Monday, February 07, 2011

An ever-expanding "smaller government"

Wall Street Journal:

Governors around the U.S. are proposing to balance their states' budgets with a long list of cuts and almost no new taxes, reflecting a goal by politicians from both parties to erase deficits chiefly by shrinking government.
"I do recognize some low-income Iowans can't afford to pay for preschool, but even they can pay something, maybe just $10 a month," says Mr. Branstad, who took office last month and who had previously served four terms as Iowa governor.

It suffices to say that politicians don't want to shrink the government. They want to shrink only that portion of government that helps low-income Americans afford preschool; in fact, they want to increase "taxes" -- i.e. actual living expenses -- for the poor by reducing the public obligations of the rich. But make no mistake that government is ever-expanding into areas that benefit the rich; this is why it never really gets smaller over time, even under conservative rule.

In the words of Rudolf Rocker, "The state is capable only of protecting old privileges and creating new ones; in that its whole significance is exhausted." Who is protected by the state? is the main question for participants at any given moment in the broader class war. The owning classes are protected by default, the general population is not; they have to win whatever rights they have, and fight to maintain them, through struggle.


Anonymous said...


Jim H. said...

"Property rights are identical to personal liberty and social liberties. ... "Property rights is liberty." Ron Paul

no said...


JRB said...

If "property rights is liberty," it follows that in a free society, everyone would have an equal right to property.

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Politicians from both parties?!

BOTH Parties?!

You mean, of all the wildly important things they don't agree on (which are... what, again?)...

Jim H. said...

No, in the real world, it follows that the more property you have, the more rights you have.

In a free world, the more property you have, the more freedom you have. No?

Freedom and equality: they don't quite match up.

JRB said...

Freedom and equality: they don't quite match up.

Social freedom implies an approximation of equality in the same way that rulerships imply inequality -- more "freedom" for some than for others. Nobody holds up the monarch as an exemplar of "individual freedom," because his freedom is based in inequality.

In the same way, "property rights" under capitalism, a system of economic inequality, amounts to a "right to property" for one class vs. another.

On the other hand, an "equal right to property" would amount to either "small producers working for themselves" or "the control of the associated producers," to paraphrase Marx.

This is why whenever I am met by those so enamored by "property rights" I encourage them towards "an equal right to property." If property rights are indeed a basis for liberty, then surely everyone deserves an equal claim to property if they are to be free. That means either owning that portion which affects them directly, or administering their part of a larger combination in concert with others.

You make many of the same points in your post, of course.

Richard said...

The state which protects those all-important property rights necessarily also enforces and maintains, if not creates, the state of propertylessness in producers on which the rights depend.