Friday, 25 November 2016

Citizens Are Not to Be Trusted

We Are the Government.  We Know Best

The (radical) Left tell us that all property is theft.  So, the most perfect and just regime is one which owns all property, so that none may be guilty of theft.

It's true that left leaning political parties aren't prepared to go that far.  However, they will insist that when the state strips property from citizens it always leads to better, more just social outcomes.  Expropriating property from citizens via taxation and using or distributing it as the regime sees fit leads to far better results--or so we are told.  The State is neutral and disinterested; the individual or private property owner looks only to his own interests.

Take education and schooling, for example.  It is an almost universal maxim in the West these days that the regime will develop and run education systems superior to citizen efforts.  The Left gets all misty eyed and fervid over education being so important that it cannot be left to private citizens to invest in and produce a superior education service.  Education, we are told, is so important that self-interested citizens ought not to be allowed anywhere near it.

This grand idea starts to break down as soon as one remembers that the regime is not a machine.
 The regime is ruled, operated and controlled by other human beings.  Those human beings are not disinterested.  Like all human beings they are self-interested.  Those human beings can form into education unions and wrest control of the government education system so that it fundamentally serves the interests of teachers, not pupils.  Regimes have not escaped the curse of Adam's sin.  Regimes can murder.  The regime can steal.  And regimes can run education systems for their own selfish ends.

Economic growth and development is a difficult concept to explain.  What is essential to it, however, is that individuals or groups perceive value in something that does not yet exist and they deploy their property and assets to bring it about.  If they have apprehended and reasoned correctly, they will prosper, and their store of capital will increase.  If not, they will lose a good deal of what they had.  But this can only be the case if the assets owned by citizens are protected from theft.  In societies where "thou shalt not steal" is not operative, people set up fortresses to protect what they have; they do not risk investing it for greater gain.

The biggest risk to capital in the West is the state.  It is the belief that private property is theft; state property is morally and equitably superior.  The bigger the state becomes, the more Leviathan-like, the more avaricious it is.  Its appetite for the wealth and property of its citizens cannot ever be assuaged.  Its corruption grows unabated.

Free societies, whilst often very conscious of the moral failings of the average human being, tend to be optimistic.  They expect that citizens will generally act reasonably and rationally.  If they don't, they will fail, competitors will drive them out of the marketplace; their capital will be lost.  Consequently free citizens will use what property they have carefully to produce more.  Free citizens have a huge incentive optimise their capital.  If they don't poverty beckons--which is a powerful motivator.

Constrained societies are far, far more pessimistic.  They assume that citizens are not to be trusted; they are all closet thieves--except for those in government.  They assume (and assert) that the regime knows better how to deploy and invest the capital of citizens than the citizens do.  They end up creating regimes riddled with institutionalised theft and envy.

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