No Thanks – I Don’t Want Any

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Recently by Eric Peters: Voting Is Not the Problem… Americans Are the Problem

Most people “get” that their ability to decline a service or product serves as an incentive. The seller of the service or product must convince you that the service or product is worth at least as much as the money they are asking in return. If not, and you decline, then they must try harder to convince you of the merit of what they’re selling. If they can’t convince you (or enough other people) then they go out of business. In a free economy, where willing buyers transact with sellers who cannot coerce, only services and products that have objective merit – defined by people’s willingness to purchase them – succeed. Products and services that lack merit fail – as defined by people’s lack of interest in paying good money for them.

But most people have difficulty making the intellectual (and philosophical) Great Leap Forward – applying the same reasoning, the same economic discipline, to government.

If, for example, the government really does provide valuable services – as it so often claims – then why is it necessary to force people to purchase these allegedly valuable services? If the services provided by government really do have value, wouldn’t most people eagerly purchase them without coercion?

Consider “law enforcement” vs. peace-keeping.

It is doubtful the current system of “law enforcement” could be maintained on anything other than a coercive basis – because too many “customers” regard it as a service they’d very much like to decline and would decline, if they had any choice in the matter.

What does that tell you about the value of “law enforcement”?

For instance: The guy down the road who likes to smoke pot on his porch (and maybe grows his own smoke in his backyard) is in no way causing me or anyone else any harm. Thus I have no interest in paying armed thugs to dragoon him in chains off to prison. My neighbor who keeps “unregistered” vehicles on his land, out of sight, hasn’t victimized anyone I’m aware of – and without a victim – that is, a real person actually injured in some objectively real way – can there be a crime? Not in my world. And so I resent being forced at gunpoint to help pay for the armed thugs who spend their days “enforcing” laws whose transgressors have victimized no one. I would never freely give a single copper penny to Officer 82nd Airborne. He and his kind act not merely without my consent, but with my contempt. That I am forced to help finance their activities is a source of tremendous annoyance. Paraphrasing Jefferson: To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of actions which he disagrees with and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

But how about a peace-keeper?

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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