"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
We've Fixed the Problem!
When discussing the market vs. politics, we libertarians usually claim the former is voluntary, productive, creative, wealth-creating etc., while the latter is coercive, destructive, uncreative, wealth-destroying. It all seems to fit the ideal model of the world. Who would not agree on voluntary being better than coercive, productive being better than destructive, and so on?
It is not that simple. A lot of very smart or rather tricky people work hard to become part of government. They may be power-seekers and 'anti-life,' but they are not stupid. The same is true with the intellectuals, who almost without exception are champions of coercive hierarchies. But they too are probably not stupid; they are, after all, called 'intellectuals.'
When studying the state, it is also obvious that the enemy is not only evil, but also pretty smart. These guys know what they are doing, covering their tracks so that no one can follow, and covering their backs to avoid responsibility, and creating problems they themselves have to solve. This problem-creating business is very interesting. Politicians and other people in the power elite have eagerly built a complex and impossible-to-understand state machinery so that no one will ever find out who is to blame.
But that is not the whole picture. These people have purposefully changed the incentive structures in society so that people are very aware of the 'impossibility' of fixing whatever government is fixing voluntarily, or, even worse, spontaneously. The modern state is gigantic and is part of everything, everywhere. How would all these things be taken care of if taxes were cut? What about the poor?! Huh?
People are fed the lie that their very existence depends on government.
This is done first and foremost through showing people the 'big mess' out there that needs sorting out. 'How would that be possible without a big state?' Of course, the 'big mess' is ultimately caused by the state: unemployment and poverty is caused by minimum wage laws and other state regulation of the market; recessions and inflation is caused by state control and meddling with the currency and interest rates; the 'class struggle' and other hostility between groups is caused by the state handing out privileges. But who is to prove this is the case? Most people 'realize' they totally depend on the state. And most of those questioning the state of affairs lack the dedication to survey the machinery of the gigantic state.
This is perhaps the most devilish characteristic of the state: politicians causing problems and then calling for people's support so that they can be corrected through new policies, more authority, and even bigger government. 'There are so many needs that need to be fulfilled that there simply cannot be enough government.'
As power eats more of society, fewer things seem to work (which is as unwelcome as it is expected), and people call for more government to resolve the problems. Just like an alcoholic calling for another drink to fix the hangover. Politicians have done it well for themselves: the further we go down this road of theirs, the more problems we are bound to have. And the more problems there are, the more people will call for their help and support.
It has actually already gone so far that politicians no longer need to hide the way they stir up problems. This is obvious when considering the latest pan-European crisis, where the newly inflicted quotas for Chinese-made clothing threatens to put a lot of companies within Fort Europe out of business. Recently, the Eurocrats finally found the solution: a temporary release of the quotas for 2005 (of course followed by a lowering of the year quotas for 2006). 'We've fixed the problem!' Magnificent . . . ..