The Logical Political System: Self-Governing Capitalism
Since a free market is one in which individuals and their enterprises operate unimpeded by government, we now see what capitalism really means. We see that it represents the implementation of human nature, a combination of understanding a noncontradictory metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics—yielding a noncontradictory politics. The term capitalism has been defined as an economic system in which private owners control trade and industry. The only addition to this is that a free market should be absolutely free. No coercion should be used to negate human rights.
The only legitimate capitalistic system is one that does not permit anyone to initiate force. Of course, all governments are unfit due to their coercive nature. Government is the only entity intrinsically capable of creating and being a coercive monopoly.99 The U.S. Constitution, while being the best document at the time it was fashioned, is now mostly a mechanism that keeps government intrusiveness alive and expanding. Though the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were intended to put limits on government, they did not outlaw a coercive State.
Many of the exhaustive descriptions and duties of the three branches of government would not be a part of an objective political system. These branches chiefly have been used as crutches to maintain a government that upholds the use of initiatory force. The original earnest attempt to stabilize and limit a new government stressing human rights failed because of the nature of the task: One can never make a contradiction work, no matter how many safeguards and precautions one takes.
The formal executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the United States government were designed, in part, to foster complex “checks and balances.” They made government inefficient and less capable of allowing a few (or one, such as the President) to dominate its operations. Checks and balances may have prevented totalitarianism, but they could not prevent violation of individual rights. Our present Semi-Fascist Welfare State is quite far from the intentions of the Founders.
In a society of political justice, real checks and balances must be economic ones, in which moral individuals make rational decisions about the services they purchase. The companies from which they purchase services will be concerned with profits and hence with reputation. After all, to not be concerned with reputation is to jeopardize the profit-making ability of one’s business. Only non-objective laws and governmental subsidies are able to grant businesses immunity from free market consequences.
From the essence of liberty found in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, we must fashion a new system that finally frees humanity from unjustifiable coercive control and arbitrary power over others. Reality and the ideas identifying it determine the final, noncontradictory political system for human beings.
The name of this system is rather straightforward: Self-Governing Capitalism. Although Anarcho-capitalism has been used (among others) to name this system, it can obviously carry a detrimental connotation. The term anarcho denotes that the single entity, government, does not exist.103 Unfortunately, this term can be confused with anarchy, in which no or extremely few laws (to say nothing of objective laws) are enforced in society and, hence, much chaos and disorder arises—much injustice. Incidentally, anarchy tends to occur both among ungoverned societies and among unstable governments. Both lack a rudimentary understanding and practice of benevolent and beneficial relationships, which involve at least implicit acceptance of customary law. Instead of examining and re-thinking the ideas and psychologies involved in anarchy, people typically bring “order” by implementing coercive government.
By calling the ideal political system “Self-Governing Capitalism,” we also avoid the conceptual difficulty of explaining something by reference to what it is not—which is the case with “Anarcho-capitalism,” that is, capitalism without coercive government. Self-Governing Capitalism is just that: a capitalistic society that governs itself, in which private enterprise subsumes the services of government.
The freedom to trade values solely on a voluntary basis is the precondition for the ideal society of justice. In such a society, individuals are at liberty to exercise their right to contract or not to contract with others—hence freedom to contract and freedom from contract.4
Of course, even within this political framework, the values sought and traded will reflect the degree of logic people use. Only by thinking critically and conscientiously can we determine what will best benefit us. And the citizens who establish capitalism would honor primarily this method of thinking. Intellectual clarity and psychological health of the populace generate the values that ensure happiness and enlightenment. This is certainly the case in any age.
Many of the uplifting changes and marvelous improvements that will occur with Self-Governing Capitalism have been expounded in other books.e.g.,82,103,99,89,4,& 5 Some of these books focus mainly on how the system would work (its economic practicality), rather than why it is the only moral political system. Although the stance of this book is primarily a moral/philosophical one, some old (along with new) economic ground needs to be covered. This will clarify and reinforce some of the key effects (and causes) of the ideal society. The examples are given not simply to persuade or justify the case for Self-Governing Capitalism (i.e., to merely show that it works). They are provided to show once again that what is logical in theory is, by definition, logical in practice—and therefore practical. Again, what is moral is practical. And what works must be moral.
With Self-Governing Capitalism, the keenness of the market and the accompanying widely-practiced virtue of logical thought would resolve many problem areas. Most intellectuals would no longer have contradictory answers and bureaucrats would no longer have “agendas.” The formerly governmental services of police, law courts, and military would be replaced by private services. These services would be run by people who have only their honesty, integrity, rationality, and reputation to offer the market and attract customers.
A governmental title could no longer be used for committing, at best, injustices and, at worst, atrocities. There would be no silent or bold usurpations of rights. And no longer would there be vastly unknown, perplexing, and unintelligible laws that allow something to be legal one day, but illegal the next (or vice versa). The voluminous legal texts that currently exhaust the time and effort of myriad lawyers would be things of the past. The legions of new law school graduates desiring to make the system work better would also find their job descriptions changing. Only objective law would flourish, because people would see no value in anything else. Certainly the examples this would set for the entire world would be potent.
Much of common law, or more derivatively, customary law,5 would be transferred to and utilized by the new capitalistic legal system. Of course, this would include aspects of the present judiciary system that have been interpreted and adjudicated objectively—for example, much of contract law, copyright and patent law, and some of the laws dealing with the genuinely wrong acts by real criminals.
Since problematic and unjust law comprises much of the current justice system, it would have to be discarded. No longer would a legal order be imposed on the populace. So, people would no longer have to invent ways to deal with ineffective and inefficient judicial and law enforcement processes. Such a situation has tended to breed both corruption and illegality.4
Though a full list of the legal system’s injustices would require a book in itself, a few ought to be noted. The amount of lawsuits filed yearly in the United States remains unsurpassed by any other country. No reasonable notion of “loser pays” (for the other party’s legal expenses) is present, which definitely fosters such litigiousness. Contrived malpractice laws and lawsuits steadily undermine the essence of contractual agreements, and they drive up the prices of goods and services. Rulings in various tort cases of purported liability and negligence award millions of dollars to supposed victims; the idea of personal responsibility is usually neglected. Enormous fines—in the form of “punitive damages”—are also imposed on companies as reprimands for wrongdoing. This is thought to be a fair practice in personal injury cases; “corporations” are supposedly responsible for harm done, and not those operating them. More generally, scores of arbitrary differences exist between state and federal jurisprudence. The various states maintain appalling inconsistencies in their laws.
Invariably, we witness the gross inefficiencies of a legalized monopoly, which does not adhere to objective law. Spooner (himself a legal scholar) eloquently noted these problems in response to the contention that justice is the goal of the courts. Again, one should keep in mind that only a small fraction of today’s laws and corruption existed in his time:
But we have everywhere courts of injustice—open and avowed injustice—claiming sole jurisdiction of all cases affecting men’s rights of both person and property; and having at their beck brute force enough to compel absolute submission to their decrees, whether just or unjust….
[Next, speaking of the covert nature of the justice system, that is, its “hidden mysteries, and impenetrable secrets”]
I say secret tribunals, and secret instructions, because, to the great body of the people, whose rights are at stake, they are secret to all practical intents and purposes. They are secret, because their reasons for their decrees are to be found only in great volumes of statutes and supreme court reports, which the mass of the people have neither money to buy, nor time to read; and would not understand, if they were to read them.
These statutes and reports are so far out of reach of the people at large, that the only knowledge a man can ordinarily get of them, when he is summoned before one of the tribunals appointed to execute them, is to be obtained by employing an expert——or so-called lawyer——to enlighten him.
This expert in injustice is one who buys these great volumes of statutes and reports, and spends his life in studying them, and trying to keep himself informed of their contents. But even he can give a client very little information in regard to them; for the statutes and decisions are so voluminous, and are so constantly being made and unmade, and are so destitute of all conformity to those natural principles of justice which men readily and intuitively comprehend; and are moreover capable of so many different interpretations, that he is usually in as great doubt——perhaps in even greater doubt——than his client, as to what will be the result of a suit….(p.106)
A trial in one of these courts of injustice is a trial by battle, almost, if not quite, as really as was a trial by battle, five hundred or a thousand years ago.
Now, as then, the adverse parties choose their champions, to fight their battles for them.
These champions, trained to such contests, and armed, not only with all the weapons their own skill, cunning, and power can supply, but also with all the iniquitous laws, precedents, and technicalities that lawmakers and supreme courts can give them, for defeating justice, and accomplishing injustice, can——if not always, yet none but themselves know how often——offer their clients such chances of victory——independently of the justice of their causes——as to induce the dishonest to go into court to evade justice, or accomplish injustice, not less of ten perhaps than the honest go there in the hope to get justice, or avoid injustice.
We have now, I think, some sixty thousand [now in the many hundreds of thousands] of these champions, who make it the business of their lives to equip themselves for these conflicts, and sell their services for a price.
Is there any one of these men, who studies justice as a science, and regards that alone in all his professional exertions?98(p.108)
Studying justice as a science means discovering the fundamental nature of human beings and applying this knowledge to human interactions. In today’s legal context, “justice” is seldom clearly defined and especially not taken to its conceptual roots (i.e., related to the concepts upon which it depends). Naturally, those with vested interests in the maintenance of this system proclaim that we have the best legal system, the fairest system, of any country on Earth.
Justice, as a political concept, is derived from the concept of rights. In simple terms justice means honoring, upholding, and enforcing these rights. Without logically validated rights via the correct political philosophy, full justice is unattainable.
If you have ever browsed in a law library, you probably have realized that justice—to say nothing of clarity, comprehensibility, and economy of thought—is a distant idea for the present legal system. Mostly what one will find are millions upon millions of pages describing and circumscribing what people can and cannot do in every conceivable form and facet of their lives. The texts fill countless bookshelves. To think that these multitudes of statutes and precepts are necessary and proper for the institution of justice is to avoid recognition of legal contradictions. Of course the current system depends on such avoidance; it does not want people to think and ask probing questions about the foundation of the legal order and system. Justice requires that one think critically about the common assumptions of many experts.
As a consequence of our present legal order, the practice of law is frequently treated as an adversarial game (as Spooner noted). Many attorneys, judges, and legal scholars often promote a win-at-all-costs strategy that unabashedly dispenses with the obligation of discovering truth. To be a “zealous advocate” for one’s client is deemed necessary to combat the often zealous plaintiff or prosecuting attorney, each being more partial to their own interests than to justice. One finds that “partiality” and “impartiality” are terms used in the current system as substitutes for rationality and objective law.
Those able to opt out of this antagonistic system and utilize private mediation (for instance, in the case of divorce) and arbitration (for instance, in cases of corporate business and international commerce) are able to save a great deal of time and money. Additionally, mediation and arbitration foster safeguards against future problems with disputes and potential disputants.5
Yet the adversarial system imposes final authority, so certain practices remain in spite of their irrationality. Letting criminals go free based on legal technicalities is common. For instance, physical evidence that proves guilt might have been obtained illegally. Or, the offender might not have been read the Miranda rights, which were designed to prevent self-incrimination (as provided by the 5th Amendment to the Constitution; hence, the self-responsibility-negating phrase “taking the 5th”).
The practice of plea-bargaining is also common. Essentially, offenders (and those coerced by prosecutors into false confessions of offenses) agree to be sentenced on lesser charges. This sometimes occurs in exchange for giving testimony against others (i.e., serving as allegedly trustworthy witnesses for the prosecution). Additionally, offenders’ sentences are sometimes shortened through early parole, typically on the grounds of good behavior or on account of a high demand for prison space.
Also, in the present system, the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” can be misinterpreted. For instance, when incontrovertible evidence clearly shows guilt in some criminal cases, the trial still proceeds as if the evidence were not there. Unfortunately, “innocent until proven guilty” can be used as a shield by defense lawyers, since their allegedly immutable obligation is to provide a strong defense for their clients—even when they are guilty. One would be hard pressed to find any greater denial of the ideas of honesty and self-responsibility.
Granted, in the matter of due process, the burden of proof (specifically, the burden of persuasion) is on the accuser or plaintiff. He or she has to establish validity to the allegations. But sound evidence (whether prima facie or conclusive) must be able to dissipate the presumption of innocence with the accused. In general, the presumption of innocence must be a rebuttable presumption. Due process of law should involve no preconceived notions. They only deter the administration of justice.
The legal situation is worsened by the time-consuming jury selection and judgment process. Basically, individuals are detained from their personal affairs to sit on a panel of peers who usually are not well-versed in the rule of law and principles of justice. They are then informed by a judge and, oddly, prohibited from asking questions and actively participating in the fact-finding mission. This process is made even poorer by peremptory challenges, which are attempts to leave trial courts filled with supposedly unbiased or “fair and impartial” jurors. However, they instead leave trial courts filled with uncomplaining jurors who are willing to sit through a drawn-out legal process—one that often involves unnecessary showmanship, unsubstantiated allegations, unconvincing arguments, irrelevant emotional pleas, unseemly diatribes, and misrepresented, subjective interpretations of the evidence. Such is the people’s “civic duty.”
Many cases can be used as examples of the problems just outlined. Probably the most notorious is the criminal and civil trials of O.J. Simpson. Regardless of how many legal experts said it was an exceptional case, that legal saga stood as an indictment of the jury trial system. It also exposed many of the central flaws in the legal system as a whole.
The division between criminal and civil trial proceedings is one case in point. That a criminal trial requires a judgment of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” whereas a civil trial judgment is determined “by a preponderance of the evidence” confounds the issue of guilt or innocence.
To confuse matters more, the State has commandeered interest in arresting, convicting, and punishing criminals. This often leaves the accuser or plaintiff to watch on the sidelines or to testify as a mere witness. Crimes committed are considered “crimes against the State.” In actuality though, they are crimes (or rather, torts) against the victims—and they should focus primarily on restoring those harmed (as will be discussed shortly). As was the case with customary law, the focus should not be merely on “punishing” the guilty. When no reparations are made, the victim gets victimized again, adding insult to prior injury.
In any crime, including so-called civil wrongs, all of which ought to be designated as torts, the person charged is either innocent or guilty (and thus liable for damages). If the current evidence (and the scientific ability to interpret it) fails to elucidate the truth in the matter, one must treat it as unsettled. If the person accused turns out to be innocent, then he or she should be restored monetarily for the time spent in the process of determining guilt or innocence. This is the only fair way to deal with suspects, and it is in line with the presently unembraced legal precept of loser pays.
Deliveries of verdicts that run counter to the nature of the evidence (as in the Simpson criminal trial) are obviously contradictory to justice. But immunity from final justice is granted by the constitutional provision of “double jeopardy” under the Fifth Amendment; one cannot be tried for the same offense twice. Once again, the Founders wanted to prevent the ill consequences of the State, while keeping the essential framework of the State intact.
The unfortunate legal outcomes of monopolistic government are simply inevitable. Even the genesis of needing lawyers or legal counsel—as well as trial by jury—resulted from the intrusive operations of the State. The State gradually fostered an environment in which the victim or plaintiff and the accused or defendant needed assistance in legal proceedings. Historically, this represented a movement away from customary (mostly objective) law towards corrupt state law.5
Questioning the present legal system brings us back to our initial realizations about capitalism and the kind of politics that coincides with it. In a world of Self-Governing Capitalism—which will be called just “capitalism” from now on—police companies and legal institutions would profit by convincing customers of their excellent ability to enforce objective laws. Individuals would be protected from physical force and fraud, as well as restored when wronged. Fraud, breach of contract, and extortion are variations of force;76 they involve taking another’s property in an involuntary manner or without informed consent.
Since justice agencies would now have to compete by offering quality services, court systems would value time in relation to money and justice; today’s mockery of the right to a speedy trial would disappear. By having to make profits, justice agencies would have to honor reality, instead of operating in a context of stolen wealth, where certain degrees of lethargy, corruption, waste, and incompetence are considered normal.
Market forces would determine the most helpful and efficient types of protection. Common and customary law principles and precedents would provide indispensable guidance for court systems (as they do even in many cases today). Various businesses—possibly branches of newly unregulated, and therefore much more affordable and reputable, insurance companies—would cater services accordingly.
As in any productive enterprise, if something does not work, it rightly ought to be fixed or replaced. Because the current policies of dealing with crime are both expensive and ineffective, different approaches would be taken to ensure a peaceful society. They would yield a system that functions both morally and practically.
Seldom is it recognized that the current shortage of jail cells in which to “put away” criminals is largely a result of a legal system that infringes on rights. That is, government creates so-called crimes by failing to recognize the absolutism of individual liberty. All the nonviolent “victimless crimes,” which involve interactions between consenting adults, fall into this category.
Under capitalism, police or security forces would be hired to protect property and the people who own it and use it. Consequently, enforcement agencies would be less likely the focus of suspicion and even contempt evidenced today. Many police forces currently view intimidation and punishment as good means of creating trustworthy and respectful citizens. The bulk of society oftentimes faces crime with the mindset that pistols, batons, handcuffs, and jail cells (and, for some, gun control laws) will help reverse criminality. At the expense of human dignity, police follow political orders of constituents to continue “cracking down” on criminals. A “good us” against “bad them” attitude tends to evolve so that “them” can be anyone who disobeys the governmentally established rules of conduct.
Of course, this sort of antagonism is counterproductive to the development of mature, independent people who treat themselves, and hence others, with respect. By failing to see the psychological factors involved in wrongdoing, the present system makes it very hard to effect positive change. Instead of treating most criminals (particularly nonviolent ones) like individuals who have made seriously wrong choices, our present system often treats them like base creatures incapable of altering their behavior and living a life proper to a human being. Typically, they are just thrown into prisons to sit idly—wasting time, space, and money, as well as dissolving any chances for change and growth. Soon, the incarcerated are contemplating how much they hate the system in general and people in particular.
The alternate approach would entail restoring the victim(s), which usually would involve payment and time expenditure. Aggressors would have to work to earn money for restitution, either within secure environments or on contract with various companies.4 & 5 This approach, coupled with crucial broader political/economic changes, would quickly reduce crimes in society. Rather than facing a prison sentence (and accordingly free room and board, as well as the situation of being nonproductive), convicted persons would face a future of work in which most of the fruits of their labor would go to those they had wronged. Instead of being punished, they would be held accountable for their actions and would have to make amends.
Yet today some criminals permanently impair or disable innocent persons. No one who intentionally takes another’s physical well-being should be able to do so with impunity. While monetary restitution often cannot repair personal injury, it is nonetheless one of the most reasonable alternatives. Like in the case of theft or destruction of property, the perpetrator must forfeit part of his or her rights. He or she in a sense becomes indentured to the victim until reparation is made.
In cases of rape, in which extreme physical and emotional pain has been inflicted, the perpetrator has conveyed to rights-respecting individuals that he is unfit to live with them—he is an imminent threat to the lives and well-being of others. Such persons would be removed from society as well as made to pay restitution; facilities would be created for this. Exactly how long is necessary for the threat to be either eradicated or minimized is something the victim and adjudication services must confront.
Murder involves a different model of rectification, though. It is the most severe instance of human brutality, the nadir of human behavior. Deliberately taking the life of an innocent human being must have the gravest consequences. Murder means intentionally extinguishing an invaluable entity—an entity that creates the very concepts of value and rights. Therefore, any objectively and unequivocally proven murderer must face (and should expect to face) an outcome equal to the fate of the victim. By deliberately destroying an embodiment of rights—a human being—a murderer forfeits his or her own rights as a human being. Namely, the right to life is revoked. No victim is present to be restored monetarily or otherwise. Friends and family may desire the murderer to pay them for the loss, but one who murders should have no such luxury. Execution could also be seen as the application of self-defense ex post facto: Certainly the innocent victim (barring a pacifist) would have used lethal force to stop his or her own murder, had he or she been able.
Yet, some may feel that human beings sometimes cannot control their actions——on account of deep drives and aggressive impulses (or “brain chemical imbalances”) that mysteriously come and go. Hence, they may espouse a variation of the “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea. Or they may advocate so-called lesser degrees of murder when it is committed, for instance, in the heat of passion or without premeditation. On the other hand, some may explicitly honor a moral code that commands one to forgive murderers, on the grounds that “no one can help it—we are all sinners.”
Some may direct sympathy at a murderer and his or her existential plight. They may conclude that a murderer is somehow not ultimately responsible for his or her acts—instead, society is. Some may even have great plans for rehabilitating murderers and giving them a second chance. This of course overlooks the magnitude of violating the first chance and trivializes the victim’s right to life. It also dismisses the threat murderers pose to others.
Some may even think that executing a murderer is equivalent to murder itself—that it reduces seekers of justice to wretched seekers of vengeance. This simply fails to differentiate someone who murders from someone who kills a murderer.
The option of imprisoning murderers for the rest of their lives—and making them work to provide for the victims’ dependents—raises some important issues. Those who currently favor life imprisonment over the death penalty usually do not address the question of who pays for it. If the imprisoned murderers do not (via their wages earned in prison), certainly no one should demand that others, or “society,” or government do so. Moreover, the risk may be significant that murderers will escape and once again pose a threat to members of society, or murder those who keep watch over them and take care of their needs.
However, despite the arguments for (or against) execution of murderers, we need to take into account the present legal situation. Since the State—via all the legal problems previously outlined—has repeatedly convicted, and at times executed, persons who were later found innocent of murder, a moratorium on the death penalty is probably prudent. Correct due process is imperative.
The topic of murder, however, does not address the issue of why people destroy the well-being of others. We, as human beings, should never have to deal with such evil behavior—from individuals who completely disregard the meaning of existence and their own worth and humanity based on this.
Granted, there are many different types of wrongs done to others—as well as many different motives involved—but what concerns us here are the essential factors. The State’s present tactics of retribution only continue the process of criminality. Such tactics as unproductive imprisonment reflect the common theme that criminals are to be feared and/or hated—but not understood. Understanding is part of the solution, because it allows one to seek justice as well as psychological remedies for the development of individuals (i.e., self-development) whose constant or occasional goal is to feed off and prey on other people.
The criminal’s psychology—involving as it does a manipulating or conniving mentality—rests on the false premise that others must be fooled, used, or beaten in the game of “life.” For a person who has mostly ignored focus on the meaning of reality and the self, his or her life is not understood fully. It may be perceived as unfair, but it mostly is a life in which values have not been sincerely and logically chosen (and earned). Life, both consciously and subconsciously, becomes basically a world of “others”—their actions, their values, their thoughts, and their feelings—their expectations and rejections especially.
Criminal mentalities often expect others to hate them, to ridicule them—in sum, to disrespect them—for this is part of the game. This is often how they try to justify their acts as being responses to a world of fools and hostility. So, many are constantly devising new ways to take advantage of others. This is part of the mind of a criminal, a habitual mode of thinking about how to beat others or “the system,” resulting in conscious choices to do wrong.93
The pattern of criminality is usually the outcome of a developmental sequence. It begins with discouraged childhood attempts at self-confidence and self-respect (and therefore respect for others). Discouragement typically is accompanied by adult hypocrisy and double standards, adult incongruence between beliefs and behavior and thoughts and feelings, and unacknowledged adult fear and pain. This is a world where emotions and many ideas are not clearly identified and understood. Some children, rather than fully conforming to this world and “the system,” decide to take their own twisted form of revenge. They choose to express their ravaged self-esteem in mischievous or destructive ways.
Once an adversarial attitude has formed from innumerable daily choices—in the midst of various undignified and disrespectful familial, school, and cultural encounters—the thought of reformulating one’s views of self and others becomes tantamount to giving the enemy one’s unconditional surrender. Most may rationalize that being a “good boy” or “good girl” (actually respectful and civil) must entail being exploited by others. Seemingly no doors are open for change. So, finding ways to cheat, control, and fool others (all the while fooling oneself about the nature of the game) becomes the norm.
People can effect change only by understanding these attitudes. They are derived from an ethical and political culture that was not designed for autonomous, rational functioning. The present culture is neither structured nor intended to remedy the current levels of crimes. Nor is it able to effectively deal with the future droves of young, predatory individuals characterized as being impulsive and remorseless—who care little for either person or property (starting with their own).
Instituting more policies of hurting people because they have done wrong does not build respect. Nor does imprisoning them for years and years in a climate that is subhuman and nonproductive. Nor does allowing them to get by with what they have done, out of feelings of sympathy, past history of abuse, and so on. Pain inflicted by others ordinarily fosters resentment and contemptuous submission. Genuine remorse comes from the realization that one has lapsed in self-responsibility and independent judgment. Naturally these latter qualities are very difficult to foster with our society’s current types of punishment. A system of restitution, however, would be a large step in the right direction.
Capitalism would help minimize crime by enforcing individual rights, which involves political/economic remedies that offer new and invigorating incentives, both psychological and existential, to be a respectful human being (which will be covered in many of the following sections). In a free society people would soon realize that anything acquired or wished for without effort and achievement (or without being deserving of it) is basically valueless. There is certainly no satisfaction in not accomplishing something productive and not pursuing one’s aspirations in an appropriate manner.
A psychological shift would thus take place, and people would dispense with their antagonisms. Most who took wrongful actions would be treated as human beings capable of understanding the moral and legal consequences, rather than as unreasoning animals that must be put in cages. Justice can only be strengthened by being just.99
In a free society, torts would be seen as a serious way to hinder opportunities for achieving genuine values, which would be within every capable person’s reach. Objective law would encourage the best ideas and behavior within every person and discourage the worst. To be more precise, bad ideas and action would no longer have the widespread appeal that they do in today’s culture. People would finally realize that trying to obtain the unearned and the undeserved benefits no one.
With capitalism, the services provided by the military would also be transformed dramatically. Because a statist system would no longer exist, a wasteful military machine could not stay in operation. Further, the United States of America would no longer have a centralized representative body in Washington D.C. that supposedly speaks for everyone. As a consequence, the U.S. would not be a collective target of resentment that meddles in numerous foreign affairs. Those who disagree with its extensive policies throughout the world would no longer face the ever-present threat of terrorism against anything and anyone American.
A capitalistic society would most likely be seen for what it is: a group of individuals living in a certain geographic area who now realize (among other things) that the only moral way to deal with each other is through free and unobstructed exchange of values. All relations between Americans and people in other parts of the world would be at their own discretion. Any military or humanitarian aid could only be funded and carried out by private methods and represented solely in their interests. No one else would be involved or implicated in such matters.
In addition, the U.S. government could no longer sustain numerous double standards in its dealings with other countries and their leaders (both democratic and totalitarian). The terrible inconsistencies abound. Countries in the Middle East are just one example. Many of our government’s supposed allies perpetrate the same atrocious acts as our supposed enemies. Usually the only difference is the particular country’s political, military, or economic suitability to “U.S. interests” at the time. There are leaders who gain leadership with the help of the U.S. government, and later become ruthless enemies. There are “favored” nations where political dissidents are tortured and thrown into prison to waste away for years, just for voicing opinions against the State. There are “friendly” countries where persons are dragged to their deaths by firing squad or beheading, without the faintest hint of a trial, let alone a fair one. Meanwhile, diplomats have their amicable and highly publicized meetings and make deals that impoverish and betray the lives of millions. Unfortunately, the influential reporting press sometimes uses a selective filter concerning the real truths in these matters.
Because no nation fully recognizes the rights of its own citizens (let alone the rights of people elsewhere), most U.S. foreign policy actions are very hard to justify. As an example of present foreign policy, we have the U.S. government’s dealings with Iraq. The United States (via the United Nations) has engaged in an economic embargo there since the Persian Gulf War, cutting off shipments of certain goods. The more astute of the news media have revealed that these measures only hurt and kill innocent people (an estimated 500,000 children have died in Iraq). Embargoes also strengthen the resolve of the citizens in the affected country against a perceivably evil enemy. While the powerless citizens starve and barely subsist, those in political power distribute propaganda and funnel the few goods to themselves. The politically powerful are much less affected by the sanctions. (We have also witnessed this in Castro’s Cuba.)
Yet the head of UN sanctions and now U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, stated in an interview (with 60 Minutes, aired May 12, 1996) that the casualties in Iraq on account of the sanctions have been worth it—that is, so long as the embargoes ensure that U.S. troops will never have to fight there again. This of course overlooks the real reasons for the Gulf War. It had little to do with the economic (and hence military) strength of the nation of Iraq (which is ostensibly what the embargoes target).
As in most wars, the Persian Gulf War was primarily about tainted politics. The U.S. government simply failed to take the proper actions that would have prevented the invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing disasters. While the U.S. courted his favor initially (against Iran), it now considers Saddam Hussein a despicable enemy. Nonetheless, he remains as viable as ever, irrespective of how many bombs our military forces drop on his country.
With capitalism, the political systems of other countries would be in the light of logic. Most would be seen as systems of human impoverishment and degradation. No country could hide the true nature of its practices, due to the newly-formed shining example of liberty. Intellectual revolution throughout the world would be an almost certain course of events. And, free people seeking to institute absolute individual rights everywhere would be justified in helping to overthrow coercive governments (where it is requested).
Considering the military changes under capitalism, what if the new USA were targeted for attack by countries who saw a capitalistic society as detrimental to the maintenance of their societies of coercion? How could a capitalistic society adequately defend itself if it were attacked, since a huge, exorbitant military might have trouble existing through private payment?
In an age of so much ethical and political confusion, we need to keep in mind that only the moral is the practical. Since faith in the collective governmental monopoly is simply unfounded, trust must be developed in private individuals. Undoubtedly, capitalism would consist of complex networks of cities and other communities throughout the entire privately-owned geographic area. These places of businesses, corporations, and residences would consequently have a vital interest in protecting their personal and economic environment—in maintaining their ability to trade and make profits and have a joyful life.
Those living in a free market would necessarily ensure that any possible threats to their livelihood could be defended against and destroyed in an extremely swift fashion. Contrary to statist propaganda, war does not create wealth and rejuvenate an economy. No values are created by such destruction.
The money formerly expropriated from people through taxation and inefficiently and unproductively utilized by the military could be used privately in the most appropriate and cost-effective manners. Private military organizations would cater to the particular needs of people in cities and the areas between them (as well as in other countries).
The ingenuity and competence of the people in a capitalistic society should never be underestimated. Considering what the United States has achieved militarily with an unjust political system, one can only imagine the effectiveness of an ad hoc military united by the premise of human freedom and individualism. Accordingly, any kind of violent opposition against this premise would be short-lived, and people could move on to the immeasurably preferable matters of achieving values.
Psychology of Ownership
In a capitalistic society everything that can be validly claimed as property (i.e., able to be logically acquired and demarcated) would be owned by human beings. Consequently, what should or should not be done with (and on) “public” land would no longer be debated. For all practical purposes public land is owned by the government. Since, legally, everyone and no one own the property, the use and/or disposal of it is controlled by politicians, with the aid of pressure or interest groups.
Capitalism would turn the concept of property rights into what it should be—an absolute reality. All “government property”—including roads, streets, bridges, waterways (oceans, rivers, streams), airways and airspace (including all the highly regulated frequencies along the electromagnetic spectrum), and anything else humans discover in the future that can be objectively defined as property—would finally be recognized for what it is: someone’s property.
Existents, or entities in existence, should be owned—or rather must be owned—for them to best benefit human beings. Ownership is a method by which an individual can create value in an existent. By claiming something as property, one now has marketable capital which can be utilized in the marketplace with other human beings. If others deem it relatively unsuitable to their needs or desires, it will have little economic value (although it may have much personal value to oneself). If they deem it useful and desirable, it will have more value on the market. Whether one uses this property for one’s own interests or shares it with others, or decides to transfer it to another person, it nonetheless has definite value—it can be used and traded. As soon as an existent is able to be traded, it can be used for the furtherance of human productivity; it can be improved, utilized, reshaped, and so on, so that it will provide benefits to people.
Presently all the things and places beyond our planet are unclaimed by anyone (not counting satellites in orbit around Earth). And none will be claimed until someone can make use of them to further serve human life (i.e., until they can have value on the marketplace of goods and services). In order to logically acquire and demarcate such distant regions, we must first venture into them. Naturally, our moon is the next realm on the list of places where property acquisition and demarcation are achievable.
Property must be the preeminent legal concept in a capitalistic society. Ownership, rather than being harmful or somehow bad (as one may get the impression from current political/environmental debates), is indispensable for conceptual beings. Ownership allows us to live. Ownership creates economic values. By everyone owning land and resources, human life prospers.
An advanced civilization, one that sees rights for what they are, would understand that without absolute property rights, absolute human rights are impossible.76 Again, rights are an individual affair, no matter how many contracted parties are involved. Since there can be no such thing as collective rights, there can be no such thing as public property. Today, we just witness the effects of mistaken ideas about how humans should deal with each other. Government is used as a crutch in place of proper integration of concepts.
The idea that government should “own” all thoroughfares and waterways, as well as enormous land areas set aside for wilderness preservation or “multiple use,” seems to stem from a fear or mistrust of human nature. But government and interest groups are people too, subject to human nature. Mistrusting people, while not mistrusting a contradictory government run by people, indeed creates additional problems.
The idea that others cannot be trusted to make appropriate decisions is not a minor issue. It is one of the most dominant ideas in our culture. People may feel that if “others” owned all the property, they would desire to destroy the very property they had purchased (“to make a fast buck”) and restrict access to their property. The general fear is this: On a wide enough scale, people would destroy the planet and/or make transportation impossible.
Yet, people make profits in a free market by generating values to trade with others. Obviously, prohibiting travel and commerce is not in line with profiting. Nor is it in line with enjoying social interaction. In a free market system people would invest in property in order to make money and gain other values. What someone does with his or her property is largely determined by his or her personal values and by the forces of supply and demand—that is, what will reap the greatest rewards for him or her.
To desire to take action that will benefit us in some way is completely normal. In fact, it is our nature. If it were not, the human species would not exist. Any use and/or disposal of property ultimately ought to have the effect of creating resources that we value and need to sustain us. For it to do otherwise is to truly miss the point of human life and productivity. Human life and productivity, by the way, logically do not run counter to maintaining the beauty and well-being of this planet.
Nurturing Earth and its ecosystems invariably means nurturing ourselves. There is no contradiction between the survival and progress of humankind and the survival of our planet’s natural resources, both living and nonliving. We will always have a definite need for expanses of terrain dedicated to scenic and recreational pleasures. Ultimately the enlightened values of property owners and the market of buyers would determine the final proportion of economic development.
Concerns about the ills of economic progress seem to originate mostly from observations within our presently corrupt moral and political state of affairs (which will be addressed in greater detail shortly). Stories about the way it was, back when property was a spurious concept and people “lived off the land,” typically have an appeal because this former way of life did not jeopardize the scenic wonder of the planet and various crucial ecosystems. However, it is on account of human progress that we are able to voice our concerns in the first place. Progress has given life to billions of individuals who otherwise would never have taken a breath of air.
It would be ironic for us to disparage the very factors that give us life. Once again, no incongruity should exist between economic progress and living in accordance with the demands of our biosphere. The words of free market economist George Reisman raise some interesting points:
All economic activity has as its sole purpose the improvement of the environment: it aims exclusively at the improvement of the external, material conditions of human life.
In trying to restrict man’s freedom to improve his living conditions, the misnamed ‘environmental movement’ seeks to force man to live in a less favorable environment.
Now because the world is composed entirely of natural resources and possesses a virtually irreducible and practically infinite supply of energy, the problem of natural resources is simply one of being able to obtain access to them, of being able to obtain command over the resources, that is, of being in a position to direct them to the service of human well-being. This is strictly a problem of science, technology, and the productivity of labor. Its solution depends merely on learning how to break down and then put together various chemical compounds in ways that are useful to man, and having the equipment available to do it without requiring an inordinate amount of labor. Human intelligence certainly has the potential for discovering all the knowledge that is required, and in a free, rational society, the incentive of profit virtually guarantees that this knowledge will both be discovered and provided with the necessary equipment to be put to use.(p.16)
To men who reason and are free to act, nature gives more and more. To those who turn away from reason or are not free, it gives less and less. Nothing more is involved.84(p.19)
The common concern is really not so much about one’s own property, as it is about the property of others. It involves the effects of someone else’s actions, for example with their property, on other people’s values. More philosophically, the attitude may be this: What is in someone else’s best interests may not be in one’s own best interests, or in the interests of others or the country. In other words, one person’s self-interest and values might conflict with another person’s self-interest and values.
Let us take, for example, an expanse of land that one person (or company) desires to be used for scenic and recreational enjoyment, but another wants to mine. Supposedly this is a conflict of interest. However, what this line of thinking fails to realize is that, either way the property is utilized, both uses are of value on the free market. Otherwise, the potential owners obviously would not invest the money to buy them. There is no reason why the two buyers cannot purchase the kind of property they so desire. The spectacle of two people hassling over one piece of land is somewhat like that of two petulant children fighting over one piece of candy. Respectful people look for alternative solutions.
At this point in human existence, material resources such as minerals are very useful; nearly all people benefit from their extraction from the earth and refinement into products. But this does not mean that scenic areas are less valuable—quite the contrary. Nature is as valuable as people consider it to be. Actually, appreciation of the ecological and esthetic aspects of our surroundings is central to the development of a heightened awareness of reality (and thus of our actions).
Our planet is not so small, and the human population is not so large, that everything has to be subsumed under industrial development. While some advocates for the environment envision this, they tend to overlook the fundamental flaws in the political system (though they astutely note destructive political policies and boondoggles). Only when government distorts and cripples an economy and negates any real semblance of justice, does an economy’s well-being suffer.
Most of the pollution, irresponsible destruction, and misuse of property for negligible short-term gains has occurred on public property—where there is essentially free access, but no ownership (and thus no accountability).57 Open access to production on governmental land occurs for those groups versed in the tactics of lobbying. Governmental subsidies and special favors for enterprises to operate—usually in areas where free market enterprises either could not operate or would operate differently (due to potential violations of others’ property rights)—further contribute to the unnecessary and short-sighted destruction and pollution of land and water and air. This often entails endangerment or extermination of species and devastation of vital ecosystems.
The following cites only a few of the profusion of these instances: in agriculture, government hand-outs create incentives to misuse resources (such as water) and to destroy habitat; in the oceans governmental control and discouragement of property rights has led to “the tragedy of the commons,” where fish stocks are continually depleted and politicians scramble to pass more laws limiting catches in order to correct problems with earlier laws; other such “common pool” problems take place in areas of groundwater and oil reserves (common pool problems stem from lack of objective property rights, which lead to miscalculations in utilization and distortions in supply); with one-third of the continental United States directly controlled by the politics of federal government, citizens use land and waters for “free” and some unfortunately disregard the damage or pollution they do; on federal land and waterways, the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers uphold various twisted policies and continue many destructive projects.1
On a more global scale, the nonstop destruction of rainforests is instigated by the governments of third-world countries and by organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (whose operations also run on stolen money). These institutions, in the name of countries’ welfare, encourage—through political and financial means—people to utilize “public” property in ways that have devastating impacts. Commonly, areas are left impoverished when the quick money runs out; most still live in poverty, squalor, and illiteracy.
Political systems that have not the faintest idea of objective law and absolute property rights perpetuate such conditions. In all these cases, be they of global or national concern, little money is set aside for conserving the property or rejuvenating it after use. Few market incentives exist to do so—stemming from lack of ownership. As expected, productive companies usually get blamed for raping the lands of the public.
Objective laws and opportunities to make money in a free society would strongly discourage these practices. To seek irrational values would be seen as equivalent to throwing money away. People who value their freedom also value the property they own and the planet they inhabit, as well as those who inhabit it with them. All are united in the concept of justice.
An advanced, technological civilization would efficiently utilize natural resources. Necessarily the best and least harmful methods of obtaining materials from the earth would be in everyone’s interest. All the devices of pollution that exist today would eventually be replaced by safe and sensible alternatives.
Most importantly, since everything would be privately owned, anyone proven to have polluted someone else’s property (which includes one’s air, water, and natural resources, both living and nonliving) would be legally liable. He or she would be subject to restitution, repairing the damages, eradicating the health hazard, as well as the effects of public ostracism. Such consequences are also not exactly conducive to high profits.
Currently, we hear certain businesses complain about the high costs of changing to cleaner industrial methods. However, they should never have indulged in government leniencies allowing them to pollute others’ property (be it private or “public”) in the first place. In fact, the changes may be more costly the longer they wait. More damage will have to be repaired when justice is finally exacted; although, advanced technological methods will certainly help mitigate some of the costs.
In a society that regards life as the absolute standard of value, individuals would never conceive any benefits, either physical or mental, for irresponsibly polluting and degrading their own planet. In the long term, nearly pollution-free industry will prove to be the most efficient method of production, as well as the most beneficial for ensuring human health and prosperity.
In a society that values logic, justice, and long-term investments with rising profits and productivity, no sane person would find quick gains at the expense of destroying his or her investments (and public relations) appealing. All the accusations made about the “evil” of the profit motive and the inexorable destructiveness of unregulated markets stem partly from deliberately unnoticed governmental meddling in these so-called free markets to begin with, and partly from people’s practice of subjective, or non-objective, values that endanger the physical and mental well-being of individuals. In a society that does not value liberty as an absolute, one can expect the moral and political aftermath.
In a free society, the nature of technological innovation and the inherent conservation characteristics of supply and demand, as well as the proper values of people, would take care of all concerns in these areas. A free market economy is one in which prices (which regulate demand) are a direct reflection of the scarcity or desirability of a good, thus maintaining adequate supply.
Since capitalism would be a society of objective laws, it would also be a society that encourages objective values (i.e., values in accordance with individual well-being)—and, as a result, mental health. An objective value, like property, is a reflection of reality and correct ideas. Accordingly, what is in one’s self-interest (i.e., rational self-interest) is determined by objective values. And, since objective values can never conflict, neither can people’s objective self-interest. Although disagreements over particulars (such as preferences) may arise, none would over principles—such as the principle that ownership of everything is needed and desirable. Again, no contradictions exist in objective reality.
Trying to get something for nothing, destroying things of obvious value, deceiving and manipulating others in business, treating employees as expendable commodities (which often requires the “sanction of the victim”), and using political pull to achieve ends at others’ expense, are the result of non-objective values. Such practices are not normal “human nature.” They are consequences of conscious and subconscious contradictions. To project them as being unavoidable aspects of a capitalistic society, and to use them as an argument against capitalism, is to confess a lack of examination of the concepts of objective values, objective laws, enlightened self-interest, and human nature. To hold values that are opposed to the facts of reality is certainly not in anyone’s self-interest, if one chooses life and psychological health as standards of value.
In our present society, a lack of examination of these various concepts is made clear by the hundreds (if not thousands) of governmental agencies established to regulate, control, and “police” virtually every area and aspect of human ownership and business. In addition to the plethora of state, county, and city agencies, boards, and commissions, the numerous divisions of the federal Executive Departments are especially intrusive.
There are departments of: Interior, State, Treasury, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor. There are also Independent Government Establishments (agencies) as well as Government Corporations.
Whether it be the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Public Health Service, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Securities and Exchange Commission, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Employment Standards Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Economic Development Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Maritime Commission, or any other of the plentiful governmental organizations, each has either replaced the rights and jurisdiction of property owners outright or significantly throttled their autonomy.
These regulatory agencies seek to diminish the idea of property rights—diminish the idea that people are capable of ownership and decision-making. Under these agencies people are, for the most part, allowed to own property and trade goods. But they are not allowed to make final decisions for themselves concerning these things. So mixed-up are the rules, requirements, and duties of these agencies that distinguishing their root function is nearly impossible. Many provide services. Others control and regulate business activities and individuals. Though a few perform legitimate activities of justice, they are wrapped in a vastly non-objective legal package. In addition, they are all funded by tax dollars.
Many of these agencies reinforce the belief that people are innately cruel, dishonest, or inept; so, coercive groups must control them. Many perpetuate the notion that more liberty leads to more, instead of fewer, deviant practices in business or personal affairs. Tied to this is the notion that profit-driven companies should not be trusted. In other words, companies or individuals that have an interest in seeing an investment fructify, or in making money on some new product or service, should be deemed suspect or in some way dishonest. Many of these agencies promote the belief that honesty is an exceptional trait in business and guilt should be the norm.
Being simply masters of self-fulfilling prophecies, regulatory agencies require the creation of “guilty” people (as well as moral cowardice) in order to justify and maintain positions of power. They enforce laws that are simply arbitrary. Antitrust laws are one example. For instance, bureaucrats sometimes declare the prices of particular products or services to be too high, too low, or even too similar. “Remedies” are enforced according to subjective bureaucratic standards (usually derived from market competitors’ standards). Naturally, businesspersons find it difficult to steer clear of arbitrary governmental pressures and punishments.
Hypothetically, if human beings cannot make decisions for themselves, what sense does it make to have other ineffective people oversee and control their affairs? If people cannot govern their own affairs, why have other people govern them? Such non sequiturs are never noticed by governmental officials and bureaucrats.
Individuals and companies definitely need to search out and punish fraud in society. But these activities are only part of the practices of governmental administrations. Regulatory agencies fail to realize that nothing on Earth is so important to the alleged common good (or security of the nation) as respect for human rights. This inextricably includes the right to operate one’s business and manage one’s property as one sees fit.
The nebulous term “common good” or any of its synonyms has been used throughout history as an excuse to perform iniquitous actions—mostly to achieve ends that would not be achieved otherwise. Regulatory agencies are designed to make sure that everyone is “playing fair” or being “moral.” From a developmental standpoint this is similar to the doctrines found in most elementary schools. Regulatory agencies want to make sure that no one, like “naughty” children, commits acts that are assumed would be committed in their absence. So, these agencies, or teachers, must be present to make everyone obey their orders.
Free market restrictions rely on the idea that people cannot be trusted and cannot run their own lives fully. The collective entity of government has to be constantly at their side. In a way, government seems to function as a surrogate parent who, in exchange for providing strict “guidance,” requires payment in the form of compliance and mind stultification.
Children are taught that they cannot grow up to function independently. They are taught that, as adults, they must be constantly guided, observed, and inspected by others. Not surprisingly, this fosters a society of dependency. The ways adults show children that dependence is a necessary part of maturity are many. In addition to regulatory agencies, examples are to be found in the media, in school systems, in family relationships, and in various other institutions, associations, and organizations. Instead of intellectual independence, they encourage passive acceptance of commonly mistaken beliefs, as well as irrational collectivistic ideologies.
Certain habits are common. For instance, rather than explain the basic injustice and immorality of the tax system, many report how time-consuming and irritating the whole process is; some declare that a “national sales tax” or a “flat-tax” would be simpler. Rather than note that the educational system is a failure because it is a coercively funded and operated institution, many declare that what schools need is more “discipline.” Rather than assert that property rights are irrevocable, many concede to officials who have seized their land (for whatever reason) by demanding that they be “justly” compensated (as stated in the Constitution concerning “Eminent domain”). Rather than criticize the configuration of government itself, many proclaim that a “line item veto,” “campaign finance reform,” or “term limits” will help solve our political problems. Rather than explain how incorrect ideas affect a culture and outline the causes of psychological problems, many despairingly assert, “It’s a jungle out there.”
Most people are so involved in their daily activities that these issues tend to seem less and less relevant, while the actions of government and its regulatory agencies seem to be more and more needed. Thus, the enforcement of non-objective laws is gradually taken for granted. That the majority of news broadcasting remains fixated on mainstream politics certainly does not help matters.
If people lose trust in themselves and others, dependency may seem to feel like a proper human virtue. But in truth, it is one of humanity’s greatest weaknesses. It serves to cut the mind at its root—never allowing it to grow. Additionally, dependency assists individuals to forget that to think, judge, feel, and act are all virtues of the self, not of “others.”78
Rules and regulations in violation of property rights are merely attempts to substitute government’s judgment for the rightful owners. They promote the belief that many people are simply not responsible, cannot think properly, and do not know what to do. Non-objective laws therefore are needed to guide these debilitated people. Of course, to view people as individuals having real value, judgment, and worth has to start with seeing oneself in this manner.
Most illogical laws are outright confessions that people do not believe in themselves, in their capacity to think, judge, choose, and act appropriately. These laws basically imply that if people were allowed to act on their own judgment (without governmental impositions and threats), they would cause harm to the “welfare of society,” or the “public good.” Yet one cannot substitute another’s judgment for one’s own. People still have to enact and use their own judgment in order to follow and obey rules and regulations that violate rights. Additionally, many people will tend not to understand and implement what is in their rational self-interest when their judgment and actions are throttled by non-objective laws and rules of others; such is the price of the destruction of liberty.
If all governmental agencies are to be dissolved with capitalism, then who is in control? And who is responsible for people’s well-being and safety? Who makes sure, for example, that people do not resort to chronic use of mind-altering substances to evade the thought that happiness is a possibility for them? Who makes sure that drug companies offer safe products? Who decides what is the best medical care for whom and who pays for it? Who makes sure that businesses are honest with their employees and shareholders? Who makes sure that fraud is not committed and rights are not violated? Who makes sure that…? —ad infinitum.
The answer is, and always will be, individuals—not the force of a collective, legalized monopoly which negates absolute rights. Individuals who act in the marketplace of goods and ideas as wide as their minds are responsible for their own actions and relationships with others. Individuals are responsible for what examples they are to children; they communicate what living a life proper to a human being means.
In a capitalistic society, good reputation and productiveness would be considered the best means of creating wealth. And the quest to discover fraudulent activity would never override the principle of rights. In a free market some would likely do business—as they do now (e.g., Consumer Reports)—by studying and testing products and services to determine their quality. As in any enterprise, their profits would come only from people who decide their job is being done right (i.e., consumers). Certainly, no conscientious consumer would rely on information if it appeared unscientific or slanted.
The market would continually discourage businesses from offering shoddy or harmful products and services. No longer would anyone be able to use minimum standards and regulations (and inspections) imposed by government to produce or provide things that are not as good as they could be or should be. Meeting governmental standards and guidelines would no longer be an aim, because companies would realize that they have nothing to gain by underachieving and conforming, and everything to gain by exercising their sovereign judgment. Moreover, the government’s stamp of approval would no longer be available to companies and industries for uses of bribery and manipulation. Too often, governmental stamps of approval enable companies and individuals to profit from people’s ignorance. Ignorance is encouraged when people mistakenly believe that government is properly taking care of them and watching out for their interests. Many, many cases have shown that government and corrupt organizations that seek their favor have their own agendas.
The realm of medical care is one example. Medicine is presently one of the most regulated fields. As a result, professionals’ rights are violated in the most egregious fashion, and enormous unaccountability to the consumer exists. Non-objective federal and state laws all work to destroy the free enterprise of medicine. They set guidelines, create monopolistic enterprises (e.g., the AMA, one of the largest lobbies in the United States), promote the medical licensing system, and put into effect countless insurance mandates and regulations.
State meddling and impositions make it very difficult for hospitals in general and doctors in particular to practice the most important factors in business: honesty (as opposed to lack of disclosure and dissemination of information to customers); integrity (as opposed to negligence and denial of responsibility); and, reputation (as opposed to stagnation or entrenched, self-righteous incompetence). This is what government brings to the free market, all in the name of making the situation better and right. However, nothing will ever be remedied by making laws. Only by upholding justice can problems be prevented or solved.
Like in any industry, professionals in health care need to be able to rely on their own judgment. This would not only make their jobs easier, but also far more enjoyable; no longer would they be buried in insurance paperwork or hassled by HMOs. A free market for medicine would also allow consumers to make more informed, intelligent, and independent decisions concerning their own and their loved ones’ well-being.
In the end, alleged need for present agencies and non-objective laws fails in the light of logic. With true capitalism, logical minds would be responsible for behavior. They would understand that only persuasion and example can properly promote the well-being of any individual or group of individuals. In today’s culture the key difference is that government serves as a replacement for being intellectually responsible. Whatever urgent issues arise, one can be sure that government is looked to and depended on to find and implement solutions. Since government is supposedly taking care of these perplexing problems, no one needs to recognize the real disaster taking place. Little thought is given to the reality that government tries to solve these problems by coercion and always with stolen money.
Once property rights are acknowledged as absolutes, though, the right to one’s body would be recognized as absolute too. Just as we have the right to use and dispose of our property so long as we do not infringe on the rights of others, we have the right to do what we want with our own bodies (for better or worse), so long as we do not infringe on the rights of others. Among other things, this would actively encourage each person to take full responsibility for his or her personal actions and take his or her own welfare seriously.
Even though many of the terrible abuses people subject themselves to physically (and mentally) are currently illegal, laws cannot prevent such abuses. When government claims power to dictate the personal welfare of individuals, attempts to legislate morality proliferate. Trust and confidence in one’s ability to make good choices, however, cannot be cultivated through legislation.
The message that people are fundamentally incapable of self-regulation is conveyed by the laws that restrict freedom of choice for actions that do not violate other’s rights. Drug prohibition is a prime example. For certain arbitrary reasons, some drugs are declared illegal to possess, use, and distribute. (Just as arbitrarily, “prescription drugs” may only be administered by doctors and obtained from pharmacists.)
Specific drugs are declared illicit mainly because those in power perceive their use as bad or immoral—drugs destroy lives and cause societal problems. Supposedly, laws against drug use not only protect individuals from themselves but also “send a message” to the public that government and others disapprove of their use.
Logically, morality pertains to actions of the individual, actions that may be beneficial or harmful in terms of survival and well-being. From a rational standpoint, routine consumption of any mind/body altering substance to the point that it distorts awareness of objective reality is definitely not beneficial (excluding of course necessary medical cases). Such consumption may impair functioning as well as possibly mask psychological troubles. Hence, it is principally immoral from the standpoint of harming oneself, not others (although others may indeed be harmed as a consequence).
Current legislated versions of social morality, however, appear to be concerned more with the welfare of others rather than with the individual’s welfare. According to social morality, doing drugs is bad primarily because one may end up committing crimes, enticing others to participate, and injuring others’ well-being in general. But this view is the reversal of cause and effect. People desire to use drugs for all kinds of psychological reasons, reasons deeper than statements about “addictive properties” or “cultural environment.” And so, many people will begin to use drugs and continue to use them regardless of their effects on society or governmental threats of punishment.
Since morality is primarily an individual matter, only the individual can choose his or her course of action——not others. Legislating morality is futile because it attempts to negate that which enables a person to be moral: a decision. Given the inescapable truth that we are all volitional creatures, there is no rational alternative to the recognition that a human being has rights, a prerequisite of which is the ability to choose a given course of action. To be a self-generating and self-sustaining decision-maker, one has to internalize the practice of determining right from wrong, good from bad; and, one has to discover what is in one’s rational self-interest.
Law, in a free society, is necessary only to enforce each person’s inalienable right to be a self-determiner of action, in spite of the potential unknown harm to self or others that may result. (Any known harm to others, however (i.e., that which is immediately foreseeable), must be categorized as a kind of clear and present danger or threat of force, and it must be dealt with according to what is reasonable to extinguish it.) Law, as the tool of justice, reflects the consequences of infringing on others’ rights. In this way individuals realize that they are responsible for what they do. Again, actions have consequences.
Since persons are easily capable (in nearly all cases) of recognizing what does or does not overtly infringe on another’s rights, they need not be warned about and even prevented from exercising their judgment. As frequently stated, by making drugs (and countless other things) illegal, one is not protecting the rights of others; one is destroying the rights of the individual.
Though it is a common assumption, drugs are not the cause of crime. People are the cause of crime, which necessarily includes those who legislate against the rights of the individual. Drugs are no more the cause of crime than a car is in a hit-and-run, or a gun is in a shooting. Rather, destructive volitional creatures are the cause of crime. They may have numerous motivations for their acts, which are usually more complex than remarks about gangs, poverty, poor housing, fatherless kids, lack of opportunities, unemployment, lack of government funding for city and school projects, lack of police officers, and so on.
Any action that intentionally infringes on the rights of others is necessarily a crime. Government and those who favor its schemes do a tremendous disservice to human dignity when they obfuscate the meaning of the term crime. Abusing drugs may be damaging to the self, but this problem should be remedied psychologically, never by force and threats. If people would focus on this real remedy (and everything it entails politically), there would be less demand for drugs and, hence, fewer sellers or dealers of drugs.
But where demand is high, there will almost certainly be a supply. This is why the “war on drugs” will never accomplish its goals. The illegality of drugs just drives them from the free market to the black market, where the supply is distorted, astronomically increasing prices. A lucrative business is thereby generated for newly declared criminals to fight for their market share. Soon, waves of violence turn sectors of cities into veritable war-zones and police into combat soldiers focused solely on holding their ground. In the process, both police and DEA agents become skilled at invading people’s privacy and confiscating their possessions.
All this stems from bad ideas about how to treat people—and from evasion of the idea that human beings are volitional creatures. Bad ideas will always yield bad results.
Concerns about the legalization of drugs usually involve more than the rejoinder that it “sends the wrong message.” Many worry about sinister people who would take advantage of children and others who are especially susceptible to drugs’ addictive effects—as if this were not an epidemic today. Logically, we should inspect why sinister people exist, and why they are labeled as such. This involves searching for the political and psychological reasons. Obviously, grade-school children are fully capable of saying “No” when they are offered drugs. Children who have been instilled with objective values and properly nurtured would shun such overtures as ridiculous. Those who do not fully believe in children’s self-regulating ability and capacity for sound judgment usually call for more laws, rather than better values. Additionally, people who may be more chemically susceptible to drugs (however this is scientifically interpreted) can—if they make it a top priority—refrain from injecting foreign substances into their veins, snorting lines of white powder, inhaling various types of smoke, and swallowing an assortment of pills. These are all volitional acts.
When people fail to recognize their volitional capacity they tend to believe such things as, “I couldn’t help it,” or “The drugs were controlling my life.” These beliefs naturally foster a demand for laws that try to remove drugs from society and stop these harmful activities. Thus, a pathetic cultural situation is made even more so. Of course, the main thing this accomplishes is further degradation of human autonomy as well as an increase in rebelliousness and resentment of authority.
In concert with the dramatic changes linked to true personal freedom, the absolutism of property rights would quickly assist in remedying the various problems that plague our cities and suburbs. As was indicated in our discussion of private police agencies, the high crime rates associated with inner cities and other areas could now be dealt with effectively. All streets (and housing projects) would be under private ownership. Such troubles as drive-by shootings certainly do not raise the level of customer satisfaction, let alone the value of one’s business and property. Owners would contract with security forces to maintain the safety of streets and walkways.
Additionally, roadways as well as public utilities would no longer be owned by everyone (and thus no one) and maintained by government. Since they would be designed and operated privately, unnecessary problems would be notably minimized: fewer logistical problems; fewer funding problems; fewer structural or sanitary problems; fewer intolerable man-made health hazards (e.g., city air or drinking water); and, fewer congestion problems (less traffic jams to sit in idly for hours each day).
The enormity of governmental meddling in the market is furthered through myriad arbitrary property rules, codes, and regulations. Legalized monopolies of utilities are responsible for the infrastructure of any town or city. The extent to which these contradictions affect our economic environment ought not be overlooked. No matter how easy it may be to accept them, such contradictions should never be taken lightly.
All the astonishing changes from public to private that would occur in services and infrastructures need to be continually envisioned. Only a capitalistic market can determine the ideal methods of service and transportation in terms of expediency and cost. When this is actualized, the outcomes will be wondrously and proudly seen.
Psychology Of Education
In most societies, school systems are main purveyors of ideas. Schools help determine the direction of cultures and can have a major impact on individual lives. They do this by representing and by presenting major frameworks of human knowledge.
When we examine schools, then, we soon discover another reason why the world is in its current state. We discover why most people have aged without valuing the importance of recognizing contradictions, a primary concern for organisms that survive by conceptual identification, integration, and evaluation. We also discover why so many individuals put so little thought into the ways that their dignity and quality of life are stripped from them on a daily basis.
The overwhelming majority of people who pass through today’s school systems tend to uphold and support the ideas they were taught. Most parents and teachers take it for granted that children should be “sociable,” “pledge allegiance to the flag,” sit quietly in class for several hours at a time, dedicate equal periods to dissimilar interests, move through the grade system and its classes (irrespective of individual desires, skills, and abilities), and diligently master as a group the course work provided to them.
Therefore, to recognize an objectively better education, we have to challenge many assumptions. We have to challenge the ideas we were taught and, as a result, most of what today’s authorities recommend. To question the nature of the educational system of course requires us to question the nature of our own education. We need to see how it has influenced, and may still be influencing, our behavior and psychology.
In order to discuss the state of modern education and its logical alternatives, we need to discuss in more detail the nature of childhood. Throughout this book we have noted that children’s experiences with parents and others are important factors in both individual and societal enlightenment. However, such factors can never be complete determiners of the lives of volitional organisms. We can always choose to reverse or spurn detrimental influences. The choice to act against these influences is an exceptional achievement, because it may mean standing alone—which, as we have seen, is not strongly encouraged or even accepted in a culture that espouses varieties of political and psychological dependence.
The idea of self-worth is essential for understanding psychology (be it child, adolescent, or adult). It is, after all, a central component of self-esteem. By virtue of being alive, every person has intrinsic worth. Every person deserves to live joyfully. Problems can arise, however, when we (or others) confuse our actions with our basic worth. If the way children merely behave, for example, is taken to be an indication of their existential competence and valuableness, then they and those around them may lose awareness of their fundamental self-worth.
Certainly, we can do things that affect our self-respect. This involves the issue of integrity. Simply put, if we do not fully respect ourselves, we may do disrespectful things. While it may initially seem somewhat paradoxical, the more we can distinguish our intrinsic worth from any of our particular actions and feelings at any given moment, the more we are able to appropriately serve our rational self-interest. Our basic self-worth is then no longer at the constant mercy of our specific feelings and actions. This enables us to trust ourselves to act in our best interests given what we know (and don’t know). Undoubtedly, if one lacks this basic self-trust and does not embrace one’s fundamental worth, then disrespectful or even destructive patterns of behavior may arise. Essentially, one’s behavior conforms to one’s expectations of it, given one’s view of self.
Of course, we can also do things that others may not value or respect us for. We can annoy others who have “better” or “proper” ideas about how we should express ourselves and live among them. Sometimes our autonomous actions arouse scorn in others. Others’ scorn may (if we buy into it) falsely indicate that we are wrong, not just in action, but also in person; thus we are seen as bad—as unworthy. In fact, the ridiculing of self-worth has been used habitually by people throughout the ages: the declaration, or more insidiously, the implication, that we are unworthy in principle, unworthy to think and live independently, as our person requires.
Employers, teachers, parents, loved ones, and even strangers can disparage or attack one’s worth. It can be an extremely powerful technique by which to manipulate, control, intimidate, or simply incense. Especially with a child, to label him or her with disparaging adjectives like “clumsy,” “stupid,” “dumb,” and so forth, is to invoke, in the words of psychologist Haim Ginott, “…reactions in his body and in his soul. There are resentment and anger and hate. There are fantasies of revenge. There is guilt about the fantasies, and anxiety stemming from the guilt. And there may be undesirable behavior and symptoms. In short, there is a chain of reactions that makes the child and his parents miserable.”33(p.47) All these reactions indicate that self-worth has been attacked, and the easiest—but by no means proper—way to deal with the situation is to attack the worth of the instigator.
If disrespecting others’ self-worth solidifies into a habit, then the issue of addressing one’s own self-worth in a rational and coherent fashion may be practically ruled out. Situations can develop in which grown individuals engage in all sorts of ranting, quibbling, bickering, hassling, and so on (as well as the more subtle games of deceit and vindictiveness and jealousy and envy, for instance). Like the characters in television soap operas, they conveniently avoid any focus on the source of their general complaints and problems with people; self-worth is neglected. Individuals simply have not nourished the practice of authentically and repeatedly validating their worth internally, by themselves.
Children can be significantly influenced by others. Children obviously have less developed cognitive functioning and less knowledge. Additionally, parental practices can promote emotional structures of dependence. Both of these factors may tend to diminish children’s internal validations of worth.
Subconscious thoughts concerning, for example, unmet needs and unfulfilled desires can impel a child to cling to others for approval and acceptance (regardless of their responses). The child may have the secret hope that he or she will be deemed “OK,” or “good enough.” Parents can counteract this situation by appealing to the child’s need to acquire intellectual and psychological independence. They can teach the child that, because one is good in principle, one’s self-worth need not be at the mercy of other’s responses.
Of course, the discouragement of a child’s own validation of self-worth has detrimental consequences. As parents or adults, we can choose to interact with children in a variety of ways. Naturally, we are responsible for these interactions. Children are quick to receive the messages we send to them, whether beneficial or harmful. Ginott stressed the issue of delivering sane communication:
What counts most in adult-child communication is the quality of the process. A child is entitled to sane messages from an adult. How parents and teachers talk tells a child how they feel about him. Their statements affect his self-esteem and self-worth. To a large extent, their language determines his destiny.
Parents and teachers need to eradicate the insanities so insidiously hidden in their everyday speech, the messages that tell a child to distrust his perception, disown his feelings, and doubt his worth. The prevalent, so-called “normal,” talk drives children crazy—the blaming and shaming, preaching and moralizing, ordering and bossing, admonishing and accusing, ridiculing and belittling, threatening and bribing, diagnosing and prognosing. These techniques brutalize, vulgarize, and dehumanize children. Sanity depends on trusting one’s inner reality. Such trust is engendered by processes that can be identified and applied.32(p.81)
When adults gain knowledge of how to treat themselves in an appropriate manner, they are better able to deal with the untarnished and joyous little beings known as children. The inner reality Ginott mentions is mainly that of the subconscious. Knowing the workings of one’s subconscious mind means becoming aware of integrations and evaluations that may be dysfunctional both for oneself and others. Awareness enables one to cultivate an enlightened state of consciousness for self and others.
By providing children with a healthy psychological model, adults also honor their volitional capacity. The so-called “normal” talk of which Ginott speaks, in contrast, denies children’s volition. Such talk may take the form of orders: “don’t do that”; “come here”; “don’t make me drag you”; “come play with the rest”; “share your toys”; “clean your room”; “be a good boy”; “be a good girl”; “don’t hate your daddy”; “be nice”; “you’d better behave”; “I expect you to…”—ad nauseum. These commands indicate a fundamental distrust in the child’s faculty of judgment and disrespect for the child’s ability to have and make choices.
Psychological freedom is acquired by dealing with reality—which includes one’s inner reality—in an independent way. Evolution has already granted children the capacity to focus and relate to the world in a conceptual fashion. And this capacity concerns the intrinsic motivation to be aware and to actively work to understand. As children, our cognitive/emotional mechanisms are structured so that these processes are not only easy, but also extremely enjoyable.
To thwart these processes is to discourage children and place blocks in the way of their self-actualization. If adults constantly impose directives on children, they can hinder the process by which children joyously learn to use their minds. It can interrupt and fragment development of self-discipline and self-mastery.
Children’s learning processes may need guidance and encouragement, but these should not be mixed with commands to abide by. Obedience is an inherently destructive trait for a thinking organism, which must guide itself by its own judgment. Demands for obedience can ultimately be traced to a lack of trust in one’s own volitional faculty (i.e., trust in making competent decisions). This leads inexorably to mistrusting others, especially children.
The demand for obedience, though, is usually masked in the idea that “It is for your own good,” implying that it is both necessary and proper. The rationalizations adults can use to negate the will of the child are nearly endless. For instance, adults may see children as inadequate persons, or as having incomplete personalities; hence, children may seem in need of orders.
Nineteenth century sociologist Herbert Spencer noted the following: “Uncover its roots, and the theory of coercive education will be found to grow not out of man’s love of his offspring but out of his love of dominion. Let any one who doubts this listen to that common reprimand—‘How dare you disobey me?’ and then consider what the emphasis means.”97(p.90)
Self-doubt, guilt, and shame, often mixed with anger, resentment, contempt, arrogance, boastfulness, are the detrimental emotional consequences for children when their volition and worth are not respected. Children can form a variety of inferiority and superiority complexes, from which comparison contests become the conscious or subconscious norms. Naughtiness, unruliness, hostile possessiveness, laziness, futile fantasy play, shyness, and so forth, are the detrimental behavioral consequences.
Much of the irrational behavior that children display is a result of how adults have treated them. Misbehavior usually does not emanate naturally from the child. Children learn a great deal from adults. By the time the typical child enters school, for instance, he or she may have a plentiful arsenal of psychological games acquired from interactions with adults (and children of these adults).
So, adults need to search deeper into a child’s motivations for acting “crazy.” Otherwise they risk responding in nonhealing ways. The temper tantrums of children, for instance, which daily try the patience of adults, are direct indicators that important needs have not been, or are not being, met.66 More often than not, children do not want to be spiteful and cause problems. Their anger or upset is usually symptomatic of a larger problem that needs respectful nurturing.
Maria Montessori noted that children have a natural desire to independently learn and work.65 She questioned the common assumption that being directed or, in contrast, being idle with other idle minds or just engaging in purposeless, unthinking play, should be a natural part of childhood. Montessori took a scientific approach to pedagogy and sought to be an objective observer of children. She noted that pedagogy cannot be properly structured without understanding child psychology.
The exceptional, critically important observation she drew from her work was this: The child has a teacher within.67 Children, as well as adults, do not need to be “taught” in the strict sense of the term; they do not need to be given lectures in order to learn. This may only hamper an initially eager young mind’s quest for knowledge.
Montessori noted that, after being provided the appropriate learning environment, “spontaneous manifestations” of children develop and flourish on their own. Children naturally respond to interesting and unknown things. They seek to learn through their own relentless curiosity. In fact, this is the wonderful life force within all of us.
Montessori’s first school for preschool-age children began in Italy in 1907. It was soon able to develop the true humanity in a group of deprived children, many of whom were discouraged and unruly. After achieving extraordinary success with her new pedagogical ideas and methods, she wrote:
One of the most interesting and unexpected discoveries in our schools was the love and diligence with which children who acted on their own carried out their tasks. A child who is free to act not only seeks to gather sensible impressions from his environment but he also shows a love for exactitude in the carrying out of his actions. His spirit then seems to be suspended between existence and self-realization. A child is a discoverer. He is an amorphous splendid being in search of his own proper form.(p.99)
These poised little children, full of charm and dignity, were always ready to receive visitors. They had lost their former timidity. There was no obstacle lying between their souls and their surroundings. Their lives were unfolding naturally like the lotus that spreads out its white petals to receive the rays of the sun as it sends forth a fragrant odor. The important thing was that the children found no obstacles in the way to their development. They had nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to shun. It was as simple as that. Their self-possession could be attributed to their immediate and perfect adaptation to their environment.66(p.128)
The environment these children had adapted to was reality. The children could proceed at their own pace, by their own volition; their minds were in their own possession. They did not have to submit to the orders of an authority—to obey teacher.
Notice from the description that the children in Montessori’s school displayed neither inhibition nor inappropriateness. Children who have their needs consistently and genuinely met apprehend their world sensibly. As a result of learning in a free, spontaneous, and self-directed fashion—in a mentally and physically invigorating environment (which incidentally is the teacher’s task to provide)—all essentially useless behavior falls by the wayside. No longer do children feel the need to fight against the wills of others, or doubt their own wills; both battles of the wills and surrenders of them disappear. Life and happiness flourish because nothing blocks the way to great, open expanses of knowledge and refreshing, stimulating experiences.
In such environments, children become confident that they can shape their own destinies. They feel that they are in control of their actions. They also realize that the pursuit of objective values is worthwhile and that happiness comes naturally. And, they understand that conflicts with others should be rare and dignified interactions the norm.
However, when the essential psychological and educational needs of children are not provided for, we ought to expect the aftermath. When following authoritarian orders is applied to the classroom, problems only exacerbate. Rather than encouraged to be independent, children are placed in a group of equally confused and misguided peers.
Though socialization may be the educational goal, the outcome is far from socially beneficial. In spite of their psychic needs to grasp reality and to acquire new skills independently, children are required to adjust to the behavior of an irrational group. Rand discussed this in her powerful critique of modern education, The Comprachicos:
Adjust to what? To anything. To cruelty, to injustice, to blindness, to silliness, to pretentiousness, to snubs, to mockery, to treachery, to lies, to incomprehensible demands, to unwanted favors, to nagging affections, to unprovoked hostilities—and to the overwhelming, overpowering presence of Whim as the ruler of everything. (Why these and nothing better? Because these are the protective devices of helpless, frightened, unformed children who are left without guidance and are ordered to act as a mob. The better kinds of actions require thought.)83(p.198)
Clearly, this educational environment tells us that something is terribly wrong. Yet the feelings of frustration and resentment so typical in today’s schools (among students and teachers alike) often go unnoticed as being indicators of flawed methodology. In all the required assignments and requiredactivities—in all the hints and admonishments to conform to the group and comply with teachers’ demands and impositions—we find a significant amount of emotional repression.
Clearly, such feelings need to be treated with respect. Rather than being repressed, they need to be examined. Introspection would no doubt enable educators to question the nature of current pedagogy. But without introspection, certain psychological attitudes will continue. Montessori remarked about the “camouflages” of adults, which help conceal true feelings:
One of the most remarkable camouflages is the hypocrisy with which an adult treats a child. An adult sacrifices a child’s needs to his own, but he refuses to recognize the fact, since this would be intolerable. He persuades himself that he is exercising a natural right and acting for the future good of the child. When the child defends himself, the adult does not advert to what is really happening but judges whatever the child does to save himself as disobedience and the result of evil tendencies. The feeble voice of truth and justice within the adult grows weak and is replaced by the false conviction that one is acting prudently, according to one’s right and duty, and so forth. The heart is hardened. It becomes like ice and gleams like crystal. Everything is broken against it.66(p.176)
One of the many things that break may be the love of learning. When learning is controlled or directed by others, passion for it usually fades. When school becomes a continuous process of following assignments and performing lessons that teachers require of students, the process of self-motivated integration can be severely debilitated. Teachers now must focus primarily on “classroom management,” trying to keep order and proper behavior among their students.
The schooling process continues like a juggernaut that unapologetically consumes its victims. Its coercive nature is seldom held accountable for the troubling outcomes. Myriad problems are instead attributed to lazy students, lack of discipline, poor teacher pay, dumb administration, insufficient funding, and the like.
At present, nearly all schools—elementary, high school, undergraduate, graduate school—require students to abide by someone else’s notions of what should be learned (and when and how). Such outside directives often take the will out of individuals striving to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities. Additionally, they encourage a dependent learning perspective. In the words of educator Alfie Kohn:
The signs of such dependence are questions such as ‘Do we have to know this?’ or ‘Is this going to be on the test?’ Every educator ought to recognize these questions for what they are: distress calls. The student who offers them is saying, ‘My love of learning has been kicked out of me by well-meaning people who used bribes or threats to get me to do schoolwork. Now all I want to know is whether I have to do it—and what you’ll give me if I do.’…The teacher’s distress call—which can sometimes sound more smug than distressed—is the insistence that students won’t bother to learn anything that isn’t going to be graded.48 (p. 200)
In concert with the procedure of required learning, modern education “grades” students. Grading is actually implementation of the psychological theory of operant conditioning. In simple terms, this theory holds that behavior can be modified by manipulating rewards and punishments for a person. Needless to say, another person is doing the manipulating and desiring particular behavior. However efficacious rewards and punishments are thought to be for the short-term, they are clearly destructive in the long-term—and they do not say much for believing in competent, self-motivated human functioning.
The present educational system confesses its ineffectiveness by upholding the belief that tests and grades are necessary to keep students studying and mastering the material. “What is even more appalling,” Kohn stated, “many teachers hold out the possibility of more academic work as a punishment (or the possibility of less work as a reward), which drives home the lesson that learning is something a student should want to avoid.48(p. 151)
Certainly many students today would rather skip class and spend time with friends instead of study. In fact this is one of the greatest laments of teachers. Yet we need to realize that the present system has contributed to such student yearnings. Low student motivation for learning is probably the worst of the harmful repercussions of coercive education. Students can hardly be blamed for not wanting to sit for seemingly endless hours in classrooms.
Coercing people to study is really the reversal of cause and effect. People should study because they want to, not because they are forced to. To label students as inherently apathetic or undisciplined is to not question the nature of the coercive system. Such labeling only fulfills prophecies.
Nearly all of us, teachers included, were educated in a coercive educational environment. Thus, to accept the status quo may seem quite natural. Most of us were taught that drudgery and obedience to authority are often intrinsic components to the learning process. Grading and testing, of course, were used as main tools.
Some believe tests challenge the learner and indicate the amount of learning that has occurred. This perhaps is true—in a certain context. The way in which tests are used is key. In the context of modern education, they are normally used for grading. Consequently, students forget most of what they try to memorize for tests in a relatively short amount of time. This is a well-established fact.
Basically, grades and tests misplace the emphasis of education. They make students focus on rote memorization rather than thinking (e.g., making distinctions and integrations). When the exalted end is grades, learning mostly withers. As psychiatrist and educational reformer William Glasser noted: A student can either “concentrate on grades and give up thinking; or concentrate on thinking and give up grades.” Some give up both. They see little joy in doing either in this context. Glasser continued: “If we failed those who did C or D work, the system would be exposed and soon abandoned, but we don’t; we just place them in a position where, correctly sensing our attitude, they feel they are failures.”34(p.63)
Testing and subsequent grading also bolster a teacher’s status as an “authority” in the realm of judging student academic efficacy and worth. This neglects a supreme pedagogical fact: a student should be the judge of his or her own competence. Any test a student chooses to take should be a reflection of his or her desire to assess educational progress. “What grades offer,” in the words of Kohn, “is spurious precision, a subjective rating masquerading as an objective assessment.”48(p.201) Another writer described grading in the following way: “A grade can be regarded only as an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown proportion of an indefinite amount of material.”28(p.6)
Since tests are regularly administered in opposition to the desires of the learner, they serve poorly as measures of capability. Main examples of this are college entrance examinations (and other standardized tests). These exams tend to view intelligence as primarily an innate, rather than an acquired, trait. Multitudes of statisticians and psychologists (or their hybrid, psychometric psychologists) have intricately designed and meticulously evaluated each type of test for validity and reliability. The tests are constructed to accurately measure what the creators want them to measure—”intelligence,” “achievement,” or “aptitude”—which in this case involves the ability to answer carefully timed question sets. On the reliability side, scores need to be replicable across time and places; they are usually compared to norms and gauged in percentile ranks of populations.
Though this testing process sounds very scientific, it has little to do with education. Those who do not score high enough on tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, may be denied higher levels of study or professional fields of work. These “objective” assessments are thought to spare potential students future hardship, wasted effort, and money.
So, even though students desire to learn and are willing to pay for it, others must judge whether they are capable or worthy of being in certain disciplines. Students cannot pursue their interests unless others—those in positions of authority—say they may proceed. All this is done supposedly for the good of everyone.
However, even if students are admitted to their desired colleges and universities, they are subjected to a very curious process. Educator John Holt related some of his thoughts about students in universities and colleges and their extended transition process into the workforce:
Most of them were on campus to get a piece of paper that (they thought) would enable them to do whatever they were going to do next, when they got out of school. Most of them, if given the piece of paper, would leave immediately and do that next thing. Most of them, if they left right away with paper in hand to do that next thing, would do it about as well as they will do it after many more years on this or some other campus. Others of the students are here because they don’t know what to do next, or because they want to put off, for as long as they can, whatever they will do next.
Meanwhile, one might say that all those students are learning something. Perhaps they are. But they will not long remember more than a small part of it, or use or benefit from more than a small part of that. They are learning this stuff to pass exams. Most of them could not pass the same exam even a year later, to say nothing of ten years later. And, if some of what they learn should someday prove useful, they would probably have learned it ten times faster when they needed to use it and thus had a reason for learning it.39(p.200)
What keeps this system afloat? The educational establishment does, in concert with government. Most of the educational establishment is owned and operated by government; the rest is controlled by it (through grants, accreditation, required curricula and testing, etc.). This coercive system restricts the supply of students for various professional fields (law and medicine are two main examples). Many professionals are subsequently required to become and stay “certified” by state governments via a variety of licensing processes; individuals are declared criminals for “practicing without a license.”
Such rights-infringing regulations are based on the premise that individuals have no right to function for their own sake and in their own interests. University or college job tickets (diplomas) and stamps of approval by the State (licenses) are, by this standard, what makes one a reputable professional—not one’s own effort and achievement. Clearly, little trust exists in people’s capacity for discrimination, judgment, and self-regulation; consequently, the “experts” place scant trust in students to make competent decisions for themselves.
Modern education errs in its presupposition that others, not individuals themselves, know and can best determine personal ability. One primary statement about a free society (and about reality in general) is this: Every person must stand or fall by his or her own judgment. If one happens to fall, then one will learn from this and know better next time. Essentially, this is part of the learning process. It cannot be circumvented; it can only be unacknowledged.
A society that values respect for truth values honesty as a supreme virtue. Being honest—not only to others but also to oneself—is best fostered in a society that relies on and trusts the judgment of individuals to make appropriate assessments of themselves. The market of consumers will make their own judgments accordingly.
Even though individuals might want assistance (e.g., in the form of informational feedback) to more accurately assess their skills or accomplishments, the nature of self-assessment does not change. Gaining knowledge, learning skills, and developing understanding are self-regulated processes. They cannot be directed, dictated, or evaluated by others.
A coercive system basically ensures that teachers remain frustrated with the slowness and lethargy of most students, and that most students continue to see every new assignment as a burden. This is the dead end of a bankrupt pedagogy. By doubting the self-directing capability of people in principle, it proceeds to create many of the same unmotivated mentalities it expected from the outset.
And what about the individuals who fall through the cracks? The ones who are deemed not good enough academically somewhere along their anxious, burdensome, and frustrating journey? What happens to them? What conclusions do they draw about life and the power of their mind? How do they go about gaining desired knowledge, and how long does it take for that desire to subside, and then to vanish? How do they go about seeking happiness and enlightenment, when their first few attempts proved futile? Self-respecting educators must address questions of this kind.
In order for the educational system to cultivate enthusiasm for learning, it has to be responsive to the needs of learners. Learning flourishes with a self-directed and independent attitude. Regardless of how enjoyable, helpful, or necessary it may be to learn from and along with others, only single minds can integrate information and deal with it.
Individual students need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their learning processes. A self-chosen and self-motivated pursuit of values needs to be fostered. Schools, teachers, tutors, workshops, field trips, and so on, should exist to expand the range of possibilities of student choices—to, in a real sense, open new worlds for learners.
So, the primary job of educators is basically to provide the appropriate facilities, guidance, and feedback for learning. They should offer help when it is wanted, and should cater to the interests of the student.40 In doing so, students maintain a desire to discover the new and previously unknown.
Within a benevolent and voluntary educational system, the connotation of the word “student” would likely change. At present, it oftentimes implies a subordinate relationship to another, the so-called expert—the teacher. It may conjure images of being told what to do and what to learn in spite of one’s interests, of being instructed and evaluated by an authority, and of having to sit for long periods and listen to someone lecture. Perhaps worst of all, “student” may imply having not just a lack of knowledge, but strangely, a lack of competence in acquiring it—hence the longstanding rationalization for external direction and control of student learning activities.
Of course primarily coercive education has tended to foster these connotations. Many educational institutes and teachers outside of this context can facilitate respectful relationships with students. They maintain genuine authority because students (of all ages) actively choose their services and both need and want particular amounts of guided instruction.39
Therefore, for clarity’s sake, student ought to mean anyone in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills—regardless of any and all authorities who posture as superior. Accordingly, teacher ought to mean any individual emotionally secure enough to see him or herself as a student who encourages and facilitates learning.
True reform comes from implementation of new educational methods. A logically integrated philosophical and psychological approach to pedagogy from the beginning would provide the mental tools to reverse present counterproductive practices. Be it in preschool, elementary, or high school, all would be united in stressing the importance of self-evolution, autonomy, and enlightenment.
Following the lead of genuine Montessori pedagogy, school would not be a place where students are required to learn certain subjects at specified times against their will and interests. Schools in which education is learner-driven would be the norm (in fact, some of these so-called “free schools” already exist presently).
Learning is not a job in which one gets paid for doing certain tasks. It is a self-actualizing process. Learning services should be geared for the benefit of students, not for fulfillment of various preconceived notions of what constitutes proper education. Consequently, students would be able to get what they want from a learning service. This, of course, would be reflected in their record of participation and accompanying portfolio of work and experiences.
Under capitalism, as was implied in the foregoing discussion, government would no longer run the schools. Since no State would exist, there would be no ties between State and education. Aspects of mainstream education that fail at the task of inspiring self-motivation in learning would be abolished. Things that are contradictory and thus impractical are of no use to anyone.
When the education of children as well as adults is left totally to the free market, the best methods, types, and formats of teaching will soon be offered. Not only the best methods but also the best ideas would surface and become predominant. The most effective and uplifting means of education would no longer be restricted by governmental policies (be they city or county, state or federal).
The fact that government now curtails the flow of ideas is an essential part of the collective scheme of things. The use of biased administrators, teachers, and the influence of teacher unions and associations (huge lobbyists who rigorously defend current pedagogy) are main examples. The impositions of laws that regulate, dictate, and create barriers to entry for genuine competition are other examples. There are always definite motives at work, be they just defending subjective interests in the design of one’s profession, or the connected and deeper issues of maintaining power and control. That most private schools mimic the curricula and general structure of public schools is not just coincidence. The reasons are both psychological and political.
Only a free market and logical ideas will show the way to enlightenment. Enlightened psychologies are able to create effective and inspiring learning environments. How well teachers facilitate learning and encourage understanding in all who seek their services is a central part of this. How well students can take notes, memorize (frequently unrelated and ungrounded) material, and recite an arbitrary amount of it on examinations is not. As psychologist Carl Rogers noted, being a facilitator of learning is a very different occupation than being a teacher and evaluator. He knew that trust and respect are essential for authentic human relationships, and that the psychology of the facilitator is a crucial element in the success of education.
Here is Rogers’ view of what the attitude of education should be: “To free curiosity; to permit individuals to go charging off in new directions dictated by their own interests; to unleash the sense of inquiry; to open everything to questioning and exploration; to recognize that everything is in process of change—here is an experience I can never forget.”87(p.120)
In future learning environments, the time spent in school could be greatly reduced and left totally to the individual. Undoubtedly, newly transformed businesses and economies would want to incorporate adolescents in educational work environments designed to profit all the participants.
Schools would offer an assortment of learning environments, and they would respect students’ decisions and diverse interests. These systems likely would incorporate such things as: interactions with peers of different ages; varied and extensive reading lists; informative and guided group discussions; useful feedback on individual and group projects; detailed reviews of students’ writings; and the continued multifaceted use of computers. General programs and curricula would be chosen by students and tracked by students and teachers. This would result in unique documented lists of experiences and cognitive/emotional accomplishments; such portfolios would ensure objective evidence of participation in particular programs.
Incidentally, the educational idea of creating “well-rounded” students would be reexamined. Schools, in their intention to foster this type of person, typically have disregarded personal interests. Without interest, of course, not much learning occurs. Little is retained, and little is used in contexts outside of school. The educational material tends to go in one ear and out the other, touching few meaningful mental areas.
Concerns about creating inept “one-dimensional” students would fade away. Educators would realize that in depth study of any specific subject typically entails a great deal of tangential material. Because all knowledge is interconnected, a master of one trade will acquire knowledge of others (even inadvertently). Scholars of certain fields become well versed in at least the surface information of other fields.
Ultimately, people become functional and adept because they desire, seek, and use particular knowledge. Learners need to be interested in learning. Information that is imposed on them will usually be shrugged off as personally meaningless.
Educational services basically need to treat students as human beings, instead of inferior beings. Any service that did not cater to the interests of self-respecting individuals would never survive on the free market. Seeing learning services from a business management perspective exposes some relevant psychological issues.
In the formulation of his “Quality Schools,” William Glasser compared students with employees. He noted the differences between the old, traditional management style and the new style. He outlined four basic elements in each style:
[Boss Managing (old style)]
1. The boss sets the task and the standards for what the workers (students) are to do, usually without consulting the workers. Bosses do not compromise; the worker has to adjust to the job as the boss defines it.
2. The boss usually tells, rather than shows, the workers how the work is to be done and rarely asks for their input as to how it might possibly be done better.
3. The boss, or someone the boss designates, inspects (or grades) the work. Because the boss does not involve the workers in this evaluation, they tend to settle for just enough quality to get by.
4. When workers resist, the boss uses coercion (usually punishment) almost exclusively to try to make them do as they are told and, in so doing, creates a workplace in which the workers and manager are adversaries.(p.24)
[Lead Managing (new style)]
1. The leader engages the workers in a discussion of the quality of the work to be done and the time needed to do it so that they have a chance to add their input. The leader makes a constant effort to fit the job to the skills and the needs of the workers.
2. The leader (or worker designated by the leader) shows or models the job so that the worker who is to perform the job can see exactly what the manager expects. At the same time, the workers are continually asked for their input as to what they believe may be a better way.
3. The leader asks the workers to inspect or evaluate their own work for quality, with the understanding that the leader accepts that they know a great deal about how to produce high-quality work and will therefore listen to what they say.
4. The leader is a facilitator in that he shows the workers that he has done everything possible to provide them with the best tools and workplace as well as a noncoercive, nonadversarial atmosphere in which to do the job.(p.31)35
The new style of managing honors dignity in the workplace. It empowers individuals by allowing them to make crucial decisions. Glasser noted that a large part of the new style of managing stems from the ideas of W. Edwards Deming, a major management consultant and theorist of the twentieth century. Deming’s theories and practices of managing have contributed to the tremendous increases in productivity and quality found, for example, in Japanese companies. These companies, unlike many companies in the U.S. (at least initially), embraced the notion that workers know their work best. A free environment in which to make decisions also increases quality, efficiency, and profits.
The boss managing techniques are symbolic of basic mistrust in human ability. Although in today’s economy it is utilized less than in previous decades, this management style can still be found. Inherent distrust of workers as well as managers’ fears of losing control of operations if they become facilitators instead of commanders permeates many businesses. Like individuals in teaching, individuals in management can reserve the option to tenaciously maintain positions of power. They can refuse to delegate authority to others who require it in order to be autonomous, self-motivated, and quality-oriented.
While some twisted rationalization may make the use of command and control tactics on workers appear reasonable, such tactics can be quite degrading. And they are no less degrading for students. When educators use such tactics on their paying customers, they dispense with any semblance of respectful business relations. From a customer’s point of view, it is equivalent to paying someone to rule over oneself. In a free market, no one in his or her right mind would purchase an educational service that worked to destroy the most important aspects of that very purchase—namely, personal fulfillment and self-actualization.
Thus, what we would see in the marketplace of ideas is much needed reform. Rationalizations that once allowed so many institutions to be so powerful would be seen as dreadful wasters of time and destroyers of individual growth. Doubtless a great awakening would occur among those who had been constrained by illogical ideas of the “proper” methods of teaching (and managing).
As in many things in life, change is inevitable. To ignore this obvious fact, or to try to forestall or retard it, is asking for existential and psychological trouble. Discarding the useless and the improper is a natural part of adapting to change and meeting new challenges.
The uninhibited free market would encourage change ideologically and, in doing so, could and would open new avenues for psychological transformation. Free markets foster free and uninhibited minds. And because we are capable of contemplating our whole life and seeing its brevity, nothing could be more invigorating than seeking out change for the better in education—for it can only amplify our quality of life.
In the capitalistic economy, rapid innovation would be the normal state of affairs. A constant escalation in productivity would continually send the standard of living upward. Human achievement simply has no boundaries—except those one puts on it.
Contrary to what many economists teach today, in a free market there would be no inflation, no depressions, no backward trends in growth. The primary reason for this is that government would no longer be in charge of printing and controlling the money supply, thereby influencing the economy in terribly dangerous ways. The value of the most popular medium of exchange, the dollar, would no longer be at the mercy of the Federal Reserve System. Additionally, the complex and devious monetary and fiscal policies practiced by this government (and others throughout the world) would no longer be issues of concern.
Governmental fiscal and monetary policies are neither necessary nor desirable. They do not keep the economy “stabilized” or “heading in the right direction.” Any supposedly justifiable reasons for these policies basically represent patchworks and corrections for ill effects of past money supply interventions.
Logic tells us that if one takes an illogical action—regardless of the “reasons”—one has to deny the truth in order to get by with it and take further illogical actions. Yet the piling of illogic on top of illogic and rationalization on top of rationalization sooner or later is exposed as the fraudulent game it is. Such a scenario summarizes the government’s policies of interfering with the money supply, which it has monopolized. The basic mistaken premise of the State’s actions is that people can cheat the facts of reality; they can lie to themselves (and others) with impunity.
Under capitalism, distribution and control of the supreme commodity, money, would no longer reside with government. It would reside instead in the market system. Of course, government obtains most of its power from controlling money, be it through banking or taxation. As Reisman stated:
[A government’s administration]…derives an enormous advantage from [its monopoly of paper money] in that—at virtually no cost—it obtains billions of dollars with which to finance programs designed to reelect itself. There is money to meet every ‘emergency’—to combat or prevent a recession (that is always brewing because of previous expansions of money); to bail out companies, banks, cities, even states; to subsidize here, underwrite there; to finance this or rebuild that; to lend; to ‘fund’; to ‘rescue,’ ‘restore,’ ‘revitalize’; there is nothing for which ‘Washington’—i.e., the printing press—cannot be called upon for funds.84(p.193)
In order to keep up with payments of interest accumulating from the enormous debt (over six trillion dollars) it has incurred (e.g., via bonds and treasury bills), government repeatedly resorts to inflating and devaluing the dollar. Simply put, government prints more dollars and deficit spends. These practices can be accomplished primarily because government abandoned the gold standard, which thereafter allowed money to become mere unaccountable paper. With no tangible commodity backing paper bills and metal coins, bureaucrats were free to somewhat surreptitiously perform their economic larceny.
A dollar is—or rather should be—a piece of paper that represents something of value that can be used for exchange. The typical commodities used as mediums of exchange throughout history have been gold and silver. These metals were not chosen arbitrarily. They were mainly chosen because they are scarce, durable, and equally divisible.77 Unfortunately, they are also heavy and therefore cumbersome in large quantities. For many transactions they can be difficult to use.
To solve this problem, people naturally decided that printed paper and coins could serve as convenient representations for the medium of exchange (e.g., gold). The stipulation was that paper and coins must reflect and honor (in the form of certified bank notes, deposits, receipts, or money substitutes) the value of the true commodity (gold) in the bank. After the United States dispensed with its semblance of a gold standard around the 1920’s, the only value that pieces of paper called “dollars” had was simply the faith of the general public in using them for exchange. Such is the case today.88
Contrary to statist dogma, an authentic gold standard and, accordingly, a free system of monetary production and exchange has never existed. Many arguments against the gold standard usually stem from historical observations of the flawed gold standard regulated and monitored by government. This frame of reference is certainly an outdated as well as improper one. Historical observations of so-called free market problems need to scrutinize a crucial factor affecting the market’s operations: the coercive workings of the State.
A noteworthy example of monetary intervention was the government-initiated practice of fractional reserve banking. It encouraged banks to keep only a part of customers’ total gold deposits on hand (investing and lending out the rest). This let banks extend their profit-making ventures beyond their means—at the expense of their depositors’ security. Banks could not honor their customers’ accounts if they withdrew their deposits all at once (creating a run on the bank).
Of course, government has tried to preclude runs and many other financial problems by, for instance, providing monetary compensation insurance. The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), is now used along with multitudes of other devices to supposedly assist banks with their services. But, in actuality, these devices constantly encourage imprudent banking practices (such as the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980’s) by relieving banks of fiscal accountability.
Problems with the State-run gold standard were minute in comparison to today’s economy of paper currency. The entire banking industry is a quintessential case study in governmental intervention and control. State meddling primarily contributes to serious economic distortions and banking system dilemmas.
Even though America’s present economy (or at least particular sectors of the economy) is often described as “booming” by analysts, such market activity can happen in spite of the governmental problems underlying it. Technological advances and innovations, and increasingly global trade of goods and information, certainly play a significant role in economic growth.
Nonetheless, money has to be produced through productive work, which means it cannot be created out of thin air or on a whim; it must represent something of value.82 Deficit spending and the printing of more dollars may make it appear that there is more money, but in fact all that is made is more paper and more debt. This means more inflation.
Inflation is an intrinsic part of any coercive State. Only further interference, such as adjusting interest rates, can control the rate of inflation. The deleterious effects of such practices on the general economy cannot be overstated. In many parts of the world, we see the dramatic effects of inflation unfold. It essentially ruins whole economies.
As inflation continues, people develop apprehension about when or if paper money will stop losing value. Prices rise and, eventually, many people decide to buy goods now instead of later, when they will be considerably more expensive; obviously, real wages and standard of living do not rise with an inflating currency. As people lose trust in the buying power of their inherently valueless medium of exchange, many also discontinue investing. The stock and bond markets (which yield profits through the productive use of venture capital and the time value of money), may lose their appeal. Saving or investing, irrespective of the beneficial economic effects, prevents one from spending.
When the standard of living declines, more and more people accumulate larger and larger amounts of debt, assuming they have the option. Similar to government, many purchase what are considered in a developed economy essential goods and services with money they do not have (i.e., borrowed money). (This is a common occurrence even in America today—witness the huge quantities of credit card debt throughout society.)
Inflation basically creates an economy in which people are encouraged to spend, rather than to save and invest. Government’s process of theft on a nationwide scale concludes with hyper-inflation, in which the value of the currency is such that it will buy practically nothing. One has probably heard the horror stories about people using a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread. Recent examples of similar situations exist in numerous impoverished countries. Such an outcome marks the end of the game. Reality finally catches up with the players and the millions they have dragged with them; mass starvation and chaos oftentimes ensue.
Yet this outcome can be ignored by entertaining the notion that human beings can get something for nothing. Contrary to political campaign promises, wealth cannot be expropriated from individuals in a productive economy, run through a bureaucratic system with a labyrinth of commissions, committees, and departments, and emerge equal to (or even greater than) the sum of money taken. Much wealth is assuredly lost in the process. Because only the distribution of money can be altered, the majority is sacrificed to the minority—to the assorted interest groups, both public and private. This is the welfare State of special favors at the expense of others.
And if there is not enough money to satisfy all of so-called society’s needs, more money can be “made” by printing it, or by using expropriated wealth of the future (i.e., getting more loans to pay off loans and interest on loans). By haranguing about “injustices” in society and the requirements of the public welfare, bureaucrats believe they can persuade themselves and the public that poison is really good for them. All the while, many economic and banking specialists seek to justify our economic situation with various statistical manipulations, formulas, charts, and graphs.
Government has the power to turn the land of plenty into the land of despair and desolation. Yet it tries everything possible to make it look like it is not ultimately to blame for economic “downturns.” If the process of inflation is slowed so that it is hardly noticeable, then perhaps those responsible can forestall the effects of their policies until they have reaped the rewards. Meanwhile, though, citizens are slowly drained of their livelihoods and buying power.
To view the current economic/monetary situation as some kind of market controlled and created state of affairs only perpetuates crises. The cause for low wages and poor buying power (as well as corporate downsizing and job outsourcing) ought not be directed at “big corporations” and their “unfair” management practices, or even at “big government” and its “wasteful monetary practices.” We must scrutinize the political principles that have necessitated current economic conditions. To take economic problems as market givens that need government tweaking may even foster a mentality that demands comfort and stability in an ever more volatile market. The present market requires even more creativity and flexibility in generating work where it is needed and valued.
Politicians can exploit and intensify misguided attitudes by pitting U.S. workers against “foreign” workers. Pointing to trade imbalances and political double standards, they may advocate protectionist governmental measures. Such measures attempt to isolate international markets whose voluntary operations are allegedly destructive.
Of course, the only things free markets tend to destroy are: high prices of goods and services, high costs of production, poor quality of products and services, general conditions of poverty and squalor, and mentalities of stagnation. Left alone, with the backing of objective law and complete property rights, the free market would make all the appropriate corrections. And this would be done solely by the choices of individuals. All long-standing economic imbalances among countries would eventually reach equilibrium.
The involuntary aspects of international markets severely affect those who trade. Governmental impositions of various rights-infringing trade barriers—and the creation of trade exclusivities, as well as pollution leniencies—are truly destructive. To accuse “foreign” businesses and products of causing our economic problems is completely erroneous (although it has been a highly promoted fallacy for decades).
A case in point involves criticizing foreign companies when they engage in “dumping,” that is, when they export large amounts of materials to the U.S. (e.g., steel). Although dumping contributes to declines in sales and profits (and thus jobs) of particular U.S. companies, the basic political reasons must be observed. Most of the distortions and disparities in market sectors of various economies are a direct result of non-objective commerce laws (both domestic and international). Initial statist isolation tactics—first and foremost being governmental monopolization of money supplies throughout the world—are an equally important factor. Statism and non-objective laws, not markets, have given rise to trade difficulties. Again, some bureaucrats use the emotionally charged economic effects as tools to manipulate and strengthen collectivistic ideologies (e.g., “us against them” attitudes).
In the midst of this confusion, concerned employers and employees need to consider their economic troubles from the standpoint of liberty and justice. Though they may want their personal economic situation to be different, demanding the assistance of government will undoubtedly invite further problems.
Our current economic/monetary situation has a main cause: theft on the grandest scale imaginable. Probably no other economic situation has a more immediate impact on people than the condition of the primary medium of exchange——money. Any change in the value of money directly affects every person’s living standards. It affects every single economic choice, from what types of foods one can buy to what kinds of activities one can afford. The quality and quantity of human action will always be controlled by the amount of wealth in a civilization. People can choose to overlook these basic facts, but every economic choice they make will be determined by what government has done to the money supply.
Of course, none of these facts would be of so much concern if people had an alternative money they could use for exchange, one that was backed by gold—or more accurately, one that was gold. But government, by its nature, will never allow this. An alternative money would immediately expose government’s game and put them out of business. The gigantic debt that government has accumulated would have to be written off as miserable and immoral investments. Americans would never have to sacrifice their time and effort to pay for other people’s foolish money management. Only a capitalistic society would ensure a sound money supply that does not require human sacrifice. This is the prerequisite to an ever-growing, productive economy.
Constant increases in productivity in a free market mean that most goods and services would, in the long run, become less expensive; more value is gradually added to each dollar. Additionally, the value of money would now be able to fluctuate unimpeded according to the laws of supply and demand (no more fixed currencies or fixed exchange rates). This means that the medium of exchange would be responsive to true economic forces—not artificial and destructive governmental forces. Devaluing of the currency, so that it buys less and less, would be a ridiculous injustice of the past. Savings and investment would now be the norms in society, because money (in the form of gold, or whatever chosen precious metal) would now have real value, and trust in it would be solid and certain.
The possibilities this holds for the fields of business and the sciences are tremendous. Since so much more wealth would be available, research and development would skyrocket. Companies would now have the resources they need to endlessly improve and innovate their products and services. Furthermore, individuals would no longer have to adjust their time, money, and effort to obey the maze of governmental edicts concerning their personnel and business transactions. (It is little wonder that the thought of going into or staying in business is sometimes revolting for so many intelligent, self-respecting people.)
Employers could discard their current agonizing about how to allocate their ever-diminishing resources—hoping to possibly make a profit while keeping shareholders and employees satisfied. They would no longer have to decide strictly between reinvestment and employee pay raises or benefits, which can create enormous disputes and problems for so many businesses. To contemplate all the employers and employees who have endured and are still enduring these difficult processes is quite disconcerting. Yet the dreadful uncertainties such processes have created in their business as well as personal lives for so many decades definitely have a root problem. And it can be fixed.
Additionally, to think of all the scientific research and development that has been retarded and reduced to undignified begging for governmental subsidies and grants just to move forward at a snail’s pace is especially distressing. The dependency on governmental funds and assistance is part of the insidious racket of the politicians who feed off the desperate “needs” of society. Government has skillfully created an economic umbilical cord—through special privileges and money—that binds people to it and induces them to remain fixated on short-term economic gains and losses. As a result, one commonly hears scientists and researchers declaring that, without governmental funding, they could not continue their operations. They fail to realize that their operations are greatly hindered, not helped, by government subsidies. Far more money would be available in a free market. Clearly, the belief that the end justifies the means is a sign of a morally confused culture—and a politically confused culture. If one cannot acquire capital (or anything else) in a voluntary fashion, one obviously has no right to it. In a free market, such a situation indicates that one should look for more productive work—for only this would be valued and respected in a society of liberty.
As noted, the current conditions of economic hardship have been created by all of the governmental regulations and restrictions of trade, inane monetary policies, and the constant expropriation of wealth from virtually every adult member of society. No calculation will ever be able to inform us of all the projects that had to be scrapped, cutting-edge research that had to be curtailed, and beneficial products that were never produced and brought to market—all because of lack of finances, and proverbial bureaucratic red tape. No one can tell how many people have suffered and died on account of this state of affairs. Nor can anyone assess how many lives could have been saved or enriched.
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