The Cleanup Crew

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A month ago as announced here on Strike The Root, I launched The On Line Freedom Academy--and it's been an exhilarating month. Enough have joined it as a result to clip several years off the time needed to re-educate every literate American and so to terminate all support for government--without which it cannot possibly function. That time is still only a very rough estimate which depends heavily on how many a year, on average, each graduate introduces and mentors through the Academy--but my best guess is: between 2020 and 2025.

Suddenly, therefore, one must wonder: How the heck are we going to clean up after government?

The generic and sufficient answer, offered in TOLFA, is of course that "the market will find a way," and so it will. There is no product or service in demand that a free market cannot fill. However, now that the prospect of total government collapse (as de la Bo'tie predicted) is upon us, the nuts and bolts of how it might do so can engage our attention, for time is quite short.

There will be a vast range of appalling messes, and corresponding enormous business opportunities. Those who plan furthest ahead how to take up those opportunities will be in the best position to make a whole series of fortunes--but they won't come easy. The problems posed by centuries of government are of staggering complexity.

One of them is mentioned in TOLFA's segment on the environment--the poison gas store in Peublo, CO, which may possibly be cleaned up (at taxpayer expense) before government goes out of business. Or maybe not.

Another is the case of the nuclear plant in Hanford , WA . Ever since the end of WWII, the Feds have been making atom and hydrogen bombs there, and discarding unwanted radioactive materials in temporary underground storage. Alas, the store has been leaking for years into the surrounding water table. Decades of bureaucratic incompetence now threaten the Columbia River by seepage of that table, and if nothing is done a few million people downstream will have nowhere to live and all of us will have fewer salmon to eat. This is one mess that may not be solved in the next 15 years or so; in which case, there will be hell to pay when government evaporates when everyone wants his or her life back. How exactly might that cleanup be done, in a free market environment and without a whisper, of course, of taxes to prevent a free rider problem?

There may be dozens of such cleanups to be done, of major complexity not just with regard to the engineering but especially with regard to the payment and profit structure.

Not unlike those will be the problems of asset sales. Government--all three levels of it--appears to own assets, some of them potentially productive and possibly worth tens of trillions of dollars. They could and should enter the market, in some way. But how, exactly?

Suppose you're good at tree farming and have your eye on a few thousand acres of prime Alaska forest to be worked, to keep you and your family in comfort for the next several generations. You check it all out, calculate the price you're willing to pay, find that nobody is trying to outbid you, and get out your checkbook. Oops! To whom, exactly, do you make out the check?

Not to the State of AK , or to the Feds, for neither entity exists any longer and in any case they acquired "ownership" only by confiscation, meaning they never actually owned it at all. So who did?

To a small degree, this kind of problem was faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union , and was badly handled. Some State "enterprises" were abruptly de-nationalized and ownership handed over, or sold on favorable terms, to the thugs who had been managing them for the State. Those thugs no doubt did a better job when motivated by profit--but they were still thugs, and when challenged by other thugs, they shot it out from their armor-plated Mercedes. An example to avoid, by good business planning starting now.

I suppose the solution might take the form of a "receivership" industry, with participants acting to sell off assets with value, and to distribute proceeds--minus a percentage for themselves--to every resident. "Public property" is, as noted here, an oxymoron--in reality it belongs to nobody; but perhaps the nearest thing to a true owner is, everyone making up "the public." So if government assets sold for fifteen trillion 2006 dollars, for example, each American would wind up with $50,000. Not too shabby, especially if it took the form of gold.

Another and perhaps obvious class of clean-up problem will call for solution: disposal of weapons. Those suited to individual self-defense could be offered for public sale (but by whom, and again, to whom would the proceeds be paid?) but the chem-bio sort like the gases in Pueblo, and tens of thousands of nuclear warheads government has built, need dismantling rather than selling because they cannot be used purely defensively. Who is to pay for that arduous work? And similarly, what of aircraft carriers and the aircraft they carry, and what of tanks and all other offensive weaponry suitable only for warfare between governments? Should they really be sold to foreign ones? There is a moral dimension there, to add to the repeating difficulty of knowing whom to pay.

By asking such tough questions, I mean only to stimulate answers (and probably other tough questions, and answers to those) and not, of course, for a moment to imply that it can't be done. Of course it can be done, for it must be done. But it's so complex, today is not too soon to begin figuring out how.

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Jim Davies's picture
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Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"