Tag: economic

Scarcity: A Natural Imperative to Human Reality

TJ Roberts | United States

My good friend Kevin Shaw released the article “Post-Scarcity and Freedom” to this website just yesterday. Mr. Shaw is a brilliant individual with a deep dedication of liberty for all human beings. His recent article brings up the progress humanity has made in spite of government regulations, almost reaching an apparent lack of scarcity in several industries.

The problem, however, is that scarcity will always exist so long as nature exists. Even if humanity achieves a superabundance of resources, which is hypothetically possible, it will still be impossible to shake off human nature.

Scarcity in the Garden of Eden

Suppose humanity managed to return to the Garden of Eden. Work is meaningless, for all that one desires is provided by nature. There is a superabundance of every resource. Even then, there is a form of scarcity, which demands the establishment of natural private property norms.

Even when all resources are readily available to the inhabitants of this hypothetical Eden, our bodies are still scarce. There is only one me. There is only one you. Our bodies, no matter what, are scarce resources. It is with this in mind that it is natural that I am the owner of my body in the same way that you are the owner of your body. Truly, we are the original appropriator of our own physical beings. To argue against this is to prove it, whereas to make the claim “I do not own myself” is to employ self-ownership.

Scarcity and Action

Whereas a human being owns themselves, it is axiomatically true that human beings act, i.e. they deliberately attempt to modify their condition to a condition that is more satisfactory based on their subjective valuation. Since human beings act, they choose. They must prioritize what they will do now and what they will do later. Even in a post-scarce world, time is scarce. Eventually, we will all die. With this in mind, there are things we will not be able to do or have.

But even if humans were immortal, time is still scarce. You cannot do several things at the same time. I must choose if I will eat an apple now, or if I will drink water now. I must choose if I will read or if I will watch a movie. The list goes on. As actors prioritize, certain goals are set aside for more pressing needs. By having a choice, you are incurring a cost upon yourself every time you act. This is the basic principle of opportunity cost. If my first choice in action is to drink water and my second choice in action is to eat an apple, the cost of me drinking water is the satisfaction abandoned in not eating an apple at that moment.

Scarcity and Reality

Throughout human society, technological advancement has made life easier. Whether it be the creation of agriculture in the Neolithic Revolution or the Industrial Revolution, entrepreneurship has allowed for a more efficient use of resources. This can make prices drop significantly, allowing for a cheaper and more comfortable life.

I agree with Mr. Shaw that the best way to increase abundance is to allow for the free market to flourish and to get the government out of people’s lives. What is problematic, however, is the belief that scarcity can be eliminated. No matter how efficient production becomes, scarcity will always be a natural part of life because we are all inherently scarce.


This post was originally published in LIFE.


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“Not Real Socialism” is a Valid Argument

By Ian Brzeski | United States

When referring to countries such as Venezuela, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other countries that have experimented with socialism and ultimately failed, the same excuse of “that was not real socialism” is continuously uttered by those that advocate for socialist policies. While that excuse is technically correct, it is not in the way that most people would think. Yes, it is true that these countries ended up failing in a state where pure socialist thought is no longer in place. It did indeed go from “real socialism” straight to “not real socialism.” So, what happened?

What happened was the fact that merely maintaining a “real” socialist state is impossible. The constant pattern throughout the history of experimenting with socialism is that these countries do admittedly start with real socialism, but then everything turns sour. There is a simple reason for this, and that is because power corrupts. What socialism is doing is giving the government complete control over the private sector to have equality and prosperity for everybody.

Putting all economic thought which disproved the validity of socialist economic theory aside, let’s say that economically speaking socialism is able to flourish. Redistributed wealth, prosperity to all, a bustling economy, free healthcare for everybody, and everyone living happily ever after. All of this sounds too good to be true as if it were only possible in a dream.

In reality, it really is too good to be true because, inevitably, there is going to be some ruthless dictator who will end up becoming in charge. Think about it; the driving force behind socialist thought is that people are inherently corrupt and always seek to exploit and take advantage of others, so they need a government to regulate their actions to be able to ensure that no exploitation goes on and that there will be complete equality. The problem is that these very same people that socialism identifies as the problem are in charge of the government. There will always, and I mean always, be a corrupt, vicious, disgusting, and morally perplexed person who will end up becoming in charge of the government. Guarantee that an ethically sound Jesuslike figure would always be able to be in charge of the government, then maybe there would not be a constant and blatant hatred of government by libertarians and other limited government advocates.

Government rightfully gets a bad rep because it always seems that power hungry people are seeking to seize control. The government in itself is the definition of power which aims to monopolize violence and potentially other industries. Wouldn’t it seem that being in government is the ideal job for any person? People inherently want to be in power or have control. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem here is too much power will end up corrupting even the most thoughtful and generous person.

Regardless of the initial intentions of a person who seeks to be in charge, the power of holding office will unavoidably lead them to use their power towards personal gain. Examples of this include practically every single socialist leader who promised the betterment of their society. Equality, peace, and prosperity are always promised but always seem to fail in being delivered. Who knows if leaders such as Josef Stalin or Hugo Chavez had true, honest, and good intentions from the start and their influx into power ended up corrupting them or if they had these horrible aspirations from the beginning? That does not matter. What matters is that these people in charge ended up using their power to directly or indirectly commit awful atrocities towards their people through murder or starvation. There is a reason as to why all these socialist and communist leaders were wealthy while the rest of their country was poor and starving. The government will always end up acting in its self-interest and not in the interest of the people.

Bernie Sanders in 2011 praised how great Venezuela was doing as a socialist state and how the United States could learn from them. Now that the government is murdering and starving its citizens, he seems to discredit Venezuela and say that it is no longer real socialism. Yes while that may be technically true, he fails to realize that real socialism is impossible to maintain and will always end up turning into this “fake” socialist state for the reasons mentioned above.

Besides its economic faults and the fundamental immorality of socialism, corruption and flawed human nature are principal reasons as to why socialism will always end up failing. Socialism is quite popular among people because of what it promises to deliver. The only problem here is that the deliverance of these promises is quite impossible.


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Cronyism, not the Free Market, Causes Unfair Wealth Distribution

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Cause and Consequence:

The world consists of income inequality, and some nations even greater disparity between the rich and the poor than others. In the United States, it is suggested that the wealthy have a far more significant amount of money and capital than that of the lower socioeconomic classes. For some, this is a moral issue, for others it is a legalistic issue that deserves to be addressed. I find it to be neither of these, if the contracts between the working classes and those of the wealthy were voluntary and free.

Despite this, there should be major moral and legal concern when this wealth difference is acquired through unjust cronyism. Conducted between governments and businesses or individuals, this is a way to redistribute wealth from one class to give to another through coercive means. There are many instances where we are well aware of cronyism taking place. This includes governments privileging particular companies, preventing competition, or creating strong barriers to enter the market place. This leads to coercive monopolies, which can only legally be produced with government threats.

Without a doubt, these companies should be stripped of their privileges. The restrictive governmental barriers for others to enter the market should be erased. Cronyism and other barriers restrict a market from flourishing to its fullest potential, and the outcome is greater disparity between the poor and the rich.

Thusly, the strong arm of government restriction on the market is causing unjust income inequality. On the contrary, the marketplace does not need restrictions and more regulations. As stated previously, the market, and capitalism in general, has done more to save people from poverty than any king, army, or government could possibly dream of.

Responsibility:

When governments utilize acts of cronyism, rent-seeking, labor unions, coercive monopolies, etc., the politicians, as well as they business owners, are behaving immorally. This is an act of ‘theft and threat’ by creating wealth solely for a particular group, while threatening punishment to those that dare challenge such restrictions. Additionally, it subsidizes these groups through coercive taxation on the public. An optimally flourishing market consists more of unrestricted, legally speaking, free trade, as in a laissez-faire capitalist economy.

There is a great deal of difficulty in approaching this issue of cronyism and addressing it in the US. Doing so relies on the people of the economy and politicians in Congress to act in unison to correct the relation between government and the market. For the same reasons Church and State are separate, so too should Market and State. They corrupt one another absolutely.

Without a cultural change, any violent measure to force governments and businesses to cease their cronyism would jeopardize the newly established government to subjective force by others later. A democratic republic requires peaceful engagement in civil acts within society to establish justice and equality under the law, which also ensures a large degree of freedom exists. A government, in order to maintain justice, not only needs clear and objective laws for protecting Life, Liberty, and Property. It also needs to be able to correct and prevent overreach such as cronyism.

This leaves only perspective shifts within government as a reflection of the people’s motivation through a new Enlightenment to actively make positive change towards ending cronyism. The power lies in the people’s hands to change those in power, or become those in power, and the initial resources will be up to the market to decide. If it is possible to convince Congress to abide by the Constitution, then there would not be cronyism, so this could potentially be changed immediately by Congress but it is highly unlikely they will act since many of them currently benefit from the corruption of the system.

Policies:

The first policy to propose is maintaining a unilateral form of justice and equality under the law within the US. It is an ongoing issue seen in the news and online that certain people and businesses are pardoned or exonerated of their crimes against others because of their status in society or state. The pro of this policy is that it would create more confidence in the US market, and nation as a whole, for investors and entrepreneurs around the world. When policies threaten the incentive of success, i.e. unjust high taxes for the wealthy over a certain income or even high taxes for everyone, it forces production to go to places that will benefit them the most.

The second policy to propose is to end all forms of favoritism and cronyism in the US. This would require a system overhaul of eliminating privileges, subsidies, class related protections, many business regulations and license requirements, etc. This often scares people into thinking chaos would emerge, but it can be demonstrated through the market that the market would begin to regulate itself as varying organizations and businesses that keep a watchful eye on the market will naturally sprout.

As Dr. Steve Horwitz points out, since Adam Smith and forward, “We do not need ‘regulation’ in the sense of State intervention for markets to generate socially beneficial outcomes.  And when we do attempt to ‘regulate’ them through the State, the result is a variety of undesirable unintended consequences.” The pro of such a policy is that it creates an equal platform for everyone to compete in and benefit from a free market.

The con of such a policy is that some major companies will leave or fail because they will no longer be granted favoritism or cronyism. This could have a negative impact on the economy upon the immediacy of such an act, therefore it would require a strictly scheduled progression. Without a transitional period, many people in protected industries would lose jobs and money until they find work elsewhere. Due to the precarious nature of such a drastic and positive turn towards equality under the law and preventing favoritism, and for the mistakes made by those of the past, people will understandably need a transition into a freer market.

Conclusion:

The rich are not getting richer, the poor are not getting poorer. Capitalism has helped not only those at the top, but it has surely helped most people escape abject poverty. Those that say otherwise and complain how capitalism has made the rich wealthier, should now consider how ending the greatest human social mechanism, i.e. capitalism, will help the poor.

If the wealthy have benefited drastically better than the poor, then it would behoove everyone to be a part of such a system. Viz., ending cronyism, rent-seeking, political power and regulations of labor unions, coercive monopolies, and various other regulations and license requirements in the market, etc. would benefit everyone in the long run, as tendencies towards free trade has already proven. This would also alleviate any of the governmental coercive means of income inequality, allowing for people to live and trade more freely. This is not faith in a system. Rather, this is allowing people to live and trade as they see fit, with a government that will protect those that are infringed upon, instead of favoring and benefiting a few.


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