I love books about economics and government! It’s probably a sign of mental illness and sometimes creates a lot of stress, obviously. I’ve read a lot of Murray Rothbard essays and I’ve always liked how much sense he makes. This short book was recommended on the Tom Woods show a while back. I highly recommend it. The language was a little complicated but I was able to follow it easily when it was quiet and I was not distracted.
Page 10 The notion that “we” are the government. “Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have “committed suicide,” since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part.”
My question in the margin was “Did the Jews in Nazi Germany have a vote?” After looking into this for about five minutes (really, I’d love to know more and not it’s on my topic list, but I have to stay focused at the moment), it seems there is a debate about this. Pre-war Germany history can be a bit sketchy due to they were the losers in the end, but it looks as though most Jews by the time Hitler was elected did not have the expectation to vote, except for some. This will have to wait for another time. I’m fascinated with it though. The notion still holds, even if the example doesn’t. If the majority of our nation votes to take half the income of a minority of people (and I’m one of them), does that mean that I’m really just giving my money to myself and that’s ok?
Page 15 If I say, “I need to have more food.” and take it from my neighbor, I’ll go to jail. But if I tell the government that I need to have more food and THEY take it from my neighbor and give it to me, that’s ok. I just don’t see the logic here.
There are two ways to acquire wealth, by “economic means” voluntarily by exchange, or by “political means”, through force and violence.
Page 16 “The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation.”
Page 18 “…any government (not simply a “democratic” government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects.” I wish more people could understand this. If you say nothing and do nothing, you are supporting it, regardless of how you feel about it. When things get bad enough that people will risk their current situation to change things and refuse to comply, that’s when we stop supporting it. That goes for a tyrant king or an elected Republican President.
Page 23 “Another successful device was to instill fear of any alternative systems of rule or nonrule. The present rulers, it was maintained, supply to the citizens an essential service for which they should be most grateful: protection against sporadic criminals and marauders.” Well, except from their own sporadic criminals and marauders. Once again, it’s ok in most people’s minds if we vote to take property from one group and give it to another.
Page 24 “If ‘Ruritania’ was being attacked by ‘Walldavia,’ the first task of the State and its intellectuals was to convince the people of ‘Ruritania’ that the attack was really upon them and not simply upon the ruling caste.” Or government. Our government is causing the strife that other governments get angry and fight back about. It’s not an attack on “our way of life”. We are just pawns when we let them play this game.
Page 25 “The new idea, much less the new critical idea, must needs begin as a small minority opinion; therefore, the State must nip the view in the bud by ridiculing any view that defies the opinions of the mass. ‘Listen only to your brothers’ or ‘adjust to society’ thus become ideological weapons for crushing individual dissent.” I’ll relate this to school (not education) since that’s what I do! I’ve heard this from numerous well-meaning and intelligent people, ‘Yes, school may be tough and debilitating to many children, but they need to adjust to the society that we are all part of.’ They believe the alternative is to let children run wild and have radical, independent ideas that won’t mesh with our current system. I’m ok with that, honestly. I’d rather have a world filled with independent and self-sufficient humans that the one filled with of wards of the state, adult children that cannot think for themselves and clamor to have their elected masters care for them.
Page 26 “Any increase in private well-being can be attacked as ‘unconscionable greed,’ ‘materialism,’ or ‘excessive affluence,’ profit-making can be attacked as ‘exploitation’ and ‘usury,’ mutually beneficial exchanges denounced as ‘selfishness,’ somehow with the conclusion always being drawn that more resources should be siphoned from the private to the ‘public sector.’” This gets me, mostly because I now feel like this guilt is engrained in us. We actually feel guilty that we have created something people want of their own free will and are willing to part with their hard earned money to get it. It is disgusting.
Page 27 “In the present more secular age, the divine right of the State has been supplemented by the invocation of a new god, Science. State rule is now proclaimed as being ultra-scientific, as constituting planning by experts.” Because you economic and behavior science is so precise it can predict what every human will want or choose at any moment in time. It’s hubris.
Page 34 Speaking of the Supreme Court and judicial review, “Black admits that this means that the State has set itself up as judge in its own cause, thus violating a basic juridical principle for aiming at just decisions.” The Anti-Federalist Papers predicted this problem with the Supreme Court.
Page 36 talks about the New Deal and the fact that the Supreme Court was used to legitimize the idea to the people even though it was obviously against the principles of the constitution. It was a fundamental flaw in our constitution that many of the “anti-federalist” papers pointed out. The so-called “check” on the other two branches of government was to be appointed by those two branches.
Page 38 “If the Federal Government was created to check invasions of individual liberty by the separate states, who was to check the Federal power?”
“Applied to state governments, this theory implied the right of “nullification” of a Federal law or ruling within a state’s jurisdiction.” That was fine when the Supreme Court had no physical power to back up its ruling. Now everyone believes that the Federal Government has the right to bring its law enforcement into a state to enforce its laws and rulings.
We used to have different laws in different states. Each state was run very differently. That was good for the people because if we did not like the taxes and control of one state we could move to one with more of what we wanted and vice versa. Now the Federal Government has so much control over the states that they are all essentially the same besides the weather. Moving from one state to another is easy compared to moving to another country.
Page 45 “Which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely – those against private citizens or those against itself?”
Page 54 “While social power is over nature, State power is over man. Through history, man’s productive and creative forces have, time and again, carved out new ways of transforming nature for man’s benefit. These have been the times when social power has spurted again of State power, and when the degree of State encroachment over society has considerably lessened.” This is where we need to be headed. We need to focus on making each others lives better through personal work and creativity, not through using government to force others to make life better for us.