Saturday, May 27, 2017

United States of Mexico, Libertarian Edition

The formal name of the country you know as "Mexico" is actually "United States of Mexico."

Libertarians are an interesting bunch.   While some of their rhetoric is appealing, they fail to think through where their ideas would eventually take them.   If they want to see what a Libertarian paradise on earth looks like, they need look no further than the United States - of Mexico.

Yes, Mexico, the Libertarian paradise.   Why do I say this?   It has everything a Libertarian pines for - a limited weak government, a weak police force, a weak military, and very little intervention in the economy.  There are few inheritance taxes and few taxes in general, which is why a few families have ended up owning most of the economy and why the roads are so crappy.

This is what Libertarianism leads to - that and crime and corruption.   When government is limited in power, it is hard to control government officials and police officers, who mostly use their positions for personal gain.   Hey, why not?  That's being "free market" - right?   If you want a building permit or to skip out on a speeding ticket, you pay.   And if you can't pay, too bad for you.  You go to jail - and you pay for that, too.

The problem with this model of government, or non-government, is that those in power tend to stay in power.  Wealth accumulates too easily in the hands of a few and there are few opportunities for new people to join the club.   Your station in life is determined by the station you are born into - and you can work your ass off and it makes no difference whatsoever.

And while some may argue that is "unfair", the problem goes deeper than fairness.   If the people with wealth and power are born into it, there is no filtering mechanism to insure those controlling wealth and power are qualified to do so, for example by dint of having the wherewithal to accumulate wealth and power.

This is why monarchies eventually fail.   The King may be a swell fellow and all, but his son, who was raised a spoiled brat, ends up a despot despised by all, and eventually overthrown, but only after much bloodshed.  In the meantime, he has mismanaged the economy and created hardship and difficulty for everyone.   Maybe once in a while you get lucky with a monarch, but history has shown this is the exception rather than the rule.

In America, we have accumulated wealth, but until now, at least, it tends to dissipate over time.   Name any one of the 19th Century "Robber Barons" and then look to see how far their influence extended even into the 20th Century.  They die off, leave their estates to children, who divide up the proceeds and squander it.  The Estate tax insures that totally obscene amounts of money are trimmed.   And no, this doesn't mean people are being thrown off the family farm - those are explicitly excluded under the law (nice urban legend, though, or is it "fake news" or an "alternative fact" these days?).

The irony of the far-right is that many want to indulge in these Libertarian fantasies.  While others want a "small government" but a "strong defense" - two goals which clearly conflict with one another.   Most of the "strong defense" types are either pandering to defense contractors, or pandering to companies (e.g., oil companies) which benefit indirectly from a strong defense.

The bottom line is, Libertarianism is just a fantasy - an unworkable fantasy, as the experience in Mexico illustrates.   Such a government or economy would quickly devolve into survival of the fittest, with the most ruthless and violent coming out on top.   You would have to hope to be lucky to be born into the right family or the right clan.

But that is the appealing part to Libertarians, I guess, as most of them are utter losers in our economic system.  They cannot compete on the merits, so they want a leg up by dint of their heritage, race, or whatever.  They want a system that rewards those without talent, and punishes those who actually work hard to succeed.   The Libertarian fantasy benefits only the man behind the gun, who can force others to do his bidding.  It doesn't help the person who actually works and produces and creates.

We don't need to turn the United States of America into the United States of Mexico, thank you.