9 votes

Centralization Is Insane

The latest much-ado-about-nothing crisis passed, with a result that should seem familiar. In 2008, Americans were told that if the TARP bill (a $787 billion taxpayer-funded welfare handout to large banking institutions) wasn’t passed, the stock market would crash and massive unemployment would follow. After an unsuccessful first attempt to pass the bill amidst angry opposition from constituents, the bill passed on a second vote. Subsequently, there was a stock market crash followed by massive unemployment.

This time, our political/media cabal told us that if Congress was unable to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling, that the government would not be able to meet its short term obligations, including rolling over short term bonds with new debt. U.S. debt would be downgraded from its AAA status, and a default would be imminent. After the melodrama, Congress passed the bill raising the debt ceiling. Standard and Poor’s subsequently downgraded U.S. Treasury debt anyway, and deep down everyone knows that a default is coming as well, one way or another.

We are seeing the end of a paradigm. Thomas Kuhn argued in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that anomalies eventually lead to revolutions in scientific paradigms. His argument holds equally true for political paradigms as well.

A paradigm is a framework within which a society bases its beliefs. For example, people at one time believed that the forces of nature were the work of a pantheon of gods. Sunlight came from one god, rain from another. The earth was a god, as was the moon. With nothing to disprove the premises of the paradigm, it persisted. People went on believing that sunlight and rain were the work of sun and rain gods because there was no compelling reason for them to believe otherwise.

However, within any paradigm there are anomalies. Anomalies are contradictions – phenomena that cannot be explained within the framework of the paradigm. People have a startling capacity to ignore or rationalize away these anomalies. While it may defy logic to continue to believe that rain comes from a rain god even after evaporation and condensation has been discovered and proven, people would rather ignore the anomalies and cling to the paradigm than face the fact that the paradigm is false.

Once there are too many anomalies, the paradigm fails, and a new one must take its place. This new paradigm renders the old one absurd, even crazy. At some point in the future, people will look back on political paradigm of the 20th and early 21st centuries in just this manner. There is at least one thing that will be quite obvious to them: centralized government is insane.

Consider the premises upon which this present paradigm relies: All facets of society must be planned and managed by experts. The judgment of the experts trumps the rights or choices of any individual. The choices made by the experts will result in a more orderly society and greater happiness for the individuals who comprise it. There will be better results from one small group of experts controlling everyone than multiple groups of experts controlling smaller subgroups of society.

Of course, libertarians reject every one of these assumptions on its face. A free society does not tolerate “planning” or “management” by anyone. All choices are left to the individual, as any attempt to plan or manage his affairs amounts to either violation of his liberty, looting of his property, or both. However, let’s assume that the first three assumptions of the present paradigm are valid and merely examine the last. Even that does not hold up to scrutiny.

Suppose an entrepreneur starts a business. At first, his market is local. He opens retail outlets that are managed by store managers. The entrepreneur is the CEO of the company and manages the store managers. Even at this point, the CEO must trust day-to-day decisions to his managers. He has no time to make everyday decisions as he tries to grow his business. The managers do this for him and he concentrates on strategic goals.

His business is successful and soon he begins opening outlets outside of the original market. He now has a need for regional managers to manage the store managers. He manages the regional managers and leaves the details of how they operate within their regions to them.

The business continues to grow. With retail outlets in every state, there are now too many regions for the CEO to manage directly. The CEO appoints executive directors to manage larger regions, each comprising several smaller ones. There is an executive director for the west coast, another for the Midwest, and another for the east coast. Of course, the CEO has the assistance of his corporate vice presidents who manage sales, operations, human resources, and other company-wide functions from the corporate office.

Now, suppose that one day the CEO decides to fire the executive directors, the regional managers, and the store managers. He will now have the salespeople, stock clerks, and cashiers for thousands of retail outlets report directly to him and his corporate vice presidents. Would anyone view this decision as anything but insane?

As silly as this proposition sounds, this is a perfect analogy for how we have chosen to organize society for the past century. The paradigm rests upon the assumption that every societal problem can better be solved if the CEO and his corporate staff manage the cashiers and the salespeople directly. Like all failed paradigms, anomalies are piling up that refute its basic assumptions.

This paradigm assumes that centralized government can provide a comfortable retirement with medical benefits for average Americans, yet Social Security and Medicare are bankrupt. It assumes that a central bank can ensure full employment and a stable currency, yet the value of the dollar is plummeting and unemployment approaches record highs (especially when the same measuring stick is used as when the old records were set). It assumes that the national government’s military establishment can police the world, yet the most powerful military in history cannot even defeat guerrilla fighters in third world nations. It assumes that the central government can win a war on drugs, yet drug use is higher than at any time in history. It assumes that experts in Washington can regulate commerce, medicine, and industry, yet we get Bernie Madoff, drug recalls, and massive oil spills.

Hundreds of years ago, the prevailing medical science paradigm assumed that illnesses were caused by “bad humors” in the blood. Based upon that assumption, doctors practiced the now-discredited procedure known as “bleeding.” They would literally cut open a patient’s vein in an attempt to bleed out the bad humors. As we now know, this treatment often killed the patient, George Washington being a notable example. Most rational people today view the practice of bleeding as nothing short of lunacy.

Ironically, this is a perfect analogy for the paradigm of centralized government. The very act of a small group of experts attempting to manage all of society drains its lifeblood. It is the un-coerced decisions of millions of individuals that create all of the blessings of civilized society. It is the attempt by a small group of people to override those decisions that is killing society before our very eyes. Someday, people will look back on our foolishness and laugh as we do now at the misguided physicians who bled their patients to death. The present paradigm is dying. The revolution has begun.

Check out Tom Mullen’s book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!

© Thomas Mullen 2011

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Interesting views.

Centralization is complex compared to decentralization; it requires much more energy to maintain. As it grows larger, it takes exponentially more energy.

We really can't afford much more central government. It will collapse from its own weight.

I favor placing the federal government into receivership to liquidate its assets to pay whatever debts it can, letting those who can most afford it, the bond holders, stand at the end of the line.

All we need is mutual defense treaties among the States.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

Tom Mullen's picture

IP rights

As a Libertarian - I Object

Are you giving your book away at the cost of printing?

I am a writer, and just had an IP patent approved by the USPTO, which I will be defending as my personal property, backed up by the patent office.

IP patents are what allow "little people" or individuals to compete with huge corporations and others who might swoop in and profit from all my work against my will if it weren't for patent protection by the patent office.

If we can just take others' work and profit from it, isn't that a form of ex post facto slavery?

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

Property and Science



"If we lose freedom here there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth." -Ronald Reagan

When they took us off the Gold Standard they took away our money... in order to make it theirs. -OneTinSoldier

Pro-IP Libertarians are "confused" intellectually (smile)

Libertarians are what, now saying, "We can have centralized gov't, 'over here' for my needs, but not 'over there' for your needs" -- sure, this is exactly how one goes about "shrinking gov't" by way of the hard justification rule, hahahaha.

1st Only the Founders could Vote
---which lead to a lot of evil actions and huge wars
---only wealthy WASP men (specifically) could vote
---growing abdication

2nd Rest of white male populace
---more evil activity
---growing abdication (2 times)
---enter FED

3rd Black men
---more evil (now spreading internationally)
---growing abdication (40 times)

4th All women
---rampant build up of huge social sweeping policies
---prohibition (et al)
---grown abdication (100 times)

What you are saying is, amid the above, let's eliminate all these "special voting rights" (over here) and keep IP and only one or two others; as representative of a free-society?

No my friend -- if you want a free-society you must eliminate the ability to circumvent self-rule, self-defense, and self-health (to name a few).

To do that ALL MARKETS MUST BE FREE. Including the Self-Defense market which includes protecting "your" property.

If you understood how currency works in a free-society you would understand that you cannot have Free-Market Currency and Totalitarian IP Control (which cannot be allowed control at the state-level -- it must be national and international in absolute "fairness").


Octobox says: "Libertarians are what, now saying, "We can have centralized gov't, 'over here' for my needs, "

Which ones? Got any names to name?

Admittedly, we need enough government to manage schlepping our sewage, and maintaining a hall of records, but that's really about all they're supposed to do.

Hope This Helps!

Freedom is my Worship Word!

Free the Currency and Free "all" Markets = Free-Society

Including Self-Defense Markets -- sooooo, if currency and defense are in the free-market then IP Laws cannot (logically) exist.

Now "contracts" could form between individuals, but they'd have to all a 3rd party to hold the amount (assets) to be redistributed if either broke the contract -- otherwise, if they did not ante-up before the ink on the document dried, there would need to be a force-agency with confiscatory powers (might).

How really do not know how RPers (some RPers) argue against that logic -- that once you free-the-currency (allow for currency competition) then you would have stability in the currency-market and thus the valuation mechanism for all other assets becomes stable and worth less in the long-run.

Only under Capitalism and Corporatism do you have wealth generation in assets held in the long-run owing to boom-bust credit manipulation -- otherwise in a free-society all profit-bursts occur either at the IPO stage or owing to some "new tech" (R&D or intra-preneurialism "in house") being introduced by an existing business.

Since the poor and middle class are the predominate innovators and since in a free-society the poor and middle class are "savers" (according to free-market theory) we know that it will be the same class that own all assets (including bank assets) in a free-society. That the wealthy are dependent on said classes for innovation profit-bursts and to borrow from.

So -- why try to "protect" ideas in the long-run -- the wealthy do not keep long-run assets (in a free-society); so all the profit comes out (owing to perfect competition).

Takes a monopoly to "protect" in absolute terms.