Terry Pearson, blogger at Thought and Freedom, asked me to guest post on his site today. It is a quick intro to cantons. Thanks, Terry!
Archive for November, 2011
When I moved to Cherry Hill [New Jersey] a few years ago, I was expected to pay taxes to the township, the public school system, and the fire district. … I also got to vote for members of the town council, and to vote on tax increases for the schools and fire district. Not once did anyone I voted for make it to town council.
The above quote is something I wrote as part of the “Road from Serfdom” page on this site. Yesterday our township had its election for mayor and town council. Nothing changed. I am still unrepresented by any elected official in my township, yet the tax bills keep on a-comin’. I remain a serf of my local government. God have pity on us serfs.
It’s not like the Republicans didn’t try to oust at least some of the Democrats who have held the town in their grasp the last 30 years. They tried mightily. Full court press. Would I be happier if they had succeeded? Somewhat. Yet deep inside I know that that would not have been right either. As long as the game is winner-take-all, some large number of people are unrepresented in any meaningful way.
What would be a “meaningful” way? When the people who pay the taxes, every one of them, determines what those taxes pay for. It will be meaningful when my taxes pay for things I need and desire, and nothing else, and when that is true for every serf everywhere.
I both agree and disagree with the Occupy people. Let’s start with our common ground. It cannot be denied that the gap has been growing at an increased rate between rich and poor. Our current course will result in the disappearance of the middle class, a continued growth in poverty, and the concentration of wealth among an every diminishing percentage (“I am the .0001%”) of the population of the US and the world.
With that bit of agreement out of the way, let’s deal with our disagreements.
The Occupy movement seems to follow the government-generated meme that the root cause is the greed of the bankers and the CEOs of the global corporations. This is simplistic. Greed is a constant in human history, and throughout society. So is envy. What is allowing the greed of the elite to siphon off more of the goods of this world is the concentration of power among a government elite. This concentration has been encouraged throughout the last century and into this one by those who consider government to be their chosen protector against the greedy lot. Their answer thus lies in more regulation by government of business, despite the towering mounds of evidence that show that the same human frailty that is at work among the uber-wealthy exists as well at every level of government. As a result, the fox does indeed guard the hen-house.
The solution then is not more government regulation, but a greater distribution of power. As long as the (naturally) greedy plutocrats can control the government by buying a very limited and (naturally) self-serving pool of politicians, the current trend will continue. However, when the distribution of power is effected by pushing the control of taxes out to all taxpayers thru cantons, the ability of the plutocrats to control government is substantially diminished. With the distribution of power comes a reversal of all the current trends: the wealthy will find it far more difficult to siphon off the wealth of nations, while the entrepreneurial class will once again find the conditions right to create jobs, increasing the size of the middle class, and providing the means for the poor to once more become upwardly mobile.
I do not speak of small government, but of right-sized government. As long as power is in the hands of too few, it will concentrate wealth as well. Once we are able to distribute power broadly, we will find that the wealth will follow.