"There's something in the American character that
always looks for a better way and is unimpressed
when others say it cannot be done."
-- George W. Bush
And that is why government will be abolished.
Always looking for a better way isn’t even an American invention. Human beings do it by virtue of being human. We act in our own self-interest. Right now, 279.something out of 280 million Americans believe it is in their best interest to allow government to exist -- to follow its orders, pay whatever taxes it demands, and cheer it on when it kills foreigners or when it kills those of our countrymen it decides to kill. Americans will change their minds about all that. History, ancient and current, establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that anything government can do, markets can do better -- except mass murder, which markets are only better able to prevent -- and history is better disseminated with each day that passes.
People are responsible for their governments, and ultimately determine whether governments persist. The Republican Party platform of 1932 insisted that prohibition was the law of the land, and was to be enforced of necessity to rid the land of the evil of alcohol no matter how onerous the enforcement. The people disagreed, however, and the law was repealed. We’re all better off for it. Other unjust federal and state laws have been abolished because the people decided it should be done.
That having forcible government is not in our best interest is demonstrated every day. A basic illustration shows the implausibility of any hope that government, even at its most benign, can improve our lives: Say you have three people, one of whom is poor. Under a free market, the poor one builds a fence for a non-poor one, and is paid. Now, three people are working, each producing and earning wealth. Under forcible government, the poor one appeals to the government one. The government one points a gun at the non-poor fellow, takes some of his money, and gives it to the poor one. The government one keeps some of this money for himself. He does this all day long. It’s his job. Under the government scenario, we have one of the three people working to create wealth while the other two commit an injustice and forever operate under distorted incentives. All three now regard each other with distrust and resentment, with two of the three (the non-government folks) wishing there were a better way. This scenario applies equally to law enforcement, justice, roads, and geographic defense.
The 279 million of us who believe forcible government is necessary haven’t yet seen enough history or enough entrepreneurs (government schools ensure this), even though the occasional government official utters something vaguely supportive of free enterprise. As historians have documented from the dawn of civilization, government works only for its own purposes. Any good work a government chances to accomplish for any person or people can come only at someone else’s expense. Government never creates wealth, and it never improves, but can only degrade, the standard of living of those under its rule. Forcible government has no moral standing, no right, to exist.
People and firms acting within the market, however, are governed by the market, and customers buy from them only voluntarily, only if they believe they will be better off for doing so. Any use of force is in defense -- the market treats any initiation of force as a crime, and an unfettered market vastly reduces the incentive to commit crimes. People and firms in the market must earn their right to exist, and they keep this right only one day at a time. They earn this right by pleasing those they deal with.
This message is getting out. Hitler was wrong: A big enough lie, told often enough, will work only for a limited time. Every government on the planet is outnumbered by the people it governs, and ultimately is allowed to govern only by their acquiescence. That acquiescence will be withdrawn as more of us become informed. And no government can stop us from informing each other (even if Rumsfeld would have listening devices in all our homes).
Eventually we will all be contracting through local merchants for police services, through insurers for defense from foreign governments (not that foreign governments would have any incentive to invade -- a free territory would be a porcupine from their perspective), and private courts for reliable and sane justice delivered speedily and affordably. Juries will refuse to convict anyone accused of breaking an unjust law (as they did in government courts until the 20th century), or indeed anyone who didn’t violate someone else’s rights through force or fraud. Eventually, government courts and police departments will be abandoned by everyone not employed there, as citizens take their business to private service providers. Government eventually will have no supporters and will be unable to find anyone competent to hire. Finally, there will be no one to enforce regulations, seize property, collect taxes, fight wars, or keep the lights on in the White House.
That such a scenario is plausible, and supported by many already, is demonstrated by the Free State Project. (See - http://www.freestateproject.org/index.jsp
) Over 5,000 people already have committed to relocating to New Hampshire, and once there, voting as a block to move the government in a libertarian direction. Their inevitable economic success will serve as an example other states will follow. By the time we put together a (peaceful, unarmed) five-million-man march on Washington to request that all politicians there step down, those politicians will already have their bags packed, as they’ll already know the inevitable. Five million is an easy number: In the first American Revolution, we had 15% of the population involved, which would equate to 43 million men today.
Many scenarios suggest themselves, ranging from violent revolution to tax revolt, but the best and most likely strategies are the peaceful and gradual ones such as the Free State Project is already undertaking.
It is inevitable that forcible government will be abolished, replaced with the spontaneous, voluntary governance of the market, in which every participant is responsible to every other and is governed by the self-interest of 280 million pairs of eyes and 280 million personal wallets. It is the morally just thing; the number of people aware of this is growing exponentially, especially as entrepreneurs outperform government in more cities and in more lines of business; the technology for informing everyone has been in our hands for only a few years and is growing exponentially; and people are inherently self-interested. Peace and free exchange serve man’s prosperity and security best, and government is the lone institution that perpetually threatens peace and free exchange. It is inevitable that people will come to know this. Eventually they will request that government disband whether I write articles or not. They will do this in spite of, and with contempt for, the impotent bleating of those who continue to believe that forcible government is necessary.
It is a mistake to assume that government must
necessarily last forever. The institution marks
a certain stage of civilization -- is natural to a
particular phase of human development. It is not
essential, but incidental. As amongst the Bushmen
we find a state antecedent to government, so may
there be one in which it shall have become extinct.
-- Herbert Spencer
Brad Edmonds, Alabama, December 30, 2003