Mises: Government Is No Match for the Coronavirus

Robert Luddy at The Mises Institute writes about why government is failing so badly in pandemic response – Government Is No Match for the Coronavirus

The coronavirus is reminding everyone that you cannot rely on government and that ultimately it is the private sector that will provide the solutions. Many nonmedical government officials and members of the media are predicting massive cases of COVID-19 and death, when in fact no one can predict the outcome. What we do know is that government has created a full-blown national panic, when at this point the normal flu season is far more deadly.

Decentralization is critical to a functioning society but often precluded by federal regulations.

The Washington Post reported the following about the Centers for Disease Control:

The problems started in early February, at a CDC laboratory in Atlanta.

A technical manufacturing problem, along with an initial decision to test only a narrow set of people and delays in expanding testing to other labs, gave the virus a head start to spread undetected—and helped perpetuate a false sense of security that leaves the United States dangerously behind.

Tests begin with the CDC to insure quality, which is exactly the wrong approach. It assumes that the government can outperform the best medical industry in the world. Even at this hour the CDC has failed, shipping test kits that are defective.

The CDC does not have a solution, but it also becomes the classic blocker to progress. Labs cannot act without a lengthy approval process from CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These government controls violate the principle of subsidiarity (that problems should be solved at the lowest level possible). Ultimately care is provided by local hospitals, care facilities, and labs.

South Korea’s rapid testing allowed for early treatment and containment of the virus. These test kits were created in three weeks. Many labs in the US could have solved the test kit problem but were restrained by the FDA and CDC. The South Koreans offered to help us, but was the CDC listening? Evidently not.

At the president’s request on Friday, America’s robust private sector, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Roche Laboratories, and LabCorp, came up with a solution for mass testing. Roche has received fast-track FDA approval for its COVID-19 diagnostic test. This testing will be done via drive-thru in parking lots. This minimizes contact and allows for mass testing of thousands across the country. The more Americans are tested, resulting in a lower percentage of deaths, the more the testing will have a calming effect on our citizens.

Americans consider regulators and government to be sacrosanct, but in fact government agencies are slow and often fail us. Think of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which allowed Boeing engineers to bypass basic engineering standards, resulting in the crash of two Boeing 737 MAX airliners and the grounding of nine hundred planes around the world.

We all know that any time we expect service from the government, it will be slow and painful vs. the private sector, which is mostly fast and courteous. In spite of some minor shortages, due to hoarding, the private sector is supplying us with gas, food, prepared meals, medical supplies, and healthcare.

The coronavirus crisis must cause us to rethink government. The Trump administration has restricted new regulation and reduced arcane strictures, which has resulted in a booming economy. It is absolutely true that most private industry can be trusted, because the alternative for poor or unscrupulous providers is failure. Private industry can be sued and suffer financial decline, unlike government, which simply demands more money for poor performance. Business or individuals that commit fraud are subject to civil and criminal penalties…(continues)

Click here to read the entire story at Mises Wire.

Mises: How to Avoid Civil War

Echoing the thoughts of intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer in his previous videos on Civil War, the Mises Institute weighs in on the need for political separation in the United States in order to avoid a bloody civil war.

How to Avoid Civil War: Decentralization, Nullification, Secession

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the United States will not be going back to “business as usual” after Donald Trump leaves office, and it is easy to imagine that the anti-Trump parties will use their return to power as an opportunity to settle scores against the hated rubes and “deplorables” who dared attempt to oppose their betters in Washington, DC, California, and New York.

This ongoing conflict may manifest itself in the culture war through further attacks on people who take religious faith seriously, and on those who hold any social views unpopular among degreed people from major urban centers. The First Amendment will be imperiled like never before with both religious freedom and freedom of speech regarded as vehicles of “hate.” Certainly, the Second Amendment will hang by a thread.

But even more dangerous will be the deep state’s return to a vaunted position of enjoying a near-total absence of opposition from elected officials in the civilian government. The FBI and CIA will go to even greater lengths to ensure the voters are never again “allowed” to elect anyone who doesn’t receive the explicit imprimatur of the American intelligence “community.” The Fourth Amendment will be banished so that the NSA and its friends can spy on every American with impunity. The FBI and CIA will more freely combine the use of surveillance and media leaks to destroy adversaries.

Anyone who objects to the deep state’s wars on either Americans or on foreigners will be denounced as stooges of foreign powers.

These scenarios may seem overly dramatic, but the extremity of the situation is suggested by the fact that Trump — who is only a very mild opponent of the status quo — has received such hysterical opposition. After all, Trump has not dismantled the welfare state. He has not slashed — or even failed to increase — the military budget. His fights with the deep state are largely based on political issues, and not on major policy disagreements. Trump, for example, sides with the surveillance state on matters such as the prosecution of Edward Snowden.

His sins lie merely in his lack of enthusiasm for the center-left’s current drive toward ever more vicious identity politics. And, more importantly, he has been insufficiently gung ho about starting more wars, expanding NATO, and generally pushing the Russians toward World War III.

For even these minor deviations, we are told, he must be destroyed.

So, we can venture a guess as to what the agenda will look like once Trump is out of the way. It looks to be neither mild nor measured.

And then what?

In that situation, half the country — much of it from the half that calls itself “Red-State America” may regard itself as conquered, powerless, and unheard.

That’s a recipe for civil war.

But how can we take steps now to minimize this polarization the damage it is likely to cause?

The answer lies in greater decentralization and local autonomy. But as long as most Americans labor under the authoritarian notion that the United States is “one nation, indivisible” there will be no answer to the problem of one powerful region (or party) wielding unchallenged power over a minority.

Many conservatives naïvely claim that the Constitution and the “rule of law” will protect minorities in this situation. But their theories only hold water if the people making and interpreting the laws subscribe to an ideology which respects local autonomy and freedom for worldviews in conflict with the ruling class. That is increasingly not the ideology of the majority, let alone the majority of powerful judges and politicians.

Thus, for those who can manage to leave behind the flag-waving propaganda of their youths, it is increasingly evident that something other than repeating bromides about teaching high-school civics, reading the Constitution, or electing “strong leaders” will have to be done…

Writing at The American Conservative, Michael Vlahos, for example, appears unconvinced that violence can be avoided. But even he concedes the violence is unlikely to take the form of mass bloodshed as seen in the 1860s:

Our antique civil wars were not bound to formal rules, yet somehow they held to well-etched bounds of expectation. American society today has very different norms and expectations for civil conflict, which certainly will constrain how we fight the next battle.

Today’s America no longer embraces a national landscape of an industrial-lockstep battlefield (think Gettysburg, D-Day). Our next civil war — as social media so eloquently reminds us — will enact its violence on a battle campus of equal pain, if less blood.

Many devotees of perpetual federal supremacy, of course, won’t admit even this. Any attempt at decentralization, nullification, or secession is said to be invalid because “that was decided by the Civil War.” There is no doubt, of course, that the Civil War settled the matter for a generation or two. But to claim any war “settled things” forever, is clearly nonsense.

It is true, however, that if the idea of a legally, culturally, and politically unified United States wins the day, Americans may be looking toward a future of ever greater political repression marked by increasingly common episodes of bloodshed. This is simply the logical outcome of any system where it is assumed the ruling party has a right and a duty to force the ways of the one group upon another. That is the endgame of a unified America.

Click here to read the entire article at Mises Wire.

Brandon Smith: Fighting Globalism Requires Decentralization

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market.com has written on a piece worth your time titled Fighting Back Against Globalism Requires An Honest Movement To Decentralize. Globalism isn’t the only threat to liberty, but it is a major one, affecting people the world over and not just US citizens.

…Liberty activists have to lead by example, first by educating the public on the concept of the non-aggression principle — the principle that force is not an acceptable method of compelling a group of people to organize in the way you wish. Force is not incentive, it is criminal. Force is only an acceptable reaction when someone else is trying to harm or enslave you and those around you. This concept is paramount to the long-term survival of any society. It should be codified and taught to each new generation.

Next, liberty activists need to organize locally into voluntary groups based on mutual aid. Modern civilization has been directed over many decades to assume that participation in the system is mandatory and that the survival of the system is paramount over the rights or prosperity of the individual. But a system that is hostile to individual liberty does not deserve to exist. It should not be allowed to survive.

People have to walk away and build something else.

Voluntarism is the key to changing decades if not centuries of misallocated human labor and time. Imagine a world in which every person is a “free agent,” and they join groups (or partnerships) based on shared goals or shared beliefs rather than being born into servitude — fuel to keep a global machine that does not care about them running. They join these groups based on their interests, abilities, merit and how they might help a particular project progress. Then they are free to leave the group whenever they wish or when the project is done.

In other words, voluntarism is a kind of return to a tribal system, but one in which some tribes exist temporarily based on what they plan to achieve. The GOAL becomes the focus, instead of the endless perpetuation of a group that has outlived its usefulness. The more legitimate achievements for the betterment of humanity a tribe attains successfully, the longer it would stay relevant.

The incentive to better one’s self would be considerable in a voluntary society, for you are competing against every other individual that is also improving their own skill sets and knowledge for a spot in each project or tribe. Individual excellence would become the core virtue of such a civilization.

Voluntarism is perhaps a lofty vision, but one that can be pursued in steps. One of the first steps is self-sufficiency and production…

Click here to read the entire article.

Keep Gov’t Local – Excerpt from “Human Scale Revisted”

On the ability of local communities to better respond to issues than state or federal government, from the book Human Scale Revisited by Kirkpatrick Sale:

To find the government as the root cause of such problems, of course, should not surprise us by now: it is in the nature of the state, we have repeatedly seen, to create the problems that it then steps in to correct and uses to justify its existence. But there is a further point to the process that is pertinent here; in the words of British philosopher Michael Taylor:

The state…in order to expand domestic markets, facilitate common defence, and so on, encourages the weakening of local communities in favour of the national community. In doing so, it relieves individuals of the necessity to cooperate voluntarily amongst themselves on a local basis, making them more dependent upon the state. Teh result is that altruism and cooperative behavior gradually decay. The state is thereby strengthened and made more effective in its work of weakening the local community.

This is important: it is exactly this that accounts for the inability of the Lake Michigan communities to regulate their pollution problems in the first place. Communities that were in control of their own affairs, whose citizens had an effective voice in the matters that touched their lives, would almost certainly choose not to pollute their own waters or to permit local industries to do so, out of sheer self-interest if not out of good sense — particularly if they were small, ecology-minded, economically stable, and democratically governed. (And if by some chance a community or two did go on polluting, resistant to all appeals, their toxic effects would likely not overstrain the lake’s ability to absorb them.) It is this process, moreover, that accounts for the failure of the concerned majority to have cleaned up the pollution once it existed. Individuals and communities conditioned to cooperative and federative behavior, particularly those whose interests are greatest (in this case fishing villages, towns with bathing beaches, beach clubs, marinas, lakefront hotels, boardwalk businesses), would almost certainly work out, and pay for, a way to restore the lake — especially if there were no federal or state governments to siphon off the locally generated money through taxation.

As with pollution, so with the other public services of the state. There is a not a one of them, not one, that has not in the past been the province of the community or some agency within the community (family, church, guild) and that has been taken on the state only because it first destroyed that province. There is not a one of them that could not be re-absorbed by a community in control of its own destiny and able to see what its natural humanitarian obligations, its humanitarian opportunities, would be. Invariably hen the state has taken over the job of supplying blood for hospitals, there is a shortage, even when it offers money; the United States now gets much of its blood from overseas. Invariably when a community is asked to do it voluntarily, and when the community perceives that the blood is to be used for its own needs, there is a surplus. This is not magic altruism, the by-product of utopia; this is perceived self-interest, community-interest, made possible (capable of being perceived by the individual) only at the human scale.

Indeed there is not one public service, not one, that could not be better supplied at the local level, where the problem is understood best and quickest, the solutions are most accessible, the refinements and adjustments are easiest to make, the monitoring is most convenient. If it be said that there is not sufficient expertise in a small community to tackle some of the complicated problems that come along, the answer is surely not a standing pool of federal talent but an appeal throughout neighboring communities and regions for a person or group who can come in to do the job. (This is in fact what the federal government itself most often does today, hence the great reliance on contract firms and $650-a-day consultants.) If it be said that some problems are too big for a small community to hand along (an epidemic, a forest fire, or some widespread disaster), the anser is clearly not the intervention of some outside force but the ready cooperation of the communities and regions involved, whose own self-interest, even survival, is after all at stake. And if it be said that there is not enough money in a small community to handle such problems — well, where do you suppose the government got its money in the first place, and how much more might there be in local pockets if $500 billion of it weren’t spent by Washington, $200 billion by state capitals, every year?

I cannot imagine a world without problems and crises, without social and economic dislocations demanding some public response. I see no difficulty, however, in imagining a world where those are responded to at the immediate human level by those who perceive the immediate human effects and control their own immediate human destinies.