Government Fundamentalism

Free market fundamentalism is a disparaging term that attempts to emasculate the credibility of anyone who is in favor of the free market, who believes that a voluntary society is morally justified and gives the best result. People have been trained to think of fundamentalists as dangerous, crazy people, so the strategy is to paste the descriptive term “fundamentalist” on someone who thinks that the government has exceeded its bounds, has screwed things up enough already, and that it’s time to try freedom again.

Freedom is ownership of your own body and your property, to use as you see fit. The only restriction is that you can’t infringe on the rights of anyone else. My freedom to swing my fists ends where your nose begins. The opposite pole is slavery. It is the absence of rights and lack of ownership of your body and property. Totalitarian socialism is slavery taken to its obvious and necessary conclusion. All citizens forfeit their rights to those of “society”, or the dictator, who poses as the all knowing mind of society. The opposite of free market fundamentalism is slave market fundamentalism. In all cases, slavery has been and is possible in the long run only if government is an active enabler or participant. Since government is the enforcer of slavery and the eliminator of voluntary markets, a synonym for slave market fundamentalism could be government fundamentalism.

The choice that we need to make is whether we want to move in the direction of freedom or in the direction of slavery.

Though America is still among the most free countries, we actually haven’t had truly free markets and free society for a very long time, only less oppression than others. We have the freedom to vote, but that has evolved into a license for legalized theft. Freedom has been replaced by bribing voters with goodies. Both major parties are big government fundamentalists. Both want to be the master. They differ only in their approach and target audiences.

We have the freedom to buy things, but that freedom is bound by the requirement to use the legal tender created by government, which is constantly being manipulated and systematically devalued. Our present economic situation is due to the boom and bust cycle inherent in our national monetary policies of interest rate distortion, loose credit and expansive money supply. At this time, nearly 98% of the value of the dollar has been inflated away by the Federal Reserve Bank since its founding in 1913.

We have the freedom to work, but that freedom is bound by a complex maze of regulation and distorted incentives which discriminate against the poorest and least skilled people in society. We are free to earn money, but that freedom is bound by confiscatory taxes of approximately 40% of national income to support unproductive government. It is a huge and growing parasite on the productive people in society.

We still have some level of freedom in our health care choices, but it is heavily bound by the chains of protectionism, regulation, and distortion by floods of federal dollars. Of any of the markets in America, health care is one of the least free, the most heavily bound by bureaucratic strangulation. It can be no surprise that it is also one of the most wildly distorted.

Education in America at all levels is a wreck and failing us and our children because of central planning by the government education monopoly. Any alternative is made very expensive and, in most cases, impractical. There is little freedom in education.

I am a market fundamentalist. I think freedom is right and is the definition of justice. Since free markets are merely freedom in all its forms, the only other alternative is to move toward slavery. Any person or business that doesn’t violate the body or the property of anyone else should not be subject to the whims of a politician. Any business that does violate the body or property of someone else should be punished for whatever violation they commit.

A distorted legal system that doesn’t protect rights, or corrupt officials that don’t punish wrong doers, are absolute necessities for slavery and oppression to flourish. A government of bureaucrats that imposes arbitrary, detailed rules on everyone is a form of slavery. Freedom and dignity include not being told what to do by a master, whether that master is a slave owner or a government bureaucrat. The move away from free markets is the move toward government fundamentalism.

4 comments to Government Fundamentalism

  • Nice article, and I agree with most of it, but do you think that the creation of the Fed has anything to do with the boom and bust cycles we have seen since then? It could be argued that the economic cycles were even more severe in the 1800s.

  • Hi B.P.T.,

    The Federal Reserve Bank is one of the many heads of the hydra of monetary manipulation by government. The artificial manipulation of interest rates and inflationary credit expansion is the real cause of the bubbles and busts. Yes, there were bubbles and busts before the fed, but there were also fractional reserve banks and effective means of political manipulation before then.

    In the 1870’s, there was a severe bust, but it was preceded by a huge inflationary bubble. Instead of the Fed causing the problems then, the 1860’s had the centralized and inflationary national banking system, and Jay Cooke and Company with a monopoly over the issuance of federal bonds, which he did in spades. Then as today, the government benefited from destructive inflationary credit, while it hurt all ordinary citizens that don’t get their hands in the till.

    British Parliament in the late 17th century let William Paterson use The Bank of England to buy government bonds with money created out of thin air, just as the present fed does. It created massive inflation, just as the current Fed does. It precipitated the South Sea bubble just as the current fed precipitated the real estate bubble, the dot com bubble, those in the 1980’s, the 1960’s. The bubble of the 1920’s precipitated the depression of the 1930’s. While it was severe, what made the 30’s depression into the Great Depression was the incredibly stupid policies of Hoover and FDR, the same stupid policies our present government is pursuing, both the previous and current administrations.

    When there were booms and busts throughout modern history, there was also inflationary credit from money made from nothing, from central banking and/or fractional reserve banking. The fractional reserve banking system magnifies and systematizes it. So in reality, the fed is obviously not the cause of all booms and busts throughout history, but it and the current banking system is the present manifestation of the same phenomenon.

  • Todd Geiger

    This month’s issue of The Freeman had a similar article. See

  • Hi Todd,

    Henderson is always good to read. He wrote his for the same reason I wrot mine. The term “market fundamentalism” is a term of derision, as though enlightened people only worship the god of government.

    Thanks for the link.

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