Hurtling Down the Road to Serfdom

Do we want a culture of takers or makers?


Government is taking us a long way down the Road to Serfdom. That doesn't just mean that more of us must work for the government. It means that we are changing from independent, self-responsible people into a submissive flock. The welfare state kills the creative spirit.

F.A. Hayek, an Austrian economist living in Britain, wrote The Road to Serfdom in 1944 as a warning that central economic planning would extinguish freedom. The book was a hit. Reader's Digest produced a condensed version that sold 5 million copies.

Hayek meant that governments can't plan economies without planning people's lives. After all, an economy is just individuals engaging in exchanges. The scientific-sounding language of President Obama's economic planning hides the fact that people must shelve their own plans in favor of government's single plan.

At the beginning of The Road to Serfdom, Hayek acknowledges that mere material wealth is not all that's at stake when the government controls our lives: "The most important change … is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people."

This shouldn't be controversial. If government relieves us of the responsibility of living by bailing us out, character will atrophy. The welfare state, however good its intentions of creating material equality, can't help but make us dependent. That changes the psychology of society.

 I'll explore this tonight on my Fox Business show, 8 p.m. Eastern (rebroadcast Friday at 10 p.m.).

According to the Tax Foundation, 60 percent of the population now gets more in government benefits than it pays in taxes. What does it say about a society in which more than half the people live at the expense of the rest? Worse, the dependent class is growing. The 60 percent will soon be 70 percent.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seems to understand the threat: He worries that "more people have a stake in the welfare state than in free enterprise. This is a road that Hayek perfectly described as 'the road to serfdom.'" (Tonight I will ask Ryan why, if he understands this, he voted for TARP and the auto bailouts.)

Kurt Vonnegut understood the threat of government-imposed equality. His short story "Harrison Bergeron" portrays a future in which no one is permitted to have any physical or intellectual advantage over anyone else. A government Handicapper General weighs down the strong and agile, masks the faces of the beautiful, and distracts the smart.

So far, the Handicapper General is just fantasy. But Vice President Joe Biden did shout at the Democratic National Convention: "Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you." If he meant that we're all equal in rights and before the law, fine. If he meant government shouldn't put barriers in the way of opportunity, great. But statists like Biden usually have more in mind: They want government to make results more equal.

Two actual examples of the lunacy:

When colleges innovated by having students use Kindle e-book readers instead of expensive textbooks, the Justice Department sued them, complaining that the Kindle discriminates against blind students. The department also is suing the Massachusetts prison system because it makes prospective prison guards take a physical test. Since women don't do as well as men on that test, Justice claims the test discriminates against women.

Arthur Brooks, who heads the American Enterprise Institute, says statism is becoming the "central organizing power in our economy," and that the battle between free enterprise and statism will shape our futures. He remains optimistic because a recent poll showed that 70 percent of Americans want free enterprise. I'm less sanguine. In that same poll, 54 percent of Americans said government should exert more control over the economy. Brooks discounts that, claiming people forget their "core values" during crises.

But he asks the right question: Do we want a culture of takers or makers? Ryan and Brooks say most people want "the American idea": freedom and self-responsibility. I fear they want a Mommy State to take care of them. What do you think?

The choice is crucial. If we continue down the Road to Serfdom, our destination will be a poorer society, high unemployment, stagnation, and complacency.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at


NEXT: Save the Newspapers! Or Not.

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  1. Whatever you say, Mister Stossel. *sigh*

    1. The man is intelligent and charismatic. He has given his life for the benefit of his countrymen. He has never been anything but honest and sincere at any point in his life in the public eye.

      Given the choice I’ll choose an honest individual over all others any day and any place regardless the circumstances, win or lose at least I know what kind of company I’m keeping.

      1. Give me a break from John Stossel.

  2. If we continue down the Road to Serfdom, our destination will be a poorer society, high unemployment, stagnation, and complacency.

    As much as I would like to believe this is self-evident to the overwhelming majority of people, the empirical evidence seems heavily weighted against me.

    DOOM, et c.

  3. The welfare state kills the creative spirit.

    So does starvation.

    1. Like they have in North Korea? Like they had in 1920’s Urkraine, Russia, 1950’s China, 1970’s Cambodia?

      Gee… wonder what all those countries had in common.

      1. “A man creates. A parasite asks, ‘Where’s my share?'”

        1. A man choses, a slave obeys.

          1. I am Pedobear, and I am here to ask you a question: Is a bear not entitled to rape young girls?
            No, says the man in Washington. It is against the law.
            No, says the man in the Vatican. But you can have sex with young boys.
            No, says the man in Moscow. In Soviet Russia, girl puts penis in YOU!
            I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose…
            A city where the bear would not fear the FBI.
            Where the pedophile would not be bound by petty morality.
            Where I could have sex with underage girls, free of the constraints of the law.
            With the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city, as well.

            1. Classic thread flashback: Pudsey Bear

        2. A man also spells chooses as well as most people spell loses.

        3. 3 more days, SF. Your day of shocking bios is nigh.

          1. I know. Stupid snow. I would have gone to get it last night if snow didn’t cause everyone’s IQ to plunge 50 points in Kentucky.

            And around here, that pushes a lot of people into the negative…

      2. Too many greedy capitalist parasites?

      3. Oppressive authoritarian regimes?

      4. Oppressive totalitarian regimes?

      5. Oppressive totalitarian governments?

      6. Oppressive regimes?

        1. Workin’ on it, Tony. Thanks for the support, by the way.

          1. I can help you with that meddlesome press problem, Barack!

    2. What, like a “starving artist”?

    3. So, we shouldn’t have a welfare state or starvation. I agree! Wow, it only took like a year for me to finally agree with you.

    4. Tony, Tony, Tony, we’ve been over this time and time again.

      The basic flaw in your reasoning is your assumption that you are not the rare exception that you are, but that all or most or even quite a few are as you are: useless skin bags lacking the capability to care for themselves.

      You need to admit you can’t survive outside of an institution. Stop trying to drag others down to your miserable level, it’s not even possible. Do the right thing and check yourself in where you can be taken care of. If you’ve already done so, log off now so one of the other patients can have their turn to use the computer.

      1. I admit I can’t survive without institutions, and neither can you. You just think you can because you have the mindset of a bratty adolescent.

        Mommy feeds, clothes, and houses you but you think you’re oppressed because you have to mow the lawn.

        1. So says the resident Serf.

        2. I thought this argument died with the antebellum South.

        3. “Mommy” being Washington DC, of course.

          1. Disgusting, isn’t it?

          2. +1

    5. So, what does starvation have to do with this conversation? I can’t imagine you would be as dumb as to declare that freedom = starvation, so what is your point?

      1. Having a welfare state doesn’t stifle anyone’s creativity or entrepreneurial spirit. If it did, I’m sure you could present evidence or at least a rational argument why. A social safety net means everyone has a chance to have a creative spirit, not just those with independent means.

        1. Re: Tony,

          If it did, I’m sure you could present evidence or at least a rational argument why.

          There’s no incentive to create if your needs are fulfilled by others compulsively.

          1. There’s no incentive to create when you are lacking basic needs. People will still want to make money in a society with a safety net, and the bonus is they can spend the time they’re not starving being creative.

            1. The desire to meet ones own basic needs is the fundamental incentive to create. The human race would not exist if its reaction to hunger was laziness.

              1. So why can’t we create a society that provides for them? That’s an innovation that’s off-limits to libertarians for some reason.

                1. You really think that most people would bother getting up from the couch if they didn’t have at least the *possibility* of starvation on the horizon?

                2. Tony,
                  Off-limits to us conservatives too.

            2. I thought necessity was the mother of invention.

              1. No, that was my band back in the 70s.

            3. “There’s no incentive to create when you are lacking basic needs. ”

              There is never any more meaningful incentive than when you lack basic needs.

            4. “There’s no incentive to create when you are lacking basic needs. ”

              There is never any more meaningful incentive than when you lack basic needs.

          2. Nordic countries are some of the most innovate countries in the world.

            They also have extremely high taxes rates providing health care, parental leave, extended vacation, and higher education opportunities for all citizens.

            Was your statement referring to countries with tax rates similar to the Nordic countries? If so it was wrong.

            1. And a rather high suicide rate.

            2. I could refute you but someone did a better job here:

              In short, those countries are successful because of the degree to which the capitalist aspects exceed the United States, not the socialist aspects. Therefore, at best your argument is an argument that we should be more like Scandinavian countries, that we should be more capitalist, not less.

              Now you can go home an cry into your capitalist pillow, and weep all the more for its origin.

        2. Are you saying that taking resources from productive sectors doesn’t reduce creative opportunities by that much? Regulation doesn’t discourage innovation? Choices don’t end up skewed due to a central authority’s power?

          1. Innovation always takes place in some restrictive environment. Maybe the widget you need hasn’t been invented. Maybe there are regulations in place. It’s kind of silly to praise innovation and creativity but characterize them as things easily stifled. Regulations merely exist so that people don’t innovate in ways that harm people.

            1. ^harm people^harm the interests of people in power

            2. Regulations frequently harm people.

            3. Regulations merely exist so that people don’t innovate in ways that harm people.

              Regulations cannot only prevent unsafe innovations because it is inherently impossible to know what innovations are unsafe in advance. You have to try something before you find out if it’s safe or not.

            4. I’m in a field where innovation is continuously stifled by regulations that do nothing but preserve outdated, dangerous, uneconomical standards in the name of safety, the environment, or for the sake of standards that happen to keep certain trades or products in demand.

            5. Tony
              “Innovation always takes place in some restrictive environment.”

              Exactly! That great Russian car, the Travant, was a marvel of innovation!

            6. “Regulations merely exist so that people don’t innovate in ways that harm people.”

              Is that why it’s illegal for me to create, manufacture, and distribute a product from my home using the exact same materials, equipment, and processes that I use for my own personal use?

        3. “If it did, I’m sure you could present evidence or at least a rational argument why.”

          It is a simple matter of Pavlovian conditioning. If one works hard and or smart, and is rewarded for it, then one shall have a great incentive to work harder and smarter. If one works hard and or smart, and the reward is taken and given to one who works lazily and or stupidly or not at all, then both workers have a disincentive to work hard and smart and both workers have an incentive to work lazily stupidly or not at all.

          “A social safety net means everyone has a chance to have a creative spirit, not just those with independent means.”

          No, a “social safety net” is really a complex set of nooses and knots by which those with a creative spirit are slowly strangled and bound up while those without the creative spirit lie lazily upon this hammock of human flesh and spirit and chains. Eventually the people die, they rot, and the ropes rot and society begins again.

    6. Re: Tony,

      So does starvation.

      That’s utterly false. Nothing opens the mind like a death sentence.

      1. More of that libertarian ethical superiority over all other possible systems!

        1. …said the liberal…

          1. Tsk! You’re engaging in hate speech, FIFY. Don’t you know that pointing out elitism on either side of the political aisle is akin to bigotry? You might as well join the Klan while you’re at it.

    7. Actually, when a person is faced with his own extinction or hunger or homelessness, he becomes VERY creative. Been there.

      1. The premise behind helping starving people who can’t provide for themselves or receive private charity is sound. The trouble is that government extends it’s safety net to people who are far from starving, often to the neglect of people who are actually poor. Medicaid really sucks, while many rich seniors get untold goodies that they never paid for with their minor Medicare taxes for example. Sometimes those programs are constructed to last far longer than should be necessary for someone to get back on their feet, while also giving so many benefits that it pays for them to stay relatively poorer unless they can make a massive jump in income.

        Government safety nets can increase productivity, but when they get bloated out of control as people like Tony desire them to be in the name of social justice they discourage innovation by providing people with far more than they need to bounce back. All of this neglects the incentives that government bureaucrats face were they to work themselves out of a job, or to exaggerate the problem to gain more power and resources for themselves as poverty pimps. Those people are more than willing to team up with the social justice crew who want to do far more than make sure everyone has the bare essentials to get ahead, but rather want to address “income inequality” and fairness. There’s a huge difference between the two concepts, especially if we are only concerned about basic food and shelter which isn’t that expensive; things like education and healthcare are much more expensive, but then again what levels of those two goods are actually required for people to get ahead especially when we consider that much of education is just a signaling mechanism whose value is degraded the more we push people through diploma mills rather than actually increase their skills and knowledge. While also respecting that people can get by and get ahead without as much healthcare as fairness might dictate, and that many people do not need to go to traditional college or even high school to do well.

        So yes, some libertarians are foolish to reject welfare out of hand; but liberals are equally foolish to boil the entire argument down to “people will starve without it”; especially when such liberals are attempting to hide their arbitrary notions of social justice and fairness behind a productivity argument not based upon fairness but rather upon a minimum basket of some goods, and when that productivity argument is completely destroyed when applied to the welfare as fairness argument that pretty much all liberals make. There is a pretty big difference between a cradle to grave welfare state with massive government regulatory intervention also aiming to that end, and a basic social safety net for the truly poor down on their luck through little fault of their own; and I give libertarians a bit of a pass here because the former is constantly what liberals advocate/enact. Look at Europe, Medicare, or SS.

        The idea of a minimum standard of living being required for one to pull oneself up by the bootstraps is completely different from the concepts of fairness about which most on the left pontificate.

        1. Great post. Excellent insights.
          I hope to see more of your stuff.

        2. One of the best posts I’ve read on this site.

        3. The premise behind helping starving people who can’t provide for themselves or receive private charity is sound. The trouble is that government extends it’s safety net to people who are far from starving, often to the neglect of people who are actually poor.

          Which is the problem with your argument.

          It is impossible to draw a distinction between a “cradle-to-the-grave welfare state” and a “basic social safety net for the truly poor”. If I don’t want to provide a basic social safety net for others, if I want to live my life my own way, who are you to tell me otherwise? How can the mere existence of someone else produce a mortgage on my life? What if 99% of incomes in the world were destroyed? Would I still have a moral obligation to provide sustenance for the world?

          Your idea leads to a world of pain. Once one accepts the idea that the government ought to take from some to give to others, the rent-seekers come in to obtain political power and whore everyone else. It is impossible for such a system not to grow “bloated out of control” because that’s is the nature of the idea underlying it.

          Further, the government doesn’t have the ability to determine who deserves help. It requires too much knowledge the government doesn’t and shouldn’t possess. It cannot differentiate those who are poor through no fault of their own and those who made different decisions based on the availability of social welfare programs. Also there’s the possibility of fraud, which I suspect is much more rampant than most people believe considering I know several people who have either engaged in it or claim to know others who have.

          If government were an infallible machine of infinite justice, creating “a basic safety net” out of nothing but magical powers, then your argument would make sense. Why not do it in that case?

          Unfortunately, in the non-magical world, those programs have to be paid for by someone, and if the government gets to decide who is to be sacrificed, we are all its slaves.

          If a “basic social safety net” is so obviously good, why can’t we support it through private charity? Are we not people capable of listening to and caring about injustice visited on others down on their luck? Why must such a system be forced on all of us at the point of a gun?

          1. I recognize that there will be a problem with setting the safety net accurately and that such a program would be vulnerable to rent seekers like any government program; which is why I support federalism and subsidiarity which would confine such programs to smaller geographic areas that are closer to the people who must pay for them and from which people can move out of and vote against the policy with their feet. In that way we allow regulatory competition to attempt address the proper amounts of taxes and transfers and combat the ill effects of rational ignorance by devolving such matters to smaller government entities that are easier for voters to understand and where voters have both a larger stake and larger influence on the election’s outcome. There is certainly no need for a federal safety net, just like there is no need for a federal department of education.

            I’m not making a moral claim, but addressing the efficiency argument. The system will never be perfect, but the imperfections can be minimized by delegating the powers to cities, counties, other regions or states. Ultimately all taxes are violations of property rights, but I as a supporter of limited government as opposed to anarchy feel that such violations are justified if and only if they make not only the person getting the service/transfer better off but also the person who paid for it. Taxes for a just police force are certainly better than criminals roaming the streets as I feel and I believe are argue lower that private police forces couldn’t work and would become effectively states. I certainly don’t want huge taxes on a small portion of the population to pay for handouts to the middle class.

            The reason that you would need to pay taxes for such a program is because it is a kind of public good or positive externality, you could easily benefit if some charity saves the life of some kid who goes on to be your doctor.

            I personally as a supporter of limited government rather than anarchy believe that it is possible to have a taxpayer funded social safety net be a net benefit to freedom and prosperity just the way that it is possible for taxpayer funded police and soldiers provide to provide one as well. Your arguments, though, about whether such a constructed safety net could ever be accomplished given political incentives and political reality have merit.

            1. Believe it or not, you are making a moral argument. It’s impossible to use the concept of “We ought to…” without making some ethical claim.

              It seems you are basing your argument on a utilitarian or pragmatist perspective. You’re arguing we shouldn’t centralize the welfare system, and that someone decentralizing will lead to a more just system. You say this is permitted as long as both persons in the exchange benefit. Well, that’s an individual thing: if I’d rather have that tax money that went to social welfare services back, who is to determine that I am “better”? How do you apply this concept of “better”? Maybe I’m better off having churches taking care of poor people who do it in an innovative way? In order for your argument to be true according to your criteria, we have to show that the government providing social welfare is the best way in which to provide it (otherwise, we should just go with the better way). Can you have confidence that conclusion is true? Can you even define “better” in this context?

              Frankly, I don’t understand why you don’t say let’s leave social welfare up to private charity, given the problems you acknowledge the gov’t has in providing those services.

              I think the source of the flaws in your argument lies in your attempt to divorce politics from ethics. This leaves you floating around and then you argue silly things like for a decentralized implementation of what you think is a good idea that doesn’t force people to use it even if you think it’s better. If it’s better, why not force it on everyone? If it’s not, then don’t. There’s no point to forcing immoral public policy experiments on everyone and treating them like laboratory animals. “Federalism” is the sham cry of an aspiring petty tyrant who wants a corner of the world to dominate for his own.

              I am a believer in limited government, not anarchy, but perhaps more limited government than you. I think there are two kinds of government services: ones the government should perform, and which benefit everyone, and ones which it shouldn’t and benefit only particular people. With that distinction made, I have no problem saying that the second category is worse than the first, and shouldn’t happen. Thus, I have no problem saying government shouldn’t be providing those services. There’s no contradiction for me with the other legitimate services it provides. It boils down to the difference between “government shouldn’t provide this service, and shouldn’t tax for it,” and “government should provide this service, and may tax for it.” Ultimately though, the government should be voluntarily funded.

              I appreciate the acknowledgement of the merit of my argument. You seem a good debater. Your argument has no merit though. 😉

              The most important thing to recognize is that forcing people to pay for the survival of others is immoral and unjust. No amount of consequential benefit changes that fact.

              1. My argument regarding welfare could be summed up as at some level it does provide a net benefit to everyone, even if the poor obviously benefit more from it than the rich. The same is true for the military, which will benefit defense contractors or people living on boarders or the coasts more than those living in remote inaccessible regions. Regulatory competition then would cause people to leave the areas that over provide welfare to areas that would provide closer to the right amount.

                “The most important thing to recognize is that forcing people to pay for the survival of others is immoral and unjust. No amount of consequential benefit changes that fact.”

                In actuality as a supporter of limited government you do precisely that, you force people to pay for the police that protect their persons and property; and then you justify it by the benefits that the police provide. You claim that my argument is flawed because of the existence of private charity, but anarchists could claim your arguments are flawed because of the existence of mall cops, mercenaries, and private investigators.

                Why don’t I force it upon everyone? Well in addition to regulatory competition, the kind of tacit consent arguments in a decentralized federal system are much stronger given people’s ability to leave and move to another reasonable location. Further, the usefulness of welfare will vary by region dependent upon the state of each region’s economy and the strength of their private charity networks; a one size fits all policy will inevitable over serve some areas creating dependency issues while an undeserved area will forgo the creation of social benefits. Finally, it is easier to evaluate whether or not programs are working the lower the level of government goes; I could meet with my local alderman or state rep, but not with my U.S. senator. I could drive by and observe local government projects, etc.

                The problem with your argument is that you seem to dismiss the notion that public benefits could be created based upon the difficulty of defining them; which allows you to claim that such programs don’t benefit everyone, to which you respond that even if they do they aren’t justified.

                How do I define the proper level of security? I’ve provided a reasonable answer for welfare via federalism, more reasonable than your own; because there is no way that we can have regulatory competition for many aspects required for a modern night watchman state, like a nuclear deterrent. How many nukes should we build? Does your inability to define this answer mean that we should have no nuclear deterrent? The answer could of course be zero nukes given the rise of our conventional military’s ability to do vast and more precise damage in retaliation. So why can’t you embrace the theory that state, regional, or local welfare could be a net benefit; reserving your right to disagree with such policies as implemented?

                Now you are right about me making a moral claim as I confused arbitrary notions of social justice with the total of moral arguments; but I am basing my ought on self interest given a collective action problem rather than claiming that inequality isn’t fair just as any proponent of a nightwatchman state also does. I’m not arguing that poor people deserve the money, nor am I arguing that the gains in poor people’s utility out weigh the losses put upon the taxpayer. This has another implication, that such programs should be funded by a broad based tax rather than a highly progressive one; as rich people aren’t the only ones who benefit from having everyone in society at some basic standard of living that increases overall productivity.

                So yes I am making a consequentialist argument for government. I admit that I am a bad philosopher having only been exposed to it via political philosophy which I only studied after economics. However, there are no real world non consequentialist arguments for government, all such arguments only support anarchy which I oppose because of anarchy’s consequences. One can’t avoid consequencialism in government merely by having that government enforce natural rights or self ownership, because that government must always fund itself via taxes while asserting certain monopoly rights violating individual freedoms to enforce natural rights.

                I too assert self ownership to define natural rights, and believe that an individual is an end to him/herself. I believe that government coercion can be a net benefit to individual’s freedoms and property; and recognize that such a belief could be seen to justify paternalism far in excess of any concept of limited government while of course any proponent of government either implicitly or explicitly believes in this as well. So what distinguishes the night watchman from the food police? The broad agreement upon the desire for people to keep criminals and invaders at bay and the collective action problem that makes it tough for voluntary action to achieve this, as opposed to an arrogant belief that people are too stupid to take care of themselves based upon subjective preferences about the merits of living fast and dying young; especially when “young” might be 63 rather than 69 and there is no assurance that something else other than obesity might get you anyways while differing genetics and lifestyles make it impossible to set the right tax that would reflect everyone’s future oriented enlightened self interest.

            2. “I personally as a supporter of limited government rather than anarchy believe that it is possible to have a taxpayer funded social safety net be a net benefit to freedom and prosperity just the way that it is possible for taxpayer funded police and soldiers provide to provide one as well.”

              You can’t reduce the amount and means of freedom and prosperity in order to increase the amount and means of freedom and prosperity. You don’t “save” by spending. You don’t get peace by waging war. You don’t get strong by being weak.

              Taxpayer funded police routinely rob the people of their lives, liberty, and property…and the rule of law. Tax funded soldiers do the same thing abroad.

              You can justify stealing for your own high minded well intended purposes – but you can’t ever make it just. Nor can you ever achieve but by fluke chance any sort of positive benefit by stealing.

              “The reason that you would need to pay taxes for such a program ”

              is because otherwise you’ll be robbed of an even higher sum of money, or your property, or your liberty, or your very life.

              Minarchism is a fools philosophy. Any system built upon the root of all evil can not remain minimal in the quantity or quality of evil it produces.

              1. How much liberty would your loosely organized society have when it encountered a traditional nation state invader? If you can even get past the basic collective action problems that make it impossible to have good private police; while even if that is somehow managed forget effective competing police services with the end result being a defacto state. I’d love to live in a land filled with unicorns, but that’s not happening.

                Maybe anarchy would work in some small isolated area with like minded individuals like some kind of libertarian sea stead; but if you could create the kind of virtuous culture that would be required to maintain that form of lack of governance you could just as easily form a commune.

  4. I maintain that the “Road to Serfdom” show should be about how planning is the violation of liberty, and focus on that aspect of the message Hayek puts across. To me, discussing the character of people dependent on government sounds too much like familiar conservative rhetoric that seems exactly what you’d expect on Fox. Instead, get some guests who are strong advocates for central planning, and let them answer for whether or not they acknowledge a loss of liberty at the hands of the state’s planning, and where the hell they get off advocating the loss of other people’s liberty, as if it’s their legitimate choice. That to me is groundbreaking televisions you won’t find anywhere else on the proverbial dial! Talking about “welfare queens” seems cliche and redundant to mainstream political discourse.

    There is a second point of Hayek’s that is also more important I believe: the Misesian idea that one governmetn action produces results that require further, more intense government action, which then requires even more planning. Replace “loss of liberty” in place of “planning” at any point. This is another interesting and astute position that Hayek and the Austrians took, which can be exploited for great TV.

    Just my $0.02.

    1. Talking about “welfare queens” seems cliche and redundant to mainstream political discourse.

      I would agree that talking about liberty in the abstract would be a welcome change. For better or for worse, American voters respond to a message based on the character of a welfare recipient because “fairness” and “personal responsibility” are both still strongly held American values. Americans are very generous when helping people whom they think are in a difficult situation through no fault of their own, but get mad if they think that they are being taken advantage of by people who won’t help themselves. I wish more discourse would focus on the loss of liberty associated with coercive charity without regard to the nature of the recipient.

    2. If my post above doesn’t make it clear, but I do think that Hayek’s road to serfdom is much more relevant to government attempts to micromanage sectors of the economy via regulations and incredibly complex tax incentives than it would be to having a minor social safety net.

      That said, trouble does arise when more voters are getting government goodies than the ones paying for them; or when more people work for the government than the private sector. Then there is little incentive for people to curb government waste and excess, and the left should recognize this complaint. It is exactly what they complain about when they refer to the “military-industrial complex”. How many military contractors or soldiers are voting for less defense spending? How many people involved in building and using cold war era weapons systems are advocating to get rid of such systems that are no longer needed? Why would postal workers or other government employees behave any differently? Especially when many such people honestly believe in the necessity of their work.

      1. Generally, a feedback loop is created anytime the government hands out money. The recipients feed money back into the political system in order to keep the pump primed. Defense contractors, people on the public dole (don’t contribute directly, but are used as a labor force by agitators), school teachers (esp. through teachers’ unions), etc.

        I find it most troubling that foreign aid recipients might feed some of their handouts back into the American political system, in essence undermining American sovereignty using American tax dollars.

  5. “The most important change … is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people.”

    I saw interviews with refugees from North Korea. One guy actually thought about going back because he couldn’t handle having to make decisions about everything. In NK, all his decisions were made for him.

    1. Really, perhaps we should split into two classes of people: Those who get extra protection and safety nets, and those of us who go it without government nannying.

      1. Agreed. But, how will the babies pay for their care?

        1. Babies go with their parents.

      2. Society needs to distinguish between denizens and citizens again. People who want to live children for their entire lives should never make into the second class.

        Ancient societies ritualized adulthood and made it something desirable. In modern society, everyone wants to escape from it — and why not? It’s all responsibilities, and few legal perks you couldn’t get as a useless leech on society.

        1. Excellent point, anonymous.

    2. It’s my opinion socialists crave institutionalization. The main difference between them and one who satisfies their need via prison or mental asylum is the socialist seeks to institutionalize entire nations.

    3. Can we perhaps have a system somewhere between the extremes of anarchy and absolute authoritarianism?

      1. Re: Tony,

        Can we perhaps have a system somewhere between the extremes of anarchy and absolute authoritarianism?

        Would you live a bit like a slave or would you like to be a free person?

        1. I don’t want to be a slave either to a person OR to nature. I prefer the freedom that comes with having a functioning society. It’s a hell of a lot more meaningful than the freedom that comes from living in anarchy.

          1. Anarchy does not necessarily imply an absence of a functioning society, or any and all institutions. It simply means absence of the state.

      2. All of the developed nations of the world are doing a pretty good job of proving that this sucks.

      3. Probably, as long as there isn’t any taxation or democracy.

    4. I saw the same thing with the Japanese. Many get annoyed by the American system of ordering food. They are irritated that they must choose how their eggs are cooked. In Japan, you get a cold, egg loaf for breakfast. In the US, you choose over-ez,med,hard, scrambled, up, etc. Then you must choose which toast, white, wheat, rye,then sausage or bacon, then which flavor jam. It drives many Japanese bat shit crazy. In Japan, you get what they give you, no change. You want Kahlua and coke; sorry it’s not on the drink menu, although they have kahlua and coke at the bar. No choices makes life easy for them.

  6. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

    “Don’t make me pull this country over!”

  7. But he asks the right question: Do we want a culture of takers or makers? Ryan and Brooks say most people want “the American idea”: freedom and self-responsibility. I fear they want a Mommy State to take care of them. What do you think?

    The IQ distribution would imply that at least half the country would like to have someone make their decisions for them.

    1. IQ doesn’t enter into it except for the extreme tail end of the bell curve. There are still plenty of low-mid level IQ people out there with tough jobs who’d rather skip a few meals than take a handout, and plenty of universities full of supposedly smart (at least high-IQ) professors who whine like mewling infants when asked to invest their own 401k.

    2. I’d have to agree with Limey, I work with a bunch of guys that probably don’t have elementary reading skills, but they work hard and make good money.

  8. @ Tony:

    It’s not my place provide meals to those who produce nothing. I am not my brother’s keeper.

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    To me, that’s as pure an evil statement as exists anywhere in literature.

    1. Hey genius I’m not a communist.

      It’s in your best interest to be your brother’s keeper. Poverty creates problems that will affect you, such as crime, or people not buying whatever it is that you “produce.”

      1. If I am to be my brother’s keeper then I want power over him to keep him from making stupid decisions that cost me time and money.

        1. Helping him helps you. Want a fair system? Make good policy rather than just pissing on the concept of making policy altogether, which results only in bad policy.

          1. What about the bad policy made in the process of making policy, Tony? Is it wrong to point that out when it happens?

      2. You know that most of the people who comment here are of libertarian bent – right?

        You’re not a communist but you think that it’s in my best interest to be my brother’s keeper? Funny that. That’s exactly what communism is. Either you’re a communist or you don’t know what communism is.

        And, if you’re going to throw around sarcastic labels like “genius”, you should first be sure that you hold the intellectual high ground. Right now, you don’t.

        1. You know that most of the people who comment here are of libertarian bent – right?

          Yeah but living in an echo chamber is bad for intellectual growth.

          You’re not a communist but you think that it’s in my best interest to be my brother’s keeper? Funny that. That’s exactly what communism is. Either you’re a communist or you don’t know what communism is.

          Communism refers either to total redistribution in order to create a classless society, pairing equality of wealth with the equal participation inherent in democracy OR to the various totalitarian regimes of the 20th century in which an authoritarian state controlled all of the means of production.

          I’m not into either of those. I’m for a society that collectively provides basic needs so that everyone has a more-or-less equal opportunity to succeed in the capitalist system.

          1. Uh, sorry. Wrong again.

            Communism is a form of economy. Totalitarianism and democracy are forms of governmment. Saying that totalitarianism and communism are the same thing is like saying that democracy and capitalism are the same thing. It’s the “communism part that controls production – at the point of a gun, which is the totalitarianism part.

            Ad the problem with “basic needs” is that they’re arbitrary. Who decides what everyone needs? Food is a basic need. At what point is it society’s responsibility to provide me with three square? IMO, it should never be their responsibilty to feed me. How about a house? Don’t people need shelter? Why should the government have to provide me with a place to stay? Where does it end, Tony?

            But don’t worry, this isn’t Cash Cab. You can have as many wrong answers as you want and still ride for free!

            1. .Saying that totalitarianism and communism are the same thing…

              Didn’t say that. In fact, I defined two different forms of communism, the democratic form and the authoritarian one. So how about reading what I write before deciding that I’m wrong?

              Ad the problem with “basic needs” is that they’re arbitrary.

              Not entirely arbitrary. There may be controversies on the margins but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to come up with a reasonable list. At any rate, democracies gives everyone an equal say in such matters.

              Where does it end

              Wherever a pragmatic, democratic society decides for it to end. Values can evolve with time. Nothing wrong with that. But nobody of any relevance at this point in time is arguing for state control of all production, yet you’re just equating any redistributive scheme to totalitarian communism and turning off your brain.

              1. I did read what you wrote. That’s how I caught your “to the various totalitarian regimes of the 20th century in which an authoritarian state controlled all of the means of production.” comment.

                All I’m saying is that totalitarianism is a form of governance and economies don’t require any government at all.

                1. Really? Maybe really fucked up economies. How do you enforce contracts without government?

                  1. Anyone with force or the threat of force or the threat of taking their business elsewhere and telling everyone about how they were treated negatively can enforce a contract, or try to enforce a contract. Government is but one way of doing it that a majority of people accept as legitimate. Some people here do not accept government as legitimate enforcer.

            2. A bigger problem than disagreements over what constitutes a person’s basic needs is that giving the government the power to redistribute also gives it the power to oppress.

              To resurrect an old quote, “A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take everything you have.”

              Then there are the other two problems: the sincerity of the commitment by those in power to provide everyone with basic needs and the competence of those in power to do the same. Experience has shown that the free market does a much, much better job of providing for everyone than governments do.

          2. “I’m for a society that collectively provides basic needs so that everyone has a more-or-less equal opportunity to succeed in the capitalist system.”

            You’ve admitted to being a socialist before. Your first fucking post I remember reading was trying to convince libertarians that they should embrace socialism. You’ve said property ownership doesn’t exist.

          3. We’ve got one of those. You should be happy.

      3. It depends upon how you define poverty, and it depends upon the effectiveness of police forces and social norms. Crime hasn’t risen that much despite the current recession, which runs against such claims.

        Most certainly as I point out above, there is a difference between merely meeting some peoples most basic needs and defining poverty as income inequality based upon arbitrary notions of fairness rather than what is actually needed to get ahead.

        1. Basic needs aren’t arbitrary, it’s just that many on the left use the term basic needs to hide their desire to legislate fairness.

          I’d also argue that government programs that would try to meet such basic needs are much better implemented at a state or local level, as that much reduces the dangers of big government when people can vote with their feet if they decide that the taxes they pay for welfare are much higher that what is necessary for people to get ahead; which can be done with some pretty crappy food, basic shelter, and minimal vocational education. Much less than the current entitlements to housing and education that most people get, often irregardless of whether or not they could provide for those things on their own.

      4. Dumb argument.
        The other guy has to produce something that I want, or else me giving him money so he can buy my product is just a roundabout way of giving away my product.

        You’re too brainwashed by that “multiplier effect” bullshit. Spreading money around doesn’t magically increase the quantity of it. It doesn’t work like the Law of Attraction.

        It only works as *investment* – putting people to work producing something that I can then buy from them.

      5. http://www.departments.bucknel…..77toc.html

        Tony and PiGuy, please read the material provided very carefully. It will show precisely what a Communist is and isn’t.

      6. “It’s in your best interest to be your brother’s keeper nice to people, respectful of their property and engage in voluntary relationships.”


        Being your “brother’s keeper” implies dominion and enslavement… As benevolent as you’d like that to be, it just isn’t anything more than the same thuggery the world has seen for eons.

      7. The “brother’s keeper” concept comes from the Bible.

        What about separation of church and state, again?

        1. That was for Tony, and other liberals who conveniently forget the concept when it suits their needs.

          1. Jesus was a communist. Didn’t you get the memo?

      8. “It’s in your best interest to be your brother’s keeper.”

        How do I stand to gain by taking responsibility for a person who won’t take responsibility for himself and who doesn’t want me to take that responsibility, by giving my resources away while getting nothing in return, and destroying my means to produce more resources?

        Mutual poverty and destitution isn’t going to help me or my brother.

  9. We are descending via the unjust path
    and There are are no exits on the unjust high way.

  10. On The Road to Serfdom is a fever’d dream of exploring a country that only exists now in the mind. Fueled by cigarettes, coffee and jazz, it is the semi-autobiographical tale of a restless Jack Hayak, who, along with his friends Alan Ginspan and Neal Mises, searches for the American Dream in the form of freedom, freedom from the slavery of societal expectations and high taxes.

    1. Bravo, Sugar, Bravo.

    2. SF, that should be Salma Hayek.

      1. Save it for the film version, bub.

        1. Oh, good point.

          1. Actually, I forgot… she can play Terry, the Mexican wife on the run from her abusive husband.

            1. No, I think she should play the economist. We posted a Hayek-on-Hayek comparison a while back. Hayek won.

  11. “Brooks discounts that, claiming people forget their “core values” during crises.”
    True enough- but a substantial number of people never seem to find those core values again. If you’re willing up to give up your core values in tougher times, I’m not sure they are really core values.

    1. That or they are the core values of wisps that blow where ever the breeze takes them.

  12. Everything is not black & white. We start and end our lives by consuming more resources than we produce but the vast majority of our lives are productive years.

    1. We start and end our lives by consuming more resources than we produce but the vast majority of our lives are productive years.

      Well, some of us, anyway.

      1. Good point.

      2. Ok geniuses, what do you want to do with those who are not productive according to your standards?

        1. Bring back the “eat the poor” movement.

          1. Marquis, don’t give them any ideas.

  13. So does starvation.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    STFU, Tony.

    1. In this case necessity is the mother of breaking into your house and stealing your food. If only there were some sort of institution to prevent that, or better yet, remove the original problem!

      1. I don’t need an institution to prevent people from breaking into my house and stealing my shit. I have a rifle, and bullets.

        1. You people are so predictable you might as well let me write these threads.

          1. Let’s see:

            A self-righteous, assclownish, self-styled intellectual turns up on a blog maintained by a libertarian magazine, and proceeds to publicly jerk off about the superiority of social institutions in relation to the ills he supposes would attend anarchy. Other commenters proceed to beat him like a rented mule, by pointing out, variously, that he doesn’t have a fucking clue what he’s talking about, or that his beloved social institutions are not necessary solutions to the problem.

            He then complains that those posters are predictable.

            For his next amazing trick, Tony will pour boiling water on his junk and then complain that the resulting scalding is “predictable”.

            1. I have never styled myself an intellectual!

              I shouldn’t have to argue against the ills of anarchy because they are manifest. For one thing, you don’t have anyone telling me not to take your stuff, so you better hope you have more ammo than I.

              1. The ills of anarchy are not even remotely manifest, Mr. Slippery Slope.

                And it’s not the quantity of ammo one has. You’re bringing a knife to a gun fight. Actually, it’s more like you’ve brought a straw and a pocket full of peas to a gunfight. You can shoot all you want.

                No one needs to have more ammo than you. Some people are just better armed.

              2. You assume that in the absence of a police state (which no minarchist would favor — perhaps you should look around and note that libertarianism is a spectrum, not a dot on a line), everyone sinks to ugliness and mayhem ensues. I argue that people who lack some or all of the institutional safety nets you admire come together naturally to take care of each other, or at least to watch each others’ backs.

                It is only because you have always lived in a world where government institutions “protect” and take care of you that you cannot — or refuse to — acknowledge alternatives that rely on ingenuity of small groups or units of small groups. Nimble groups able to turn on a dime in the face of adversity, not gigantic bureaucratic safety nets that take days to roll out of bed when a crisis requires their attention.

              3. I have never styled myself an intellectual!

                Well, that’s a good thing.

              4. “For one thing, you don’t have anyone telling me not to take your stuff”

                Ain’t that the truth! And as a result, you’re actively engaged in trying your damnedest to get government to take other people’s stuff as a result.

                I think you’ve just admitted that your entire basis of interaction with other people is theivery and violence.

                Glad to see the admission.

      2. You mean an institution like the Mafia?

        You don’t get robbed if you pay your protection money. Of course, any system of governance based on such a theory is by defintion corrupt.

        1. No I mean an institution accountable to the people it governs, which is not like the mafia.

          1. Now you are changing your tune. Nothing about a system that is based on buying off people who would do you harm implies being accountable to anyone.

            1. Under anarchy a defacto state would evolve, due to basic public goods problems, network effects and legitimacy concerns with things like the courts and police forces. Private security and arbitration can do a lot more; but they have to operate in the background of a state.

              Police forces are natural monopolies, competition amongst them isn’t really possible. They have economies of scale, they require proximity to the community they serve, and they need people to willingly pay for a good they can benefit a good deal from even if they don’t pay while worrying about conflicts if they were to encounter a person whom it is unsure committed a crime against a subscriber or even subscribes to another police force. The other police force would have incentives to fight the first police force, while the first police first would have an incentive just to screw the guy to satisfy it’s customer. What if the law being violated by the person isn’t one he consented to by joining with the police force? What if it isn’t some clear violation like murder or theft? There are loads of concerns with private law enforcement and they go away the bigger the firm gets and the more subscribers it has, eventually it would probably end up as a defacto state.

              1. “eventually it would probably end up as a defacto state.”

                That could be prevented if the majority of people knew, understood, agree to, and lived by The Law – NO STEALING.

                1. “That could be prevented if the majority of people knew, understood, agree to, and lived by The Law – NO STEALING.”

                  Your pardon, but the majority of the people live by that law right now. It’s the small minority that don’t that are the problem. So what to do in your utopian vision when someone decides not to live that way? Do we form a posse and attempt to hang the person?

      3. Justifying theft and violation of property rights, Tony?

        No wonder you’re a liberal.

  14. Really, perhaps we should split into two classes of people: Those who get extra protection and safety nets, and those of us who go it without government nannying.

    What are you, some kind of panarchist? If so… kudos, sir, on your fine taste in pro-freedom political philosophies.

  15. If I remember correctly, isn’t “scapegoating” somewhere on that road? It seems there are some that are trying to scapegoat illegal immigrants for our economic problems. Mostly in states with budget shortfalls.

    1. If you keep illegal immigrants out of CA hospitals I will die, do you want me to die? Do you?

      1. I’m a physician, and no I don’t want you to die. But I do want you to pay for the services I provide you and the resources you use, so that those same resources might be available for others. The fact is that illegal immigrants do not tend, in aggregate, to contribute enough money to the tax system that finances their health care, particularly in emergency room settings, to offset their consumption of those resources. There are hospitals that have shut down because they were overwhelmed by such (legally mandated) giveaways. That means as a result nobody in that community can get care.
        So no, Mr. red ink, I don’t want you to die. But even more so, I don’t want a citizen of this country to have no access to health care resources because you have overwhelmed the system.

  16. “After all, an economy is just individuals engaging in exchanges.

    It’s more fundamental than that. The economy is people making choices.

    1. ssshhhhh! dont let them know that.

  17. Wait, if we’re all going to be equal now, does that mean that any of us can sodomize a small-time criminal with a broomstick handle and have the cops lie to protect us?

    1. No. As predicted, the pigs will remain more equal.

  18. Now, John, you can’t ask Rep. Paul Ryan a question like that, if you make sense to a politician their brains will short circuit.

    Also I think we need print some The Road to Serfdom books with a more recent date, I’m having a hard time getting my people to read the book because they see the publish date and lose interest.

  19. its good to see people talking about the Road to Serfdom, its message is just as important today as when it was published.
    wish I got Fox Business News, hope they move the show to Fox News. won’t bother spending more money to get FBN because Stossel is the only show I’d watch on that channel.

  20. What a well written article.

    This is obviously why Sweden, Denmark and Norway are doing so poorly….

    1. It’s like my good friend in Denmark says, “It’s a good place to live as long as you don’t think.” Ask him what he thinks about his state. It’s a massive socialist state. I also have friends from the others. Taxes are steep, freedom is low, innovation also. And don’t even try to compare a country like Norway, funded by the North Sea, to America. All of my friends would prefer the freedom in America to the security of those countries.

      I don’t know where this myth came from about these countries. In spite of all evidence to the contrary and history itself, it persists. Patrick Henry did not say, “Give me security or give me death!”

      But, alas, you prove Hayek’s point well.

      1. When Patrick Henry said, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” he was actually referring to a woman he was pining for. True story.

        1. Her name was Liberty?

      2. How is freedom low in Denmark. Please explain. Are they not allowed to travel? Speak what they will or befriend whom they will? Are their restrictions on hobbies?

        Or are you simply claiming that they are less free because they have less money in their pockets, and ignoring the fact that they NEED less because of what the government provides.

        1. That’s the problem, Chad. Other people tell you what you need or want. I’ll decide on my own, thanks.

          1. Yeah you’ll decide once you’ve sucked up all the benefits you get immediately by being born into an advanced, taxpayer-funded society.

            Put your money where your mouth is and move to some anarchic hellhole and see how much you like the “freedom” to make your own choices.

            Like… should I go thirsty or take my chances with that shit-filled water over there?

            1. Funding anything by taxation is a terrible problem.

          2. Can you be more specific? This is a real vague statement.

        2. Denmark prohibits speech that is considered blasphemy or racist.

          Websites are also censored.

      3. Right… Tell that to all the publications often rating the Nordic countries ahead of the USA in innovation.

        I even believe most Nordic countries rate ahead of the USA in terms of democracy. Or in freedom of press. Or a variety of other rankings related to freedom.

        My point is not that Nordic countries are automatically more innovative or “free” than America. Rather that the success of these countries given their extremely high tax rates shows proves that the thesis of this article is not true.

        I have lived in Sweden for the most seven years. And while I respect the opinion of your friend from Denmark there are many others who have different views. In case you don?t pay attention, people in these countries tend to be quite happy with the situation.

        In regards to this quite of yours, “It’s a good place to live as long as you don’t think”, I think you should just examine the level average level of education in the USA and compare it to Nordic countries… You might find that the USA is the one doing less thinking.

        1. Just because people are happy with their current situation doesn’t mean it can’t be better. Complacency is the mother of all evils. Ratings are ridiculous anyways. Some constantly rank our health system last, because it is not equal, meaning no universal health care. That’s absurd. It would be better to rank honestly based on how left the country is then.

          I live in Europe, and the statement that they are more educated is an ignorant, unfounded stereotype, feeding into the close-mindedness that I find here. The hatred I find of other cultures and races is repugnant. Such statements are based on group-think and misunderstanding and fear of others. I mean, most Europeans can’t even tell me where Estonia is or Albania. Some in Germany still call the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia. This is like being from Texas and not knowing where Arizona is. Just because Americans reject massive gov’ts doesn’t make them dumb. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out big gov’t doesn’t work. The smartest man in the world can’t lead two people without messing up. Imagine the problem when they are leading millions. With even the smallest familiarity of economics, this is clear.

  21. I’m curious.

    Where was Mr Stossel’s outrage when Bush and the republicans implemented the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (big time socialism)?

    Where was Mr Stossel’s outrage when Bush and the republicans decided to illegally spy on the american people.

    Where was Mr Stossel’s outrage when Bush and the republicans decided to engage in an illegal war in Iraq…

    Where was Mr Stossel’s outrage when Bush and the republicans decided to torture people?

    I’m sorry, but when you are quiet about it when your guy does it, then get upset about when the other guy does it. That’s hypocrisy..

    1. Here we go, another blind man who thinks Stossel is a conservative. He was working at ABC. Watch his special on the politically incorrect guide to politics or child labor. If there’s anyone who is consistent, it’s Stossel. That’s why people hate him so much. Look him up on youtube. Trashing someone without the facts shows your political bias.

      Better question is where were you? If you say John is a hypocrite, then the assumption is that John is ultimately right. You just don’t agree with the timing of his statements.

    2. Read this and weep:

      “Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.

      In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that “a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records” that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.”

    3. You think Stossel is a conservative or a republican? You are a fucking idiot. There are plenty of us who were outraged about all of those things and are consistently against statism from republicans and democrats.

      1. Colonel Angus.

        Well done. Nice to meet a like minded person.

        Statism is repellant from either the left or right.

    4. Since when is Stossel a supporter of Bush? Only someone completely ignorant of Stossel’s work would say that.

  22. Well, libertarians oppose all of those, and I think Stossel is a libertarian. I imagine that he’s bitched publicly about at least one of the above. I think he tends to deal with domestic matters, which may be why he doesn’t get into the war(s) and foreign policy so much.

    1. Probably didn’t have to in his regular reporting pieces because everyone else on his network was doing it. Focusing on your tasks doesn’t mean you approve of something the president did. It’s the responsibility of the person who raised the question to show some evidence that Stossel was supportive of Bush’s policies. Anything else is partisan hackery.

  23. Ha,
    Have you ever been to either of those countries, more than likely not. Look into the laws in those nations, socialism has wittled away so many rights of the individual, in the expence of the state. You know in the wonderfull kingdom of Sweden you are fined if you dog is left unattended in a yard for more than a half and hour, or that you neighbors can call the police on you for being drunk in your own home. I guess maybe they like that sort of controlled society. This country was set up to be the opposite of what European politics are.

    1. It would be nice if the libertarian movement acted in a practical way to push back on the excesses of the welfare and nanny state. I think we need some public health protections, but I also think, e.g., smoking bans sometimes go too far. Instead libertarians demand utopia now and remain content being on the fringe.

      1. Content? No. Fringe? Mostly.

        I ran across a book highlighting the successes of mutual aid societies and wonder if that’s not the real solution to getting better healthcare to the havenots.

        1. A democratic welfare state is exactly the same thing as a mutual aid society, writ large.

          1. Uh, no. In a mutual aid society, the people in the society pay for a specific service. In a democratic welfare state, there a pretty good chance that you’re paying for a service that you don’t want or need like, say, a bridge in Alaska or a whole fleet of Joint Strike Fighters.

            You’re not really very good at this – are you?

            1. Mutual aid societies require that the strong help the weak. Granted, political and industrial pork are really the strong helping the strong.

              1. No!

                Auto insurance is a good example of a mutual aid society. In that case, the “weak” are required to pay into the system an amount proportionate to the risk that they pose. In fact, if someone becomes too “weak”, they get dropped. If anything, it’s an example of the strong helping the strong since the weak can be weeded out and allow only the most responsible to take part in the society.

                1. Uh… sounds great. So what happens to the weak again?

                  Insurance actually is the strong helping the weak. If you are “strong” you pay more in than you get out, and that pays for the payouts to the weak. Then, sure, since the goal is profit, they try to trim the weak out so that paying in is maximized and paying out minimized. Great business, not a great way to treat citizens.

                  1. Wow you really don’t understand insurance do you, in insurance the strong people would be the low risk ones who would then pay a correspondingly lower premium if markets are allowed to function and the states don’t implement underwriting restrictions.

                    Under true insurance no one pays more than their risk of needing to take money out of the pot plus overhead.

                    Typical liberal, making a simplistic analogy about something he doesn’t understand.

                    1. Auto insurance wasn’t the best of analogies, but in this argument, the “weak” need to pose less risk in order to remain insurable. Don’t drive recklessly, don’t get too many points from speeding, etc. These are choices the “weak” can make in this scenario, so he has the equal opportunity to remain insured by his own choices.

                      If you want to analogize it with poverty, the mutual aid society may take a small portion of whatever the “weak” may be able to muster. It would require him to perhaps take a drug test or go for job training in order to receive the food and shelter he needs. In the mutual aid society, the productive don’t want to support people who waste their benefits by laziness or misdeed.

              2. In fact, the redistibution that you’re advocating is the strong helping the weak. I can afford my basic needs without help but you’re suggesting that I should have to pay for someone else’s? How is that not communism???

                1. Because communism has a specific definition and a modern welfare state doesn’t fit it. The whole purpose of modern redistributive policies is to enhance capitalism and make it fairer.

                  1. No. The whole purpose of modern redistributive policies is to buy votes.

                    1. +1

              3. I don’t have to participate in a mutual aid society, you fucking imbecile. That’s a pretty basic and important difference between a mutual aid society and a “democratic” welfare state.

                1. You don’t have to participate in a democratic society either. You are free to give up citizenship and leave. You just want the benefits of your society without paying for it. That makes you the thief and parasite.

                  1. This is the thing that you consistently fail to wrap your feeble little mind around, Tony: like many people here, I’d gladly pay, voluntarily, for the “benefits of society” that I find useful and valuable.

                    It simply happens that there are an enormous number of things that you would call “benefits of society” that I do not find useful or valuable. And I’m forced to pay for them anyway.

                    Since you can’t justify this any other way, you’re forced to pretend that this is just the price of living in a modern, relatively free society, and that if I don’t like it I can always move to some Third World shithole. Sorry, but that’s a steaming pile of bullshit: history demonstrates conclusively not only that an expansive, intrusive welfare state is absolutely not necessary for a modern, relatively free society to (a) exist and (b) prosper, but that an expansive, intrusive welfare state actually corrodes freedom and prosperity.

                    So, please, go play in traffic.

                  2. Did you read this very article, Tony? It states that in the near future, 70% of people will be enjoying the “benefits of society” without paying for it (or rather, without paying their share). That makes 70% of Americans who are thieves and parasites. Is that what you meant?

                  3. I can’t speak for everyone else but what I want is a government with a military and police force that rationally reacts to threats to my liberty and I’m not opposed to a minimal social safety net.

                    The trouble is that at best you and I vastly disagree about what that minimal level is, and at worst and most likely you aren’t concerned about what living standard is necessary to get ahead but rather just latching on to whatever argument you can find to legislate your arbitrary notions of fairness. Then you come on here and claim that everyone who doesn’t agree with your huge welfare state full of middle class entitlements is a thief and parasite who wants all the benefits of living in society without paying for them; neglecting of course that many libertarians will happily pay taxes for some goods (and if anarchists might not free ride) while the rest of “society’s benefits” are bequeathed to individuals via inheritance from past generations and gains from mutually beneficial trade. I pay for much of my societal gains without taxes merely by trading my specialized labor for the specialized labor of someone else allowing all of us to do what we are good at rather than all of us being crappy hunter gatherers. Even the anarchists with whom I disagree pay for a great deal of their social benefits via trade, while your logic doesn’t hold that because my ancestors developed all sorts of cool stuff that I benefit from I have to pay higher taxes to someone else in the same society who also benefits from all those things too. Our debt to WW2 veterans does not mean that we owe something to homeless people. Even then you are over aggregating the gains of living in society ignoring that many such gains were already paid for by people who gave them to you, they don’t need to be paid for again. Your parents earned their money, and we gave past inventors patents or copyrights; afterwords that stuff become common knowledge.

                    Your arguments are oversimplifications of the real word, designed to denigrate the property rights individuals have to what they earned and kept or freely gave to their children; largely because once your productivity argument behind an expansive welfare state fails you have to claim that people aren’t really entitled to their property anyways to advance your arbitrary notions of fairness. Maybe the rich might keep working in the face of ever higher taxes, but the kind of jobs done by average people aren’t usually quite as exciting or rewarding, and it is unlikely they are going to clock in more if they get some kind of guaranteed middle class income that the left seems to be shooting for; especially when such programs are often so perversely set up such that people who work harder have to make massive income jumps or actually sacrifice money by increasing their productivity. Many poor people face punitive effective marginal tax rates when the tax brackets are combined with loss of access to your state programs.

                  4. We don’t have to participate? We are born into a gov’t that was forced upon us in the beginning and remains forced upon us. We can’t go anywhere, b/c borders prevent free trade, which I am sure you are fully against. If we reject the state and refuse to pay taxes, liberals like you have set it up where we have to go to prison for morally opposing something that is morally repugnant – stealing from others to pay for our economic plans that never work. And, irony of ironies, if we go to prison, then we make someone else pay for us. There’s nowhere to run in your utopia of a democratic welfare state. Try living in one like I am right now. It ain’t pretty.

            2. “a whole fleet of Joint Strike Fighters”

              Are Joint Strike Fighters seaworthy?

              1. Doh – I knew that wasn’t right. Actually, I was going to say “sortie” but looked it up Dr. Wiki says that even one aircraft on a mission could be called a sortie.

                What do you call multiple aircraft? I tried out “gaggle” and “pride” and “pack” in my head but couldn’t quite pull it together.

                1. Try squadron or maybe wing.

              2. DoD Civil Servants do refer to the entire collection of a particular aircraft as a fleet. Are they wrong? Well, they are civil “servants” after all.

                1. ‘Fleet’ is correct, IMO. Commercial airlines refer to their collection of airplanes as a ‘fleet’.

              3. Fleet refering to airplanes is correct.

          2. Mutual aid societies also have ways of ensuring that those they help are taking steps to get back on their feet. Whereas welfare states don’t care. You can go through the motions for years and still keep getting assistance. People who donate their money voluntarily make sure that their money is not wasted.

      2. A liberal complaining about the implementation of utopia. How quaint.

    2. And yet Nordic countries often rank higher than the USA in democracy, freedom of press, and other related surveys to freedom.

      In the USA if you are a company you can be sued if someone uses a lawnmower to try and cut their hedge.

      Did you know in the USA that you cannot have anal sex in the privacy of your own home in some states?

      Strange laws exist in many countries. I actually have lived in Sweden for the past seven years since graduating from an MBA program here and can say that it is a very free country.

      It has altered my perspective in regards to taxes quite drastically.

      Society can still be productive if you raise taxes a few percentage points. Seriously…

      1. Some of the European countries regulate less despite higher tax rates, which helps as regulations can be much harder to deal with than a few percentage points higher taxes. The U.S. also has high corporate tax rates, and in some areas the net state, local and federal taxes approach European levels.

        Also, as you point out even in some of the more regulated European economies if a company follows the regulations it can’t be sued, unlike in the U.S. where a drug company can be sued if a doctor misreads the directions.

        Taxes aren’t the whole picture, as Hayek in his book points out which I said above; the road to serfdom is much more relevant to government attempting to micromanage the economy than it is to having some minor tax hikes to pay for programs for the truly poor. There are definitely aspects of freedom where both the U.S. and Europe are better than each other.

        What you want to avoid is state micromanagement of the economy and picking winners and losers, and creating a massive entitlement state where more people work for/receive benefits from the state than pay for the state as that will likely discourage work and discourage state fiscal responsibility.

  24. chad, have you not read my swedish examples, I am sure they could apply to any of those countries, why do you think that finland is the playground for sweds.

    1. “why do you think that finland is the playground for sweds”

      For the same reason that child molesters go to Bankok.

  25. Everybody wants freedom. The problem is that there are two incompatible types of freedom – the freedom to determine your own destiny, and the freedom from responsibility. Unfortunately, more people are choosing the latter.

  26. Has Palin ever said anything about him?
    has she read the book or maybe dismissed him as a snobbish elitist?

    1. I believe Palin is waiting for his book to come out in palm.

  27. Serfing is a two way street. The elite sustain a dependent class to support a social order based on property. The dependent class becomes more illegitimate as the ownership class gains political influence.
    democracy devolves into plutocracy,the oligarchy, then dictatorship until some crisis at which time the autocrat cannot support the people with belief, food, or the promise of rain.

  28. I think that very soon we will see what happens when the support network that keeps people alive who have never had to learn a skill ( other than fill out a government form) -self destructs. Then the welfare class will finally have to pay the price, what skills do welfare kings and queens have? Well they’ve been stealing from us for years so they can do that. Welfare brood-mares reproduce for a living so they can at least make money from sex.
    So what else happens? They resort to violence, they kill for what they consider theirs.
    We have been paying these people for years a bribe. We pay them to be lazy and ignorant and they stay in their ghetto – because they are too lazy and stupid to leave. That will soon end. Look around, the cracks in the system are everywhere. Those who are not now serfs, will survive.

  29. OT. Bill Clinton missed a chance today to seal his legacy. Instead of blithely skipping off to the hospital to get his heart condition treated, he could have publicly declared that as a show of support for Obama’s agenda he would appear before an Obama death panel to determine what level of healthcare it made sense for him to receive.

  30. I fear that Mr. Stossel is correct and that many Americans — especially younger Americans — would prefer a Mommy State. As a college student, I’m surrounded by people who demand health care and education as human rights without ever thinking about who will pay for these “rights” they claim.

    The fact that college curriculum embraces the ideas of Marx and doesn’t even teach those of Hayek may have something to do with my generation’s affinity for Big Government.

    1. I think you’re right, Giles Howard, unfortunately. My father busted his ass off in one 20-year job and then another 20-year job so that he would be in a position to need the assistance of precisely no one when he retired. Contrast that with a young friend of mine, late 20s — smart, practical, friendly — but prone to astonishing bouts of entitlement. As in, “Why do I have to work so hard doing something I don’t like just to achieve some kind of nebulous self-reliance?” That’s code for, “I want stuff given to me because it’s there and I know I can take advantage of it.” These would be Tony’s safety nets. The safety nets degrade personal responsibility. All this talk of them creating a level playing field for creativity and innovation is vapor.

    2. Many intellectuals hate capitalism because it doesn’t give them what they feel entitled to by their self proclaimed towering intellects while their idiot college roommate makes a killing selling people televisions or something.

      College students go along because they are overly emotional, and they have never been exposed to any other kind of thinking; nor have they ever been on the other side of meeting a payroll, dealing with a frivolous lawsuit, or otherwise running a business if they have even had any real job. It also doesn’t help that most of the people who talk about free markets often want to ban gay marriage while overacting to terrorist threats and often not even living up to their free market rhetoric and behaving as crony capitalists.

      1. “nor have they ever been on the other side of meeting a payroll, dealing with a frivolous lawsuit, or otherwise running a business” that explains why you’re up.

        1. Could be the crystal meth.

      2. Tell a Tea Party dude or dudette that you support cutting THEIR entitlements or military spending and watch them go hermetile.

        The TP’ers are big on cutting the bennies of others. But they wll fight you to the death to preserve their own little rice bowl.

        Frankly, the TP’ers are nothing but a re-packaging of the Republican conservative movement. They will conserve what was good about the Republican Party with the NEW promise not to SPEND QUITE SO MUCH.

        But will that really work. Bush Jr. absolutely and incontrovertibly blew up the deficit and expanded the reach of government into our lives.

        In many ways, Bush sat back and allowed the most pernicious form of social abuse and intrusion in the history of this country. By him, and with him, social and christian conservatives made horrible and massive inroads into the private lives of citizens.

        The TP’ers are big on the tyranny of government, but they say VERY LITTLE about the tyranny of society.

        It would behoove them if they came out and gave themselves the name “liberal” in the truest sense: LOVERS OF LIBERTY.

        But that will not happen. They are just the same old Republicans.

  31. I looked for your show at the times you stated they would air and it was not on. So when can we see this show?

  32. Exactly what do all the cranks and amateurs at these non-profit free market think tanks provide that is of VALUE?

    If they are so bully for the markets why did they leave them? Why do they champion what they so assiduously try to avoid.

    Competition is a bitch. Just ask the buffalo in Yellowstone as they try to run away from the wolves in the deep snow.

    Somebody is going to get it.

  33. It’s too bad that we not only have, but are also cultivating a society that is over-loaded with a sense of entitlement. People forget that in order to take something from one person, that something has to exist in the first place. Once the “producers” no longer allow to be stolen from, there will no longer be anything left to redistribute.

  34. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke.

  35. I like that saying, thanks!
    Thanks for posting this. Very nice recap of some of the key points in my talk. I hope you and your readers find it useful! Thanks again

  36. great article i must say i agree with many things that were pointed out , its obvious a lot of these armatures don’t know what they’re doing in this day in age , even with computers and how the market themselves by networking with other companys always seems to change it.

  37. i must agree with everything this article said, a lot of amateurs now a days barley even know how to use a computer yet alone how to network a business into the right direction!

  38. i must agree with everything this article said, a lot of amateurs now a days barley even know how to use a computer yet alone how to network a business into the right direction!

  39. good topic very well adressed i too belive we as a society have over come with technology.

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