segunda-feira, março 08, 2010

# 35

«The Americans not only did not let the inherited royal institutions of colonies and colonial governments wither away into oblivion; they reconstituted them within the old political borders in the form of independent states, each equipped with its own coercive (unilateral) taxing and legislative powers. While this would have been bad enough, the new Americans made matters worse by adopting the American Constitution and replacing a loose confederation of independent states with the central (federal) government of the United States.

This Constitution provided for the substitution of a popularly elected parliament and president for an unelected king, but it changed nothing regarding their power to tax and legislate. To the contrary, while the English king's power to tax without consent had only been assumed rather than explicitly granted and was thus in dispute, the Constitution explicitly granted this very power to Congress. Furthermore, while kings — in theory, even absolute kings — had not been considered the makers but only the interpreters and executors of preexisting and immutable law, i.e., as judges rather than legislators, the Constitution explicitly vested Congress with the power of legislating, and the president and the Supreme Court with the powers of executing and interpreting such legislated law.

In effect, what the American Constitution did was only this: Instead of a king who regarded colonial America as his private property and the colonists as his tenants, the Constitution put temporary and interchangeable caretakers in charge of the country's monopoly of justice and protection.

These caretakers did not own the country, but as long as they were in office, they could make use of it and its residents to their own and their protégés' advantage. However, as elementary economic theory predicts, this institutional setup will not eliminate the self-interest-driven tendency of a monopolist of law and order toward increased exploitation. To the contrary, it only tends to make his exploitation less calculating, more shortsighted, and wasteful. (...)

Free entry and competition is not always good. Competition in the production of goods is good, but competition in the production of bads is not. Free competition in killing, stealing, counterfeiting, or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad. Yet this is precisely what is instituted by open political competition, i.e., democracy.

In every society, people who covet another man's property exist, but in most cases people learn not to act on this desire or even feel ashamed for entertaining it. In an anarchocapitalist society in particular, anyone acting on such a desire is considered a criminal and is suppressed by physical violence. Under monarchical rule, by contrast, only one person — the king — can act on his desire for another man's property, and it is this that makes him a potential threat. However, because only he can expropriate while everyone else is forbidden to do likewise, a king's every action will be regarded with utmost suspicion. Moreover, the selection of a king is by accident of his noble birth. His only characteristic qualification is his upbringing as a future king and preserver of the dynasty and its possessions. This does not assure that he will not be evil, of course; at the same time, however, it does not preclude that a king might actually be a harmless dilettante or even a decent person.

In distinct contrast, by freeing up entry into government, the Constitution permitted anyone to openly express his desire for other men's property; indeed, owing to the constitutional guarantee of "freedom of speech," everyone is protected in so doing. Moreover, everyone is permitted to act on this desire, provided that he gains entry into government; hence, under the Constitution, everyone becomes a potential threat