Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Government is Force (Feb Posting)
Over the course the semester, I have benefited from examining some of the literary works of notable Austrian Economists. Although I have had difficulty adjusting my thought process from a neoclassical economic one to an Austrian one, I have especially become fond of the work of Murray Rothbard.
To be sure it took me a while to appreciate some the philosophical implications of Rothbard’s work. And while I have made every attempt to partition my neoclassical academic training from my new Austrian academic training, inevitably the sound arguments from the Austrian School have slowly taken over the neoclassical.
One particular position Rothbard has, that I have come to be fond of, is his view of the “role of the State—the government.”
Rothbard writes in For a New Liberty, “Only the government, in society, is empowered to aggress against the property rights of its subjects, whether to extract revenue, to impose its moral code, or to kill those with whom it disagrees.”
Government uses its coercive power to tax to compel its citizens to pay for services and goods he or she may not otherwise use. I get taxed to pay for our police departments and our Sherriff’s Office, but I have never called on them for service. I am compelled to pay taxes to support our local fire department, but I have never used them to extinguish anything.
Grocery stores do not force me to purchase groceries from them. I willingly enter into a free-exchange agreement to purchase foodstuffs from them. Clothing stores do not compel me to purchase clothes from them. I voluntarily purchase clothing or other goods from them as a consumer.
But government forces and compels its citizenry to purchase goods and services through the threat of coercion. To be sure we can all refuse to pay taxes. But the State will compel payment by the threat of wage garnishment or imprisonment. The State will get its share because the State can freely exercise its force wantonly.
There is no protection from government. The military is government. The police are the State. There exists no protection from the freely exercisable force that is government.
As stated in class, “Government is force.”