We’ve all heard about the tragedy of the commons. The left apparently takes it as a reason for strong regulation, while the rest of us are out here waving our arms, screaming and going “no, no, no. Regulation has a cost. The tragedy of the commons is not having well defined rights, like the right to property.”
(In fact we know that the more things are owned in common, or nebulously in any country, the more that country is likely to be a sh*thole. For instance if things belong to the tribe, or even the extended family group, there are good chances the tragedy of the commons will operate. And far less incentive to excel. But that’s something else. Tribalism is a problem. Always. A discussion for another time.)
What the left always fails to get is what I’ll call The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars.
You see, part of the problem is the mental framework. To the left any money earned anywhere in the country automatically belongs to the government. This confirms my suspicion that at heart, deep inside, they think of the normal form of government as feudalism. This is because I’ve seen very old land deeds and other documents from when Portugal was a monarchy and it read something like “his majesty, graciously allows his subject so and so to exert ownership over this parcel of land” the underlying conceit being that the whole land of the whole country belonged to the king, and it was in his purview to hand it out to whomever he pleased for as long as he pleased, while it still belonged to him. (The documents I saw were for things like house plots, not fiefdoms, incidentally.)
The left seems to be going off the same book when they say things like “How will you pay for the tax cuts?” as if the government is OF COURSE entitled to all your money, and if you’re getting some back, that part must be compensated for.
This goes hand in hand with their idea only the government does anything worthwhile, including demanding the president (at least if Republican) do something about things over which he has no power. “What are you going to do about unemployment?” “What are you going to do about anti-semitism” or “What are you going to do about hurricanes?” (The later and the whole antropogenic
global warming climate change obsession, btw, give new meaning to the “everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it” joke.)
Because of these frameworks, they miss what taxes cost.
Yes, sure, government invests in medical and scientific research. Government pays people money that gives them more comfortable lives than they would otherwise have. Government does a lot of things.
But are these the same things that private individuals would do, given the same money in their pocket, instead of paid in taxes to spend as they wished?
I don’t know if any formal studies have been done, but we know that countries with more state funding inevitably lose out in both innovation and wealth to those who allow individuals to keep more of their money.
Look, it’s something like France, which had a massive, extremely complex research and implementation program for what would be CHEAP audio and visual calls all over their country.
They were immensely proud of it and in the late seventies, when I was taking French, we watched little movies about how great it would be in 10 years or so, and there were articles about it and…
And it was still not implemented when the personal computer overtook it and made video calls all over the world for very little a reality. And yes, I do know how much the government put into developing the internet. What I don’t know is how much faster and more functional it might have been without that. Sure, it might also not have existed. But what would have existed INSTEAD?
Here’s the thing: contrary to what the left thinks, when you leave wealth in the hands of the individuals, they don’t just flush it down the toilet or build gigantic bins that they fill with money, in which they go for a refreshing swim every day.
People do things with that money. And even if all they do is buy stuff (thereby allowing someone else to accumulate wealth) or invest it, that money gets aggregated and finds things to do, as it were. Wealth goes to work on things that seem interesting, might be interesting, or are otherwise likely to make money for the individuals who hold the wealth.
Individuals have money to start new businesses that would never have existed if they’d paid that money in taxes. Or they “invest” in free time and a really nice garden, which in turn lifts the spirits of people who invent something because they feel better than they would otherwise.
The left insists that if they leave money in individual hands, it will just be “wasted.” (Because, you know, no money spent on a vast a apparatus, most of it a jobs program for useless paper pushers or power-hungry martinets is ever wasted.)
How do they know? Have they tried leaving enough money in the hands of those who earn it to make a difference?
Not in the twentieth century. Though we can infer from the fact that the most sclerotic, dying countries are the highest taxed ones, that perhaps what government considers “best” and what we consider “best” are not the same.
Not just taxes, but regulations too weigh heavily on possibilities. Sure, the left sees “lands saved” (or created. oop) when say, regulations curtail oil drilling. But what I see is energy taking up an excessive amount of every family’s money, wealth that would otherwise be freed for other investments, for starting businesses, even “just” for fun.
The problem we have is that leftists lack utterly in imagination. They see the “pristine” plots of land, or the things government does with our money and they find it good.
But they’re mind’s-eye blind. They can’t see the wealth that has been consumed for almost 100 years now say
on the war on poverty to create chronic poverty having instead been used by individuals to create, to invest, to build, so that, in that parallel world in which money stayed in individual hands, we now have interplanetary travel, colonies all over the solar system, and squid farms on mars that feed all of humanity.
Their lack of vision, their killing of possibilities without the slightest thought to them: That is a tragedy.