A friend posted a video of Matt Damon reading a speech that was given by Howard Zinn several years ago. http://vimeo.com/48834336
This is my response.
Apart from the fact that Zinn was an idiot of jaw-dropping proportions, there is some merit to this speech. The main point of agreement for me is that in order to break the present cycle of ever-more unjust law, we're going to have to break hell out of some of those laws. We have been bullied and brainwashed into this non-violent form of prolonged suicide for so long that the only people who can really visualize themselves breaking hell out of some laws are the people who are part and parcel of the problem.
The problem in Germany did not start with people obeying Hitler. It started when Hitler was elected on a socialist/environmentalist platform that promised to smash the rich and redistribute wealth. Hitler said he was going to do all those things, and the German people thought that sounded like a good idea and elected him. None of them asked, "Just how does he figure on doing all that stuff," until it was too late. Hitler did what he did without the consent or assistance of the German people. If anyone spoke up, they died.
In Russia, the people accepted socialism/communism years before Uncle Joe came along, so there was no consent involved with his accession to power. As for obedience, it was pretty much the same thing in Russia as in Germany: obey or die. I've heard people say, "Hitler [or Stalin] couldn't murder a million people if they stood up to him. I think the scoreboard indicates either of them could murder way over a million.
So when Zinn compared the state of the American Sheelple to that of the Germans or Russians, he was miles off target - about average for him.
The single most thundering bit of idiocy is his reference to how the law allocates wealth. Only a Keynsian or a Bolshevik could make such a stunning error. Zinn, if I'm not mistaken, had spent a great deal of time around professors, and was, in fact, a professor, himself, which explains that advanced level of brain damage.
Wealth is created by human action. You can have all the berries in the world laying around, but until someone goes out and picks them, you'll starve. When that someone picks them, it is reasonable for him to say, "Hey, guys. I spent the day picking these berries, so I don't have any firewood. I'll swap berries for wood, K?" And there you have a very rudimentary economy, one based on human action and trade. Oh, and the firewood didn't just happen, either; somebody busted his hump getting that in, too. Keynsians don't understand that. They think wealth just happens, or, as Keynes, himself said, wealth is whatever people decide to call wealth. I can see him now, trying to make a living selling cordwood in hell: "Aw, come on, guys! Wood is worth as much as ice water; you just have to open your minds to a different definition of wealth!"
Government creates one thing, and one thing, only: force. The only way government can allocate wealth is to take it from those who produced it ('cause those who didn't produce it don't have none, and you can't take it from them 'cause they don't have it. K?) So the government can forcibly take wealth from those who produced it and give it to those who don't. Somebody's gettin' screwed in this deal, I can tell already. That's why the best government is a limited one, and specifically, one limited by a written body of law. (Zinn's contempt for the law amazes me. If it weren't for laws against littering and discharging a firearm in the city limits, he'd have been a sack of guts on the sidewalk a long time ago.) Government can allocate ONLY the use of force. Does that scare you? It damned well should. That's why the people need to be armed on par with the government. If the government's only product was pancake batter, the people might not need battle rifles, but that ain't the way it is.
When you accept, as a matter of policy that somebody's gettin' bent over the barrel, the only thing remaining is to decide who gets bent and who stands up behind them - not to put too fine a point on it... Systems that allow this to happen are notoriously fickle. The stand-behind citizen of today is the bend-over-the-barrel citizen of tomorrow. Anyone who advocates such a system really should think about that before voting. (It's too late for America, now, but that's the way it SHOULD HAVE worked.) When you put that kind of power in the hands of the government, all you can do is say, "Yassuh, Boss," and pick dat cotton.
There's an old joke that's a perfect parable. A guy asked a gal if she'd sleep with him for a million bucks. She said she reckoned she would. He said how about a buck and a half? She snapped, what kind of woman do you think I am? He said we've already determined that, Darlin'; we're just dickering over the price.
There really are only two ways to run an economic system. You can let the producers do their thing, using the written law as a standard of behavior so they don't use force against anyone, or you can put the power in the hands of the government. In the former case, the producers are motivated by a desire for wealth, and the surest way to that in a lawful, orderly society is to provide the best product at the best price. Wages, prices, supply, and demand are controlled by natural forces. And always - ALWAYS! - there must be the law, making sure that nobody uses force on anyone else.
In the latter case, the government is motivated to run the economy in a just and fair way, allowing the producers to make enough to satisfy them, and generously allowing those who don't produce enough to be comfortable and happy. The government will recognize that a desire for more in a producer is base greed, and in a lazy shirker, a simple human desire to live better. Oops. My sarcasm got the better of me. Sorry. So, yes, a free market can go awry, but so can a controlled one. On the one hand, you must trust to human nature and to the law. On the other, you must trust to human nature and raw power.
23 Nov., 2013