A Condensed Version of: For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto
by Murray N. Rothbard
Compiled and Edited by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume
Part II: Libertarian Applications to Current Problems
High taxes on all levels (federal, state and local) are destroying productivity, incentive, and thrift. Obviously, taxation is the exclusive monopoly of government because it is the only entity that can acquire its income by coercion.
Urban fiscal crisis. States, counties and cities are struggling to pay their public debt. Urban governments are spending more than the high taxes they extract from their subjects. So, once again, government must bear the blame.
Vietnam and other foreign interventions have been total disasters. Vietnam called the rest of America’s interventionist foreign policy into question. And again, foreign policy is the exclusive monopoly of the federal government and the armed forces are a compulsory monopoly of that same government. (Editor’s Note: As this is written, history is repeating itself in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
Crime in the streets. By definition, the streets are owned, almost exclusively, by government. Furthermore, the police and the courts are also a coercive monopoly of the government. In other words, government is in charge of every single phase of the crime-in-the-streets problem. So, there is no question as to where the blame for failure lies.
Traffic congestion occurs only on government-owned streets and roads.
The military-industrial complex is a creation of the federal government. It spends countless billions on overkill weaponry. It hands out contracts and subsidizes inefficiency through cost-plus guarantees. It builds plants and leases or gives them to contractors. Such a wasteful misallocation of resources can only exist through government.
The Transportation crisis involves congested streets, decaying railroads, overpriced airlines, airport congestion, and deficit suffering subways heading toward collapse. Railroads were overbuilt due to government subsidies and are the most regulated industry for the longest time in American history. Airlines are cartelized by the Civil Aeronautics Board and subsidized by regulation, mail contracts, and virtually free airports which are all owned by government, largely local. Furthermore, subways are government-owned. So the red-thread continues.
River pollution. Rivers are un-owned in that they are a part of the “public domain.” Also, municipal sewage disposal systems are, by far, the biggest culprits in water pollution. So, government is, simultaneously, the largest polluter and the most careless “owner.”
Water shortages are chronic in some areas of the country. Why? Government is essentially the only commercial supplier of water. Due to the idea of “public domain,” government owns the rivers from which much of the water comes as well as the reservoirs and water conduits.
Air pollution. Again due to the idea of public domain, the government “owns” the air. Furthermore, the courts (also owned by the government) have failed to protect property rights from industrial pollution. In addition, a great deal of the pollution comes directly from government-owned plants.
Power shortages and blackouts. Governments create compulsory monopolies in gas and electric power and grant these privileges to private utility companies. These companies are then government regulated and have their rates set by government at a level that will insure them a profit. It is government that is the source of the monopoly and the regulation.
Telephone service comes from a utility which receives a compulsory monopoly privilege from government. Its rates are set by government to guarantee a profit and no one is allowed to compete with the monopoly. (Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that Rothbard was writing in the 1970s. The current explosion in telecommunications technology is testimony to what removal [or even an easing] of government regulation can do for an industry.)
The Postal service (a compulsory monopoly of government) has, over the years, steadily increased its prices and lowered its quality. First-class mail users are forced to subsidize businesses using second- and third-class services. Any time private firms are allowed to compete, they always provide better service at a lower price.
Television only offers bland programs and distorted news. The airwaves have been nationalized for years (since the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] came into existence). The FCC grants portions of the airwaves as a gift to privileged licensees. These are gifts that can, and are, withdrawn when a station displeases the government. Is there any such thing as a genuine freedom of speech or of the press under such conditions? Of course not!
The Welfare system is, naturally, an exclusive province of government—mainly state and local.
Urban housing is one of most obvious urban failures. Urban planning, zoning laws, property taxes, building codes, urban renewal, extensive government loans, rent controls—all of these sources of gross distortion of the free market are the exclusive domain of government.
Union strikes and restrictions, with the power to cripple the economy, result from special privileges afforded by the government. Labor law forces employers to bargain with unions that attain a “bargaining unit”—a term the government arbitrarily defines.
Education. Even its supporters do not have the gall to maintain that public schools actually teach much of anything. As the name implies, public schools are owned and operated by state and local government with a great deal of help from the federal level. They are backed by compulsory attendance laws which force children to attend either public schools or private schools certified by government. Also, higher education is closely intertwined with government. Not only are many universities owned outright by government, even the so-called “private” ones are systematically bought off with grants, subsidies, and contracts.
The root cause of inflation and stagflation (inflation accompanied by high unemployment and persisting through recessions) is a continuous expansion of the money supply—a compulsory monopoly of the federal government.
Watergate resulted in a total de-sanctifying of the President and previously sacrosanct federal institutions. Invasions of property, police state methods, deception of the public, corruption, and systemic commissions of crime has led to a widespread lack of trust in all politicians and government officials. Watergate— a purely and totally governmental phenomenon, shattered faith and trust in government. (Editor’s Note: Once again, how soon we forget.)
So, the “red thread” uniting all of the critical problem areas of society is government.
(Editor’s Note: And now, 30 plus years after Rothbard wrote this, little has changed except for the worse.)
To be continued
The Essence of Liberty Volume I: Liberty and History chronicles the rise and fall of the noble experiment with constitutionally limited government. It features the ideas and opinions of some of the world’s foremost contemporary constitutional scholars. This is history that you were not taught at the mandatory government propaganda camps otherwise known as “public schools.” You will gain a clear understanding of how America’s decline and decay is really nothing new and how it began almost immediately with the constitution. Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.
You might be interested in the other two volumes of this three volume set: The Essence of Liberty Volume II: The Economics of Liberty and The Essence of Liberty Volume III: Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic.