This article is a response to the first set of questions which I received from a podcast listener. It can be found here. These questions are about government, the current state of affairs in the U.S. & what could happen if we moved towards being a freer society by shrinking the size and scope of government. His other questions about the FED, Interest rates and the political process will be talked about in future articles.
First I must say Jake’s questions are very legitimate, great questions! Questions, which many people, including myself, have thought about very much. This article assumes that you understand the basic Libertarian idea about government and freedom. If you are unfamiliar with these principles check out this video with some very compelling arguments. If you are familiar let’s dive in!
In this article I will address the questions of “What do we do with all of the people who lose their jobs as the government shrinks?” and “What do we do with all of the non-violent offenders who are let out of prison?” may seem like hard ones to tackle at first. It’s not until you compare these objections to the objections made before the U.S. Civil War in arguments concerning slavery, that you realize these arguments aren’t the ones that really matter. I recently learned about this and so much more from the Historical Controversies Podcast’s ongoing series about the war, which I highly recommend.
Like today, many people back the mid-1800s didn’t agree with the status quo but weren’t sure about what would happen if they went against it. Back then the issue was slavery. I bring up slavery as a comparison because we are talking about freeing non-violent offenders, who could be locked up for a small amount of cannabis. Being locked in a cage because of possession a plant looks a lot like slavery to me. Especially when the prison system receives more money for each inmate.
One of the objections to ending Slavery immediately was that without all of the cheap slave labor the South’s entire economy would collapse. Even people who were anti-slavery couldn’t agree on this point. Some argued they must have time to figure out another way, slowly wean the South away from Slavery so as not to upset the economy. The hardcore abolitionists argued that slavery was immoral and must be ended immediately, regardless of the consequences. When we use Slavery, it’s much easier for us to see what the right choice is. It’s wrong, and who cares about the economy?? Just as it was hard for the people of the day to see the clear answer, because of cultural norms, it is hard for people these days to see the clear answer about locking up a person away from their family because of “Drugs.”
After the devastating war, eventually, the gap created by eliminating the slave labor in the South was filled by innovations in Industry and technology of the day. People were forced to get creative and feed the demand. In short, they evolved and moved on.
So, in conclusion, my answer to Jake is: “Who cares about what else people say… It’s Immoral!!” & “We are a resilient people… We will figure it out.”
Thanks again, Jake. I will have more answers for you soon!
Well written Brandon and I totally agree that if it is immoral, we should do away with it (no matter the subject). I also agree that in the long run, the market solves almost all issues. But, let me flip the question a bit. Have you quantified the impact on the federal and state government budgets (and therefore impact on the taxpayers) of what would occur in the first year of releasing all non-violent criminals or when we layoff a lot of government employees? What would happen to the short-run unemployment rate? How much larger might the welfare state have to become to pay for the higher unemployment? Would the financial cost be greater than or less than the savings from shutting down these institutions? Other than the financial implications, have you considered the societal toll on elevated unemployment? Do the crime rates of urban areas increase? I enjoy the back and forth so I’ll keep asking questions if you keep giving answers.
Thank you, Jake! To be honest, No, I haven’t given much thought to what would happen in that type of scenario. Mostly because I don’t believe it is ever likely to happen. It seems changing the system from within would be almost impossible. Which relates pretty well with the article I am currently working on. In this upcoming post I address your questions about establishing a “Libertarian” system and rolling back the power of the state. The short answer is we will most likely have to wait for our current system to fail. Which has the potential to be a peaceful event, similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stay tuned for that article…
Looking forward to the article.