"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." ~ John Marshall
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I've been re-reading a couple of excellent, recent articles on Strike The Root, each of which in its way predicts a gloomy future.
One is Glen Allport's "Year Ahead" and the other, Tzo's "Got Money?. Glen provides us as usual with a wealth of evidence to prove his point, piling one piece atop another until there can be no doubt of the message; ". . . within the next few years the destruction of both our economy and our liberty will become . . . profound . . . ." Tzo focuses on money, and gives the clearest explanation I've seen of the counter-intuitive concept that "debt" can function as "money." He, too, draws the reasonable conclusion that soon the whole governmental paper empire will inevitably collapse.
I'm slowly learning, though, to ask of any viewpoint or article or speech the question, "What are the premises in play?" For if the writer reasons well, his conclusions will always follow from his premises--but if the latter should be mistaken or incomplete, so too will be the conclusions--however tightly linked to them by logic. And the fun bit is that premises are not always made explicit; they are quite often unspoken.
Here, it seems to me that each author is implicitly, silently assuming that government will stay in charge.
On that premise, right or wrong, I certainly have no quarrel with the conclusions. Even if future events take a slightly different path, ultimately the State, if it stays in charge, will drive this once-prosperous society into the ground. It's happened before. For seven hundred years there was another empire that prospered well, and brought an unprecedented standard of life to its citizens, but it collapsed utterly and left mankind in deep poverty for the next thousand. It was brutal--there was little in it by way of individual freedom--yet it somehow organized productive people to engage their talents in the service of the State and many of its artifacts stand today, especially around the Mediterranean rim. But it was dedicated (like ours) to acquiring wealth primarily by stealing resources, by conquest and assimilation, and when there were no more foreign resources to plunder, the model didn't work any longer so its rulers fell to taxing its own population, largely by creating an inflation engine--just like ours.
The result for the final three centuries of that Empire was steady decline, and ultimately dissolution; when the "barbarians" invaded Italy and sacked Rome, there was nothing there. The population had already left for the countryside, where people could at least grow their own food.
So yes, on that premise--that all the key decisions continue to be taken by the State--collapse is inevitable, and it may well take a great deal less than three hundred years. In fact (on that premise), I seriously doubt that it can survive a single century, for now--unlike the Roman example--the weapons in its arsenal can destroy the race. We are fortunate that WMDs have not already exterminated life on earth; that accidental or deliberate use by governments will be deferred as long as another hundred years seems to me unlikely. Once suicidal fanatics lay their hands on enough of them, it's all over.
However, I question the premise. The immense power of the State will certainly leave government in control of events for the next several years (so they may very possibly be grim), but in my view it is not a "given" that they will keep it for any longer.
In our "masthead" on Strike The Root, there's a Latin phrase: Carpe Libertatem. I think that translates, "Seize Liberty!" -- and presumably means what it says. Identify and understand the converse of liberty, and where it will inevitably lead--yes, of course, that's a necessary preamble; but our mission is positive, we are holding out to all who surf here an affirmative message of hope--hope based not on faith, like the mysterious kind mentioned in Hebrews 11:1, but on rational action. Here's the rationale, here are the premises, from which I deduce that quite soon, the State will no longer control the future.
1. Once a person understands what government really is, and what a free society really is, he will desire the latter, wish it to take place in reality, and be well equipped to take part in it. Many reading this are already in that condition.
2. Once a person understands what government really is, and what a free society really is, he will be so disgusted by the former as not to wish to work for it in any capacity; and will, as soon as feasible, quit any government job he holds. I offered a fictional example of this in my STR piece "Twenty Twenty-Two."
3. Once a person understands what government really is, and what a free society really is, he will lift a finger to bring one of his friends to share that understanding, every year. Not strangers, by advertising, but friends--who know and respect him. Not a large number requiring hard work, but just one a year who agrees to take a look at ideas that are new to him.
4. To make that finger-lifting even easier, my fourth premise is that the interactive freedom school described here is effective enough to bring about that shared understanding--or that if not, alternatives or improvements can and will be made until it is.
5. Government will be unable to prevent this spread of understanding. That is perhaps the most questionable of these premises, so I've given it some thought and offer conclusions in the book Transition to Liberty.
The reader can readily judge for himself whether these five premises are credible, reasonable, and simple. I surely think they are, and I notice that nothing else is needed. The reason for that is simple math; the population of people unwilling to work for government (premise #2) doubles annually, and at that rate 28 years suffices to affect the entire US population. The process is already under way, at a rate that points to completion in 2027.
And when nobody is willing to work for government, government will cease to exist. It never has any substance or resource whatsoever, beyond human beings willing to prostitute themselves in its service.
Above, I suggested that this rather simple way to change the course of history is sufficient--that "nothing else is needed," that the effort required is very modest. Here's a further assertion: because no free society can function and survive unless a vast majority of its members understand it and desire it to work (premise #1 above), nothing else will do the job.