One of the elements of a capitalist system that induces purple-faced rage amongst statists and progressives is the existence of profit. This residual – the amount left over once an entity has deducted its costs from its revenue – is said to line the pockets of greedy shareholders while exploiting labourers and consumers.
During an economic malaise one of the endless reams of statistics to which pundits glue their eyes is the number of jobs that are either created or destroyed. The state makes “job creation” a central plank of its economic policy to put people back to work, and the impression that more people are being hired and fewer fired buoys their hubristic impression that we must be on the road to recovery.
The belief that economic progress is boosted by consumption is based upon the kind of misunderstanding that could be made only by intellectuals – the product of theorising that is completely detached from the common sense that everyone else possesses.
Author’s Note: This is the first in a series of short posts which will seek to rebut popular, but wrong, economic beliefs.
One of the positive indicators of our so-called economic recovery bandied about not only in the media but also by our monetary lords and masters at the head of central banks is the idea that rising prices are a sign of economic recovery. This mistaken belief is part of a wider myth that views the economy as little more than a giant number – a number which, if going up, means things are good and getting better, and if going down means the situation is bad and getting worse.
In my most recent article for Free Life, I discussed a number of ways in which libertarianism differs from many statist philosophies at the fundamental level. One of these ways is the fact that it is more accurate to regard libertarianism as a behavioural ethic rather than as a grand, political system. This present article will echo and develop this particular theme in order to lay some basic groundwork for a libertarian political strategy.
Much of the pro-liberty movement (myself included) tends to focus on the role of education as the prime driver towards a freer world. Given that, ultimately, any regime is cemented in place by the will of the people, such a world is unlikely to thrive unless people are motivated to embrace their freedom while rejecting all forms of force and coercion.
A distinct disadvantage of advocating for a society free from state interference is that winning either the rhetorical or emotional battle is a lot more difficult. Democratic socialists and redistributionists can effectively wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves, forever declaring their care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, or whichever group is in need of their pitiful platitudes at any particular time. Libertarians, on the other hand, appear to advocate for nothing more than greed and selfishness by calling for the right of every person keep own his/her income. Surely this would be the slippery slope to each of us ferreting ourselves away in an increasingly atomised existence?
The Christmas shopping period – one of the busiest in the year for the retail industry – has begun with a starter pistol on so-called “Black Friday”, with the culmination due in the January sales. The period of celebration, feasting and gift-giving is critical to the annual revenue and profits of hundreds of consumer-facing industries, with the volume of spending increasing by more than 50% according to some estimates.
Together with other free marketeers, Austro-libertarians are adept at explaining the inefficient and destructive nature of the state. This compulsory aegis of taxation and redistribution destroys economic progress and the standard of living, siphoning off an increasing quantity of the fruits of our labour into vast bureaucracies. For our efforts, control and regulation of every aspect of our lives with a fine tooth-comb is all we can expect in return.
A recent article of mine concerning the libertarian approach towards rights over land was written in response to the raising of the topic on a discussion forum. A separate, recent thread on the same forum has brought up another interesting discussion concerning the nature of libertarianism itself. I will attempt to address this in full here.