Foley showed troubling ignorance on government, liberty
June 20, 2013 11:25 PM | 1172 views | 3 3 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MDJ columnist Kevin Foley’s June 14 satire on what a free society might resemble (“Welcome to Tea Party Land”) was good for a laugh, but suggests a troubling ignorance about the nature of government and the ideas of human liberty.

Foley implies at every step that government — an institution designed and administered by people just like you and me — is the only vehicle through which safety, education, health, freedom and prosperity may be achieved. He neglects, however, both the countless examples where government has failed its charge (e.g., the IRS, DOJ, FEMA), and where free people, cooperating in a free market to create value for each other, succeed in solving our inevitable wants and problems.

There will never be permanent or perfect solutions, but, working together voluntarily, we can discover the least imperfect. Begging Mr. Foley’s pardon, we do this every day so long as government stays out of the way.

Richard Lorenc

Director of Programs & Alumni Relations

Foundation for Economic Education


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Kevin Foley
June 25, 2013
@ Mr. Kubik - I'm a student of history, a review of which will show you just what happens when you have "free people, cooperating in a free market."

Let's take your points in order:

1. We fought a war to emancipate slaves. It didn't just go away.

2. Child labor was an accepted practice in American industry until it was outlawed in the early 20th century.

3. "When they'res a lack of private property" - (check your spelling book). No, the environment gets raped when public lands are turned over to private exploitation and there are no regulations to govern how natural resources will be harvested.

Today we have coal fired utilities fighting the EPA over putting scrubbers on their smoke stacks. And you trust the good intentions of industry?

4. No monopoly? Google "Teddy Roosevelt breaks up trusts" for a more learned understanding of history.

Kevin Foley
June 23, 2013
Thanks for your comments, Mr. Lorenc.

Unfortunately, for it's first 125 years or so, we tried to have a nation like the one you envision and it didn't work. We discovered, left to their own devices, human beings are invariably selfish, motivated almost exclusively by things that will empower and/or enrich to the near exclusion of all else. Evidence abounds: slavery, child labor, raped environment, monopolies and all the rest.

You may not trust the government but I know I don't trust "free people cooperating in a free market."
Tyler Kubik
June 25, 2013
Mr. Foley,

If we look outside our middle school textbooks and what our government-salaried educators have told us, we'll find that:

1. Slavery only can become a (seemingly) permanent institution when it becomes sanctioned by government; otherwise it is generally doomed to failure. As we can gather by the complaints of the South when the North was refusing to abide by provisions of the fugitive slave act on the verge of the Civil War, a society built upon respecting private property rights (the first tenet of property rights naturally being that one owns oneself) will make it impossible for anyone attempting to impose slavery because a slave can just run away to safety.

2. Child labor is indicative of poor societies. Just as we cannot expect a poor nation to become better off by limiting workers to 40 hours a week, we cannot expect poor families barely eking out a living to become better off by preventing their children from providing supplemental income. When we become wealthier and more technologically advanced, child labor becomes outdated; what factory owner would want to deal with a 10 year old on their factory floor today? Most businesses hate hiring those in the 16-21 year old age group, let alone younger. In the U.S., child labor had been on a trend significantly downward and legislation merely reflecting this already existing trend.

3) Environments get "raped" when they'res a lack of private property, ie. in the commons or public areas.

And 4) There has never been an actual case of monopoly, because monopolies are unsustainable. The only way to secure a monopoly is by government sanction.

Government is the real problems in most areas where "free markets" are blamed. Try reading Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt if you wish to explode the economic fallacies riddling your thinking.
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