I slopped the following together on 9 April. It’s here today because I have nothing else to post. (Later note: don’t take it too seriously–it’s basically just my way of letting off steam as a helpless pawn of politicians, CEOs and the mindless masses, and get back to important matters once again under the radar. It’s also just a sort of digest for a book, so leaves out a great deal.)
A Suggestion for a Socio-Poli-Economic Experiment No US Government Would Ever Dare To Try
When my friend Richard Kostelanetz was asked on a questionnaire what historical figure he most disliked recently, and said, “I despise Abe Lincoln, who should have dumped the Confederate states, whose leaders were independentistas wanting to secede. Instead, Lincoln initiated a war that took many lives and, with “victory,” burdened the North with backward provincials to this day,” I–who prefer backward provincials to collectivist womb-bunnies and their totalitarian masters–agreed that Lincoln should have let the country come apart but contended that the main beneficiary would have been the South, which may well have become the one nation in the world to attain genuine individual freedom (short of the impossible freedom desired by the most fanatical libertarians).
The question of what really would have happened is a fascinating one that I lack the historical background to be very intelligent about. However, thinking about it inspired the following idea: have the country do what is required to make Texas and Massachusetts Free States, defining the latter as legislatively wholly free of the federal government (and any “higher” government if the progressives finally turn the U.S. completely over to the UN) except when the federal government goes to war, in which case they must go along with it in the same manner as the other 48 states, so long as Texas agrees to adopt what I call a “maxirational free economy,” and Massachusetts agrees to adopt the kind of state-run economy progressives dream of.
Here’s how it would work for Texas: its government would begin as it now is as far as carrying out its normal legislative duties is concerned, but could redesign itself in accordance with the constitution it later has, which would be as it now is, with a few amendments, primarily the following one: “Every citizen of Texas will be given full ownership of all his private property, by which is meant every material thing he legally owns and his own body; no person or government will be allowed to interfere with his right to use or sell his private property in any way whatsoever so long as his use of it (1) has no significant, direct, materially-harmful effect on anyone else’s private property without that person’s permission or (2) seriously threatens to have such an effect.”
As I see it, the amendment described would make commercial freedom in Texas near-total. But the government could still step in to prevent a company, or an individual, from doing anything having a significant, direct, materially-harmful effect on some other innocent person without his permission, such as seriously polluting a river (according to a board chosen by the Texas government that I hope would consist of experts intelligently chosen, perhaps half by the voters, half by politicians who would have to defend their choices)–on the grounds that would have a significant, direct materially-harmful effect on people downstream.
And unions would be allowed that could negotiate with business-owners–who could reject their demands (and fire the workers in them) if they wanted to, just as the unions could reject a contract the business-owners offered (and strike): i.e., it would be a business selling labor trying to work out an agreement with a business wanting to purchase labor, that’s all. The government would step aside, unless one side or the other became criminally-violent. Workers would always have the option of leaving Texas.
All labor-management agreements in effect before Texas becomes a free state would be void, by the way. (I would hope the fair ones would be quickly renewed.) Since employers could fire an employee as easily as employees can now quit, contracts between a hiree and a company would become near-universal (although many would be understood rather than written). The contract disputes sure to come up would be handled by the courts the state provides.
It would be one of the courts’ duties to protect private property rights, which would mean determining if a person wanting protection merits it–is innocent, that is. In most cases, that should not be difficult for even a liberal to figure that out: for instance, no one should worry about the property rights of a person waving a gun in a bank teller’s face and asking for money.
Hmmm, I just realized that even Texans would not accept the amount of freedom I was thinking of when I began this essay. For instance, I wanted them to abolish compulsory formal education. I wanted all public schools to be privatized or converted to motels or something. Parents would still be in charge of their kids until the kids turned eighteen, but could keep them out of school if they wanted to, or home-school them, or pay a private school to educate them. Perhaps Texas would agree to the privatization of all schools, but I guess I’d have to let them force formal education on their children. BUT, by gosh, any business could hire anyone, degree or not, license or not for any job whatsoever.
Well, let Texas decide how much licensing was necessary. They’d probably be horrified by the idea of unlicensed doctors, for instance. I’m fine with medical licenses and would forbid any doctor to claim he had one when he didn’t, but would leave it up to each individual whether he wanted his doctor to have one or not. But I understand that it’s best to go for economic freedom now, and leave lesser unfreedoms in place until economic freedom becomes reflexive. (Question I’m to ignorant to know the answer to and too lazy to research: was Athens economically free? For citizens? I’m sure they had craft unions backed by the government.)
I think in most cases private inspection companies could sell inspection and the equivalent of good housekeeping seals to any merchant who wanted his product certified, and people could use their own judgement as to the value of the licenses. The near-free state of Texas I’m now talking about would have to have a bill or rights like the U.S.’s if it doesn’t already–but with one addition: “All the articles of this document will be taken to mean what they say: for instance, by ‘freedom of speech’ will be taken to mean the freedom to say anything whatever, libelous or seditious or blasphemous, but not to dance naked in a barroom, dancing not being speech.” I would hope for a better article than the first amendment: one that said, “No law shall be passed by any governing body prohibiting any form of private self-expression whatever.”
I would require quite a bit more of the Texas Semi-Free State. It would have to get out of the welfare business, since that requires taxation, which would be banned as an infringement on property rights, a person’s money being part of his private property–and Texas would not be allowed to infringe on any American’s property rights, as it would by accepting social security payments and the like from Washington.
However, Washington would be required to return all funds a given Texan paid to the government for social security minus any funds returned by the government plus the earnings at 5% interest those funds would have earned the individual had he put them into a savings account. Private charities would of course be free to step in to help any who needed it (and, I feel confident, would). Otherwise, each individual would have to take care of himself.
Many Texans would not like this, so they would be free to leave Texas. Texas and the federal government could set up some agency that would facilitate this by–for one thing–finding jobs comparable to jobs left for them. There should be many jobs available formerly belonging to the many people who would move to Texas. Exchanges of the houses of emigrating Texans for the houses of immigrating non-Texans could be facilitated. In some cases Texas might be required to buy the house of someone leaving–at a fair price, with any amount of money it can later sell it for over what it paid for it, minus a fair seller’s fee, going to the former owner. I would hope most people leaving the state would feel they’ve been properly treated.
I have the impression my description of the Near-Free State of Texas is extremely incomplete but can’t think of anything to add right now, so will take up Massachusetts. It would be the collectivist opposite of Texas. The federal government would purchase all the private businesses in the state, including the colleges, or pay them the expenses they incur in relocating outside the state (as I now see they should do for businesses moving out of Texas to retain government subsidies), and turn them over to Elizabeth Warren, who would become the State-Czar. A state income tax would be instituted that prevented anyone from earning more than $50,000 a year, after taxes, and the state would be required to pay everyone not working $25,000 a year. The federal government would provide any extra funds needed.
The state constitution would remain in effect, but Warren’s interpretation of it would be automatically accepted. The U.S. Constitution could be dismissed if its provisions contradicted the state constitution’s, as interpreted by Warren. Similarly, I realize now that I forgot to mention, the Texas constitution would prevail wherever its provision clashed with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution–the words of that document, not what the halfwits interpreting them have tortured them to mean, that is.
Probably both states would need a year or so of being half a normal state and half independent. I would want the experiment to last at least twenty years, that much time being required to evaluate many aspects of it–for example, to compare the cultural achievements of the 25-year-olds of the two states–privately-educated versus (mostly) publically-educated, and, of course, per capita income, per capita achievements, etc.
The effect of the experiment on the rest of the nation after twenty years would be very interesting to find out. Would it finally dawn on our rulers that progress is much more likely to occur when two or more ways of doing things are allowed than when a central government dictates what it thinks is the one right way.
Final word: there’s no possibility in this unfree country that the experiment I propose, much more fully developed than I’ve described it here, would ever be carried out. I hope it’s proves worth at least thinking a little about, and maybe even tried, eventually, on two virtual-reality states in a super-computer of the future.