Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why We Should Not Underestimate the State

By Robert Higgs

Many of my friends think of the state as stupid, and therefore an easy foe for determined dissidents to defeat. I have a different view.

For one thing, the state has always had ready resort to those with cutting-edge expertise in the private sector, from the days when it hired Eli Whitney to manufacture muskets with interchangeable parts to our own time, when it hires Oracle, Microsoft, and a host of other high-tech companies to help it spy on us. History has shown that no task is so revolting and criminal that the state cannot attract private contractors to carry it out.

Moreover, even if the private-sector geniuses refuse to sign up, the state can, whenever push comes to shove, simply send its goons to smash your door and haul you off to one of its dungeons. Such actions, especially if taken on a wide scale, have a marvelously educational effect on dissidents and would-be dissidents.

Because the state has the capacity to raise enormous amounts of money and to bamboozle the great mass of the public, it can employ these two tactics — outsourcing of operations and use of raw force — pretty much as it finds optimal. It is a mistake to underestimate the state simply because its visible face consists of seemingly idiotic politicians.


  1. Excellent. I totally agree. They view people like gnats, mostly. Until one of those gnats, like Snowden, really pisses them off. And compounds it by outsmarting them to boot.

  2. The state only looks stupid if you assume it is looking out for the common good. When you make the assumption that the state insiders are just trying to maximize their own access to graft and corruption opportunities, it makes a lot more sense.

    But we should also remember that liars have to process exponentially more information in their daily transactions than honest people. That is a crippling handicap for the statists, and the more powerful the state, the worse that handicap gets.

  3. Patients cross borders for online deals on medications

    When "Bill" learned three years ago that a medication normally used to treat multiple sclerosis patients might help save his remaining good eye from macular degeneration, he was eager to try it.

    But Bill was surprised to learn that the drug, Copaxone, would cost up to $11,000 per year from a pharmacy in his hometown of New York City. And he would have to pay for that entirely himself. Medicare wouldn't cover even part of the cost because the drug is not approved in the U.S. for macular degeneration treatment.

    When he told the price to the ophthalmologist who had written him the prescription, "He said, 'Why don't you try to find a Canadian pharmacy that will sell it?'" recalled Bill, an 81-year-old retired statistician, who requested his real name not be published.

    Bill went online and found such a pharmacy. Since then, he has regularly ordered the medication from Canadian outlets, which, after verifying his prescription, have the Copaxone shipped from the United Kingdom to him.

    A 28-week supply—one injectable vial per week—most recently cost him $1,200 from a Canadian pharmacy. The last time he checked prices of the same supply at U.S. pharmacies, he saw it would have cost him between $4,500 and $5,550, Bill said.

    But Bill's international online shopping violates the law—a fact that he was unaware of until he spoke with CNBC this week.

    It is illegal for individuals to import prescription drugs into the United States, with rare exceptions.
    And the Food and Drug Administration says: "Medicine bought from foreign sources, such as from Internet sellers, from businesses that offer to buy foreign medicine for you, or during trips outside the United States, may not be safe or effective. These medicines are illegal and may present health risks, and FDA cannot ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of medicine from these sources. FDA cannot help consumers who have problems with medicine obtained from outside U.S. regulation and oversight

    Break law or go without

  4. People believe those in the government are stupid because they can't stomach or even think of the alternative. That they are intentionally doing what they do. But the simple fact is once I learned to look at everything government does with regards to how it benefits those in and running and close to government, the state never looked stupid again.