Monday, October 13, 2008

A rose by any other name

While the EU is entertaining the idea of an unprecedented power grab in an attempt to “rescue” the world's economies, they are simultaneously condemning Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe for taking, “control of key ministries in defiance of a power-sharing deal with opposition parties.” Apparently what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander. I'm not going to say that this has anything to do with race, or class, or politics, but it seems clear that in certain circles seizing powers which are historically reserved for the private sector is considered the privilege of the elite.

While still laboring amidst one of the worst financial crises in modern history, the American government has already decided to up the ante by introducing a second economic stimulus picture worth an additional 150 billion dollars, and Obama has a new plan to lend money to states and cities from the federal treasury, force mortgage holders to give their customers additional time to repay their loans outside of their original contractual obligations, and create financial incentives for businesses to give jobs so he can “spread the wealth around."

While on it's face, these may seem like sensible responses to the current situation, the reality is that it's just another example of increased government intervention in the economy. Companies don't need financial incentives to create jobs. There is already a financial incentive to create jobs. It's called profit. Companies will create as many jobs as there is a market demand for. Unless you set a precedent that the government will pay them to do so. Then they will hold out for government money they know will eventually come before hiring more workers, and in the meantime, the economy will stagnate while there aren't enough employees to produce the goods and services demanded by the customer base, driving up prices and lowering productivity.

Any time you require a company to go beyond the contractual agreements it has established between itself and it's customers, you are obligating one person's productivity to another. Any time you obligate one person to provide another with anything, especially when backed by the coercive use of force you have institutional slavery. Whether it's socialized medicine, extending banking obligations beyond pre-existing limitations, conscription, or cotton picking, it's slavery, and Robert Heinlein, was right when he said,

I don't think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called.

Guest of Honor Speech at the 29th World Science Fiction Convention, Seattle, WA (1961)

Neither do I.

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