I heard about this book on the Tom Woods Show. It’s geared toward high school/college age kids, so it should be right about my level when it comes to government and economics. It’s a series of short articles by different authors, so each one stands on its own. It gives overviews and a different perspective on topics related to the progressive movement, typically from a libertarian point of view. None of the articles are meant to be a complete discussion about an idea. They only lead you to contemplate a different idea about it and into more books to read about the subject.
#1 “Income inequality arises from market forces and requires government intervention” by Max Borders
“…it’s important for us to make a distinction between economic entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs: the former create value for society; the latter have figured out how to transfer resources from others into their own coffers, usually by lobbying for subsidies, special favors or anti-competitive laws.” It wrote a post about this in relation to education, the difference between political and economic means.
“Except for those who made lots of money hiring lawyers and lobbyists instead of researchers and developers, wealthy people got rich by creating a whole lot of value for a whole lot of people.” Why does our current culture vilify those that create something people want and then sell it? I think a lot of people believe that business people are taking advantage of others but how? By creating something that you want? Do you not have the power to NOT buy it if you don’t want it? The only time it gets ugly is when businesses use political means to force you to buy their product or to cut competition out.
#2 “Because we’re running out of resources, government must manage them” by Max Borders
“Healthy markets only exist under certain rules. The main rules are what we might call the Three P’s: Private property, price signals, and profit.”
He’s talking about forests and I wonder how much of forest land is owned by the government in the US verses how much it is privately owned. And what is that ratio in other countries where deforestation is a problem.
#3 “Equality serves the common good” by Lawrence W. Reed
“Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.” I’d rather be poor and free than controlled by others and rich. I realize that many people do not share that sentiment but I really think they do but don’t think they do. Why do people get so upset when they find out they can only spend their charter school funds on “approved” expenses? Or they can only buys certain kinds of foods with their welfare money?
#5 “Income Inequality is the great economic and moral crisis of our time.” by Ron Robinson
“As the late economist Milton Friedman famously noted, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
“…our films, television shows, academia, and the media produce more ad hominem attacks against successful business people than all the propaganda machines of the National Socialist, Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, and Red Guards of yesteryear.” Why do we love to hate those that succeed? It seems like envy and coveting to be angry that a company wants to sell you something that you want to buy voluntarily.
“Every student knows their fellow classmates get different grades because of differing individual intelligence, attentive ability, hard work, and the level of other distractions in students’ lives. So, you don not have a classroom ideological perspective that insists all grades must be equal and that “inequality” in grades must be eliminated.” Maybe that’s just it. People don’t get better grades because they are smarter or better, they get them because they are capable of working the imposed system and we all know it instinctively. Are we transferring that to business? We have created a “crony” capitalism kind of system, where you can only participate if you know how to work the system, if you have enough money to pay the fees to play or have your “man in Washington” to smooth the way. We’re being used. That is not real education and this is not real business/capitalism.
#6 “Capitalism fosters greed and government policy must temper it.” by Lawrence W. Reed
“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” It’s because they don’t see it as taking someone else’s money. If we all vote to have a third party (government) to take your money by force and give it to someone else, then it’s not greed, it’s democracy.
#7 “The free market ignores the poor” by Leonard E. Read
“How, for instance, can one compare a socialized post office with private postal delivery when the latter has been outlawed? It’s something like trying to explain to a people accustomed only to darkness how things would appear were there light.” And those same people believe they are seeing light!
“Admittedly, human nature is defective, and its imperfections will be reflected in the market (though arguably, no more so than in government).” We generally behave better when we are not forced to participate. And why do people not see government as also human? Why would someone you vote for behave any better than anyone else?
#8 “The economy needs more planning – central planning, that is” by Lawrence W. Reed
“G.K. Chesterton once said, ‘I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.’”
“The central planner would undoubtedly note that like a perfectly shaped bonsai tree or rose bush, some humans need a good pruning…” Humans do not need to be shaped by other humans. We are perfect just the way we are and know exactly how to grow and change to be good people. We need loving support and acceptance for who we are to become all we are meant to be. It’s an internal drive determined by our own souls, not by what another group of humans believe is best for their version of the world.
#10 “I have a right!” by Charles W. Baird
“…it is the right of all individuals to offer to buy or sell labor services at any terms they choose. I have the right to offer to sell my labor services at terms I like, and so do you.” I don’t have the right to force you to give me what I want for my product or service.
“We each can exercise free choice of religion without denying that right to others. Note, however, we have no right to join a religious organization that doesn’t want to accept us.” Because that tramples on the rights of others. Your right ends at mine. Why can’t people understand that? And why in the world would you want to force someone to associate with you? I swear this comes from school. You have to play with everyone regardless of their attitude and crappy behavior. Forced association.
“You have a right to read a book but no right to compel someone else to give you one.” That pretty much sums up what “rights” are.
#11 “Rich people have an obligation to give back.” by Lawrence W. Reed
“When you give, you should do so because of the personal satisfaction you derive from supporting worthy causes, not because you need to salve a guilty conscience.”
#13 “Cooperation, not competition!” by Lawrence W. Reed
“…the government may not ban competition outright but simply bestow privileges, immunities, or subsidies on one or more firms while imposing costly requirements on all others.” This is what public school systems are doing.
Cooperation is fine when it is naturally occurring between voluntary participants. Natural competition is healthy and not a bad thing to avoid at all costs. Competition can get ugly when it is unnaturally provoked by an artificial authority.
#14 “Healthcare is a right” by Max Borders
“…when it comes to certain other purported rights involving things that must be produced by others, like education or healthcare, that means others have a duty to produce that good or service.” You can’t force someone to produce something and give it to others. That automatically tells us that it is not a “right”, like free speech or religion.