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How Sound Ideas Can Translate into Despicable Laws, and Why Socialism Drives Social Dysfunction

Perhaps the most dangerous and costly intellectual endeavor is that nearly involuntary, visceral inclination to equip a thoughtful idea with the power of law. 

There is all the difference in the world between a worthy proposition and one backed by the unquestionable scope and authority of law. 

Remember, laws are neither soft suggestions nor guidelines for human behavior; they are absolute mandates supported by violent force and coercion. 

Proportionality, then, is an important standard to satisfy before rushing to the sweeping supposition that any iron-fisted law might prove successful in rectifying the perceived problem. 

In order to best preserve the freedoms which form the most atomic and precious bases for life, we must consistently investigate the marks and standards which ostensibly justify the invocation of law to carry out given aims, while always erring on the side of freedom. 

That is, of course, if we are to sustain a free world.

Whereas a great number of lazy pundits have suggested the passage of laws, in some cases even before having read them, to legislate morality or some imagined form of utopia, we must recognize the business of government as standing diametrically opposed to the interests of freedom. 

Ultimately, the United States of America developed as an exceptionally inviting place on the basis of having so little bureaucratic or governmental influence. 

This may astound the average reader, but government spending in the United States constituted a mere 3-percent of gross national income (GNI) at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the midst of the greatest industrial revolution in world history. 

In contrast, total government spending in the United States currently constitutes greater than 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). 

This means that an increasing portion of the nation’s wealth, the material product of hundreds of millions of people's daily labor, has been funneled into non-productive boondoggles, crowding out the form of investment which might otherwise pursue those methods of refining factories and general modes of production to further those higher-order interests, including but not limited to the introduction of improved capital and goods, the lowering of costs and the reduction of fine particulate matter: the latter of these economic consequences appears to commonly capture the attention of the average socialist who pays little to no attention to those accompanying merits which sustain and drive the average person's quality of life. 

This also means that this is no longer the same United States, after generations of politically lazy and inattentive constituents have together, whether passively or actively, enabled the displacement of liberty for the more fashionable ends of thirsty tyrants.

After all, do we really need government bureaucrats to protect our kids from the perceived threat of pollution?

That is to say, are our interests so disconnected from those of our children that we need government to reset our priorities?

On the contrary, it appears that it is government which is so terribly isolated from the constituency it purports to represent.

Indeed, so-called "sensible" government-imposed pollution measures have contributed to the closure of power plants across the state of Michigan, not to mention the rest of the United States, disproportionately increasing the immediate and protracted costs of living for lesser-networked rural residents. 

Moreover, a series of select examples fails to imply a broader trend, nor does it substantiate a pressing case for universal command of industry by the immovable decrees of law.

Meanwhile, these select snapshots independently reveal nothing of the nature of contemporary preferences which compelled the toleration of such transitory conditions in the first place. 

This enduring movement is a largely unsupported means to generate public fervor and hasty conclusions about circumstances which are, for the general audience, relatable exclusively on an impersonal, highly academic and theoretical basis, nearly devoid of any interest in or experience with the inner-workings beneath the perceived outcome. 

It seems reasonable only through a contemporary or academic lens to berate history's civilizations, or even those which exist presently but beyond the reach and comprehension of the ivory towers of academia. 

However, their conditions exist for reasons despite anyone's limited capacity to comprehend their origins. 

One may evermore comfortably and conveniently criticize vintage America amidst all of the luxuries afforded by its greasy predecessors' manufacturing might, which has long and largely been squandered away at the fingertips of eager, articulate bureaucrats who profess knowledge of better, more civil arrangements. 

The externalities of promised nirvana are always unseen, cloaked by blissful, boisterous optimism and reluctance to recognize potential risks. 

In short, any causal relationship inferred between one variable and another perceived outcome before thorough examination merely neglects the totality of forces generating these outcomes and dilutes the discussion to one of tenuous whims and opinions. 

The case of Detroit is a brilliant exposé of the journey down the primrose path of good and reasonable intentions.

What's more, there is still further irony in those powerful economies of scale, which enable the concentrated mass-production of the goods and capital we use and consume: they incidentally enable other parts of the globe to exist nearly completely free of the fine particulate matter so easily condemned by those with a political agenda. 

Costly measures such as those opposed to emissions assume that the expense is warranted because people are simply too stupid to care for themselves and their families, and they myopically assume that they will altogether extinguish that pollution from the planet, when it is merely offset by inferior standards of living or displacement to other parts of the globe to the detriment of distant communities, oftentimes those lacking organic comparative advantage, which naturally appear less important to those who feel confined to the political boundaries of the United States. 

Remember, there are no solutions, only tradeoffs; when you embrace a government measure, it is deliverable only at the expense of liberty, negotiation and the potential benefits of such human activity. 

Of course, that is to say absolutely nothing about the real systematic costs exacted upon those who unwittingly sustain the administrations which promote these measures. 

In total, the ends fail to justify the means, especially as technology has dramatically improved to reduce emissions, relatively clean forms of energy have become increasingly more popular, concentrations of fine particulate matter are demonstrably contained, and marginal levels of said matter have empirically declined with the advent of those technologies and refined economies of scale.

Oddly enough, a major share of pollution across this nation’s most populous cities stems from the moral hazards, restrictions, subsidies and incentives which invite blight and unaccountable, or otherwise risky, human behavior: the Tenderloin in San Francisco and the fringes of Detroit epitomize this greater theme of a nation being hollowed out for the advancement of paper-thin ideals written on only thicker paper with more convincing ink. 

As President Grover Cleveland proclaimed in 1887, "Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people." 

Each of the echoes which today bounce around the halls of academia is founded upon the supposition that nations, or groups for that matter, bear certain responsibilities. 

Many among them claim that we must not give up on others, that we must look out for them, and that we must do what we can at all costs. 

First, nations don’t have responsibilities; only people have them. 

People naturally have the capacity to perform functions which serve their own interests while incidentally promoting those of others. 

In the marketplace, this is known as the invisible hand.

As Adam Smith professed, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

The beauty about these forms of social, material or commercial exchanges is found in their consensual, or otherwise compassionate, character.

When one claims that “we must always focus on doing” anything, or that “we must not give up on others,” there is naturally another individual, or group of individuals, conscripted into servicing that end, whether that end be the proposed regulation of emissions or the suggested safety net of social security. 

What's more, through government there is always an unseen consequence, or externality, delivered unto humanity, whereby real personal responsibility becomes abstract social responsibility and social compassion is replaced by a rigid obligation which serves to render each of us increasingly resentful and contemptuous toward each other, driving us further apart rather than closer together: in the case of the benefactor, he or she develops a distaste for the beneficiary whom the benefactor suddenly owes, a process which renders that benefactor a mere law-abiding citizen instead of a charitable donor; meanwhile, the beneficiary grows to accept that he or she is entitled to those benefits, bolstered further by the notion that the greedy benefactor has stolen his or her wealth rather than having earned it.  

Mandating ethics ironically does a great disservice to the feeling of pride stemming from ethical behavior; it therefore becomes a systematic expectation which guts the positive feedback attending charitable activity. 

The end result, then, is a regressed state of coexistence.

Moreover, when discussing the subject of costs, we oftentimes indulge ourselves in hyperbole, taking solace in those notions which refresh the air with a sweet and calming aroma. 

Ask yourself, what would you be willing to do, or spend, to keep your dog alive?

Or, what would you be willing to do, or spend, to keep your family member alive?

Most people say that they would be willing to do, or spend, whatever they could. 

Of course, people supply this answer to avoid answering the question.

The qualitatively ambiguous statement says nothing about reality, and most people operate within very sobering limits when they ultimately encounter this predicament, where they solemnly consider real tradeoffs and their implications for their other various interests.

Thus, just as quickly as those fragrances dissipate, the enthusiasm of the moment eventually and predictably fades upon further discovery of the real implications. 

Once we uncover the total costs of those heartwarming gestures, and once we begin to shoulder them in real time and in real terms, beyond the abstract phases of theoretical consideration, the rallies transform into fresh viral chants across other domains, fueled once more by uncontrollable emotion rather than careful understanding, pursuing political solutions to another ill-understood problem with no consideration of the costs and readily trampling freedom along the way. 

And so it goes, the political rocket ship at hypersonic speed, maneuvering in space with no reference point and no sense of direction, left with the unavoidable fate of running out of fuel, slamming into the earth’s crust, or falling apart in the atmosphere. 

Rest assured that this won’t keep the talking heads from debating the options, nor will it prevent the next ship's passengers from boarding in a few generations.


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