Let political economy be Tao, “Government is Good.” Can you dig it?

March 29th, 2011

I originally discovered the Government is Good website through Lew Rockwell’s newsletter and we have since become interested in the site here at the Silver Underground.  While there are lots of interesting things written at the site perhaps the message I found most compelling was the one contained in the above picture in piece, “A Guide to Rebutting Right-Wing Criticisms of Government.”

The myth in the picture is that “government is the enemy of business,” but the website’s retort is that “government provides billions in subsidies, both in obvious ways, such as tax breaks, but also in less obvious ways, such as infrastructure investment.”

This is an astute observation that many libertarians and conservatives miss in their criticisms of statism and corporatism.  Reducing taxes and regulation may serve some marginal libertarian ends but are superficial compared to abolishing things like state transportation networks and intellectual property.   These government policies are things which create most of the truly malignant features of the state economy.  However, the tone Government is Good utilizes implies that it is a good thing that the government artificially helps business and thus they/we should cooperate with big states.

It is always great to hear progressives confront the conservative fair weather free marketeers who espouse the myth that government is there to oppose business when really they often work closely to create favorable conditions for themselves at the expense of the market and average people.  But the correct position is not that the state should aid business and then when it produces unnatural and exploitative results try and redistribute the wealth back to the victims of the actions. That might be preferable to not aiding the victims, but obstructing the watercourse way and then trying to regulate it after the fact is a lot of hassle and incredibly imprecise! Let political economy be Tao, can you dig it?

In this case, having infrastructure which is paid for either on a state or federal level through indiscriminate gas taxes at the pump or apportioned funds does not charge users for their specific infrastructure use. So by driving any distance, even just local commuting, you’re paying for the highways at the same rate as those who drive big rigs of goods across the country, even though they produce the massive bulk of wear and tear on roads.  Since the true costs of transportation are not internalized through user fees but are spread amongst all drivers, the price at the point of consumption (when you go into a Walmart) are often far closer to something which was produced nearby and cost a lot less to bring to market.  The actual costs are hidden and thus distant manufacturers are given an anti-market privilege against local producers. We shouldn’t just keep that the way it is and then try to manage the artificial centralization and cartelization which occurs as a result. Strike the root, Government is Good!

Individuals and business should not receive state aid in their economic pursuits. The correct policy position is to set up conditions where the distribution of wealth is determined by productivity and not state privilege; where people aren’t subsidizing each other against their will.  They instead exchange on the equal level of the peaceful, voluntary and free market.  We’ll be having no mutant economies round here, thank you very much.

About the Author: Ross Kenyon

Ross Kenyon is a Center for a Stateless Society Research Assistant currently living and studying in Istanbul, Turkey. He was a member of the Arizona State University Students For Liberty leadership team, and has recently started his own organization, Mutual Aid on the High Seas, devoted to sailing to impoverished communities in the Caribbean, performing humanitarian aid and promoting dialogue about liberty as an emancipatory philosophy for working people. On top of all of that, Ross will be joining us on Silver Underground as a contributor. Subscribe and follow his clever jabs and thoughtful reviews on news!