Doug Casey on the Nanny State

Justin’s note: California is making headlines for the wrong reasons.

Last month, it introduced a bill that, if signed into law, will restrict restaurants from offering any drinks other than water or unflavored milk with their kids’ meals.

It’s ridiculous. But this isn’t the first time California’s government has tried to strip away personal freedom under the guise of knowing what’s best.

It also recently banned restaurants from using plastic straws.

Measures like these are proof that California is rapidly devolving into a full-blown nanny state. Unfortunately, it’s not alone. Governments across the country are doing the same thing.

It’s one of today’s most deeply concerning trends. So I got Doug Casey on the phone to get his take…

Justin: Doug, what do you think about what’s happening in California? Do you agree that it’s turning into a nanny state?

Doug: Without doubt. There are thousands of examples such as these. 1984 (Signet Classics) George Orwell Best Price: $1.49 Buy New $3.58 (as of 10:53 EST - Details)

It’s happening everywhere. It’s not just California and the U.S. government. Governments all over the world are doing the same. Governments are restricting freedom to the greatest degree in history.

The populations of countries are acting like sheep. They really believe that the government is there to help and protect them, and make life better. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

But the U.S. is the most egregious offender because it has the most powerful government. The U.S. is still better than most in the world, but America is no longer the land of the free. That’s ancient history, it’s myth. The U.S. government thinks it can do anything and everything, to anybody.

Justin: So, you’re saying governments shouldn’t tell us what kind of straws to drink out of or what to feed our children?

Doug: No. And that’s a gigantic understatement. Governments have gotten completely out of control… they’ve never been good. But now they’re bold and active predators.

We really ought to first ask ourselves: What’s the nature of government? What’s its purpose?

First of all, the nature of government is pure coercion, pure force. Its main purpose is to enrich the top dogs that compose it. With table scraps going to the running dogs that actively support it. At the expense of the whipped dogs that think it’s necessary.

Any moral and sensible person wants to restrict the amount of force and coercion used in the world. Force and coercion are enemies of civilization.

Justin: OK. It’s clear that governments shouldn’t pass these sorts of silly laws. What should governments do then?

Doug: Since the nature of government is pure force, it should only be there to protect you from the initiation of force by others. That implies it should do three things, and three things only.

It might have a police force to protect you from force and violence within its bailiwick. It might have an army to protect you from force from outside its borders. And it might have a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to force.

But the U.S. government—and really all governments around the world—does those three things very badly, even while they try to do everything else. In fact, let me go further. Those three things—police, army, and courts—are far too important to be left to the government, and the type of people who are drawn to government. The market would supply those things far better—although this isn’t the place to cover how that would work.

The point I want to make here is that government is not the solution to any problem. The institution itself is the cause of most of the problems that we have in the world today.

Once you get beyond a basic personal level, most of the evil in the world is perpetrated by governments. Government is a magnet for the worst type of people. At best they’re altruists, layabouts, busybodies, and parasites. At worst they’re actual criminals. Look, you’ve got two types of people in the world: people that are interested in controlling physical reality, and people that are interested in controlling other people. It’s that second type that is attracted to government.

If a decent person goes to work for the State, he’ll either be corrupted, or become so demoralized that he’ll leave. You’re naturally, and inevitably, left with the dregs.

Let me make a shocking statement: We don’t need government. Absolutely anything that government does that’s needed and wanted by society would be provided vastly cheaper, vastly better, and without coercion, by the market. By entrepreneurs who see a need and fulfill it, in order to make a profit. Not the way government does, by sucking capital out of the society, but by actually creating more value, which is what earning a profit is all about.

Those are just some of the reasons why I don’t believe in government as an entity. I’m not talking about changing the government and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. That solves nothing. I’m talking about the principle of the State itself. Brave New World Aldous Huxley Best Price: $1.00 Buy New $6.99 (as of 05:15 EST - Details)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a revolution; I’m stating a moral principle. The fact is that when you have a violent revolution to replace a government, the new one is almost always far worse. After 1789 in France, Robespierre was far, far worse than Louis XVI. After 1917 in Russia, Lenin and then Stalin were vastly worse than Nicholas II. Castro was much, much worse than Batista. This is true everywhere.

The problem arises with the average person. It’s a very dark side of human nature, nearly impossible to change. He thinks government is necessary and good, when in fact it’s unnecessary and evil.

Justin: Unfortunately, governments around the world are becoming bigger and more intrusive. So is it safe to say that we can expect governments to pass more ridiculous laws and regulations going forward?

Doug: Yes. It’s going to get worse because it seems everybody believes that the government really should have a role to play. They believe in the State as an institution—when in fact it’s just a criminal fantasy given reality on a grand scale, where everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

And there’s more attention being focused on the government today, not less. All this attention drawn to government—especially by academia and the media, which themselves are really recent, modern, creations—means that more people want to get into government.

The problem is that government does not draw the best and brightest people. It draws the worst kind of people. They get together, make themselves an elite, very well-paid group, with a lot of power and a lot of prestige.

I don’t see how the situation’s going to get better. Libertarians, who have a natural aversion to the State and its products—war, taxes, regulations, pogroms, and the like—are a tiny minority. They’re like a genetic mutation, insignificant in the big picture.

Justin: Doug, you often say that a trend in motion tends to stay in motion. That said, how much worse could things get on this front?

Doug: I don’t know how bad the situation could get. But it’s getting worse. Will it be like something that George Orwell imagined in 1984—that kind of a police state? Or will it be a kinder and gentler kind of police state that Aldous Huxley imagined in Brave New World? Or some variation in between them? It seems like we’re getting elements of both Orwell’s and Huxley’s dystopias at the same time.

From an economic viewpoint, the amount of capital the government sucks out of society has been growing and growing. Fortunately, technology—which is the friend of the average man—has been compounding even faster. So the standard of living has continued to advance, despite the State.

The number of laws and regulations have been growing hugely. The size of the military and their power in all countries around the world has been growing. And it’s very true that war is the health of the State.

I don’t know where it’s going to end. Very likely with a very nasty depression, followed by something resembling World War III. It’s very scary.

Even though I’ve long been an advocate of internationalizing yourself so all of your assets aren’t under the control of one group of politicians, it’s almost like what Joe Louis said: You can run, but you can’t hide.

That’s because, increasingly, all of these governments around the world are working together to help each other herd their sheep. It’s a very serious problem for anybody that values personal freedom.

Justin: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Doug.

Doug: You’re welcome.

Reprinted with permission from Casey Research.

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