Thursday, May 20, 2010

The New Command Economy: a Challenge to Libertarian Economists

Great progress in economics and monetary theory has been made in the last half century. However, precious few economic theorists today have accurately grasped the implications of our new monetary system.

Unfortunately, most of the few theorists who are popularizing the new monetarism are leftists, and are no friends of liberty or decentralization. Most of the right-wing monetary theorists who are concerned with liberty are stuck in the past, dreaming of a return to the gold standard. If the friends of liberty want to be effect positive changes for freedom in the 21st century, they need to update their theories.

Is it possible for paleo-libertarians to move beyond their hallowed canon? Probably not. Perhaps this is just The Way Thing Are, that progressives continually out-innovate conservatives. Encountering libertarian economists today is like being transported back to the year 1600AD, listening to traditional horse-mounted, heavily-armored, lance-carrying noblemen denounce the use of mass armies, polearms, and muskets. Sure, the noblemen had Honor, Right, and Good on their side, but the more they clung to those traditional standards of warfare, the more antiquated and irrelevant they made themselves, and the more they guaranteed their own defeat.

Such is the condition of libertarian economic theory today. Unless their update their arsenal to cope with today's economic weapons and tactics, they are simply irrelevant. Facts: Money is paper, money is credit, the money power looms as larger than ever, unleashing monetary weapons of mass destruction upon the body politic.

In the 20th century, the Soviet command economy simply told everyone what to do, and required their acquiescense. Today, the American command economy relies on the money power to get everyone to do what they want. The American command economy is, however, far more insidious than the Soviet version, because it is cloaked in the illustion of freedom and capitalism.

In fact, the power to print money gives the American economic elites almost unlimited power over the American and world economy. They don't have to force people to do their bidding, like the Soviets; they can just pay them to do it. There is no limit to their power to do so.

Worse off, there is no Second World to show such fraud for what it is. The Soviet system collapsed not because of its own failure, in fact, it was spectacularly successful. It failed because of its relative status versus the Free World. This power to co-opt free markets through monetary creation is leading to our own impoverishment, no less so than the Soviet command system. However, unlike them, we don't have an external comparison that will demonstrate our own failure.

Here is the theoretical problem: money is not a thing, and there is no constraint on its supply. By issuing its own money, government can co-opt whatever resources and labor it desires. Yet, we are compelled by the force of law to use nothing but this federal money. In short, we are kept unwilling slaves to the federal leviathan.

Here is the practical problem: because it is under no budgetary contraints, and can freely print it own money, the government can outbid any other market participant, for anything. As with traditional command economies, huge inefficiencies enter the system, and overall wealth levels constantly decline, a long slow death spiral.

The tax collection and budgetting routine is just a sham, a puppet show for the ignorant masses. The government could tommorrow cancel all tax collection and simply pay its budget by creating new credit money.

The more money it creates, the more it can outbid the free economy for labor and resources. There is no natural limit to the number of people who can work directly for the government or be dependent on government funding, since there is no limit to the government created money supply.

The money creation power is the ultimate power in existence. With it, there is no limit to the power or scope of government influence.

With every government job, we as a society get poorer, but who can realize it? Government can offer higher paying jobs, and jobs where no others exist, so all market participants are forced to take the poison bait. Government makes them wealthier than they were otherwise, but meanwhile decreases the wealth in the whole system.

We are trapped. Who shall point the way out?

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