“As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X… What I want to do is to look up C… I call him the Forgotten Man… He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him.”—William Graham Summer, “The Forgotten Man” (1883)
In doing some research for a video series I have come to realize there is an abundance of short youtube videos that are clips from various Murray Rothbard speeches, where Rothbard in a few short sentences is able to get to the essence of many topics.
Starting this morning, I am launching a series here at EPJ called, Morning Coffee with Murray Rothbard. They will be clips of Rothbard, under 5 minutes long, where Rothbard discusses some topic that still has relevance today.
The videos will be up each morning, right here at EPJ, Monday through Friday.
These would appear to be my videos… brought to you guys here first, a fair while ago. Here’s the specific Rothbard playlist if a few minutes a day isn’t enough to get your MNR fix. The first one is already up. I’d suggest savoring them. Enjoy the series!
“Is there traffic congestion? Ban all cars! Water shortage? Drink less water! Postal deficit? Cut mail deliveries to one a day! Crime in urban areas? Impose curfews! No private supplier could long stay in business if he thus reacted to the wishes of customers. But when government is the supplier, instead of being guided by what the customer wants, it directs him to do with less or do without. While the motto of private enterprise is “the customer is always right,” the slogan of government is “the public be damned!”—Murray Rothbard
One favorite answer of the pro-gas-taxers is that consumers will be led, by the tax, to conserve scarce fuel. But conservation of resources is one of the major functions of the free price system. The market economy is continually being forced to choose: how much of product X or product Y, of resource X or Y, should be produced now, and how much should be “conserved” to be produced in the future? Not just of oil and gas, but of everything else: copper, iron, timber, etc.
In every area, this “conservation,” this decision on how to allocate production over time, takes place smoothly and harmoniously on the free market. The price of every resource and product is set on the market by the interaction of demand (ultimately consumer demand) and the relative scarcities of supply. If the supply of X, now and in the expected near future, falls, then the current price of X will rise. In this way, an expected future decline in supply is met right now with a rise in price, which will induce buyers to purchase less, and producers to mine or manufacture more of the product in response to the higher price. You don’t need a tax to accomplish the task of allocation and conversation.
In fact, a tax is a most clumsy way of meeting the problem. In the first place, since government knows very little and the market knows a lot, the government will not hit the proper target; indeed, since government’s coercion comes on top of market action, a tax is bound to “over conserve,” to reduce the production of a good below the optimum. And second, unlike a price rise accruing to producers, a tax provides no incentive for supply to increase or productivity to improve.
“Answer me this, war hawks: when, in history, when did one State, faced with belligerent, ultra-tough ultimatums by another, when did that State ever give up and in effect surrender – before any war was fought? When?”—Murray Rothbard
“All such laws constitute what libertarians call moral cannibalism. A cannibal in the physical sense is a person who lives off the flesh of other beings. A moral cannibal is one who believes he has a right to live off the “spirit” of other human beings—who believes that he has a moral claim on the productive capacity, time, and effort expended by others.”—John Hospers, What Libertarianism Is
"Introduced in 1696 and repealed in 1851, successively stupid British governments supported a "window tax" on all housing in the UK. It ended when it was proven that the resulting outcomes saw major increases in poor health, especially vitamin D deficiency disease, such as rickets, in children who rarely saw the sun owing to many houses built without windows. Such stupid tax impositions on populations by governments has not gone away, and the consequences of such silly philosophical ideologies that are the basis for raising more tax has never been more evident.
The majority of Australians are not stupid and can see virtual highway robbery being undertaken by the Labor Government, this time without a mask or pistol. The past impost of the GST and the host of other existing taxes on families and businesses is enormous. Combining these with a tax on energy (carbon tax), the mining tax (natural resource tax) and a move to increase the burden of superannuation on business will makes Australians the most highly taxed and unproductive country on the planet.
So what is next? Might this Labor Government look to tax our spouses, who provide an estimated $8 Billion a year of unpaid work at home? Such an idea is no less stupid or destructive than taxing the air we breathe or taxing windows on a home. What utter madness!”
— Chick Olsson, Director of Woolgrowers Association, “Company Director”, Letters to Editor, May 2012.
“It is true that, in the United States, at least, we have a constitution that imposes strict limits on some powers of government. But, as we have discovered in the past century, no constitution can interpret or enforce itself; it must be interpreted by men. And if the ultimate power to interpret a constitution is given to the government’s own Supreme Court, then the inevitable tendency is for the Court to continue to place its imprimatur on ever-broader powers for its own government. Furthermore, the highly touted “checks and balances” and “separation of powers” in the American government are flimsy indeed, since in the final analysis all of these divisions are part of the same government and are governed by the same set of rulers.”—Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty
Let us proceed, then, to a critique of the egalitarian ideal itself—should equality be granted its current status as an unquestioned ethical ideal? In the first place, we must challenge the very idea of a radical separation between something that is “true in theory” but “not valid in practice.”
If a theory is correct, then it does work in practice; if it does not work in practice, then it is a bad theory. The common separation between theory and practice is an artificial and fallacious one. But this is true in ethics as well as anything else. If an ethical ideal is inherently “impractical,” that is, if it cannot work in practice, then it is a poor ideal and should be discarded forthwith.
To put it more precisely, if an ethical goal violates the nature of man and/or the universe and, therefore, cannot work in practice, then it is a bad ideal and should be dismissed as a goal. If the goal itself violates the nature of man, then it is also a poor idea to work in the direction of that goal.