gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He makes it with
a machine he could not possibly have made himself. He does not know
where it was made, or how it works, and may not care. He does not
know the people that planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, roasted,
packaged, freighted, warehoused, distributed, marketed, or retailed
his coffee, and may not care. The company that insures the manufacturer
of the coffee machine required that it meet certain safety guidelines,
as established by the private insurance-company-funded Underwriters
Laboratory. Joe has seen the UL mark, but is not really sure what
it's for or how it protects him. He doesn't clearly understand why
greedy businessmen might be interested in a safe product. All of
this was made possible by libertarians who fought for and won the
legal right to free trade.
fills his pot full of good clean drinking water which he bought
from Ozarka, because the local government monopoly of water supply
bears the comforting designation of "accepted" and also
thinks back to going to church on Sunday. He is happy to have a
community where he can participate with other like-minded people
in ceremony. This was made possible by the long struggle to disentangle
church and state, and his church enjoys the absence of taxation.
He wishes other aspects of his life could be so free.
takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee, and
then he takes a long drag on a cigarette. He bought his medication
while on a trip to Mexico, where, thanks to less regulation and
looser enforcement of IP laws, they were much cheaper. His medications
are safe to take because he bought them from a reputable dealer.
He can still afford cigarettes and can still legally purchase them,
because of those who continue to fight for his rights, even if his
exercise of those rights might harm him or his family.
takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; it is fragranced
with some sort of exotic flower and there are strange chemicals
in it — god knows what — and he bought it, well, because he liked
the picture of the kangaroo on the bottle. He luxuriates in his
bourgeois moment in the shower, a luxury unavailable to even the
most wealthy of only 200 years ago. He is able to have many of such
seemingly simple luxuries because some greedy businessmen sought
enormous profits in the only way they could: satisfying consumer
begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals
benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because the accumulation
of capital over centuries has now brought the discounted marginal
value product of a schmuck like Joe to unimaginable heights. Joe
doesn't know anything about economics because he doesn't have to.
He is no smarter than his forbears, and he works less. Nonetheless,
because he participates in a world-embracing division of labor where
his specialized work on a growing capital base is greatly valued,
he is richer.
employer pays these standards because if they don't, his employer's
noon time. Joe doesn't need to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay
some bills — he uses online banking and direct deposit. He has no
idea how these systems work, or what a banking clearinghouse is,
but he is able to use these services at the lowest cost practicable
because banks compete for his business. Notwithstanding the massive
interventions to the business of banking, such as the creation of
central banking and the Federal Reserve system and the repudiation
of the gold standard, he is able to weather the government-induced
business cycles and inflation by investing in mutual funds, annuities,
stocks, bonds, REITs, real estate, precious metals, and other investment
vehicles. He is able to do this because of greedy entrepreneurs
and libertarians who fought against usury laws.
online banking leaves him free to take a moment to browse amazon.com
for his favorite books, movies, and music.
is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at
his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to
dad's; his car is not among the safest in the world because he chose
not to buy a Volvo. His brother has a Volvo, but he has a gas-guzzling
muscle car. He has this choice because nationalization of the auto
industry was prevented.
arrives at his rural boyhood home. The house didn’t have any good
programming choices until DirecTV offered an array of programming
and high-speed Internet, too. His dad uses a VCR, which only became
affordable to him after lots of rich people bought the early, expensive
versions and the manufacturers improved the designs and cut costs.
In fact, his dad has a cell phone, TiVo, refrigerator, microwave
oven, and a CD player — all of which became affordable to him because
they were first the toys of the super-rich, and the crackpot schemes
financed by the wealthy entrepreneurs willing and able to risk their
money in such endeavors.
is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on a reverse
mortgage — a recent market innovation. After his visit with dad
he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk
show. The host keeps saying that libertarians are kooks and anarchists
and thank God for continual market intervention and government protection.
Government intervention and taxation improves and will continue
to improve the standards of living of Americans. (He doesn’t tell
Joe that his beloved Democrats/Republicans have fought to destroy
every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.)
agrees, and puts his support behind protectionism, taxation, monopolies,
interventionism, and war: these are obviously the things upon which
civilization is built.
- On the title,
libertarians oppose both Republican and Democratic ideologies,
whom they group as "statists." On the term, see
Mises (here called étatism).
- I have
focused on a positive libertarian vision, rather than criticizing
the original, which I could easily have done.
Joe is the sometime title of a recently widely circulating
email. It was forwarded to me by a friend first back in July,
and then by others twice since then. The full text of the version
I received is:
up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot
full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought
for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication
with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to
take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and
work as advertised.
$10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical
plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers
for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares
his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon
is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate
the meat packing industry.
his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly
labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents
because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was
putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses,
walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is
clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop
industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station
for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable
money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal
fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone
the opportunity to be a contributor.
his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals
benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some
liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.
Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t
want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the
job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or
unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should
loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills.
Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some
liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers
who ruined the banking system before the depression.
to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market
federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that
Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated
and earned more money over his life-time.
home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at
his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive
to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some
liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood
home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed
by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to
make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some
big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong
and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s
would still be sitting in the dark.)
happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social
Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure
he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to. After
his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that
liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell
Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection
and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, u2018We don’t
need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after
all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care
of themselves, just like I have'.u201D
Guillory [send him
mail] is an engineer in Houston.