in the United States. It turns out that as states legalize cannabis use and cultivation, the volume of weed brought across the border by Mexican drug cartels dramatically decreases — and is putting a dent in their cash flow.” HAR goes on to quote from Amir Zendehnam, a talk show host on a “cannabis-oriented network” and here is what I have problems with.
Zendehnam says, “The economics of the cannabis industry show us that with healthy competition in the market, prices drop, quality rises, violence diminishes, and peaceful transactions increase. … Colorado, for example, is experiencing an economic boom that has never been seen in the state. The biggest issue in Colorado today is what to do with the huge amounts of revenue and economic success the state is gaining as a result of legalization. … And the new competition from legal states has taken a big bite out of the entire illicit Mexican marijuana food chain.”
The HAF goes on to quote from, of all things, NPR interviewing a pot grower in Mexico: “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,…But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.” This is, of course, utter “nutter” nonsense, and a perfect example of people getting carried away with their enthusiasm and making things up.
First, there are many reasons that pot prices are down: no doubt legalization DOES have an impact, but many other things do as well. First, honest, demand could be down. Really, pot is for most people a recreational buy, and a whole lot more expensive than its major competitor, alcohol. And despite claims to the contrary, the US economy stinks and people are cutting back. As demand goes down, and supply remains the same or goes up, prices drop. And if there are sources of better (or equal) quality that make it easier to transport, and doesn’t require sneaking through the border, well – people are not stupid.
Second, these folks obviously know nothing about either Colorado’s past history or its present circumstances. It is garbage that this is the biggest economic boom the state has ever had, and indeed, Colorado is hurting and on the brink of a “recession.” Cannabis may be helping a bit, but there is no boom. And as for revenue, well, the Colorado General Assembly has the insane ability to spend ANY amount of money that they can rip off from the people and businesses of the state. Compared to their appetite, the pot tax money is a drop in the bucket. Tthe General Assembly is pushing for more taxes constantly, moaning about how poor they are. Come on, people, at least research a LITTLE bit of what you write, if you want to be different than the mainstream media.
Fortunately, ALL of these things have work-arounds that lovers of liberty, people who believe in self-government and personal responsibility, can use both now and in the future as these institutions crumble further and further. There are a few good colleges out there, and internet organizations are developing to offer education – REAL education – at a fraction of the cost of the brick-and-mortar OR their avatars on-line want. Ditto for primary and secondary education: unschooling and homeschooling and cooperative education all CAN and DO work. Crypto-currencies can free us (at least some what) from central banks and mainstream banks and their vulnerability (AND coziness) with government. Media can be done by amateurs and we can ALL challenge the garbage in the papers, on the television, and on the internet. Not just in the future, but now.