About Barbarism

I once had the misfortune of discussing socialized medicine with a coworker. This wasn’t someone I knew, but he’d seen the following Rothbard quote on my desktop:

“It is easy to be conspicuously compassionate if others are being forced to pay the cost.”

This sparked a brief conversation where Obamacare was quickly raised and I expressed my opposition to any sort of socialized medicine. His response was to claim that, in a world with such medical advances as have been witnessed over the past century, it would be barbaric to not offer the best care to everyone. The conversation ended shortly after that, but the thought has since lingered with me.

Barbarism has left an unfortunate stain of human history. While it was far more prevalent in the distant past, the Twentieth Century had some of the most brutal instances of barbarism to date. In fact, more human life was taken, through war, famine, and other state induced circumstances, than any point prior.

Barbarism requires action on the part of one party against another. Barbaric behavior is just that, behavior. It requires action. Can a lack of action, such as providing health care, really be considered barbaric?

In the case of health care, there are medicines and services necessary to provide the care required. The development of these involves expertise, training, and funding. If health care is to be made available to everyone, it would require those who create medications, as well as those who administer the treatments, to make their products and services available.

And that’s what happens. Doctors, for example, endure extremely difficult training to advance their knowledge and improve their skills. They don’t do this to revel in their own industriousness, they do it to help people who need medical care. Medical equipment companies, as well as pharmaceutical companies, develop solutions for the same reason, to provide them in treatment of medical conditions. Finally, insurance providers develop actuarial pools to distribute insurance risk across their policy holders to improve the likelihood that those in need will be able to afford catastrophic events. All of this is made available to those with the resources to compensate the efforts of providers.

Since health care is already made readily available, perhaps it is the cost passed on to the consumer which is “barbaric.” If this is true, none of the health care resources mentioned above would be available. No one would gladly endure medical school, an internship and long hospital shifts if, in the end, they were offered no compensation for their efforts. The same would be said of manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers.

Of course, the progressive response to this is that the cost must be paid by the state. However, the state produces no income of its own. All of the funding offered by the state must first be taken, by force if necessary, from the productive members of its citizenry. Presumably, medical providers would be included in that productive group. Regardless, the expropriation of funds through taxation is much closer to barbaric than expecting to be compensated for solving the health needs of others.

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Why Growth?

A follower of the Austrian School of economic thought would understand immediately the cause of what’s termed the “Business” or “Boom and Bust” cycle: easy credit. By extending credit beyond the level dictated by the market, governments cause, among other things, investment in businesses, projects, or longterm strategies that would not normally be pursued under normal market conditions. This malinvestment results in an artificial increase in economic activity described as a boom. Because malinvestment will eventually result in increased business failures, the boom is always followed by a bust.

Despite state tampering in markets and the resultant business cycle, free market economies will always tend toward growth over the long term, with the greater growth experienced in the freest markets. To understand why this is the case, we have to first reflect on what occurs in free markets.

When an individual has something to sell, they offer it for a price that they deem higher than the value of the item. If, for example, I have a piano to sell, I will set the price at a point above what I consider to be the value of the piano. If I set the price equal to or less than the amount I value the piano, I have no incentive to offer it for sale.

In this case, let’s assume that I value ten gold coins more than I value the piano. This doesn’t mean that I value the piano at exactly nine gold coins, only that ten gold coins are more valuable than the piano. I might willingly accept nine gold coins depending on the circumstances.

If my neighbor wants a piano, he will offer an amount that he values less than the piano. If he offered an amount equal to or more than the piano, he would have no incentive to make the exchange. If he determines that ten gold coins is worth more to him than the piano, he may offer fewer gold coins or he may decline to exchange.

If the exchange occurs, both my neighbor and I will have gained. This is only the case if we both voluntarily enter the exchange. In other words, this only happens in an exchange where all parties are free to choose. While not all voluntary exchanges result in an improvement for both parties, such as in the cases of mistaken expectations or fraud, the vast majority of exchanges on a free market increase the wealth of all those voluntarily engaged. This is why wealth increases over time in a free market, despite interference from the state.

Spy Phone

Wikileaks today released their latest installment of what they call Vault 7, classified CIA documents revealing just how far reaching the deep state has become. Predictably, the mainstream media either downplays the revelations (i.e. Fox New on-line includes a heading under technology) or ignores them altogether (i.e. every other on-line MSM site), In fact, many claim Wikileaks is “fake news” despite the fact that they reveal verifiable documents with their revelations.

One of the most troubling facets of the most recent dump was the ease with which the CIA has been able to infiltrate Apple firmware, thereby eluding any software solution to their spying efforts. In effect, buying Apple now means having a confessor for the life of the hardware.

While there might be a large number of foreign actors purchasing Apple technology, it is far more likely that a Mac owner is in the U.S.. Lest anyone forget, it is not in the CIA remit to spy on Americans. In fact, The Patriot Act, one of many legislative monstrosities signed into law since 9/11, was written with verbiage specifically to enable the sharing of intelligence between federal agencies. With technologies revealed by Wikileaks, how difficult would it be for the CIA to share access to your iMac or iPhone with the FBI, with or without probable cause?