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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4942/a-man-a-plan-a-flop/

A Man, a Plan, a Flop

April 24, 2006 by

Charles Murray has a preoccupation with an inferior and politically impossible idea: replace the welfare state with a grant of $10,000 per year to every American citizen twenty-one or older. what if, contrary to Murray’s assumptions, many people squander their annual grants (as people do when they win the lottery)? Would not taxpayers demand controls on spending? The bureaucratic programs that his plan aimed to eliminate would reenter the scene. In any case, a close examination of his new book shows that he is not really a libertarian at all. FULL ARTICLE

{ 58 comments }

Yancey Ward April 25, 2006 at 8:18 am

Eric,

I agree almost completely with what you wrote.

tz April 25, 2006 at 1:04 pm

And precisely where are libertarians located now with regards to history?

Junior Friedman’s call for vouchers, open borders, and federally mandated inflation, all the while trying to pass himself off as an anarchist, is, if implemented, a good way to relegate all libertarianism to Trotsky’s dustbin of history.

It might be interesting to discuss how we might build a society on another planet, but we have yet to discover even one that could be terraformed, or even travelled to within a span shorter than geological time.

Your complaints seem to be that Friedman spends too much time with telescopes and rockets rather than imagining more mechanisms that will never be built.

It is quite possible that things will collapse in a very short period of time leaving the average American starving because enough of the infrastructure won’t be there, and those who survive might reconstruct something.

When addicted to Heroin, you can try cold-turkey, or methadone. Or to cigarettes, stop all at once, or a patch or zyban(?).

I don’t think it at all muddles things to work toward a goal of breaking an addiction, whether it be to chemicals or government. The criticism seems that if one isn’t for “cold-turkey”, that one is somehow pro-addiction.

I reject that.

Cut off old ladie’s social security cheques and replace them with nothing. They will starve. Throw millions out of work today without any employment – do you keep the government (FNM/FRE) debts or not? Most of the utilities are half-government, so we can do without water and electricity when they break down and there is no one to repair them?

I’ve used Harry Browne’s analogy – Government breaks your legs then presents you with a crutch. The anarchist would leave the legs broken but take away the crutch? How about fixing the legs, giving them time to heal, and only then removing the crutch.

The average citizen’s soul is as emaciated from addiction to government as most narcotic addict’s bodies. I would not expect the latter to be healthy overnight, nor would I expect the former to be able to handle liberty in the same timeframe.

The US made exactly this mistake with Iraq, and I’ve not heard even from anyone here that it was NOT a mistake to destroy the governmental infrastructure overnight (because they were baathist). And replace it with what amounted to nothing. Instead we could have left it in place until something new formed and let it transition.

That is what those proposals are. Their fundamental flaw is that with the current government they can only be corrupted into something worse than the status quo or they will not be enacted. However if Government goes bankrupt, there might be a chance.

I don’t know.

Curt Howland April 25, 2006 at 1:25 pm

TZ, it’s just as unworkable to “starve the beast”, because as soon as they see a shortfall coming, they will raise taxes.

As their excuse, they will say that without raising taxes they will have to cut off Grandma’s social security check. And if the example given of the “government shutdowns” back in 1995-6 are of any use (I trust actually events more than conjecture), they will make a huge show of closing the National Parks (while also preventing the states from running them themselves) while keeping millions of government employees on the payroll doing make-work out of sight of the press. They will indeed threaten to shut down SS, they may even turn off the presses until the votes are counted in their favor.

Government will not go bankrupt unless there is a general loss of confidence and the people themselves stop giving their tacit support. However, such a loss of support is exactly what all of us are arguing for in our own ways and perspectives.

What I would like to avoid is reaching that “loss of confidence” via a great inflation and economic collapse, which is what will happen instead of the government “going bankrupt” because government has granted itself the monopoly on fiat money.

That’s why cutting taxes won’t work.

Person April 25, 2006 at 1:40 pm

BillG, I’m going to have to echo happyjuggler0′s comment above and say that, whatever it is that’s keeping the poor poor, it has nothing at all to do with the fact that they can’t go farm their own land. How many people have any clue how to be a farmer or would be able to get loans for the tools? Okay, so after setting aside farmland for the poor, let’s assume you’ll train them in how to farm. How would this be any different from any previous government job training program, which have rarely had any net positive benefit on the ability of participants to earn a living (relative to some other use of their time)?

Even if they did know how to farm, and we lived in a Georgism-unnecessary world (such as, e.g., where people can costlessly teleport to and from a universe that has infinite land), all that would do is seriously drive down the costs of farm products. In order to actually sell them, you’d have to harvest them in huge quantities — far beyond the ability of subsistence farmers. They wouldn’t be able to achieve better than subsistence, which is — oops, where you think their wages already are.

Daniel Coleman April 25, 2006 at 1:43 pm

TZ,

I wonder sometimes if the main reason that you use analogies is because what you’re saying won’t hold up to reality.

Drugs, spaceships, and broken legs here will only serve as examples insofar as they insinuate something that you believe without ever stating things clearly.

You have fervor in your posts but almost always revert to some abstact, aloof method of refering to reality. “Libertarianism is all fine and good, but does it really hold a candle to the window of a spaceship where the old lady with broken legs can’t get a meal? I think not, and reject it on these grounds.” Etc.

It is for this reason that you won’t be able to debate with others–poetically abstract talk leads to contradictions and meaningless chatter. Take, for instance, this paragraph that you wrote in this comment section:

“The problem is how do you be a libertarian in a room where you are the only one, and everyone else is a socialist? Become a suicide bomber? Make sure you are the only one with a gun and impose freedom involuntarily at gunpoint?”

There’s no good place to start.

billwald April 26, 2006 at 6:26 pm

In the very bad old days craftspeople made stuff for sale with their hands and had an economic edge over the serfs. During the industrial revolution the craftspeople became the people who set up the machines to be operated by the serfs.

Now days the machines run themselves and the serfs serve the machines. The only growing job markets in the USofA are the service industries – work that can’t be sent offshore. The guy who waits on tables can’t do it off shore. Next few years even he will be replaced by a machine.

During the years of Ellis Island, half the immigrants went into “service.”
The rich people will require very few of us peons to maintain their life style when house robots go into production.

Daniel Coleman April 27, 2006 at 8:20 am

billwald, you are falling for a very common fallacy in economic thinking: that, with the advent of robotic workers, “the rich” will soon have little use for the proletariat, and we will be worse off than even the serfs of the middle ages.

Remember that the rich are only made rich in as much as they are pleasing consumers. Robots that do extra work do not cause unemployment; they increase productivity and allow for more leisure time.

(And, by the way, how does the average quality of life and life span of today’s “peon” compare to that of a 12th century serf?)

billwald April 27, 2006 at 12:20 pm

I don’t think the very rich want more assets – they want more power and control.

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