Wednesday, July 6, 2011
It’s Not All That Hard
"The opposite of war is not peace; it's creation.”– Jonathan Larson
Back when I was in college (close to worthless then and even closer now, except for the hard sciences) I realized none of my classes that I was really interested in were logically connected to each other so that I could come up with an accurate model of how the world works.
All people have a model in their heads of how the world works. Perhaps I should say “theory” instead. No matter what word I use, none of them, no matter how accurate, are reality itself (“the map is not the terrain”). But the closer to reality the theory, the better it works.
The further from reality the model is, the worse it works. You can look at entire failed countries (which means failed cultures, which means the people have poor models in their heads) and see it’s because they don’t follow models that work. Those successful and unsuccessful models always include religion, law, economics and political science.
Economics, political science and law (my main interests) were listed as separate disciplines (in reality they’re not) so I ended up with masses of facts, half-truths and outright lies that of course didn’t make much sense. What I was taught were awful maps that led me into dead zones (for that matter, the United States and most of the rest of the world staggered into those zones, too).
I was taught neo-Keynesian economics (gobbledygook), that politicians give serious thought to the bills they pass (har!) and that law is what the government passes (not even close).
Is it any wonder what I was taught didn’t make much sense? It wasn’t logical, and as Henry Hazlitt wrote in Economics in One Lesson, “…[false] theories…are never held with logical consistency…”
I don’t exactly remember how this happened, but over time I realized that with political and economic liberty there was wealth and happiness, and when those two things did not exist there was poverty, disease, starvation, war, slavery (I’ve always found it significant in ancient cultures Heaven was a place of “milk and honey” and where “the lion would lie down with the lamb”).
I know I was influenced by books I read – books I never heard about in college. Some of them are quite old. The Law, by Frederic Bastiat, which is a pamphlet. Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane.
The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver. Ancient Law by Henry Sumner Maine. The State, by Franz Oppenheimer.
I have all these books in paperback, but the texts are so old they are in the public domain and therefore downloadable for free on the Internet. Yet I had never heard of any of them in high school or college. But I surely heard enough about those nitwits out of Harvard, Yale and Princeton who tortured me and the other students with their inept and boring 300-page semi-Marxist economics textbooks.
(Parenthetically, I proficiencied both Intro to Macro and Intro to Micro Economics because I knew the classes would be excruciating – which is exactly what Intermediate Macro and Intermediate Micro turned out to be. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be proficiency them.)
Things finally started to make sense – and college had nothing to do with it, except for the disappointment it provided and therefore an inventive to get a real education.
I realized the laws of political science and economics (actually it’s political economy) can be discovered just like the laws of physics and chemistry. This put me in the Natural Law camp – just as every one of the Founding Fathers were.
The term “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” came from the British philosopher John Locke, who originally wrote, “life, liberty and property.” They are our natural rights, he said. We are born with them.
Those Natural Rights are what this country was founded upon. The purpose of “government” was to protect those three things, and nothing else. When those three things are protected, what springs up automatically is the free market. Always. It’s a law of nature, one that can be (and has been) discovered.
As Samuel Adams wrote, “The rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; second to liberty, third to property; together with the right to support them and defend them in the best manner they can” (the latter being enshrined in the Second Amendment).
This was a revelation to me. I suddenly had a model of how the world worked. You could have freedom and creation and progress, or you could not have freedom and go backwards, possibly into an abyss.
Law, economics and political science, I realized, were the same thing and not separate disciplines. Understanding the basics of them is not that hard. Almost everyone can do it.
Richard Maybury, for example, has suggested there are only two laws that all free, successful societies need to follow: “Do all you have agreed to do” and “Do not encroach on other people or their property.” It can’t get any simpler than those two laws and even a child can memorize them.
When “government” goes beyond protecting life, liberty and property it always destroys. It’s as simple as that. The bigger the government the more people, families, neighborhoods, education and everything else is damaged. In other words, our life, liberty and property are always damaged by the growth of “government” when it goes beyond protecting those three things.
I define government as protecting life, liberty and property. When it goes beyond those things it turns into the State. Albert Jay Nock, in Our Enemy, the State defined the first as the Economic Means (trade) and the second as the Political Means (stealing).
It’s entirely possible that even “government” is not necessary (well over 2000 years ago the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament warned the Hebrews to follow the Law and stop their whining for “government”). If people always followed the Law (discovered natural law) voluntarily it wouldn’t be necessary.
In fact, if most people didn’t voluntarily follow most natural laws,
society would collapse no matter how oppressive the government was.
Or, as Isabel Paterson wrote, “The percentage of positively malignant,
vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species could
survive if its members were habitually and consciously bent upon
injuring one another.”
If government is necessary then what remains is to discover how to keep it within its proper limits. So far, no one has figured that out. The Founding Fathers tried by splitting the government into three parts. They meant to make it weak and ineffectual to limit its power (they also had no use whatsoever for the left-wing delusion of “democracy”, something most people today don’t know).
They make some mistakes. They forgot to write that one of the purposes of government was to protect our property, didn’t get rid of slavery, and didn’t forbid a central bank (which always inflates the money supply, thereby stealing your property, which automatically damages your life and liberty).
These days the United States sometimes follows Natural Law and sometimes follows false law. Unfortunately, it’s got to the point where the federal State makes up one-third of the economy and one percent of the people have used the Political Means to steal 40% of the wealth.
I sometimes do a thought experiment and imagine what this country would be like if the federal government did nothing but protect life, liberty and property.
We’d be far wealthier than we are now. Economists I’ve read estimate the average income today would be over $90,000 a year. We wouldn’t be involved in three wars; we wouldn’t have troops in 144 countries; the federal State wouldn’t take up one-third of the economy and the dollar wouldn’t have lost 99% of its value since the creation of the illegal Federal Reserve Bank (which is not federal, has no reserves and is not a bank). We wouldn’t have the misnamed “War on Drugs” and we certainly wouldn’t have the godawful TSA.
The fact we don’t have many of the good things and instead have many of the bad things comes from breaking the law. Or perhaps, I should write, Law.