Merriam-Webster’s definition of statism is: “concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry.” The term is commonly used among liberty-conscious individuals to describe the direction in which our own government is heading. The direction we’re heading is not so much a reflection of one political party or the other, but a reflection of the intellectual apathy of the people. While most people view American politics in terms of “right” or “left,” “conservative” or “liberal,” libertarians take a more objective view. To the libertarian mind there are no clear lines between the Republican party and the Democratic party – both parties have done their part to move our society in the direction of statism.
To the libertarian it matters not which political party endorses which legislation, or which politician voted for which new law. To the libertarian it doesn’t even matter what the intention of the new law is. The only thing that matters is whether or not the law protects individual liberty or erodes it. This is why people who truly claim liberty as their political agenda don’t affiliate with any one politician or party – we see government, politicians, and laws in terms of more statism or more freedom.
Statism is force, violence and coercion. I’m not saying this in a derisive manner – I’m saying it because it’s true, and I can prove it. Try not paying your property taxes (to which you have very little say in the rate and purpose). Stop paying income tax (to which you have very little say in the rate and purpose). Try selling milk from your cow to another individual without the government knowing about it, inspecting it, giving you permission to do it, and see what happens. You will be met with the muzzle of a gun and thrown into a steel trap. I’ll give you one better – help a ten year old set up a Kool-Aid stand in Massachusetts and see what happens. An “officer of the law” will ask that he or she take it down. I’m not making this up!
Statism is the idea that the producers of the world need to ask permission from the non-producers of the world to produce. I’m not saying this in a derisive manner – I’m saying it because it’s true, and I can prove it. Go to a hair salon and ask to see your stylist’s license. That’s right – you need a license from the state to conduct a voluntary, consensual, mutually beneficial transaction between producer and consumer. The next time you’re in a restaurant look on the wall back near the kitchen and you’ll see several framed documents, one from the health department and another from the fire department. Many people will breeze past and not notice, but believe me – when you’re trying to run a business you notice. These licenses are not without significant cost to the producer. Licenses and permits are enforced by state audits or inspections, which are left ambiguous and open to the interpretation of the state inspector or auditor. Let me put this in perspective for you – if you want to offer a good or service – you have to ask permission from the government, or you will be met with the muzzle of a gun, fined (extorted), or thrown in a steel trap.
We are moving toward statism because we have a vast majority of people who are not intellectually curious when it comes to governmental affairs. Topics such as free condoms and what the first lady wore on the campaign trail trump actual, meaningful intellectual curiosity and skepticism. In short – we have a country full of non-thinkers, or ‘the walking dead,’ as I like to call them. Lights are on but nobody’s home. I’m writing this in hope that just one person will read it, break away from whatever political affiliation you may have, and just think about the consequences of statism. Help me help you. Think.