Frédéric Bastiat nailed it when he defined the state as “the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.”
If that was as far as it went, political government would pretty much be a wash. We’d all get back about what we put into it, less the “friction” of transaction costs and such. Eventually we’d presumably notice that the state is a hamster wheel and get off it.
Unfortunately, that’s not as far as it goes. Any state — even (or perhaps especially!) the most putatively egalitarian or democratic one — eventually metastasizes under the pressures created by the competition of “everyone to live at the expense of everyone else.”
Even if first intended as a mere abstract transactional crossroads across which mutual aid assets or reciprocal rights protections pass on their way to and fro, the state is quickly reified by its more clever admirers. It becomes a concrete entity with its own interests. A new class of keepers, tenders and purpose-evolved parasites — the political class — emerges to make those interests its own.
Eventually the state drowns in the waste generated by its parasitical classes. The French monarchy collapsed beneath the weight of the Bourbon dynasty’s wars and palaces and intrigues. The Soviet Union’s apparatchik class drained its blood until that reddest of red states became a pale, lifeless husk — whiter than Kolchak’s armies! — ready to be blown away by the slightest gust of popular discontent.
It is for this reason that I’m very much encouraged by the American situation. After more than 200 years, the United States seems to be reaching the end of the same rope.
Its politicians have racked up more than $13 trillion in direct debt, at least $100 trillion in “unfunded liabilities” (i.e. promises of future payments), and at present are borrowing and spending $150-$200 billion more per month than they can figure out how to forcibly extract from the populace through taxation.
Where’s all that money going?
“At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn …” (“Federal workers earning double their private counterparts,” by Dennis Cauchon, USA Today, 08/10/10)
“We have already spent close to $1 trillion in Iraq …. When all is said and done, the combined cost of caring for veterans, continued Iraqi operations, replenishing and transporting equipment and paying interest on the debt will bring the final tally to well over $2 trillion. Including the economic costs — both to individuals and to the economy as whole — the bill easily tops $3 trillion.” (“Iraq war winds down, but costs soar,” by Linda J. Bilmes, San Francisco Chronicle, 08/15/10)
“We spend $7 billion a month on the war in Afghanistan and every day it becomes more and more clear that we are pursuing a failed strategy that doesn’t make America any safer …” (US Rep. Chellie Pingree [D-ME], quoted in “Mitchell meets, greets,” by Susan M. Cover and Rebekah Metzler, Kennebec Joural, 08/02/10)
This, my friends, is what we call “not a tenable situation.” But the state keeps doubling down, as with last week’s $26 billion payout to save 300,000 government employees from falling off the teat.
America’s politicians, by habit, frequently call upon the populace to eschew “class warfare,” by which they are generally understood to mean war between the rich and the poor.
Left unsaid, but becoming increasingly clear even to those who generally take little interest in matters political, is the fact that every operation of government is, by definition, an exercise in “class warfare” — a raid by a political class whose very survival depends on its continued ability to loot your wallet, your wealth, your work.
Like everyone else, the political class has to eat.
Unlike everyone else, the political class proposes to eat us.
Now that the pesky mosquitoes have mutated into gnawing rats and threaten to grow into rabid wolves, more and more Americans are finally starting to take notice.
It’s class war, to the death, like it or not — a war for survival, the political class or us. Personally, I’m for us.