Monday, October 27, 2008

Socialism - the initiation of force is evil

In a recent debate between myself and a member of my family, the following gauntlet was thrown:
My response, posted below, should be an indication that free market principles, and a grasp at the historical importance of liberty and the role of government are not only important, but VITAL to the preservation of our Republic (NOT Democracy!!!!!) If the fundamentals of our way of life are not udnerstood, then our way of life has already been lost - and we should accept that the government has grown into an authoritarian powerhouse - and we should accept that a Democrat victory in November will spell the end of liberty, and end that Bush has helped usher in! I digress... My response to the question of Socialism is as follows:

To be honest, it is socialism in history that has given socialism a bad name. The premise to socialism is a large government - large governments with authoritarian control. The presence of large governments in America is a current reality, which is a direct affront to liberty.

Let me explain further.

Can we agree that the initiation of force is evil? This is not to be confused with defense, etc... but the initiation of force.

Assuming your answer is yes, I will continue.

The idea of taxation is the essence of the initiation of force, by the government on the people. George Washington referred to the policy of taxation as "inconvenient and unpleasant" and an "intrinsic embarrassment" - though he did recognize that there was a necessity of taxation with the purpose of paying down debt. In his farewell address to the nation, paragraph 30, Washington discussed debt: "...avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts..." He also advocated for neutrality in regional conflicts, as the idea of forcing free men into foreign wars was an initiation of force as well. There is an historical precedence that indicates that the initiation of force is evil, and that taxation is a nasty side effect of government with the purpose of paying down the debt. It was not until 1913 when the idea of an Income Tax was made a reality - opening the doors for a continued large scale government. This was not part of the original intent of the free nation.

Furthermore, classical economist Adam Smith indicated that the government has three functions: national defense, administration of justice (law and order), and the provision of certain public goods (e.g., transportation infrastructure and basic and applied education). The existence of these three functions provided the atmosphere for the best economic growth - indicating minimal taxation, minimal government interference in private life, while stressing the importance of collective needs which do not hinder liberty, but serve to increase fundamentals of a society (access and education). This answers your question regarding fire and police protection... classical capitalism requires the administration of justice as a means to secure private property.

Ultimately, the existence of liberty - true personal freedom - lies within personal responsibility and minimal government intervention. As stated above, the ideology of socialism is predicated on the existence of an overbearing government with the power to intervene in personal decision making. This intervention (through taxes or authoritarian laws) is the initiation of force, and by definition, evil.

Let's use an example that was on the Colorado Ballot - a change to the Colorado Constitution dictating that an employer with 20 employees or more shall provide healthcare coverage. This is an example of the initiation of force by the government. What laws of this nature encourage is economic slowdown - as an employer now has just cause not to hire a 20th person, or has just cause to lower wages to cover the cost of the mandatory service, or risk taking the money directly out of his/her small business earnings. A more appropriate (small government) path would be to fix the high cost of healthcare by encouraging more citizens to go into medicine, and tightening loose laws on malpractice lawsuits (lowering insurance premiums for doctors - thus lowering costs).

The reason why healthcare is not working now is because the system is in a pull between the idea of free market and the false system of "insurance" that has propped up as a safety net - artificially driving costs through the roof.

One thing is for certain, the Socialist dictum of "to each according to his need, by each according to his ability" would indicate that a doctor MUST provide a service, regardless of goods received, because they are able. However, doctors are businessmen, who take on large loans/debts to pursue a career - to serve their duties as doctors as they see fit. The same can be said for educators, musicians, and engineers. What right does the government have in dictating how we use our skills, at what price we charge for our skills, and where we can use our skills? This idea of a "government entity" that is separate from the people, able to dictate such nonsense, is the absence of liberty.

Remember also that this conversation is in regards to the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, which is dictated by the constitution of the united state. Should a state or local government so choose to provide services, the 9th and 10th amendment dictate that it is their right to establish their own local laws and way of life.

In short, Socialism is bad not because McCarthy told me it is bad - even though that is the stigma associated with "He's a socialist". It is not smear if it is true, btw. Socialism is predicated on the initiation of force by a government entity, dictating unnecessary taxes and social behavior through such use of force. By this definition, Socialism is evil.

(as a side note, regarding economies tending toward socialism - history has shewn that free market capitalist societies with tax rates no higher than 20% nominally show fastest economic growth, while countries which have attained a status of "wealthy" who trend toward increased social programs and higher taxes see an economic growth plateau. See the history of Sweden and Ireland as examples of Socialism and Capitalism (repsectively) and the effects on their economic growth.)


  1. Taxation is initiation of force? That's a stretch.

    We have more choices if we have more opportunities. Like scholarships (encouraging people to go into medicine) and education, public healthcare gives people choices. Choices to change jobs, for instance. Health care just doesn't work like a commodity or other marketable asset. When you need it you need it, at any cost. The incentives of the free market are destructive to health.

    Why is it evil at the federal level but not at the state level? Unconstitutional, sure, but it is not evil.

    Economic growth is not the only objective, from an economist's perspective. Utility is not increased when the ridiculously wealthy become even wealthier. Utility is drastically increased when the poorest become less poor.

    You are a true conservative. Preserving and restoring "our way of life" as defined by George Washington is your goal, and forces pushing our government away from that are evil. (I mean that to be taken as a compliment)

  2. Jessi -

    Taxation is an initiation of force by definition of the Government physically taking something from you, for their purposes, without your consent. Other examples would be eminent domain - where the government is taking your land for "public good"... like condos with high tax revenues... hmmm...

    "Why is it evil at the federal level but not at the state level" - It is always evil - but like you said, unconstitutional at the federal level. That is why, in colorado for instance, there is something called TABOR - tax payers Bill of Rights, which protects us from excessive taxes and government overspending... a check and balance not provided us at the federal level - these guys get away with everything!

    I would argue that the "poor" in America ARE less poor. I grew up in a welfare home, my mother couldnt hold a job, we got our food at food banks, etc... very poor. But we had a tv. We had a car. We had a place to live. My mother was heavily into drugs, etc - an excess made possible due to government "help" - but regardless, we were dirt poor and still had luxories.

    Economic growth is not the only goal - but it is an indicator of balance between the people and their "chosen" government.

    Idealy, I would like to see less focus on material goods and more focus on spiritual goods (not "Christian" values, but "spiritual" values - pertaining to natural law - Deism). Under this new focus, there would be more of a work/life balance...

    Thanks for the compliment :) I take 'em where I can get 'em :)

    It is important not to seperate ourselves from the founding fathers, lest we find ourselves forced to fight their same struggle in the future! it is a shame (and a sham) that civics and history are not more of a focus in early education - we merely scratch the surface. Washington himself stated that education should be an object of primary importance, for if the public are to have an opinion, it is essential that the public should be enlightened!

    What a very intelligent man!

  3. Yes! We should have far more history and philosophy and general (dare I say "liberal arts?") education. Mine is sorely lacking.

    The poor in America are less poor than what?

    "Economic growth is not the only goal - but it is an indicator of balance between the people and their "chosen" government. "
    Indicator of balance? I disagree. Economic growth that affects only those in power (the modern nobility) only reinforces a too-powerful government.

    Work/Life balance, now there's improvements we could use! As our productivity increases, it would be better to apply some of that to increased family time, rather than to growing that economic pie.

    I hope that Obama will rescind some of Bush's policies, especially torture, warrentless spying, and the stationing of American troops at home. He's more likely to do it than McCain. Unfortunately both candidates pound the war drum.

    Our founding fathers have many fantastic ideas, but they aren't right about everything. And the world today is different, smaller even, so some changes are improvements. But not Bush's changes.

  4. jessitron:

    You don't think your tax monies are exacted by force?

    Try not paying your taxes, and see what happens. You'll quickly be disabused of the notion Mr. Nielson's argument is a "stretch."

  5. Jonesie - Excellent point!

    Jessi - the poor in America are less poor than the "poor" in other countries. Poor in America still have the ability for extravagances, and take them - I know... It was my life as a child.

    The founding fathers were not right about everything, but the fundamentals in their ideology is what necessetated the free United States. As we are trending back towards Presidents with the power of Kings, we are risking a fate worse than death - bondage!