Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column on Fixing Things

Didn?t Need the Feds

Tibor R. Machan

This morning I was doing windows, cleaning them in my kitchen, and as I
tried to remove one I broke it. Now there?s a gaping hole through which
cold air blows in. But, you may not have anticipated this, I did not need
the federal government to come in fix it all. No Congressional committee
had to assemble. I just scheduled a visit to a glass shop and will have it
fixed in a day or two?it?s the weekend, so it won?t be done immediately.

Alas, the other day I needed some new pants and on my way to see some
friends?it was the Eastern weekend?I stopped at a nifty outlet mall I have
been visiting for years on this trip and bought some, as well as a few
shirts and even a pair of nifty shoes. Again, maybe it will surprise you,
I didn?t require the assistance of one single politician or bureaucrat.

Not that politicians and bureaucrats do not make every effort to insert
themselves in these benign, voluntary, and productive human encounters.
They do. Which is why each time I get involved with some folks to solve a
problem, they not only charge me for their services but are coerced by
several governments to collect taxes from me. And then they need to fill
out a bunch of forms and keep records and all that, instead of turning to
some further productive work so some other problem could be solved. (And
they, like Ralph Nader, wonder why small businesses are struggling and
huge corporations take their place!)

Some will say, but see, this just shows that the feds or state politicos
are needed, after all. Without them these human encounters?trade, and
such?won?t go through. Without the regulators hazards surround us on all
sides because, well, bad guys will deceive or defraud us and that would
seriously impeded all the trade we do. So the feds are there, all over,
after all.

But this assumes that the feds and state cops are the ones who can best
serve in the capacity of making sure things operate smoothly. Clearly this
is contradicted by the ubiquitous presence of security guards and quality
control folks in the market place. They can be hired?no one needs to
impose them on us. Where they exist, we pay for them via the added amount
of the price of goods and services, portions of which go to these
professionals who make sure things go smoothly. You know, the Good
Housekeeping folks, who issues those seals of approval, and others like
them, or private security guards. And if push comes to shove, there are
the lawyers?in case something has gone amiss and parties think they have
been treated badly by their trading fellows.

So, yes, Virginia, nearly all of society can function very nicely, thank
you, without politicians and bureaucrats barging in and wielding their
power as if without it the world would come to a screeching halt. Yes,
some areas haven?t yet come under the jurisdiction of folks like you and
me, so there are all those cheerleaders of government who insist that
their client is in fact indispensable. But that?s bunk.

Just because throughout history tyrants, monarchs, Caesars and tsars, as
well as their less exalted minions like dukes and barons, have overpowered
the rest of us and made it out as if they were absolutely necessary for
our lives to proceed with some degree of success, it doesn?t follow one
bit that that?s actually so. Sure, the idea that you and I and the rest of
us civilians are perfectly capable of managing and guiding our lives, at
times alone, most times together as we choose, may not appear to be
self-evident, given all that historical distortion. But, after all, who
were all those blokes who pretended?and sill pretend?to be so badly needed
but, well, other people. So they had little over the rest of us but brute

In time we may well get used to the idea that all the problems we face
are human ones and we, human beings, need no pretenders to superiority to
run our lives. That just in the way my window will get fixed without
politicians and bureaucrats butting in, so the rest of what needs fixing
will get fixed without these bullies getting into the fray.

Alas, until that realization, each time something goes awry, each time
some complaint is aired, bureaucrats and politicians will be there to hold
committee meetings, assemble panels, issue orders and edicts, and pretty
much delay solutions that could have been forthcoming had this ruse not
been allowed to be perpetrated.

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