The State pretends that it has the power to create wealth, peace and happiness. It writes a few magic words on a piece of legislation, waves the non-partisan wand and, presto, our every desire is realized. Sadly, many people accept this facade of the State as a magic lamp. They see politicians wishing for boondoggles and wars and think, “if I were in charge, I would only wish for good things.”
Alas, the delusion that state officials are merely “doing it wrong” perpetuates unmeasurable misery among the whole of humanity. This is because the State’s genie is coercive force. The damage it causes cannot be quantified because when the State wastes incomprehensible amounts of money on panem et circenses, no single person knows what productive task the free market would have chosen for that capital. In each case the losses will include technological advances, beautiful works of art, and even human lives.
The fact that the State cannot make the best decisions for the whole of the population is obvious to most people. However, this is generally only accepted conditionally and not as a matter of principle. One group decries State oppression when it comes to personal drug use but rejoices when the State decides who should own guns. Another group is revolted when the state presumes to manage their retirement funds, but cheers when the State mandates with whom, where, why, and how people have sex. Even self proclaimed libertarians will find something that they believe requires State involvement. Unfortunately, every attempt to better the world through coercion leads inevitably to less life, liberty and property.
As Henry Hazlitt explained, “The world is full of so-called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing… I am afraid that we shall have to be dogmatic, and point out that such pleasant dreams in the past have always been shattered by national insolvency or a runaway inflation. Here we shall have to say simply that all government expenditure must be paid out of the proceeds of taxation; that inflation itself is merely a form, and a particularly vicious form, of taxation… once we look at the matter in this way, the supposed miracles of government spending will appear in another light.”
What is sure to frustrate even the most well intentioned State apologist is that even if the State were able to make decisions impossibly well, the very nature of the State would prevent it from ever achieving par excellence. There is no justification for aggressive violence, and the State’s original sin is the violent redistribution of wealth. It occupies itself with discouraging productivity through regulation and taxation while sparing no expense to ensure its own counterproductive existence. It is not enough to indignantly demand better public policy. The only logical and moral goal is to dispell the curse entirely.