Skip to content →

Category: Mitchell Thompson

The Tool that Feeds Corruption

There was a time, long ago, when the average American could go about his daily business hardly aware of the government -especially the federal government. As a farmer, merchant, or manufacturer, he could decide what, how, when, and where to produce and sell his goods, constrained by little more than market forces. Just think: no farm subsidies, price supports, or acreage controls; no Federal Trade Commission; no antitrust law; no Interstate Commerce Commission. As an employer, employee, consumer, investor, lender, borrower, student, or teacher, he could proceed largely according to his own lights. Just think: no National Labor Relations Board; no federal consumer “protection” laws; no Securities and Exchange Commission; no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; no Department of Health and Human Services. Lacking a central bank to issue national paper currency, people commonly used gold coins to make purchases. There were no general sales taxes, no Social Security taxes, no income taxes. Though governmental officials were as corrupt then as now -maybe more so- they had vastly less to be corrupt with. Private citizens spent about fifteen times more than all governments combines.

–Robert Higgs, from the Preface to Crisis and Leviathan

The final two sentences are, perhaps, the most striking to me. It matters less how corrupt a man is, than the means by which that man may express his corruption. A corrupt man may be the nastiest and most cunning of the human race, and yet with no power, he depends merely on his ability to convince the people to subscribe to whatever he has tucked up his sleeves. In which case of course, the masses lose, learn, and never again trusts the insidious man.

And then where is the man? Broke and without means of popularity. Unless of course he changes his ways, and once again finds a means to convince society to trust him. But in this case it seems that the morality of society has bested the evil man, pressuring him with deadly enthusiasm, making it known forever that he is their servant. To trust the free market therefore, is not only good for the consumer, but also for ethical behavior of the once cunning man.

But as Higgs points out, as the State sharpens and broadens its economic and political artillery, the tools by which the corrupt act and profit tend to work in the opposite fashion. The government is force and the government is coercion. As it grows, the societal check against the corrupt man loses its influence.

Leave a Comment

The Rulers in a Propertarian Society

Some time ago, C.Jay wrote:

If a ruler is one who has the legal claim to setting the “rules” of a given jurisdiction, then logically the property owner is a ruler over all that he owns.  And further, if the ideal libertarian society can be described as a “Propertarian” society, that is, a society made up only of privately-owned property as opposed to “public” property, then it is essentially ruled by proper owners creating their rules and voluntary interacting with each other.  The number of rulers in this society is not zero, in fact, it is hundreds or thousands or however big the society is! Ironically then, it is democracy and every other State structure which limits the number of rulers.

He wrote this while describing why he is not fond of the word “anarchy,” which etymologically refers to a social order without rulers.  The point was that there most certainly are rulers in a capitalistic and strict property-rights order.  Recently, I read a similar statement by Mises Canada’s Editor in Chief James E. Miller, who wrote:

The issue is not necessarily the functionality of a hypothetical anarcho-capitalist society, but of definition. The etymology of anarchy is simple: the ancient Greek meaning is simply “without rulers.” Are so-called “rulers” necessary for capitalism? Yes and no, depending on one’s general understanding.

Private property itself needs rulers – that is the owners of the property themselves. The same goes for hierarchy. If a rentier owns land that people agree to live on, there is a clear distinction between who’s in charge.

Glad to see this agreement.

Leave a Comment

Joe Sobran Breaks Down the Labels

If you want government to intervene domestically, you’re a

If you want government to intervene overseas, you’re a conservative.

If you want government to intervene everywhere, you’re a moderate.

If you don’t want government to intervene anywhere, you’re an extremist.

“Need” now means wanting someone else’s money.

“Greed” now means wanting to keep your own.

“Compassion” is when a politician arranges the transfer.

—Joe Sobran

Leave a Comment