Economics, Populist Fads, and Government

Libertarian Commentary #16-20B By Nathan Barton

Governments are organizations where “group-think” is a large part of how they do things. They are unaccountable to the mechanisms of the free market. And they are made up of people (both the elite who supposedly control it and the bureaucrats who exist in and because of it) who are greedy and unable to really comprehend what is in their best interest in the long run. Therefore, government does stupid, bad things to the economies of the societies in which the governments exist. Actually, they often kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Like many parasites, they are too blind and stupid to realize what they are doing, most of the time.

Mama’s Note: If ordinary people didn’t accept the (mistaken) idea that the non-voluntary government has some legitimate authority for what they do, none of it would be happening. The government requires that belief and compliance in order to exist. There aren’t enough cops, soldiers or “secret agents” to enforce the tyranny without the actual cooperation of the majority of the population. Luckily, the stupid politicians, etc. seem to be working hard to dispel the myth of their superior authority. And more than a few of the cops, soldiers and maybe even secret agents are coming to realize that they don’t actually want to enforce tyranny.

The same thing is true of mobs, whether in actual “mob mode” out in the streets (whether it is “million-man marches” or Occupy events) or just virtual mobs on-line or by phone or mail. The mob is unaccountable to the free market (mostly), since they are willing to waste their own resources (both time and money) to accomplish whatever goal is the latest fad or manifestation of their deluded world view. And they don’t care what damage they do to the rights or property of others: especially not the commons – they figure they cannot be held accountable, since they are part of the mob. And of course, the mob, by definition, is unthinking or (at best) the worse example of group-think.

Consider the impact of government on a small part of an economy, in two states (I am sure that there are more we could look at). In both Colorado and Washington, marijuana for medical and non-medical (recreational) use is legal. Although far FAR from perfect, Colorado is at least somewhat restrained in how it is regulating and taxing the business sector. Washington State is far more restrictive and heavy-handed in regulation and taxation alike. While there are no real glowing reports about Washington State’s benefits, in Colorado, it seems that “pot shops on pace to exceed $1 billion [in retail sales] in 2016” according to Smell the Truth in the San Francisco Chronical. “Marijuana is becoming a billion-dollar business in Colorado alone. The state’s recreational and medical marijuana shops are expecting to generate over $1 billion in sales for the year, according to a report from Figures from Colorado’s Department of Revenue show that the state’s dispensaries have sold over $270 million in cannabis and related products in just the first three months of 2016. Shops sold nearly $90 million in March alone, according to the Cannabist. Colorado’s annual pot sales continue to grow since legalization took place in 2014.” The state is cashing in nicely, due to taxes that just barely make legal cannabis more economical than the free-range stuff. I do wonder just what other parts of the Colorado retail market are losing revenue – or is this just spending shifted from the black market? So far, unlike Washington State (and others), Colorado has not quite killed the golden goose.

Of course, in “America” the people rule (ha, ha) and so government is “of, by, and for” the people. Given the current climate, the direct democracy sort of thing is even MORE stupid than the usual “boss and bureaucrat” model. Especially in California, where an approved ballot measure is blamed for a jump in shoplifting. According to Fox News, “Perry Lutz says his struggle to survive as a small businessman became a lot harder after California voters reduced theft penalties 1 1/2 years ago. About a half-dozen times this year, shoplifters have stolen expensive drones or another of the remote-controlled toys he sells in HobbyTown USA, a small shop in Rocklin, northeast of Sacramento. ‘It’s just pretty much open season,’ Lutz said. ‘They’ll pick the $800 unit and just grab it and run out the door.’ Anything below $950 keeps the crime a misdemeanor — and likely means the thieves face no pursuit and no punishment, say retailers and law enforcement officials. Large retailers including Safeway, Target, Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies say shoplifting increased at least 15 percent, and in some cases, doubled since voters approved Proposition 47 and ended the possibility of charging shoplifting as a felony with the potential for a prison sentence.”

I know, I know. Material possessions are not worth someone’s life: we can’t go back to the old days where stealing a horse was a hanging offense. But it proves that government (of, by, and for the people, remember) is NOT in the business of punishing wrong-doing, or even trying to prevent it. The impact on the economy, and society, is obvious. Obviously bad.

Mama’s Note: I read that article very carefully… and having lived in California most of my life, I’m not too surprised that crime is increasing. Quite apart from the idea that the people are generally unarmed and unprepared to defend themselves OR their property, is the insanity of leaving things out in the open to be so easily stolen. You can bet the cigarettes and expensive booze are safely locked up, so why would someone leave an $800. item sitting exposed on a shelf? Same stupid thing as people leaving their doors unlocked and the keys in their cars… expecting “the law” or police to keep them safe. In this case, the criminals don’t likely know about this “law,” and don’t care about anything except the fact (learned from experience) that they can steal pretty much with impunity, and nobody is going to resist them.

It isn’t just when “the people” are playing government that they do stupid things. In Washington State, protesters blocked the train tracks to two refineries, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hundreds of climate activists on Saturday marched to the site of two refineries in northwest Washington state to call for a break from fossil fuels, while a smaller group continued to block railroad tracks leading to the facilities for a second day. Protesters in kayaks, canoes, on bikes and on foot took part in a massive demonstration near Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, to demand action on climate and an equitable transition away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal. A day before, about 150 activists had pitched tents and set up camp on nearby railroad tracks to block the flow of oil flowing to the nearby Shell and Tesoro oil refineries.”

Don’t know what they mean by “equitable transfer” – but I suspect it is something socialistic in nature: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need (as self-defined, of course). If the Washington State gasoline retailers’ association was smart, they’d be out there with biometric scanners and good smart-phone cameras taking pictures and then letting local service stations and convenience stores use the scans to identify these protesters. “Sorry, we aren’t going to sell any fuel to you, lady, because you want to stop using fossil fuel. We’ll help you do your part. Guess you’ll get some exercise, eh?”

This sort of stupidity isn’t limited to the Fifty States, of course, or even the FedGov. Consider this: in Venezuela: Chavez’s heir, El Presidente Maduro, threatens to seize idle plants and jail owners. Via Freedom Net Daily, from the Westfield Republican comes this: “President Nicolas Maduro threatened Saturday to take over idle factories and jail their owners following a decree granting him expanded powers to act in the face of a deep economic crisis. Maduro’s remarks came as Venezuela’s opposition warned the embattled leader that if he tries to block an attempt to hold a recall referendum, society could ‘explode.'” So, what is his solution? Enslave the owners and managers of these factories. Hmmm… I wonder how many of them have already gone Galt? If Maduro is lucky, none of them have Ellis Wyatt as a hero. Dictators are just as stupid as “we, the people” when it comes to economics.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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1 Response to Economics, Populist Fads, and Government

  1. Pingback: Rational Review News Digest, 05/19/16 - South China Sea: Chinese jets intercept US spy plane - Thomas L. Knapp -

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