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The Unseen Costs of Government


The activities of government are made reprehensible not merely by the systematic thievery which sustains their administrations, but by the exhaustion of resources following their execution.

In spending some time at the nearby Department of Motor Vehicles, the United States Postal Service or the local police precinct, one is sure to encounter notoriously long lines, dispirited efforts and attitudes of indifference, the total of which would surely translate to opportunity for any competitor in private enterprise. However, in the public sector this is all too familiar and oddly acceptable.

This phenomenon is principally due to the complete absence of competition, as government is and has always been the chief proprietor and issuer of monopolization.

As it turns out, government is in the business of producing theatrical mirages of value at the expensive exhaustion of human capital, physical resources and the consumer goods that the regular working class competes to earn in the satisfaction of demands of other producers who do the same reciprocally, across other segments of the market, or through credit advanced to them on promises to do the same in the future.

Despite the enumerable outlays of government, one of their major costs is always left unmeasured.

This is the total cost of drainage on available capital that might otherwise be available to those who originally earned it through voluntary exchange, who might then extend this capital in the form of developed physical resources or monetary credit to others who might be held accountable for the disciplined exercise or use of said capital, as measured against its associated time value and opportunity cost.

This cycle of exchange affords measured benefits across time in such a manner that units spent are rationalized against units acquired by those who are personally responsible and liable for the acquisition and loss of those units, the comparison of which organically merits the transaction.

Any alternative mechanism for processing transactions between persons will necessarily equate to frictional loss of value between the possessor's final appraisal and the expender's anticipated value spawning from the difference between the perceived costs and expected returns.

It is by this mechanism alone that a pure time value of units can be achieved, as each unit of account then carries a semblance of the relative values derived from the market economy.

For no individual knows better how to spend one's money than the individual who earned it.

For this reason, in addition to the bureaucracy's enjoyed insulation from the accountability measures of its financiers, we can walk into a police precinct, a DMV or USPS to find employees who simply demonstrate little more than a casual desire to endure the day.

And where they tend to project charisma and enthusiasm, all of it is systematically financed by theft and remains nearly wholly irrelevant to the measured productivity of the broader market economy, as their daily toils and boondoggles do nothing to grow the total pool of resources available for scaling physical productivity or improving net output, effectually only bidding up the prices of existing resources.

And unfortunately, an increasing chunk of government is being driven automatically by the burgeoning share of fixed spending.

In 1962, roughly two-thirds of the federal budget was available for discretionary spending. Today, that figure has plummeted to 20 percent, meaning that the lion's share of government spending is on autopilot.

Fixed, non-discretionary government spending is analogous to forgetting your phone in your penthouse apartment, only to arrive at your front door and remember that you left your keys in the car, then finally electing to fund an administration to execute into perpetuity the whole process of running up and down the stairs.

And all of this is proposed as a "solution" to the many problems that the bureaucracy has either inadvertently subsidized or prevented the private markets from addressing, either explicitly through monopoly or implicitly through crowding out investment.

The most vile consequences of government escape the busy, distractible onlooker. These are the relatively inconspicuous costs attending the largely-unnoticed deprivation of skills, and the incentives to acquire them, built into the budding business model of government: equipping the masses under the veil of compassion, at the cost of opportunity.

The price of every government action is liberty, and by extension the opportunity to realize a potential that the prohibitive legislation never imagined.

This propensity of government is evidenced by the regressive minimum wage law, the public and government-sponsored school system, so-called affordable housing measures, and the unimaginable, unrealizable and unrelenting agendas of equality, among a myriad of other utopian visions whose manifestations seem only contingent upon social inertia, or enough spendthrifts, to get these initiatives off the ground.

As it so happens, these popular programs seem to operate under elegantly-devised nomenclature that leaves the unwitting observer to wonder how anyone could possibly refuse to support such a worthy social itinerary.

Of course, the casual onlooker will scarcely assume personal responsibility for the actual expenses of any of these causes, yet that individual is left with a warm sensation of having contributed by merely uttering her support or checking a box to require absolute participation, despite the several alternatives, preferences or conflicting demands facing any person who refuses.

This is the essence of Paradocracy, whereby individual wants and liberties are palatably extinguished in the name of social progress, wherein the product of any person's labor is assumed part of the whole for the benefit of all, not by voluntary contractual agreement but by proximity to others who deem this righteous. Oddly, the latter tends to envy the former. And so their destruction enables a short-term sensation of betterment in the forum of sustained and absolute degradation.

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