Impertinent Questions: What Are The Resources Of The State?

The central idea behind every form of collectivism is the belief that the State is better able to address most social problems than free-willed individuals.  The government is morally and intellectually superior to its citizens.  It can be trusted to act in their best interests, while greedy private corporations will only try to take advantage of them.

What resources does the State have, to accomplish these important goals?  There is only one worth talking about.  The primary resource of the government is compulsion.

The government might be able to make a little money from fees for services rendered, or leasing property it owns.  As it turns out, most of the government’s attempts to turn a “profit” are dismal failures – the Post Office and Amtrak spring to mind as examples.  It always ends up using compulsive force to subsidize its losses, or rig the market against private-sector competitors.  The vast majority of its funds are collected through compulsory taxes, and its influence on the marketplace is expressed through regulations and penalties.

Compulsion is a resource held exclusively by the government.  Private entities cannot forceconsumers to do anything.  Even Microsoft and Wal-Mart cannot compel you to do business with them, as Apple and Target would be happy to testify.  When a true monopoly is born, the State is always the midwife, for government compulsion is an essential ingredient.

The State is the only source of compulsion in an orderly society.  It is proper for the State to have exclusive rights to the use of force.  The purpose of a government is protection of its citizens’ rights, and every aspect of this lawful duty – from border security to law enforcement – requires compulsion.

Compulsion is a curious resource.  It offers diminishing returns.  It is diluted by dissent and resistance when used excessively.  Despite the formidable apparatus of law enforcement, it does not take much compulsion to prosecute just laws against theft and murder.  Most citizens go their whole lives without being arrested or investigated by the police.  A great deal of force is deployed against criminals, including lethal force, but they are a small percentage of the population.

On the other hand, the compulsory collection of taxes to fund our massive government unleashes a great deal of compulsion against the populace.  Most of us will encounter the I.R.S. at some point during our lives.  Americans spend billions of dollars each year complying with our elaborate tax laws.  The enormous enforcement system for ObamaCare will soon become an equally integral part of our lives.

Resistance from the population reduces the value of excessive compulsion.  When tax laws impose high rates, along with loopholes designed to control the behavior of taxpayers, the taxpayers alter their behavior to avoid the most punitive taxes.  This means high rates never bring in as much revenue as politicians anticipate, while producing unintended consequences that make a mockery of central planning.

Look at all the unpredicted steps businesses have already taken to get around ObamaCare.  A huge amount of compulsion was injected into society, to make these health care “reforms” work, but the actual value of this compulsive resource has been far below what the State expected.  It’s like designing a car that should get 50 miles per gallon, but the fuel turns out to be thin and weak, so the car only gets 10 miles per gallon.

Simple logic tells us Government must seek to minimize dissent and resistance, in order to preserve the value of its sole resource.  Citizens should be obeying the enlightened rules laid down by their betters in the ruling class, not finding ways to avoid them.  Rich people should be happy to pony up their “fair share,” rather than taking advantage of loopholes and special rates, or restructuring their business to avoid punitive taxation.  The wisdom of the State should not be questioned in public, or else it could lead to more dissent, and a further loss of value for the compulsion resource.

This is how modern liberalism became so repressive and close-minded.  Reverence for the mental and moral superiority of the State means a liberal must also suppress and denounce resistance to the laws and pronouncements of the State… or else the crucial resource needed to achieve the State’s magnificent designs will wither and grow stale.  Those designs are notsuggestions. Because liberalism requires complete faith in the superiority of the State, it has become a nearly religious devotion to compulsive force.

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