Liberty, justice, taxes, and the U.S. Constitution

1040

Article 1 Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution limits the taxation powers of Congress, saying:

“No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

This simply outlaws income taxes.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ends:

“…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

This says the government may not deprive the accused of natural rights, and that the government cannot take private property without paying for it.  

Some would argue that the last part does not apply to income or labor, but only to physical property, such as land or belongings.  Let it be recognized, however, that land and belongings are nothing more than tangible storages of income and labor.  Moreover, it would be absurd to suggest that a man’s labor is not his property, and therefore, according to this amendment, the government may not take a person’s labor (income) for public use without just compensation.

The Sixteenth Amendment grants Congress the authority to tax incomes:

“Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

This is a clear contradiction of Article 1 Section 9.

Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

This prohibits any entity from forcing any individual to work by force or by state-imposed coercion (or threats thereof), unless as a punishment for a crime.  

The income tax is not technically a form of involuntary servitude to the government, because the government does not force anyone to work.  However, under the income tax, everyone who chooses to work is forced to work for the government, so the spirit of the amendment may very well apply to outlawing the income tax.  

There are certainly those who feel like slaves to the government, because the government takes a great part of the fruits of their labor; but technically, this is not true, because they may always choose not to work, and while this choice may be a threat to their survivals, it is not a direct threat from government.  This unhappy choice, however, contains the implicit threat: “work for the government, or die.”  So it is not completely clear whether the income tax qualifies as universal slavery, which would be prohibited by this amendment.

When this amendment ended slavery, note that it literally scribbled out all other portions of the Constitution that contradicted the new amendment.  Note also that, when the Sixteenth Amendment was written to allow income taxes, none of the previous portions that outlaw such taxes were removed from the Constitution.  

This practical difference, I believe, shows the spirit with which these two amendments passed.  When slavery was ended, the public was quick to remove from the record all evidence of its existence, because slavery was a stain on liberty and justice; it was an embarrassment to an otherwise proud society of free individuals.  But when the income tax was instituted, the amendment allowing it was the embarrassment to freedom, and all else in the Constitution that contradicted it was left to bear, so the people could still call it their own, and perhaps retain some nostalgic feeling of what it was to be free.

Advertisements

Statist dem(on)s scorn sensible reform

devilish president

Need to solve the health care problem? Easy: allow healthcare providers to deduct from their taxes the costs of treating those who cannot pay.  It’s beautiful: doctors and patients make all the decisions (not insurance companies or the government).  

This proposal helps everyone, but Congress ignores it–won’t consider it, would never allow it–because most politicians care not about the poor, the rich, nor any individuals but themselves. Most politicians, left and right, are statists.  Though they may make a show of attending a church or synagogue, the statist faith falsely preaches that the state is god, and that politicians are angels of infinite benevolence.

Statists are no angels; they are demons.  They are fear personified.  Behind his smiles and handshakes, the statist harbors a secret fear of every elector. He fears the poor in numbers, the rich in power, but his greatest fear is that the people will realize this truth: freedom works.

When government is limited to establishing equality under the law, enforcing contracts, and protecting life, liberty, and property, the politician is small and powerless.  This is the statist’s greatest fear, and his greatest desire is its polar opposite: to become all-powerful.  He marches through history toward that desire, at times leaping forward, occasionally nudged back, but never ceasing in his effort to advance against the freedom of individuals.  

The statist’s end is always to relieve the individual of power, that it may be lost in the abyss of centralized control.  To be clear, power taken from the individual by government is lost, because the government cannot use it.  Government is a force that may prevent individuals from using power, but it has no creative energy, and when government’s force rises, society’s power falls.  When the demon achieves his ultimate goal of becoming all-powerful, he establishes a society of individuals who have no ability to exercise power at all.  What follows is hell.

A letter concerning economic reality

As a response to this bloomberg.com article, which declares and celebrates the end of laissez-faire economic influence, I shared with my mother (who forwarded the article to me) thoughts so relevant to the economic discussion in America today, they are worth repeating here:

This article, besides unpardonably confounding economic liberty with imperial oppression and brutal dictatorhip, grossly neglects theoretical argument, so the ignorant reader is to accept its conclusion without understanding it.  This negligence of thought is a necessary means to an unreasoned end.  So far from being worthy of publication, this article would be expensive at any price, and is not worth the time spent reading it.  By equivocating much, it says nothing.

The idea that Barack Obama will “referee the laissez-faire versus free-market debate” is laughable; as referee in that non-existent contest (laissez-faire and free-market are inseparable allies), Obama would probably sabotage both competitors and declare an interventionist victory.

I will present a few points ignored by this article that, if attended to, would render a very different image.

First, it has been over a century since we have had a free market for goods and services and private control of production and consumption.  Therefore we have not had capitalism, and it is irrational to blame economic woes on a system that does not exist; it is as reasonable to blame Martians.

Secondly, and most importantly, government fostered the economic crisis.  Behold artificially low interest rates during the tech bust of 2001-02.  The only way to keep rates so low is by printing money out of thin air.  This government-created free money combined with implicit government guarantees of new loans via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac generated a housing bubble and subsequent financial bubble large enough to threaten the existence of the global financial system.  Because that system is naturally undeserving of its legitimacy, its collapse may be a good thing, but only if governments practice humility in the aftermath.  Governments should understand that the maximization of individual freedom is their purpose, both politically and economically.  Governments should come to know that the evils of paper money cannot be overstated.  Governments should not allow interested monopolies to control monetary bases.  Governments should focus on destroying monopolies, not turning them into unavoidable institutions.  Inexplicably, we must now rest our hopes of economic salvation upon the imminent Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, both of whom promoted bad loan practices and free money policies for years, and neither of whom saw the economic crisis coming.  This is a sure case of the inmates running the asylum.

On this point, note that at least one House Representative did accurately predict the events that led to the financial bust.  In a speech to the House in 2001, he said “despite the long-term damage to the economy inflicted by the government’s interference in the housing market, the government’s policies of diverting capital to other uses creates a short-term boom in housing. Like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing.” That Representative was ignored by almost everyone, and probably laughed at by the interventionist economists that this article aggrandizes.  That Congressman was Dr. Ron Paul, who continues to be widely ignored by popular economists, his colleagues, and our media.

Thirdly, most true free-market economists follow the “Austrian” theories of Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich A. von Hayek.  Free marketeers typically place more value on each of these three than Milton Friedman because their work was much more thorough, more laissez-faire, and more conclusive.  Few if any contemporary proponents of laissez-faire economics hail from the University of Chicago.

Economic science and history inform us that there will eventually be a final and all-destructive economic downturn: the fiat currency bust, which in the United States will be the destruction of the dollar.  The nature of this destruction will likely be hyperinflationary, like Germany’s post-WWI Mark or the ancient Roman denari (severe dilution of silver content in coins was the ancient “paper” money, and is still practiced).  I hope this will be followed by a return to sound asset-backed currencies and the elimination of fraudulent banking institutions, whose theft brings so much hardship to the unaware, unoffending, humble human.

Emerson cherished gold standard, limited government

Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing is popular among progressives, who often share his criticisms of materialism, simony, and intolerance.  When I began reading his complete works, I wrongly expected to see “progressive” economic and political views; I did not.  I was surprised to learn that, regarding the size and scope of government, Emerson is at odds with progressives; when they use his words, they abuse his philosophy.  Emerson not only advocates the idea of limited government, but holds the political philosophy of no-government.  He certainly did not believe in what Joe Biden incorrectly calls “fairness.”

Emerson is no critic of capitalism or free markets; he sees injustice in fiat money, and cherishes the gold standard.  Logically, then, the progressive who defames the gold standard shows more respect to the economic philosophy of Richard Nixon than that of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  If Emerson were to have a conversation with Barack Obama about economics, he would probably conclude that Obama is either poorly educated, or educated to think poorly.  Emerson, being a good assessor of fitness, would probably find Obama unfit to govern in a free society.

Relative Emerson quotes:

“We live in a very low state of the world, and pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force.”

“It is not the office of a man to receive gifts.  How dare you give them?  We wish to be self-sustained.  We do not quite forgive a giver.  The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.  We can receive anything from love, for that is a way of receiving it from ourselves; but not from any one who assumes to bestow.”

“Necessity does everything well.”

“All public ends look vague and quixotic beside private ones.  For any laws but those which men make for themselves are laughable.”

“The less government we have the better.”

“Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.  Property keeps the accounts of the world, and is always moral.  The property will be found where the labor, the wisdom and the virtue have been in nations, in classes and (the whole life-time considered, with the compensations) in the individual also.”

“Since we are all so stupid, what benefit that there should be two stupidities!”

“The laborer is a possible lord.  The lord is a possible basket-maker.”

“The English dislike the American structure of society, whilst yet trade, mills, public education and Chartism are doing what they can to create in England the same social condition.  America is the paradise of the economists; is the favorable exception invariably quoted to the rules of ruin; but when he speaks directly of the Americans the islander forgets his philosophy and remembers disparaging anecdotes.”

“The ambition to create value evokes every kind of ability.”

“Another machine more potent in England than steam is the Bank.  It votes an issue of bills, population is stimulated and cities rise; it refuses loans, and emigration empties the country; trade sinks; revolutions break out; kings are dethroned.  By these new agents our social system is molded.”

“It is rare to find a merchant who knows why a crisis occurs in trade, why prices rise or fall, or who knows the mischief of paper money.”

“What befalls from the violence of financial crises, befalls daily in the violence of artificial legislation.”

“How did our factories get built?  How did North America get netted with iron rails, except by the importunity of these orators who dragged all the prudent men in?  Is party the madness of many for the gain of the few?  This speculative genius is the madness of a few for the gain of the world.  The projectors are sacrificed, but the public is the gainer.”

“I have never seen a man as rich as all men ought to be, or with an adequate command of nature.  The pulpit and the press have many commonplaces denouncing the thirst for wealth; but if men should take these moralists at their word and leave off aiming to be rich, the moralists would rush to rekindle at all hazards this love of power in the people, lest civilization should be undone.”

“Wealth brings with it its own checks and balances.  The basis of political economy is non-interference.  The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply.  Do not legislate.  Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws.  Give no bounties, make equal laws, secure life and property, and you need give no alms.  Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands.  In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile to the industrious, brave and persevering.”

“Friendship buys friendship; justice justice; military merit, military success.  Good husbandry finds wife, children and household.  The good merchant, large gains, ships, stocks and money.  The good poet, fame and literary credit; but not either, the other.  Yet there is commonly a confusion of expectations on these points.  Hotspur lives for the moment, praises himself for it, and despises Furlong, that he does not.  Hotspur of course is poor, and Furlong a good provider.  The odd circumstance is that Hotspur thinks it a superiority in himself, this improvidence, which ought to be rewarded with Furlong’s lands.”

“The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.”

“To detach a man and make him feel that he is to owe all to himself, is the way to make him strong and rich.”

Who are the true patriots?

Young Ron Paul

“Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders.  Sadly though, those few who do object to the self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

Though welfare and socialism always fail, opponents of them are said to lack compassion.  Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops.  The cliche ‘support the troops’ is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of supporting the policy no matter how flawed it may be.  Unsound policy can never help the troops.  Keeping the troops out of harm’s way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops.  With this understanding, just who can claim the title of patriot?  Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict for which we will be held responsible, before the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done.

I am assured that our course of action should be clear.  Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required.  Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes.  But let it not be said that we did nothing.  Let not those who love the power of the welfare-warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as un-patriotic or uncaring.  Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security.  Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.” – Ronald E. Paul, M.D.

Patriotism is not blind nationalism.  In my view, there is none more foolish than the man who pledges his whole life to a government, only because it currently rules the accidental location of his birth.  True patriots are not loyal to a land mass, a government, a person, or group of people; they are loyal to ideas–the ideas that nature and history prove righteous to their own reflection, such as self-government and individual liberty.  It is not only the flag to which true patriots pledge allegiance, but also the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Sadly, these simple lines, which we have recited for as long as we can remember, have nearly lost their meaning for most Americans.

Perhaps we are so long removed from the origination of a free society that we have forgotten its price.  Perhaps we have forgotten what freedom is: the absence of government coercion.  Perhaps we have forgotten that truly beneficial policies almost always stand on their own merit, without the aid of massive government enforcement agencies.  Perhaps we have begun to take liberty for granted, so we allow it to be chiseled away each year by just a few more taxes, just a few more regulations, just a few more unconstitutional spending programs, just a few more harmless potheads turned into untouchable felons, just a few more unwarranted surveillance operations, just a few more troops on our streets to suppress the political dissenters, just a few more unfounded arrests and detainments, just a few more unnecessary casualties in the never-ending war for universal authority, just a few more computerized balloting systems, and just a little bit more government control.  After all, most of us feel we can still go about our business uninterrupted by these controls and live adequately, if not freely.  I fear now that by the time we realize that this is no longer true, by the time our old friends and fellow citizens–educated, hard-working, freedom-loving people of integrity–are declared dangerous enemies of the state, it will be too late to change the authoritarian direction of our nation, and it will be easier for us to act nationalistic and tolerated, silent and unencumbered, compliant and alive, than to be honest and endangered, righteous and imprisoned, patriotic and dead.  The false patriots will have won, successfully driving freedom out of the only safe harbor it has ever known.  American freedom, having long treaded in tempestuous weather, is drowning in the vast seas of prosperity and contentment it produced.  Its only lifeline is We the People.

If we the people leave, do they the rulers win?

We have owners.  They own us.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” – Ron Paul

The long-term economic outlook for this country is so grim–and this is well-researched and almost universally accepted–that I can hardly see myself sticking around to endure it. A free and great industrial republic has become a credit-addicted empire, propped up today not by human productivity and ingenuity, but by the artistic renderings of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving–a small bandage placed fruitlessly on a fatal systemic illness.

Americans, as a whole, are either unaware of their collective fate, or unwilling to alter it. Toss charges in whatever direction you wish; the real culprit is in the mirror. But no matter where we place the blame for our government’s fiscal mess, we would be wise to understand that economic laws cannot be ignored forever, that justice is a force of nature not to be denied, and that reality will set in–as soon as we accept this diagnosis, we can begin to treat the disease. Every American born today enters a society of bondage, accompanied by a $75,000 liability to a government that child did not elect. I am twenty-four years old, and I hope that in the future, American children will be born free. I am, however, reluctant to believe this will happen in my lifetime.

As we the people request greater freedoms, they the government tighten our chains, and we are left with a choice: we may stay in America and struggle against our rulers for what we once called inalienable rights, or we may seek refuge in another land. If I, as an advocate for liberty, leave America, have I allowed the totalitarian forces in this country to win? Is liberty like a game, with winners and losers? If so, is there any chance the people can ever beat the government? Should I stay and fight for America’s true cause, or should I go and find prosperity elsewhere? My dilemma is not a new one. In Hitler’s Germany, were the liberty-minded citizens who fled the country better than the liberty-minded activists who stayed and were imprisoned or killed for their beliefs? As I wonder which option is better, I am reminded of a couple of quotes:

“I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” – Thomas Paine

If I could find a truly free country, I would move there, but it seems the increasingly oppressive governments of the world have rejected the enlightened principles that many countries once embraced, and most individuals still do embrace. What keeps me here is best expressed by the following utterance, which, though relevant, is probably too clever and wise to appear alongside my earnest musings:

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last, best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. Alexander Hamilton said, ‘a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.’ And in that sentence, he told us the entire story: if we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to; this is the last stand on Earth.” – Ronald Reagan

Let freedom ring.

Hayek’s road of wisdom

Hayek

The Road to Serfdom is real. Americans travel its course with eyes shut. Some of us have opened our eyes, but at this point, we feel powerless to change the direction of the masses, who march confidently in the dark, behind their eyelids. If you do not yet know what is wrong with this country, you will have a hard time understanding what those who have awakened are feeling, but I will try to describe it:

Imagine you are in a crowd marching toward the edge of a cliff, perhaps one hundred yards ahead. All the people around you–your fellow citizens, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and family–are in a hypnotic trance. The most regarded intellectuals are there, alongside the blue-collared laborers. Your children are at the front of the line, looking not entranced but bewildered; and being good children, they obey the adults who pressure them forward. The crowd approaches the cliff’s edge without even acknowledging its existence. You try to point out the folly ahead. You plead with them, yell at them, shake their shoulders, pound their chests, and slap them in the face, until you grow weary and mad. They do not heed your warnings, but tighten their ranks, and move forward, trapping you inside their throng. You cannot remove yourself from their movement. The coming fall is as much your fate as it is theirs, but they refuse to see it coming. They appear completely senseless. You notice that they are looking up at something–some irrelevant nonsense from which you cannot steal their focus for even a moment. It is the song of the sirens that will bring about their fall–your fall. They are about to push their children–as well as your own–off the edge of a very high promontory, and there is nothing you can do to stop them.

If you can imagine a situation like the one I have just described, you can imagine how those of us who have awakened to the injustices of our government must feel. Now, imagine that it’s real. The warnings were summarized extremely well by F.A. Hayek in 1944, in his famous reflection of warning, about the socialistic economic causes of German fascism, The Road to Serfdom, from which I quote to drive home truth and rationality:

“If in the long run we are the makers of our own fate, in the short run we are the captives of the ideas we have created. Only if we recognize the danger in time can we hope to avert it.”

“There are few signs yet that we have the intellectual courage to admit to ourselves that we may have been wrong. Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and naziism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”

“Many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of naziism, and sincerely hate all its manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny.”

“Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavor consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?”

“How many features of Hitler’s system have not been recommended to us for imitation from the most unexpected quarters, unaware that they are an integral part of that system and incompatible with the free society we hope to preserve? The number of dangerous mistakes we have made before and since the outbreak of war because we do not understand the opponent with whom we are faced is appalling. It seems almost as if we did not want to understand the development which has produced totalitarianism because such an understanding might destroy some of the dearest illusions to which we are determined to cling.”

“The contention that only the peculiar wickedness of the Germans has produced the Nazi system is likely to become the excuse for forcing on us the very institutions which have produced that wickedness.”

“When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn–when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism–we naturally blame anything but ourselves.”

“That democratic socialism, the great utopia of the last few generations, is not only unachievable, but that to strive for it produces something utterly different that few of those who now wish it would be prepared to accept the consequences, many will not believe until the connection has been laid bare in all its aspects.”

“It must always be remembered that socialism is a species of collectivism and that therefore everything which is true of collectivism as such must also apply to socialism.”

“Anyone who has observed how aspiring monopolists regularly seek and frequently obtain the assistance of the power of the state to make their control effective can have little doubt that there is nothing inevitable about this development.”

“It is the very complexity of the division of labor under modern conditions which makes competition the only method by which such coordination can be adequately brought about.”

“The argument for freedom is precisely that we ought to leave room for the unforeseeable free growth.”

“While it is true, of course, that inventions have given us tremendous power, it is absurd to suggest that we must use this power to destroy our most precious inheritance: liberty. It does mean, however, that if we want to preserve it, we must guard it more jealously than ever and that we must be prepared to make sacrifices for it.”

“Although the state controls directly only the use of a large part of the available resources, the effects of its decisions on the remaining part of the economic system become so great that indirectly it controls almost everything.”

“The effect of the people’s agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go: with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all.”

“Agreement that planning is necessary, together with the inability of democratic assemblies to produce a plan, will evoke stronger and stronger demands that the government or some single individual should be given powers to act on their own responsibility. The belief is becoming more and more widespread that, if things are to get done, the responsible authorities must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure.”

“Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested Hitler, he yet seemed the only man strong enough to get things done.”

“It is the price of democracy that the possibilities of conscious control are restricted to the fields where true agreement exists and that in some fields things must be left to chance.”

“When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”

“The fashionable concentration on democracy as the main value threatened is not without danger. It is largely responsible for the misleading and unfounded belief that, so long as the ultimate source of power is the will of the majority, the power cannot be arbitrary. The false assurance which many people derive from this belief is an important cause of the general unawareness of the dangers which we face.”

“The more the state ‘plans,’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”

“If the law says that such a board or authority may do what it pleases, anything that board or authority does is legal–but its actions are certainly not subject to the rule of law. By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.”

“Most planners who have seriously considered the practical aspects of their task have little doubt that a directed economy must be run on more or less dictatorial lines.”

“It is we who have to solve the economic problems of our lives.”

“Nothing makes conditions more unbearable than the knowledge that no effort of ours can change them; and even if we should never have the strength of mind to make the necessary sacrifice, the knowledge that we could escape if we only strove hard enough makes many otherwise intolerable positions bearable.”

“It is only because we have forgotten what unfreedom means that we often overlook the patent fact that in every real sense a badly paid unskilled worker in this country has more freedom to shape his life than many a small entrepreneur in Germany or a much better paid engineer in Russia.”

“Who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?”

“While absolute equality would clearly determine the planner’s task, the desire for greater equality is merely negative, no more than an expression of dislike of the present state of affairs; and so long as we are not prepared to say that every move in the direction toward complete equality is desirable, it answers scarcely any of the questions the planner will have to decide.”

“When security is understood in too absolute a sense, the general striving for it, far from increasing the chances of freedom, becomes the gravest threat to it.”

“Either both the choice and the risk rest with the individual or he is relieved of both.”

“Every restriction on the freedom of entry into a trade reduces the security of all those outside it.”

“There has never been a worse and more cruel exploitation of one class by another than that of the weaker or less fortunate members of a group of producers by the well-established which has been made possible by the ‘regulation’ of competition.”

“The younger generation of today has grown up in a world in which in school and press the spirit of commercial enterprise has been represented as disreputable and the making of profit as immoral, where to employ a hundred people is represented as exploitation but to command the same number as honorable.”

“The totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard for ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

“Socialism can be put into practice only by methods which most socialists disapprove.”

“The belief in the community of aims and interests with fellow-men seems to presuppose a greater degree of similarity of outlook and thought than exists between men merely as human beings.”

“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group.”

“The separation of economic and political aims is an essential guaranty of individual freedom and it is consequently attacked by all collectivists.”

“What is called economic power, while it can be used as an instrument of coercion, is, in the hands of private individuals, never exclusive or complete power, never power over the whole life of a person. But centralized as an instrument of political power it creates a degree of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery.”

“The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivists must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole,’ because the ‘good of the whole’ is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.”

“From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise, and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the ‘selfish’ interests of the individual are allowed to obstruct the full realization of the ends the community pursues.”

“Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed. The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word ‘liberty.'”

“It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticize must also be silenced.”

“Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another. In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority.”

“The very magnitude of the outrages committed by the totalitarian governments, instead of increasing the fear that such a system might one day arise in more enlightened countries, has rather strengthened the assurance that it cannot happen here.”

“We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”

“Very frequently even measures against the monopolists in fact serve to strengthen the power of monopoly. Every raid on the gains of monopoly, be it in the interest of particular groups or of the state as a whole, tends to create new vested interests which will help to bolster up monopoly. A system in which large privileged groups profit from the gains of monopoly may be politically much more dangerous, and monopoly in such a system certainly much more powerful, than in one where the profits go to a limited few.”

“Private monopoly is scarcely ever complete and even more rarely of long duration or able to disregard potential competition. But state monopoly is always state-protected monopoly–protected against both potential competition and effective criticism. It means in most instances that a temporary monopoly is given the power to secure its position for all time–a power almost certain to be used.”

“There is no other possibility than either the order governed by the impersonal discipline of the market or that directed by the will of a few individuals; and those who are out to destroy the first are wittingly or unwittingly helping to create the second.”

“In their political beliefs and aspirations men are today more than ever before governed by economic doctrines, by the carefully fostered belief in the irrationality of our economic system, by the false assertions about “potential plenty,” pseudo-theories about the inevitable trend toward monopoly, and the impression created by certain much advertised occurrences such as the destruction of stocks of raw materials or the suppression of inventions, for which competition is blamed, though they are precisely the sort of thing which could not happen under competition and which are possible only by monopoly and usually by government-aided monopoly.”

“The mere preservation of what we have so far achieved depends on the coordination of individual efforts by impersonal forces.”

“It is sensible temporarily to sacrifice freedom in order to make it more secure in the future; but the same cannot be said for a system proposed as a permanent arrangement.”

“To aim always at the maximum of employment achievable by monetary means is a policy which is certain in the end to defeat its own purposes. It tends to lower the productivity of labor and thereby constantly increases the proportion of the working population which can be kept employed at present wages only by artificial means.”

“Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value. We are neither entitled to be unselfish at someone else’s expense nor is there any merit in being unselfish if we have no choice. The members of a society who in all respects are made to do the good thing have no title to praise.”

“It is true that the virtues which are less practiced now–independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one’s own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one’s neighbors–are essentially those on which the working of an individualist society rests.”

“It is one of the most disheartening spectacles of our time to see to what extent some of the most precious things which England, for example, has given to the world are now held in contempt by England herself.”

“Neither good intentions nor efficiency of organization can preserve decency in a system in which personal freedom and individual responsibility are destroyed.”

“If we are to succeed in the war of ideologies and to win over the decent elements in the enemy countries, we must, first of all, regain the belief in the traditional values for which we have stood in the past and must have the moral courage to stoutly defend the ideals which our enemies attack.”

“To undertake the direction of the economic life of people with widely divergent ideals and values is to assume responsibilities which commit one to the use of force; it is to assume a position where the best intentions cannot prevent one from being forced to act in a way which to some of those affected must appear highly immoral.”

“It is fairly certain that in a planned international system the wealthier and therefore most powerful nations would to a very much greater degree than in a free economy become the object of hatred and envy of the poorer ones: and the latter, rightly or wrongly, would all be convinced that their position could be improved much more quickly if they were only free to do what they wished.”

“We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.”

“The young are right if they have little confidence in the ideas which rule most of their elders. But they are mistaken or misled when they believe that these are still the liberal ideas of the nineteenth century, which, in fact, the younger generation hardly knows.”

“If in the first attempt to create a world of free men we have failed, we must try again. The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century.”