Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wisconsin in Perspective on the Protest-Revolution Scale

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared on FOX News Sunday and told host Chris Wallace that he did not want to see any public employees lose jobs. Say what?

Yup, he wants to break the back of public unions, which will result in some loss of power by public employees in negotiations, but this should not be viewed as some kind of brave battle to cut the size of government by any significant degree.

President Obama gets a lot of his support from unions and this looks to me like a Republican attack on that base. In other words, government budgets, including that of Wisconsin, are way out of control. Wisconsin will eventually not be able to pay out the pensions and other benefits promised to teachers and other government employees, so why not take the knife to the unions along with the benefits? Getting rid of unions for public employees isn't a bad idea, but as far as serious cuts beyond what must be done, not a chance.

When you hear talk that education and healthcare need to be returned to the free markets and that charity should be conducted by private sector charity organizations, you will know that the battle is for liberty. Right now, the battle is for who gets to control the shrinking, because of the recession, plunder.

There's no way I can cheer for a bunch of government workers protesting against some of their perks being taken away. I'd like to see their jobs ended. But I can't cheer on a Governor who doesn't show the slightest clue that he understands that public education makes education a bureaucratic monstrosity that turns curious by nature children into bored stiffs (some of whom end up being treated for something called ADD, when the real disease that they have is GCE--government controlled education).

But, of course,current upheaval in the world is not now limited to Wisconsin.

The world is exploding with protests, riots and in some cases revolutions. Behind this disruption of the status quo is the reaction against government attempts to force people against the natural order. In Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and the like, it is pure revolt against totalitarian control. In Greece, Ireland and Wisconsin it is protests against the fact that governments can't do the impossible, i.e. pay out more plunder than they take in (in one form or another). In Greece, Ireland and Wisconsin, the protesters clearly want the impossible. They want the plunder that isn't there.

But at the core, the fundamental problem with all these upheavals is there is no indication that the people in any of these situations understand what makes for a growing prosperous society. In Greece, Ireland and Wisconsin, the protesters are clearly self-centered, who have no clue that they would live in a much better society if the governments simply ended their positions and stopped taxing the people. This would result in the people hiring the government employees in the private sector, where the incentives would result in a growing society.

In the revolutions of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya it is not clear what will replace the totalitarians. There is no indication that the masses understand the destructive nature of government control.

From Wisconsin to Libya, the teachings of Hayek, Mises and Rothbard are still not generally understood. Until they are, protests, riots and revolutions may simply just set the stage for future protests, riots and revolutions, as one government plan is replaced by some other government plan that won't work in the long run. Nothing will really change until the people truly understand the importance of the rule of law, private property and free markets. Until Hayek, Mises and Rothbard are on the lips of revolutionaries the way Marx and Guevera and are now, the revolutions shall continue.


  1. How I cheer myself up: 1. Remind myself that the decentralizing power of the Internet has only just barely begun to show it's effect on the hearts and minds of the world. Whether it takes one more generation or two or three, it is only a matter of time before a truly free society emerges.
    2. Looking forward to saying "I told you so!" to so many people who think "we have the smartest minds working on fixing the economy" and "things can only get better", and "Gold and Silver are stupid".

  2. Great Post. Makes sense to me

  3. From the front lines here in Wisconsin. I agree this is simply a political battle between democratic public sector unions and the newly elected republicans, a squabble amongst thieves if you will. But the unions supported the wrong side and are going to get what they deserve, live by the sword, die by the sword. But there opportunities. 1) When the wave of state and municipal default comes, the idea that pensions are a problem will be front and center.2) The appeal for separating school and state should grow on account of the behavior of the teachers' union. It is an awful sight to see students turning on their parents to support their "teachers".

  4. The governor should strike a deal with the teachers' union. The public school system with all its infrastructure and property will be turned over to its members free of charge. They will be the new bosses. They will be at liberty to compensate themselves whatever they desire and to mold their working conditions as they please. They will be free to teach whatever they wish, employing any pedagogic theories of their liking.

    Of course, there is a catch. They must freely compete for customers with all others offering teaching services! No more use of the gun to round up unwilling customers and to extract money from strangers with no children. This shouldn't be hard since hysterical public school teachers seem to be universally in favor of zero tolerance for children even sketching stick figures holding guns.

  5. Anonymous' "idea" is written from the same thieving mindset that stole GM from (stock/bondholders) and gave it to unions. His pet unions would get the property worth billions, then use political power ala GM to hold out that hand for perpetual free money to keep the scam running. Win/win for the dark side. Nice try Darth Troll.

  6. The notion of giving union members all the capital of the education system to run in full competition has been done by Marxist systems everywhere. The result is always failure, because entrepreneurship is a rare skill and generally missing from the ranks of unionistas. No successful firm on the market can be run like a collective because collectives are poor environments to sift out genius.

    Anon (at 3:38 AM) is obviously trying to make a rhetorical point; I'm just adding an observation of what Anon probably would expect, if such a fanciful notion were carried through.

  7. Look, I'm a libertarian and an advocate of free markets. But I have to laugh at the idealists who always see a libertarian revolution just around the corner.

    The gun is an object and doesn't kill anyone. People acting purposively are responsible for murder, theft, enslavement and other crimes. These crimes, institutionalized and repackaged as virtues, are the stock-in-trade of the state.

    Conceptually, the state is a big gun. People are the problem, and always have been. People want to dominate others, to take what isn't theirs, to get the maximum pleasure with the least exertion. They haven't changed fundamentally for all of recorded history. Are they changing now? I've seen no evidence to suggest as much.

    But they HAVE saved, accumulated capital and increased their productive output so that the slaves in the master-slave relationship have gradually become less miserable at the same time the masters have gotten ever richer. It's now to the point where the slaves actually think they are free, because they mistake comfort (and voting) for freedom. Political unrest in the US and Europe is a result of threats to their comfort, not freedom. In the Muslim world it is an attempt by the slaves to change masters.

    Take-away: The plunder will continue indefinitely, but living standards will (in the long run, but not the short term) continue to improve. Political activism is a waste of time because the state is a system with a built-in bias against liberty (it's a system of slavery, after all!). Better to focus your efforts on taking care of number one (and two and three, etc.), following the news in a detached, analytical fashion.

  8. To the anonymous that started off w/: "Look, I'm a libertarian and an advocate of free markets. But I have to laugh at the idealists who always see a libertarian revolution just around the corner"

    You are so right. Your post shows that you have truly thought this all the way through. And the last part about the state's built in bias against liberty is very valuable insight. Thank you.

  9. Yes, it is very sad to see young people who rebel because the state doesn't deliver: rebel because "they need" more jobs [from the state], or because they "need" better living conditions. Practically, they are empowering the state to steal and kill more. Shame on them! It is truly the result of ignorance.
    I will be looking to changes when they rebel because the state is stealing all their money.
    With the current state of affairs there will be no changes to be seen.
    I think we need to send this memo to Gerald Celente - "off with their heads" is just an angry cry from the mindless mob. Nothing to see here, Gerald, move along.

  10. I'm with the anonymous who said give 'em the physical plants--all the capital--and let them run their schools as they choose, but divorced forever from any taxing authority.

    Doesn't really matter who owns it all to begin with. In a climate of freedom capital will move into the hands best putting it to use.

    But ya, it's a rhetorical point, I suppose. A climate of freedom? With respect for the right to property?