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Liberty, Can You Make a Little Room For Reality?

In America today some half of the population is dependent on direct assistance from the state. The great majority are those receiving social security and medicare in old age. The rest are on unemployment, whether by need or choice, and EBT, housing assistance, disability, etc.

If we count those who receive outsized tax credits in excess of what they paid, the number is greater.

Millions of others skate along the edge of poverty, working for a low wage, saving nothing, and foregoing assistance to which they could legally receive, out of principle, pride or habit.

Millions work directly for the state and depend on that employment for pensions and generous non monetary benefits.

Millions depend on public statute for matching contributions to medical and retirement benefits from private employers, and contribute to these benefits through payroll taxes.

Millions more work for corporations with direct ties and privileges from the state, foremost among them the gigantic financial sector.

Nearly all Americans have federally insured bank accounts, and save in US dollars with banks whose solvency and liquidity often depend on the policies of state.

Millions own treasury securities and mortgages the value of which are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the government. If not directly, then through pension funds, mutual funds, 401ks, etc.

The middle class have their children schooled at public expense in public schools, and by and large do not wish to take on that extra expense. This middle class likewise has no desire to take in and support their aged parents.

These are not the poor, condemned wastrels of the public dole, oft cited in the anti state rhetoric. They are the self reliant, active, tax paying base of our political advances and appeals.

The state, to grow its power, to make itself the indispensable provider to every dependent, has worked to break down and replace every non state institution that in the past provided the supports and structures for the economic and political independence of families, communities, and individuals.

Consider.

A father works 12 hour days for 20 years to support his children; he never once accepts a dime in public aid. He neglects costly medical care to put food on the table, and dies. The widowed mother gladly accepts social security, to which she feels justly entitled. The extended family breathes a sigh of relief and is grateful to avoid the burden.

The state has just weakened the family.

A family is struggling to get by, to save a little, ever conscious of its comparative status. More than mere desire to keep up with the Jones'es, they work to skirt the edge of a neighborhood with a half decent school district. It leverages itself happily to the hilt to pay for a house. The state offers public aid for tuition. The family, mindful of the ruthless social sorting process of the climb toward a decent paying job, happily accepts the aid.

The disabled or inept cannot make ends meet. They turn to the state for public housing assistance and a monthly food or cash stipend. The local Church, its pews half empty, congregations of mostly grey heads, is closing parish schools every year.

A hearty thanks to the state and God's blessing upon it! The church is unburdened of the expense of public charity for these individuals.

The state has just weakened the Church and the community.

A working man, lacking the capacity to make more than 10 or 11 dollars an hour, accepts assistance from the state to provide for his people. His fellows do likewise.

The corporation rejoices! it is freed from the political pressure of the laborers. The labor movement breathes its last, unions dissolve, and the new order of the Global corporation has a free hand to find the most degraded, desperate pool of labor anywhere in the world to work for a subsistence wage.

The labor movement and the middle class is weakened.

The middle class father of two works and saves; his wife works and saves; they purchase the most expensive house they can afford, not out of vanity, but to give their children access to a school without metal detectors.

They save every dime for tuition to get the kids into a good school. They know that in the highly competitive sorting process a degree from a good university seems to count for everything.

The grandparents have soaring medical costs. This good middle class, Republican family doesn't for a minute consider paying those bills or taking the grandparents in, and foregoing the aid.

The state is strengthened, the family weakened.

An aging activist for Libertarian principles, after decades of unpaid, selfless service to his political cause, is at the end of his financial rope. He cannot work, has no medical insurance. He is faced with the unimaginably painful moral dilemma of taking state assistance, or facing abject misery.

Where are all the Libertarian comrades in arms who preach their gospel of dismantling the state? Where is the community of voluntarists to contribute to providing a minimum of dignity to this brother in arms?

What have they offered to ANY of the above individuals, besides pretty words that mean nothing?

*

Amidst all the polemicizing, rhetoric, electioneering, pamphleteering, and fruitless academic scribbling; the endless disagreements over every nuance, who has even taken the FIRST STEP toward providing any, let alone all, of the basic, fundamental structures and supports of social order and stability, in lieu of the state? Who has even suggested doing so?

Do any of you consider for a moment the absurdness and futility of trying to eliminate the state without first building a social structure outside of the state to provide these basic needs? Law and order, financial security, education, a functioning credit system, a stable payments system for commerce?

Do you just criticize, and build nothing, secretly knowing you will never achieve your goals?

Is it all just a game, a futile exercise in ideological wordplay, logical hairsplitting, and an intellectual diversion?

Or is it the sublimated expression of alienation from the present order, carried on with pens rather than arms, for the timid and weary?

Or a complex spinning of conceptual webs for addled brains?

None of it has even the slightest relation to the real world and the interests, needs and motivations of real people.

I am shocked at the complete immersion in ideology, the total disregard for the real nature of the social organism, of human behavior and motivations, and the total ineptness of the means chosen to effect even the least ambitious of stated ends.

Setting aside the purely fantastical notions and utopian dreams regularly disseminated here, ideas divorced from all history, sound logic and observed experience -- putting these aside -- even the narrowest range of possible goals of the voluntarists and minarchists almost never refer to real political conditions and practical realities, or how they could be realistically achieved.

No heed to the actual nature of human behavior, interests, motivations, social forces of power and influence, or how ideas are actually spread in society and institutions captured.

Instead they are set upon the wobbly legs of moral assertion, the clay feet of dogmatic ideology, and the eternal, impotent "ought" of what people "should" do rather than what they actually do; the "If..." that relies on a fundamentally different human nature than actually exists, and these, combined to form the axiomtic refrain "if everyone behaved as they ought, all would be well."

A Humble Plea For Realism

If you want to eliminate the state, you have to supplant the state, and replace the functions that legitimize it.

If you want to dislodge the present elite, you have to form an elite of your own and engage it in its own arena.

It did not argue its way into power; whatever absurdities belong to its ideology, and they are legion, it is not their ideology that brought them to their high place.

They got there by occupying the actual bases of social power, and by understanding the actual nature of the social organism. They did not convince anyone of anything by argument. How could you imagine you could win by argument what was won and is held by the exercise of power and the political acumen of propaganda?

*

The last refuge of the disappointed ideologue is the morbid indulgence in Apocalyptic wishful thinking. The belief that your Truth will prevail because the existing order, being False, cannot sustain, and must inevitably collapse in ruins. But friends, you fool yourselves there as well!

When the present deranged elite is done destroying the entire fabric of society, and a collapse does come, whether hastened by its opponents or not, the result will not be a flowering of Liberty, the holding of hands and the echo of a thousand voices raised in the praise of individual Liberty and non aggression.

No. Rather, a new, worse tyranny will arise, borne not of evil but of necessity, to restore basic order and security for hungry, disillusioned millions, morally and socially bankrupt, and turning to whatever primitive bonds of group cohesion that promise to allow at least survival and basic security, liberty be damned.

If you have not done your work to serve those functions when that time comes, you will be scattered to the winds, and remembered, if at all, as a fleeting, intellectual aberration, borne of the luxurious freedom of folly in a world secure and well fed.

But don't despair, the world will keep on turning, whether you're right or not. It does not care. And that is its most cruel insult.

Cheers!



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With government out of the

With government out of the way many of these problems will go away. When S.S., medicaid, and taxes are no longer collected people will have more money to save. When regulations no longer stop a person from earning a good living they can afford insurance. When regulations no longer stop a person from receiving alternative medical care and prescriptions are a thing of the past the cost will spiral down to real levels. The true free loaders will have to go to work and I would imagine we would actually start to produce something more than debt. When one can actual pay off a house, farm, or business and will it to a child (debt/tax free) the family can actual build wealth over generations. A free market will solve so many of these problems. It all starts with getting the government off the families back!

Ahh but there in lies the challenge

That Ron Paul so plainly lays out when he says, "the freedom and great prosperity we had for so many years left many to get lazy or forget the importance of liberty" (paraphrasing).

Furthermore, the idea that we can do many things to supplant the state before ending the state is accurate to a point, that there are certain laws and rules put in place that prohibit or inhibit an individuals ability to do certain things by the state does protect its ability to monopolize an issue.

Otherwise, you are right. Our general goal is to essentially aim for all to be peaceful, enlightened individuals which is an insurmountable task. Being virtually impossible then, it may be futile? But does that preclude us from trying?

I do want to get more involved but I have to continue learning and get my own house in order.

But don't be a Debbie downer....if for nothing else let our voices and efforts rail against those cold and ccnfused souls that aim to wittingly and unwittingly bind us with their state manifestations. I for one will die looking for the utopia than embracing futility.

they lied!

we allowed them stewardship of thousand year old roads and resources. Now they sold it to themselves and put us in jail for walking on it. We can own the road and fix it too. this makes sense financially and politically. We can't decide on anything because few of us even speak the same language. We must first agree on a definition of freedom together and go from there, as some of us already are. The more alternative infrastructure or elite we authorize into this, the better. We must inspire children to understand and embrace language, as it is slipping and being stolen as fast as Hollywood can misguide us.

Hundreds of years from now, people will wonder why we went to so much work to take responsibility, personally, for so many things , then they will get to learn this same lesson over again.

Liberal?? I think not! Cheated out of a single common language? certainly!

Responsibility and work will be well sought after honors before any of these symptoms of laziness will be understood. Technology that got us into it faster, will get us out even faster.

Leave the cancer alone? Radiation and chemo harm innocent cells?

I sympathize with concern for Americans whose reliance on government solutions will bite them when those programs die. But let's not demand the impossible.

The proposal offered here is effectively to wait to eliminate the welfare state until a comparable non-state structure is in place to do its job. That is, before we "flip the switch," we'd need to be supporting both the state system and its developing replacement.

Not very realistic, is it?

The proper focus of concern is to accelerate the demise of state welfare so that fewer people become dependent, and others are less dependent than they would later be. Meanwhile we try to help people reconnect to voluntary communities so they can get at least some help when the Nanny State dries up.

"help people reconnect to voluntary communities"

It is these voluntary communities that the government has been steadily replacing. It usurps one after another. It devalues our money and steadily increases our taxes so that charitable organizations aren't able to meet the demands with the donations they receive, then government swoops in and takes over.

The writer is calling on us to consider more than ideology. To form and support voluntary communities to compete with the government programs. When the only answer someone can find in a time of need is a government program, the government has won. So the government works to ensure they are the only answer and then works to make sure they remain dependent.

We need to work to create better answers, ones based on actual help not hand outs. Localized help where the receiver understands any assistance they receive is coming out of the pocket of someone else and feels an obligation to pay it back or pay it forward if/when possible.

Mighty mountains in grandeur stand, but tiny raindrops turn them to sand! Noah, I think I just felt a raindrop!!

Good criticism

I do think that the OP raises a valid point. However Milton Freedman once calculated that it would be cheaper to pay everyone unemployment instead of means testing it. His calculation showed the administration cost so much it would be cheaper this way. This was a few years ago, you would need to recalculate it for today.

What you can deduce easily is that if you cut down the size of government, (reduce the state, not destroy it), by removing say one high paid government position, that money could be spent on many peoples unemployment check, including the unemployment check for the person previously occupying the position.

In addition government, and its associated organizations, end up attacking various people and business. That cost people money, either through direct taxation or pointless regulation.

If you were hypothetically to get rid of say the EPA (rightly or wrongly), and pay every employee unemployment, The total cost in wages would be lower, as everyone would be paid the same (no high earners). In addition there is the cost of running the organization aside from wages. This would save even more money. So if you get rid of parts of government, there would be MORE money to help the disadvantaged, assuming the tax paid by people remained unchanged. OR you could reduce taxes and keep the current level of welfare.

I dont want to destroy the state completely, i don't think RP does. I think RP wants to reign in the state to constitutional bounds.

Anyone who wants to destroy the state completely in the way you describe, is in my opinion wanting something more in line with libertinism or anarchy in the vernacular sense.

This is a very, very, crucially valid point.

I for one think that a paralell social alternatives are completely possible in appropriate areas. The notion that 'The state wants a monopoly implies the state is a living entitiy when truthfully its no more than a collection and network of self-serving individuals. The state is as dangerous as it is because it is strong. That "Hideous Strength" (as the Tower of Babel was once described in a poem) is what makes it dangerous and its pillars consist of many private entities. Let's get our enemies straight. Its power-hunger that is what we need to watch out for. Public services are not the enemy if the fat is trimmed and they are run within a budget.

Our utopic notions do hold us back sometimes from taking crucial interim steps toward a more libertarian world. Let's not go tearing out a cancer, let's remove it strategically and make sure our diagnosis doesn't kill the patient, which is, at the end of the day, us.

This post is the sober plea of a "public option libertarian" and we need more of these.

"Life isn't all Beer and Skittles" - Thomas Hughes

Okay

Okay, the "self-serving individuals" see that they cannot make money off of a parallel social system and try to quash any attempts. It is just like gangs fighting for territory.

I'm not so sure

I'm not so sure that I agree with much of the article. The government will not allow a parallel social system. It wants a monopoly on all such matters. That is the reason for the two libertarian social projects in Chile.

I think that back here in the USA, the best we can hope for is the collapse of the government, much like the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviets had no recent experience with free markets and suffered greatly when the Soviet Union collapsed. That is not the case here in the USA. Here we have many libertarian-minded people who understand the beauty of free markets and perhaps after the collapse and the devastating problems that will accompany it the teat sucker leach segment will either realize that they had been worshiping a false god and get to work contributing to society or else starve to death.

Yes, I agree. Well said.

This is why joining the GOP and networking locally, county, state are important, and I feel very fortunate to be backing Rand Paul.

My feelings about collapse, is that it happens to everyone on their own life terms.. thinking about collapse collectively unreal, because as individuals, we all collapse by our own fate.. even if collectively.

Finally, watching my committee become a Liberty committee has been one of the awesome things to have ever experienced first hand. I'm by far not alone.. it's like DP in real life.. need to grow those committees, as the world turns. :D

Great post, I mostly agree - but a couple objections.

1. The OP seems to be implying that unionism benefits working people. It does not. It benefits union members of course, but necessarily at the expense of unemployment or lower wages for non-union members. And over the longer term it retards economic growth in general making everyone, even union members, poorer than they would have been otherwise.

2. The OP writes: "Do any of you consider for a moment the absurdness and futility of trying to eliminate the state without first building a social structure outside of the state to provide these basic needs? Law and order, financial security, education, a functioning credit system, a stable payments system for commerce?"

But it is precisely the State's monopolization of those sectors of society that prevents us from building free alternatives. You can't build a free society until you have already reduced the power of the State.

The only path to a free society is peaceful political revolution, to get hold of the State apparatus from within and deconstruct it - only then, with the State's boot off our necks, can a free society be built.

Finally, I want to emphasize some passages that I think are especially good and insightful.

The last refuge of the disappointed ideologue is the morbid indulgence in Apocalyptic wishful thinking. The belief that your Truth will prevail because the existing order, being False, cannot sustain, and must inevitably collapse in ruins. But friends, you fool yourselves there as well!

Sadly, there's lots of that in the liberty movement. I myself was once afflicted by this delusion.

If you want to dislodge the present elite, you have to form an elite of your own and engage it in its own arena.

It did not argue its way into power; whatever absurdities belong to its ideology, and they are legion, it is not their ideology that brought them to their high place.

They got there by occupying the actual bases of social power, and by understanding the actual nature of the social organism. They did not convince anyone of anything by argument. How could you imagine you could win by argument what was won and is held by the exercise of power and the political acumen of propaganda?

So true. While argument is useful in convincing rational people to join us, most people are not very rational. To gain mass influence, we should indeed examine and adopt the methods of our ideological enemies: i.e. subversion, patronage, propaganda, etc. That doesn't sit well with a lot of people, but that's the reality of politics on this planet. The truth does not prevail just because it's the truth. If it did, we wouldn't be where we are today.

...The OP makes many other good points, but this post is long enough, so I'll leave it here.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Well written

Well written

DJP333's picture

Bump and applause

Chilling analysis Bill. Great post!

"It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different." ~CW

What are you TALKING about!?

What are you TALKING about!?

The main problem I have with

The main problem I have with your post is:

A) All of your life savers you suggest are state and federally funded and therefore will propagate an expanded use of them.

B)

If you want to eliminate the state, you have to supplant the state, and replace the functions that legitimize it.
If you want to dislodge the present elite, you have to form an elite of your own and engage it in its own arena.

Exactly something I'd expect from an establishment Republican or from the Romney camp.

C)

No heed to the actual nature of human behavior, interests, motivations, social forces of power and influence, or how ideas are actually spread in society and institutions captured.

Strawman, very large assertion of people you do not know.

D)

Amidst all the polemicizing, rhetoric, electioneering, pamphleteering, and fruitless academic scribbling; the endless disagreements over every nuance, who has even taken the FIRST STEP toward providing any, let alone all, of the basic, fundamental structures and supports of social order and stability, in lieu of the state? Who has even suggested doing so?

You are asking for RomneyCare. The correct response is to let the state fail. Homogenous communities will form on their own, in their own time, as Hayek theorized. You are assuming all humans except a select few have the knowledge and know how to form networks, quite the opposite, all humans share this trait.

Again, all of the answers you are providing are the antithesis of the Liberty movement and only prolong the suffering. When the state fails, people will realize that it was all a charade and the power to do, to make, to live was in their hands all a long.

Southern Agrarian

Wow!

Telling it like it is.
Well done.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Wow!

I have to concur.

He's the man.

Thank you, means a lot.

Thank you, means a lot.

No

The more the state plans, the higher the number of slaves grows under their command. They are intentionally making things terrible so that more will come running for government aid, but lo and behold they are enslaving their lives to servitude, as well as those of their children. My answer is a firm no and it will not change.

Southern Agrarian

This is front page material.

This is front page material.

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//><\

Thanks!

Thanks!

I want it noted that I upvoted under compulsion.

and this comment is under protest.

Be brave, be brave, the Myan pilot needs no aeroplane.