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World PrisonOne of the many reasons why we became Austro-Libertarians (of the Absolute persuasion) is that sooner or later we (as everybody else) hit the limits imposed to us by the state. Some people experience this limit every day at almost every step they take (when they are permitted to take them). On the surface, there are many apparent reasons for the creation of such artificial barriers, but such restrictions can always be traced down to money. The ultimate reason and root cause of this is very simple. We will state it again taking the risk of sounding like a broken record: politicians need to spend ever more in order to keep their jobs and privileges and the power elite must ensure this is so in order for them to continue benefiting from their control over politicians. As such, a convenient way to study these barriers is through economic conditions prevalent in countries. In order to do so, we can classify countries arbitrarily in five groups.

COUNTRY GROUPS

Group #1 - Complete Disasters: Consider -for example- people from Zimbabwe, Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, Burundi, Eritrea, Liberia, Ghana and Haiti which are classic examples of economic basket cases coupled with extreme poverty, wars, famine and plague (the only thing missing are tidal waves, volcano eruptions and earthquakes - and their governments are probably working on those too). In any given year they consistently make it to the top ten places in the list of worst countries to live in this planet.

Group #2 - Ongoing Disasters: Moving down throughout this list, we find countries such as Philippines, Moldova, Jordan, Indonesia, Paraguay and Argentina. These countries too are economic basket cases minus the extreme poverty, wars, famine and plagues… but not by much.

Group #3 - Beggars: Further down the list we find countries such as the PIIGS group. This is Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece (or Great Britain) and Spain who are in permanent economic crisis. These countries have risen to notoriety only recently, but their dismal economic policies can be traced to the end of WWII and sometimes even before that.

Group #4 - Faking Beggars: Moving further down, we find the "have-been" countries, for example the EU and US that survive floating on a bottomless sea of debt which they manage to conceal far better than the PIIGS (see for example DI and DVI indices).

Group #5 - Fake Prospects: A step down from here, we have the new "will-be" countries of the BRICS group. They are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South-Africa. They have improved their economic conditions mainly through the use of monetarist policies, policies which will -eventually- cause their downfall.

THE BIG PICTURE

Economic conditions are the primary barriers that all governments impose on you, us, and everybody else. This is quite simple to understand. Should each of us would have sufficient money, it would be possible for us to insulate ourselves from those limitations. This is the ultimate reason why rich people are far better off than the rest of the population. Their money liberates them (to a large degree) from the artificial barriers imposed by politicians. This is not a hypothetical point of view, it is quite real. If you go back in time to a far less restrictive decade (let's say the 60's) focusing on "western" countries only (i.e. non-communist) and you talk with people who lived through it, you will notice something strange. At the time, they did not care much about governments. In most places the middle class was rampant and this status was achievable. The middle class reached a certain level of wealth and prosperity that enabled them to simply disregard governments. They had enough money to pay-off the government protection racket (taxes) and enough money to buy everything else controlled or not (money talks and if you pile enough of it, it sings and dances too!). All the problems started when governments deteriorated economic conditions. People lost their capacity to produce wealth and with it their ability to bypass government limitations. At the same time they lost their ability to satisfy their needs.

But there is also a side effect of economic conditions that we must take into consideration. It is the imposition of legal restrictions whose effectiveness and enforcement are directly dependent upon governmental -not people- economic conditions. This is, for as long as the protection racket is in place (or growing), governments will enforce those rules.

These two elements are additive (they add up) because the less money we have the less we can isolate ourselves from government rules (laws and regulations) and therefore the more effective they are. We can see how those two elements interplay and provide a nearly constant restriction level on all people in the graph below.

Government Restrictions

As you can see, in the end it really does not matter in which group -or country- you live in, the restrictions imposed on you are about the same. This is a very important conclusion. Let's re-state it:

It does not matter which country you go to, you will be subjected to the same intensity of government restrictions.

What this means is that governments have succeeded in converting the entire world into a giant prison where your country is simply your prison cell. You will have different cell sizes, different cellmates, different meal hours, different exercise hours and different guards, but in the end the inescapable conclusion is that you are in a prison.

You can't run and you can't hide.

This is indeed a strange conclusion and the next question is this: How did we get here?

HOW INDEED?

People create wealth. It is the biological imperative of every human being to be successful and hence have the highest chance of spreading our genes to as many humans as possible. We do so by producing wealth and if every person on this planet has the same imperative, wealth should constantly increase over time. And indeed this is the case over long periods of time. However, over short periods of time (200+ years) there are other active minor counter-trends. These counter-trends diminish the creation of wealth and can even destroy it temporarily. These counter-trends are made possible because of the existence of modern governments. Consider the following.

Politicians are also humans (contrary to popular opinion and myth which links them to the underworld) and hence they have the same imperative, however, they achieve success by achieving political power. This makes all the difference in the world because they achieve power through two means:

  • Outspending the political opposition
  • Increasing control through the creation and accumulation of state-biased laws (which governments enforce using their monopoly on brute force -the police-)

These are the two elements that we identified as the causes of the artificial limitations that governments impose on us. Coincidence? Not a chance. Politicians destroy wealth (because it is necessary for their success) and at the same time enact laws that enable them to do so while controlling the population so that they can't oppose this process. See the connection? If you don't believe us, they try, just try to influence the budget of the country you live in. We guarantee that in the mid to long run you will be thoroughly unsuccessful. Sure, once in a while you will make a dent here and there but that's about it.

THE UNREASONABLE MAN

George Bernard Shaw said it best "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man."

This is the most basic process describing how countries (and governments) were created in the first place. People simply walked away from established environments (political and economic) and established their own ecosystem. They adapted their new environment to their wishes and needs. It's simple:

When you can't get better conditions you create your own environment.

But what happens when you can't walk away any longer? When all the places you could possibly go are equally restrictive? What is then necessary to fulfill your needs? Simple. If you don't like the game and you can't abstain from playing, the only other option is to change the rules of the game. A game changer. And this is exactly what Libertarianism and Austrian Economics is a global game changer.

THE TYRANNY PROCESS

We know, we know. You are not convinced at all. However, dear reader, consider this.

The idea that somehow sufficient wealth can be achieved by the majority of the population to regress back to the conditions prevalent in the 60's (i.e. freedom from government limitations) is a delusion. Let's assume for a second that by some sort of miracle the population of an entire country begins to increase wealth significantly. They begin to approach the "freedom point". However, their wealth accumulation speed is limited while wealth destruction (taxation) is not. Economic rules determine how fast an economy can grow however taxation levels are determined arbitrarily; there is not limit as to how fast taxes can be increased. The ultimate limit of tax increments is simply known as communism, where everything (including all your work) belongs to the state because it is 100% taxed.

Going back to our scenario and as every politician wishes to stay in power; this person will notice the increased wealth levels and realize the potential to outspend the opposition. But this will necessarily demand tax increases. So politician A will increase taxes in an attempt to bribe the voters and sway them from B (a preventive strike if you like). However, politician B who also wishes to be elected will have to make spending promises that will require tax increases beyond what A already did. Of course, B won't tell this to the electorate, B will only advertise the spending, not the taxing (i.e. tax, borrow or print). And so no matter which politician wins, taxes will go up. The more wealth there is the more taxes will increase. This is so because the increase in taxation is related to political promises and not economic reality and as we know well the politician who promises the most, wins.

From a politician's perspective this is not a problem, after all, it is your money that they are spending -whether you like it or not-. For them it is not an ethical or moral issue (see Government Morality for example) and it is not a logistical problem either (see for example Politicians and Bureaucrats Job Security Through Misery ). The economic equation for them is simple; the more they tax the rich, the more money they can spend purchasing "poor" votes.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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