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Life in Dystopia, where “The future is held hostage by little minds and small ideas.”

2017/01/29

Free Gulliver

Free Gulliver, by Robert Gore. Image: STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

Free Gulliver, by Robert Gore

A gaggle of intellectual Lilliputians gaze upon their handiwork—productive people on their backs, bound by government strings of taxes, debt, phony money, out of control spending, entitlements for the unproductive, regulation, war, etc.—and proclaim Gulliver permanently disabled, he’ll never walk again. Invariably their palliatives never involve cutting strings, only more government.

It’s claimed that true innovation is dead, except for innovation directed by bureaucrats and funded by governments. Or there’s going to be so much innovation—automation and artificial intelligence—that there’ll be no work left for humans to do. Then government will have to confiscate the increased wealth flowing from those innovations and dole it out to the unemployed legions. Or soon it will take more energy to produce fossils fuels than the energy derived, so government must push us towards its chosen alternative energies. You get the idea: humanity faces a grim future and only governments can make it less grim.

There are economists and historians of a certain political bent who claim that government is responsible for every innovation since the wheel. Government, however, is a coercive, zero-sum endeavor. Every dime it spends comes from either a taxpayer or creditor, and is a dime the taxpayer can’t spend or the creditor can’t lend elsewhere. Government dimes have funded nuclear weapons and flights to the moon, but we don’t know where those dimes might otherwise have been spent. Left in taxpayer or creditor pockets, they could have funded more prosaic innovations of greater real-world utility than H-bombs or moonshots.

Given the checkered record of government, especially over the last century or so, it may seem that those who still believe in it are engaging in something akin to religion. That maligns religion, which generally involves a belief, or faith, in one or more deities whose existence and powers cannot be objectively proved or disproved. Belief in government is faith in an ersatz deity—incompetent, often malevolent—who ignores prayers, squelches hope, and destroys lives.

Naifs believe in government beneficence; more sinister acolytes’ worship not government and its alleged good works, but power. Beneath the slogans, bromides, and expressions of righteous intent, they live for subjugation and obedience. They are like a drum master to whom it’s more important that the slaves row to his beat than where the galley might be going. Compliance is an end—the end—in itself; everything else is secondary. Relationships are those of superiors to inferiors, rulers to ruled, Lilliputians to Gullivers.

President Trump, who was not the candidate of superiors, rulers, and Lilliputians, elicits abject horror and furious demonstrations over what he has done or said, or might do or say. The powerful realize their power may be a thing of the past. The demonstrators are horrified that the “victimization” concerns to which every right-thinking American and major institution, especially government, has reflexively genuflected will be ignored. Trump could be the turning of that page, Americans concluding that there are more important issues than race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Do the “victims” even want an America where people don’t care about irrelevant factors and accept or reject them based on their virtues and flaws? If that day comes, it will be not acknowledged and would leave many of the victims unhappy. They’d have to find something else to bitch about.

To his detractors’ consternation, the president has pledged to eliminate 75 percent of the federal government’s regulations. At least 95 percent are useless or counterproductive, but if Trump can get rid of 75 percent, celebration will be in order. Compared to other strings regulation is almost invisible, but it’s an important Lilliputian spool. When they come up against a true Gulliver—a productive giant, an innovative genius—the difference in stature is obvious. Regulation keeps the giants on the ground where they belong, and leaves the Lilliputians in control. Selective enforcement lets officials reward..and punish— imposing costs, wasting producers’ precious time and energy, crippling their ability to compete.

Pundits and “experts” have declared the end of growth, without any demonstration of what would happen if the strings were cut. The stagnation they decry—but accept as inevitable—has been government-sponsored, but they assign an even larger role for government in “managing” future decay. The best the Davos crowd has to address manifest disgust with the ruling class is more redistribution from the productive to the unproductive (see “The 2017 “Davos Consensus”—More Welfare and Warfare,”). Not a peep at their conclave that redistribution—and the taxes and debt that fund it—are the problem for decrepit, bankrupt welfare-warfare states. Government is always the solution, never the problem.

Growth comes from innovation and increased productivity: using existing resources more efficiently. Is that the province of politicians and bureaucrats, who regard larger appropriations every year as their divine right, or profit-driven, cost-minimizing innovators and entrepreneurs? Say, for example’s sake, that someday soon it does require more energy to produce fossil fuels than the energy derived from them. The global economy would have to transition away from petroleum, a daunting undertaking. Do you trust that transition to markets, producers, and the price mechanism, which would signal a rise in the relative cost of petroleum, spurring more energy-efficient petroleum production, development of alternative energy sources, and conservation and substitution by consumers? Or do you trust taxes and increased debt, regulations, government-funded research, and bureaucrats and politicians who have never produced anything selecting winning and losing technologies and companies?

To the Davos crowd the answer is obvious, which is why much of the world is rebelling against their top-down, command-and-control regime. Their media has taken to “explaining” the revolt, but they rarely mention the strings. Among the “average” and “ordinary” people the media now purports to understand, there are many Gullivers whose productive and innovative energies could and should be unleashed. Strings are the source of Lilliputians’ status and power and they’ll never willingly sever them. Unfortunately, the world faces a plethora of pressing problems, and if the Gullivers aren’t freed soon, the bleak future the Lilliputians promise will assuredly come to pass.

Original post found on Robert Gore’s Straight Line Logic blog
27 January 2017

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