Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Losing Faith in Politics?

In a recent article on CNN.com Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, laments that disillusioned young people may be losing their faith in politics as result of their many disappointments with the Obama era.  Professor Zeilzer implores politicians of both parties to “show that you can make progress on the policy issues that matter to them and to do so through a stronger political process that leads them to believe in politics once again.”

What might that mean to make young people “believe in politics once again”?  What are politics anyway and why should anyone invest faith in them?

The political economist, Franz Oppenheimer framed the meaning of “politics” very succinctly.

“I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor, and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the ‘economic means’ for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the ‘political means’.” *

In other words hard work, cooperation, innovation, risk taking and free exchange are the “economic” means of producing the necessities and the niceties of life.   The political means are to obtain said goods from the producers by coercion and force.  In plain English, theft.

It can only be a good thing if coercion and theft are getting a bad name.

The essence of the political process is the redistribution material resources from the caste of tax payers (producers) to tax consumers (non-producers).

As Murray Rothbard puts it:

 “the government budgetary process is a coercive shift of resources and incomes from producers on the market to nonproducers; it is also a coercive interference with the free choices of individuals by those constituting the government……. No longer do income and wealth flow purely from service rendered on the market; they now flow to special privilege created by the State and away from those specially burdened by the State.”  Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market: The Scholar's Edition

When one wonders why the political process is so stalemated, it is because the cumulative government theft (federal, state and local) has become so exorbitant that there is no longer room for leeway.  Overextended governments want to extract more and more from overburdened, unemployed and underemployed citizens.
America has calcified into two irreconcilable castes.  It may have taken only a little theft to sustain the State in bygone years.  Now it takes almost all that we have got.  Neither party offers relief.  They both take and redistribute, each to its own clientele.   There is no room anymore for politics.

Back in the Eighties Sting sang that “There is no political solution to our troubled evolution”.  He was dead on.  A civilization based upon theft is immoral, unsustainable and destructive.

*See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2011/06/economic-vs-political-means-oppenheimer/#sthash.eSPUDtsG.dpuf

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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."
Paul Simon