Why We Have Big Government

Why, I often wonder, do us Americans allow such big and intrusive government into our lives?  I now have the answer.

The reason we have such a massive government is because the average individual, thanks to a great job of education by the government, has absolutely NO understanding of economics and how the free market works.

For those of you who know me, you know that I enjoy hanging out at “leftist bars” like Busboys and Poets, just to name one.  It’s not because I’m a leftist, but because I enjoy hanging out with those who are on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum as me (just like your average socialist Republican) and attempting to explain to them the merits of liberty.

Last night I just so happened to have the opportunity to chat with a young lady (22 or so) about free markets.

The basis of her argument against free markets and in support of government regulations was, if we don’t have all of these regulations, then nothing will ever get produced.  And note that while she supported government regulations, she wouldn’t admit to herself that she was anti-liberty and anti-freedom.  The “why government regulations are bad” part of the conversation went like this:

Me:  I oppose ALL government regulations on the economy.

Her:  But if we didn’t have government regulations, then nothing would ever get done because people would only be looking out for themselves.

Me:  Looking out for oneself is not bad.  Where did you get your shoes?

Her:  DSW

Me:  Do you think the maker of those shoes made them just because they feel good that you have them, or were they perhaps motivated by profit (rational self interest).

Her:  Profit, I guess.

Me:  So if someone were not motivated by profit, for whatever reason (greed, feed their family, pay for children’s college), then do you still think someone would labor to make those shoes?  No.  Let’s look at something as simple as a pencil (GREAT ESSAY HERE).  Do you know what it takes to make something as simple as a pencil?

Her:  Um, no.

Me:  Me either, but because of the market, I don’t have to.  There are a lot of complex steps involved in the production of a pencil.   Someone has to mine the lead, produce the rubber, chop down the wood, and on and on.  And why does each person in this chain of production do this?  Not because they want you to have a pencil, but because they want to make a profit.  And since some people desire pencils, these people, motivated by profit, produce them and everyone benefits.  Now, if we don’t know how to make something as simple as a pencil, then why, just because they’re an elected official, should a mere human be allowed to plan out an entire market economy?

The conversation went on much longer, but that’s the basis of it.  The people who support government regulations just don’t understand how the market works.  They think that if there is no government regulation then you’ll have some type of “wild west” (crime was actually much lower there) where every man is only looking out for themselves.  This is true, but it’s not a bad thing to look out for oneself. 

I’ve never taken one economics class, but to me economics is the most simple subject out there.  We don’t need government and its regulations.  We simply need a pure free market, where voluntary exchanges, motivated by suppliers and demanders, will meet everyone’s needs.

In order to restore liberty we’re going to have to learn how to explain a free market to those who think that it’s evil and bad and doesn’t work.  Looks like it’s time for me to spend a few months buried in Austrian textbooks.

Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 1:09 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post

  2. I agree with CK. Great post. Never looked at it that way.

  3. Me either, but looking at it this way really helps ease my frustration.

    Now I just have to learn how to articulate markets to those who don’t understand them so that they will “see the light.”

    I guess I need to visit leftist bars more often, so that I can work on my skills.

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