Monday, July 15, 2013

Of the Employees, By the Employees and For the Employees

Those who have made a commitment to spreading the gospel of liberty, limited government and voluntarism face an uphill climb.  This is because so many Americans, including many in the liberty movement, myself included, are the beneficiaries of at least one plum government program or another.

In their In their 1997 book, The Sovereign Individual, authors James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, identify three basic forms of government.  There are governments for:

1.       Proprietors
2.       Customers
3.       Employees

Governments for Proprietors operate like businesses to further the interests and incomes of a single individual, family or clan.   This was the Middle Age model of Lords and serfs.  In the modern era these governments are best exemplified by Middle East sheikdoms such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. 

Government for Customers is what we would like to think that we have here in the United States.  Our founding document explicitly states that “Governments are instituted among Men” to “secure these rights”.  Those rights are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. 

 The way it was supposed to work is that we, the customers, would remit a small bit of our wealth to the common fund in order to purchase protection from foreign invaders and from criminals at home.  Then we would be free to go about creating the private associations, businesses, communities and institutions which so enrich our lives.

It hasn’t worked out that way.  That is because we have morphed into a Government for Employees. 

A Government for Employees is one in which the inmates have taken over the asylum.  As Davidson and Mogg state, “employee run organizations tend to favor any policy that increases employment and oppose measures which reduce jobs”.    Furthermore, “A government controlled by its employees would seldom have incentives to either reduce the costs of government or the price charged to their customers”.

You may ask, who are these employees and how are they so numerous and powerful so as to displace taxpaying “customers” at the polls.  The answer is simple.  The welfare / warfare state makes “employees" of nearly everyone who receives some sort of check, stipend, grant or subsidy from government.

Think of it.  As of June only 47% of Americans worked full time in private industry.  About one-third receive food stamps.  Beyond this however, consider all the millions of people in “private” industry who work on government contracted projects.  Think of the academics, researchers and artists who are supported via government grants.  Think also of the billions of dollars in government loans that inflate the cost of college or the billions in agricultural price supports paid to farmers.  Ask yourself if your home mortgage is subsidized via tax deductions.  And then there are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  And don’t overlook the sprawling lobbyist industry which infests each and every capital city in pursuit of transfer payments to their clients.

It’s not so much that every American is a leach on the public trust and an enthusiast for big government.  It is just that the architects of the mega-state have seen to it that everyone has skin in the game and everyone is rightfully leery of giving his piece of the action unilaterally while he continues to pay the freight for everyone else.

Louisiana political legend Russell Long was famous for saying, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me.  Tax that fellow behind the tree.”  He might as well have also said, “Don’t cut you, don’t cut me…..”

In The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed former Budget Director, David Stockman, tells how the most ostensibly small government administration in our lifetime failed to reign in the Federal Leviathan.  Each and every D.C. power broker had his or her own pet constituency that refused to yield a dime.  Each and every interest lobby warned of dire consequences if this or such pet project should take a haircut.   Thus, the Reagan Administration bequeathed a legacy of unprecedented debt.


The challenge for liberty advocates is convince this gaggle of “employees” that the ice is growing ever thinner beneath them.  That it will be better for each of them to let go of their slice of the pork before everything caves in and we drown.


President Obama likes to talk of “shared sacrifice”.  By this he means ever more confiscatory taxation to feed the governmental beast.


Let liberty lovers also talk of the shared sacrifice.  Let’s talk about what is needed to free ourselves from the shackles the tax, borrow, spend and borrow some more, statist ponzi scheme.  We need to make the case that our future lays not in being mindless employees but in regaining our mojo as creators, innovators and miracle makers.  We need to show voters that true prosperity lies in creation and production and not in slicing the pie and the baloney ever thinner.


And finally we need to convince Americans that real growth requires savings, which means sacrifice in the present for a future of sustainable progress.  There is no magic bullet but there can be a happy ending.

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"Half the people are stoned and the other half are waiting for the next election.
Half the people are drowned and the other half are swimming in the wrong direction."
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