On Parade

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Perhaps
in moments of severe departure, I imagine opening PARADE
Magazine
to find the latest issue filled with soul-stirring
defenses of freedom by such giants as Gary
North
, Walter
Block
, William
Anderson
, Tom
DiLorenzo
, and Gene
Callahan
. Picture LRC’s and The Freeman’s big, bad, angry
cousin.

Back
in this reality, where a better name for the publication would be
STATISM ON PARADE Magazine, I picked up the current edition for
lazy dinnertime reading to receive an uncle’s concerned, almost
heartbroken, look from General Peter Pace, his countenance next
to a quote: "Our Fellow Citizens Are Right To Expect Our Military
Will Act During A Disaster." As I began to let out a sigh,
I quickly caught and reprimanded myself for being doctrinaire. ‘An
enlightened, evolved new man must be pragmatic! If we have
a standing army, we may as well use it! Would you have Americans
to suffer?’

What
torment to hear this tripe even in one’s own inner dialogue! Yes,
it’s been a while since Bastiat
penned the words, but watching the same unimaginative gambit over
and over is so tiresome:

Socialism,
like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction
between government and society. As a result of this, every time
we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists
conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove
of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed
to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists
say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced
equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on,
and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not
wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise
grain.

The
response to Katrina is a perfect-fit example of the dufus-with-knives
bungling — which
has
been
well
documented
— Robert Novak described:
"While the federal government is frustrating when it treats
economic problems with nonchalance, it is terrifying when it gets
involved." The childish fingerpointing, committee grandstanding,
and goofy show-investigations are all wasteful diversions of resources
that could have been put to productive use, but such considerations
are peanuts in comparison to this surreal debate over whether to
allow a particularly aggressive camel to stick its nose in the tent!

The
scary part is that Pace might be able to pull it off. He’s certainly
no beady-eyed, grandma-slapping Democrat-concocted caricature: he’s
downright Jimmy Stewart with a dash of John Wayne. James Brady’s
account of their meeting begins with, "’Call me Pete,’ were
the first words out of Pace’s mouth as we began to talk." His
appearance is so disarming that you want to carry it a step further
and call him Uncle Pete, and Uncle Pete only wants what’s best!

Pace
qualifies his call for an army-qua-almsgiver with, "but to
respect their civil rights at the same time. We must now absorb
those lessons from Katrina." It’s hard to doubt his sincerity,
but statists in general can’t seem to grasp the lesson that good
intentions aren’t the end of the matter. As Mises wrote,
"We may admit that the director or the board of directors are
people of superior ability, wise and full of good intentions. But
it would be nothing short of idiocy to assume that they are omniscient
and infallible." Readers here certainly don’t need to be told
what happens without the safety valve of rational economic calculation.

I
began with fancy, but there’s hope. Only one page prior, John Stratton
of Baltimore asked Marilyn vos Savant, "Many companies give
away products, such as food or medicine, to the needy. Are these
costs passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices?"
She replied, "Not if the company wants to stay in business.
In a free-market economy, cost doesn’t determine price. Prices are
established by market forces — such as the competition and how much
consumers are willing to pay."

Even
better, maybe we’ll see Marilyn joining the good guys and writing
for LRC!

October
6, 2005

Greg
Bacon [send him mail] is
a software developer in Huntsville, Alabama.

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