Mitt Romney’s latest “Gaffe of the Week” is revealing: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there; if it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” Playing into every negative perception of Romney as a latter-day robber baron, the comment coursed through the news cycle.
It’s easy enough to understand why: The mouthpieces of the Washington-Wall Street nexus never tire of banging the drum for their plutocratic system of deprivation — and they do it using the language of freedom and competition.
It ought to come as no surprise, then, that people who genuinely care about poverty and economic justice want to run for the hills at any and all talk of free markets, convinced that they’re about to be broadsided with more of the same pleas for Mr. Moneybags and slurs against the less fortunate.
But being “libertarian” doesn’t in itself have anything at all to do with defending American capitalism; indeed any complete understanding of what free markets would mean in practice is certain to be thoroughly inimical to what people like Mitt Romney are campaigning for today.
The safety net Romney alluded to, the one managed and administered by the total state and capable of allaying all of his frets about “the very poor,” is actually no such thing. A genuine safety net, formed by the community it is meant to serve and adapting naturally to its needs, would be far sturdier and more efficacious than the state’s moldering bureaucracies.
What’s more, it would be a lot less necessary. The state’s fundamental purpose in economic affairs is to foreclose opportunities for ordinary, working people, blocking the passageways of real voluntary exchange to the advantage of the established players.
To the floundering have-not who can’t start a business out of her home because she doesn’t have the costly permits and licenses, or to the homeless family who can’t make rent due to the state-enabled monopolization of real estate, food stamps and subsidized housing appear like scraps cast into the rubbish after the corpulent corporate hogs have finished gorging.
A free market that allowed all forms of peaceful competition, that based rights to land and resources on real homesteading and trade, would fracture the very bedrock of American Big Business monopolism.
As explained by market anarchist Dyer Lum, “[I]t is not capital per se that liberty assails, but the artificial power it usurps; that under equal freedom, where no privilege exists to entail exploitation, it is as harmless as we have seen private property would be.”
Ruling class spokesmen like Mitt Romney really don’t care about creating opportunities for poor people, but that’s because they don’t care a lick about real free markets. A world without coercive, political domination of all productive activity would be one where labor was justly and completely compensated, one without a sponger class lobbying for new and creative ways to disrupt mutual exchange.
We have to stop allowing vermin like Romney to use the language of freedom unchallenged to vouch for a system that has reduced thousands of Americans to penury. Our manumission from the oppressive system he represents can only come through the abolition of authority and thus of the state; here’s to electing that in 2012.