Why The State Likes To Frighten You

Many libertarians and Austrian economists consistently preach that the battle we are engaged in is a battle of ideas. Education is paramount. In other words, those who subscribe to this point of view believe strongly in winning the long-game. He who wins the long-game, wins.

The State is powerless against an educated public (which is why they cherish so greatly their monopoly on “public education”).

The Internet has provided an end-around that monopoly, so many libertarians go to work on changing one mind at a time, with an eye on winning the long-game. The Internet also makes the playing field global. It’s just as important for a New Zealander to understand the ideas of free markets and liberty as it is for an American. The power of ideas have no geographical boundaries.

The opposition, on the other hand, is often very short-game oriented. If you’re hungry for power, you want to exercise that power now. You want people to obey now. Education takes time. But you only have 4 years in office. That’s not much time. People often get stuck in their ways, both for good and bad. Education takes lots of effort and persistence.

So it should be no surprise that those in power go for the quick way to get what they want. What’s the quickest way you ask? Fear….and not just any old fear, but fear that gets people to act, submit, and obey right now.

For example, take TARP. The bankers had to get a $700 Billion bailout at that moment, or the world was going to end. Or take global warming climate change. If you don’t submit, the Earth will turn into a fireball…or ice cube….or whatever.

Take the War on Terror…an undefined and perpetual war. Every American must get felt up at the airport, and have all digital communications and all financial transactions monitored at all times.

Then you have the yearly hysterias called Swine Flu, Avian Flu, and Manny Moe & Jack Flu. These are the fears that, if you buy into them, actually lead to injections into your body.

While we’re on the subject of injections. Back in the November 1925 issue of The Wisconsin Medical Journal, a doctor named John P. Keller, who was the “Commissioner of Health of Milwaukee” explained why the government loves to focus on the short-game and using fear (my emphasis):

“Since people cannot be vaccinated against their will, the biggest job of a health department has always been and always will be to persuade the unprotected people to get vaccinated. This we attempted to do in three ways: First, by education; Second, by fright; and Third, by pressure.

We dislike very much to mention fright and pressure. Yet, they accomplish more than education because they work faster than education, which is normally a slow process. During the months of March and April, we tried education and vaccinated only 62,000. During May, we made use of fright and pressure and vaccinated 223,000.”

Show those numbers to any power-hungry person and it’s a no-brainer: He/She will choose the 223,000 (from fear) over the 62,000 (from education).

Here’s the deal. Those in power merely seek to shuffle the public from one fear to the next. Of course, in the process, they grab power for themselves, line their pockets (see Al Gore) and the pockets of their buddies. They can then head off into the Caribbean sunset.

They care not about economic laws, the poor, the children, or the damage that they are causing to everyone else. As long as they “get theirs”, and are not holding the bag when it all goes south, that’s all that matters. That’s the art of the short-game.

When it all does go south (and we’re witnessing the process) the public who was whooshed back and forth from fear to fear, start searching for answers. The government losses all credibility, so answers will start to be sought elsewhere.

What a perfect time to educate, while always keeping an eye on the long-game.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.