I’m again on vacation, this time traveling across New England with my son. I was today treated by a sales person in Norwood, Massachusetts with a recount of something political that occurred during my absence. The person, responding to my shirt upon which is expressed a quote from Ayn Rand regarding individual rights, attempted to tie this quote to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and their subsequent fallout. During this person’s description, he asked if I knew what “he” said today.
I knew who “he” was, and listened politely to this person’s outrage over the events and the subsequent response from “himself.” After my salesperson finished intimating that he thought “Himself’s” response was inadequate and misguided, I explained that I found anyone seeking command of the “free world” as immediately suspect and worthy of contempt. Needless to say, this salesperson had no idea how to respond to such an assertion.
The sad fact is that Himself has done little more, to date, than his predecessor. While Obama bombed at least seven nations, Himself has bombed a subset of that. While Obama oversaw an economy kept barely afloat by central bank “easing,” Himself has done little else. During Obama’s term, civil liberties were abandoned as a matter of course. Himself appears poised to do the same. In the end, anyone seeking office, be it on the grand stage or otherwise, ultimately has personal gain in mind. We lose in the end.
We live in a world of scarcity. We will never know a time when a single thing, like an apple, can be consumed by more than one person at a time (i.e. not shared, wholly consumed). As a result, humans have developed methods of avoiding conflict over scarce goods such as through the development of, and adherence to, property rights. When conflicts do arise, those involved are directly impacted by the outcome of the conflict. As a result, the vast majority of people avoid conflict whenever possible. This is not the case when conflicts arise between states.
The bellicose leaders of the governments of the United States and North Korea have recently seen fit to rattle their nuclear sabres over the north Pacific. One is an elected bully accustomed to getting his way and the other is a self anointed “supreme leader” of a nation oppressed by his communist regime. These distinctions aside, their common penchant for conflict is increasingly on display. Conflict is far more easily entered into when the combatants have no skin in the game.
Kim Jung-un rules with an iron fist over a nation of people shielded from 21st century advances. Donald Trump commands the most powerful military force in the history of earth. Each willingly proposes to send people under their command into the nuclear breach. Neither will shed blood should bombs begin to rain. Neither will see his son or daughter’s flag-draped coffin return from a distant battle zone. It is this absence of direct consequence which makes each of these fools far more willing to enter into war.
One of the many reasons for government inefficiency and waste can be found in the source of funding. Be it through taxation (i.e. theft), borrowing (i.e. future taxation/theft), or monetary expansion (i.e. theft through devaluation), all government programs are funded through use of someone else’s money. As a result, little regard is paid for need, effectiveness, efficiency, or return on investment of any government led undertaking.
In Toronto, a city park received a bid to build a set of steps for between $65,000 and $150,000. When a local resident spent $550 and built them himself, the city paid to have his steps removed. While Mr. Astl’s efforts may have resulted in an inferior solution, he certainly proved the exorbitance of the estimates offered by the city.
In New York, John Stossel shows a bathroom built by the city for a price of two million dollars. When Mr. Stossel questions city officials, they assure him that this price is reasonable. Perhaps just as egregious is the length of time needed to build such a facility in the city: years rather than months.
Finally, it would be difficult to measure the amount of waste directed by Congress toward the U.S. military. Many stories abound of appropriations for weapons systems and equipment which are neither called for nor used by the military. While a nation $20 trillion in debt might make better decisions, the choices that concern other people’s money are easy to make, particularly since repercussions are few and far between.