Serfs had it betterWritten by Kurt St. Angelo
With our present taxation, you and I control less than 50 percent of what we earn, while a mere majority of our local, state and federal representatives – about 360 people – control more than 50 percent of our earnings.
We are quantifiably less than 50 percent economically free. Even serfs cut better economic deals with their masters. If our local, state and federal governments cut spending and lowered only your taxes, would that make you wealthier? Yes. Would it also make me wealthier? Yes, though not to same extent. When governments cut spending and lower only your taxes, this still benefits rest of us.
I learned this in high school when we studied The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, a book published in 1776. Smith correctly theorized that cumulative effect of individuals seeking their own self-interest works like an invisible hand to allocate economic resources, stimulate innovation and create national wealth.
This is opposite view held by proponents of controlled economies, who say that resources and wealth are best allocated centrally, by few, from top down. Such proponents believe that you can benefit most when government extracts more from me. Followers of Smith, including modern-day libertarians, believe that we all benefit when government extracts less from you or me, but preferably both.
The dismal history of controlled economies validates Smith’s theories and value of free markets. Nations where a relatively few people make decisions for others comprise most of world’s poorest nations. The former Soviet Union, Cuba, mainland China, Eastern Europe, Burma and North Korea are perfect examples.
Because of our nation’s accumulated wealth, relatively poor people here enjoy higher standards of living than relatively richer people in controlled economies. Our nation’s poor enjoy higher quality products, at lower prices, and more choices in everything from televisions to toothpaste than richest man in Romania. America’s poor breathe better air, drink better water, have better sanitation, and have more heat, food and health care available than most of billions of people in world – all because of our country’s relative wealth.
But here are two caveats about national wealth. First, all nations, including ours, become relatively poorer when their leaders make economic decisions for others. And second, declines in national wealth always hurt that nation’s poor first and worst. Economic policies that promote wealth ironically are most effective ways to help poor.
Government schools vs. parents' rulesWritten by Kurt St. Angelo
Government schools vs. parents' rules by Kurt St. Angelo @2005 Libertarian Writers' Bureau
I usually hold up Indiana’s constitution for libertarian principles that it embodies, such as individual liberty and self-responsibility. However, in area of education, Indiana’s constitution is downright communitarian or, shall I say, socialistic.
Article VIII, Section 1 says that General Assembly shall provide “a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.” This means that state has a responsibility to provide education. It also means that every person in Indiana has a constitutional civil right to a public education, for which others must pay. This is essence of socialism.
There are only two ways our state government can fulfill this education mandate. The first is way we do it today – in model of state-run Soviet socialism. Under this regime, state government controls teachers, curriculum and capital assets, which are education’s so-called means of production.
This is analogous to Soviet government’s control of energy, natural resources, factories and manpower in its failed production of just about everything. Government schools offer an inferior educational product at nearly twice price per student compared to private and parochial schools.
There is a reason for poor performance. It’s called lack of competition. No one can control spending and improve quality within a monopolistic system that has no true competitors. If politicians didn’t prop them up by excluding competition, government schools would likely wither away like Soviet state factories. The other kind of educational system – call it voucher education – would serve us much, much better. Like original G.I. bill, this policy provides that government pay for education, but not necessarily provide it. This is good for no other reason than government does very little well – which is an especially critical issue when it involves our children. In a voucher system, parents could chose to what public or approved schools to send their children. For example, students with interests in music or science could select schools with music or science profiles. Other students may pick schools based on special needs. Vouchers mean being able to chose from a variety of schools, given children’s varied needs and interests.