So now we have the Geithner rescue plan (some of this overlaps with Congressional Bailout #1, and is for an open-ended amount, perhaps in the trillions), we have the Federal stimulus plan (apx $800B), we had the Congressional bailout plan in the fall ($700 billion), we had the Fed rescue of Bear Stearns ($30 billion), we had the Fed rescue of AIG (over $60 billion), we had the Fed opening up a variety of lending facilities (its balance sheet has expanded by well over a trillion since August 2007) because it did not want “bad firms” to have to signal their badness by using the facility that exists to provide liquidity (the discount window), … and all of this on top of a trillion dollar war in Iraq.
If citizens do not like the way Wal-mart treats workers or the fact that it uses foreign firms to supply itself, good ol’ Sam does not come to your house with a gun compelling you to buy your clothes there. If citizens do not like the glitz and glamour of Orlando, FL, Mr. Walt Disney does not send a mailbomb to your house threatening your murder if you choose to vacation elsewhere. If citizens do not like the way General Motors produces cars (not fuel efficient enough), … OK scratch that last thought. Without being in bed with Uncle Sam and his guns, no corporation can compel anyone to buys its products, or to be employed for it.
No “corporation” except for Uncle Sam, Inc. of course. And it is fine to call it Uncle Sam, Inc. for now on. After all, they are a hybrid hedge-fund / industrial planner / engineer / health care provider / educator / currency producer / bank / etc. It’s just that no single corporation would ever wish to have 22 million employees organized in hundreds of departments (there is an idea in economics called diseconomies of scope), so the only “corporation” that looks like this is Uncle Sam, Inc. But unlike Walmart or Disney World, or any other private corporation, citizens do not have the choice not to shop at Uncle Sam, Inc. And that my friends goes beyond tyranny, it is no different than terror.
You don’t want to fund a war in Iraq – tough, pay for it, and send your neighbor’s kids over there to die. You don’t think spending $2 trillion to “help an economy” (whatever that means) is a good idea – tough, pay for it, and send your own children into debt to pay for your own mistakes. And it gets worse – you refuse to pay taxes to contribute to the tyranny – and you find yourself in prison.
Which brings me to a simple question. As a supposedly “free” citizen in what was supposed to be the “free-est” place on earth, is there no inherent right whatsoever to reject tyranny and terror? If a person is truly free, would he truly not be able to cast off the shackles of slavery that have been slung upon him by Uncle Sam, Inc.? I see a tremendous inconsistency in the way Uncle Sam, Inc. treats people that try to do this. On the one hand, citizens can simply up and move to another country (or planet for that matter) and thereby free themselves, without penalty, from the terror of Uncle Sam, Inc. But why must someone make the radical move to sell his home and property and venture into a strange world to do this. If that same citizen chooses instead to relinquish the protection of the state, to relinquish receiving any support whatsoever from the state, and refuse to pay for its support – he is thrown into prison.
There seems to be a fundamental inconsistency there. If every man has the freedom to do as he wills, provided he does not infringe upon the equal freedom of other men to do as they will, how can Uncle Sam, Inc. allow position one and not position two? Some would argue on the basis of some utilitarian notions of public goods – to which I have three points to make. 1. Suppose I choose to move to Canada – does not the U.S. military presence south of the border not serve as an effective deterrent for nations not to attack Canada? Shouldn’t all Canadians be treated as free riders, and hence subject to taxation by the United States? But for some reason they are not. Is it morally OK for Uncle Sam, Inc. to extend charity to non-citizens, but not to its own? 2. If you take the utilitarian public good argument seriously, emigration away from the United States should not be permitted either. Most of us slaves are net contributors to the corporation, and having a larger population enlarges the tax base, which lowers the average cost of delivering public goods, and also provides benefits to those that are on the dole. Leaving therefore imposes a cost on others. But Uncle Sam, Inc. nonetheless permits me to leave. 3. Would government exist without crime? Its reach certainly seems to grow and shrink as crime (war) comes and goes. Further, Uncle Sam, Inc. uses violence in order to deal with violence. Some argue that it uses violence to protect my rights? But my rights are only threatened in a world with crime in it. That world will never exist. But does not one of my rights include the right to ignore a tryannical corporation? And should not the state protect this right?
The utilitarian public goods case does not fly. So Uncle Sam, Inc. relies on the doctrine of presumed consent. That as a citizen born into the U.S. I am understood to have assented to everything representatives do on my behalf. But this is ridiculous water to be treading in. Suppose I did not vote for these representatives, but rather voted for others, that I believed would grant me more freedom. Statists would reply that by participating in the election in the first place, I tacitly agreed to abide by any decion the “majority” came to. And suppose I did not vote at all, for moral as well as economic reasons. Again, the statist will reply that I cannot justly complain since I did nothing to protest against the actions of the state. So the statists turn me into a slave no matter what I do! Whether I supported a bloc of legislators, whether I opposed them, or whether I did not vote at all – rather immoral wouldn’t you say. The world I live in, and the rules I am subject to have NOTHING to do with I determined them to be, but rely ONLY upon what OTHER citizens happen to believe about the world I should live in.
Men has fought for thousands of years to throw off the yoke of such nonsense – but as soon as we see light at the end of the tunnel, we ask that the yoke be tightened more securely around our necks.
Ironically, the very statists who wish to impose their tyranny upon us, are some of the same people that will vehemently support the “freedom of religion.” By that, they mean that “society” does not impose a consensus on what we are to believe, but rather on who gets to decide what we believe in – and namely, we as individuals. Same thing for “freedom of speech.” Some of our greatest achievements in governing derive from letting people decide their own fates rather than having others decide it for them. So why is it OK in religion and speech, but not in matters of economic policy, war, education and the like? In other words, citizens have a right to “ignore” the dictates of government in matters of “religion”but not in other equally serious matters. There is such a fundamental inconsistency and hypocrisy there I am not aware of any tract that attempts to defend the freedom of religion and speech, but at the same time to defend the position that government has the right to enslave its subjects on all other matters.