Over the past the month, the Occupy movement has taken to the streets across cities nationwide to protest economic inequality as well as corporate greed and control of government. These grievances are legitimate and well intentioned, but at the same time the top-down solutions to solve the problems proposed by a handful of OWS actors unfortunately empower the very establishment that they claim to be against by giving the government even more power. This will only incentivize more rent-seeking from corrupt Wall Street actors. What is truly needed is a set of libertarian demands that not only ends corporatism and restores true free markets but also bring back the rule of law, well defined property rights, and a respect for individuals liberties. Here is a set of ten demands that will put our political economy on the right track:
This is not a comprehensive list and it would not fix all of the government’s problems, but they independently or together would definitely be steps in the right direction.
1. End the Federal Reserve: Since the Federal Reserve was instituted in 1913, the dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power and has caused vicious boom and bust cycles throughout the 20th century. Big-spending politicians and politically favored bankers love the Fed’s loose monetary policy since it allows them to print as much money as they want to help finance their pet projects without directly taxing the general populace. Unfortunately, the general public becomes victim to the insidious inflation tax which eats away all of their savings. What is truly needed is a system of competing currencies that is recognized and accepted as such by individuals through the actions of the market without the coercion of the state.
2. End all corporate subsidies: Corporate subsidies encourage rent-seeking behavior and also create substantial distortions in the marketplace. If we want to eliminate the corporate revolving door in government, destroying the piggy bank of subsidies is a good first step. Businesses will now have to actually compete for consumers in order to stay afloat, as opposed to constantly feeding off of the trough of taxpayer funds.
3. Restore Freedom of Association in Labor Relations: Government should step out of labor relations altogether and allow for people to freely and peacefully contract with each other. This is by no means an attack on unions. If anything, when voluntaryism replaces statism, labor unions would be more organic based on the models of Lions Club or Rotary Club organizations or Japanese style enterprise unions. These labor models simply encourage people to get together and act in unison, which in turn fosters an environment of worker-employer camaraderie. Workers will truly have a say in these respective organizations without having to worry about top-down government actors potentially co-opting these organizations.
4. End the War on Drugs: The War on Drugs has been going on for more than three decades and has resulted in the incarceration of millions of people for non-violent crimes. The black markets created by these misguided policies have created incentives for violent criminal syndicates to step into these markets and make ludicrous profits. This helps finance their criminal activities that have completely destabilized countries such as Mexico and Colombia over the past two decades. The War on Drugs has also empowered the prison-industrial complex, which benefits tremendously from the increasing number of prisoners they can get from the criminalization of drug use. Likewise, the drug war has resulted in the militarization of police departments and has diverted law enforcement resources that would otherwise be used to combat violent crimes. It has also led to heinous violations of civil liberties across the board. Drug problems used be handled through the community instead of through coercion, as practically all drugs were legal during the 19th century. Ending the drug war would incentivize voluntary civil society institutions to tackle these problems on a local level.
5. Restore Free Markets in Education: There is no doubt that education costs have skyrocketed the past decades, but that has been the result of government intervention in the education. The antidote to this disease is a free market in education. Abolishing the Department of Education would be a great start. Parents should be able to choose from private schools, religious schools, apprenticeships, homeschooling co-ops, and online education programs like Academic Earth and Khan Academy. In a free market for education, the customers are the parents and children, and they have the money and means to choose the education that they want instead of the government controlling what they will get. This system would also empower teachers to set up their own schools and become entrepreneurs in education, which would enable the latest innovations in educational services to be more readily available to the general public. Likewise, in the higher education sector markets must also be allowed to function. Some of the largest misallocations in human capital occur in higher education and this has resulted from outdated models of education that benefit tenured professors and administrators and the push for making college education a “right” for all. To solve this, top-down accreditation agencies should be abolished and instead let the market create more market-oriented rating agencies that send signals to consumers about which educational institutes provide the best services at the lowest cost. With education going the online route, you will start to see the medieval era model of education turn into a more open-source model of education that allows for everyone to have access to even the most esoteric forms of knowledge at very little to no cost.
6. Restore Free Markets in Health Care: The American Medical Association, which for almost 150 years has effectively cartelized the allocation of medical resources, and government involvement in the insurance industry has resulted in the rising costs of healthcare. To solve this problem, there must be a free market in drugs where people can freely import from foreign countries and not have to worry about cumbersome bureaucracies like the FDA preventing potentially lifesaving medicine from entering the market. In a system of free market healthcare, instead of the FDA there would be competing drug certifying companies on the market relying entirely on their reputation for good testing since they would not be backed by the state. Individual doctors, patients and insurers will decide which certifying agencies they trust and which they do not. Other reforms would include removing the state monopoly on medical licensing which would allow for competing businesses or nonprofits to provide certification. Shorter patent terms on drugs and medical technology would also help tremendously. This would enable producers to learn from each other’s research at a faster rate, thus allowing for an increase in the supply of vital drugs and devices while accelerating the overall pace of research.
7. Revert to a Non-interventionist Foreign Policy: With hundreds of bases in over 150 countries, the United States is completely overstretched. The U.S must close down all these bases and end the War on Terror in order to truly bring about peace and prosperity. The political establishment’s pursuit of foreign policy interventionism over the past 50 years has resulted in the loss of countless American lives and civil liberties. It has also led to the creation of a “vampire economy” in which the military complex sucks out a substantial amount of wealth in the economy that would otherwise be put into more productive sectors of the economy. By ending these wars and closing down these bases, there would be a major economic stimulus, as taxpayers dollars that are usually spent on military projects would actually go back to the average American’s pockets to be spent on more productive sectors of the economy that have actual demand.
8. End Coercive Taxation: The income tax and other federal taxes have enabled the US government to explode into an enormous Bismarckian warfare/welfare state. These revenue generating mechanism have created a gigantic trough of money readily available to corrupt politicians to spend to their heart’s content. By the same token, these taxes are immoral and allow for the government to arbitrarily pick between which groups to plunder and which groups to dole out the taxpayer funded goodies. All of these taxes should be abolished. The federal government must only generate money from user fees and reasonable excise taxes. When the government can generate tons of revenue, it can also spend out the wazoo, especially on misguided foreign policy and social welfare programs. The beast must be put on a diet.
9. Let Young People Opt out of Entitlement Programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have created a total social welfare boondoggle where young people will get the short end of the stick. As the baby boomer’s retire en masse, young people face the daunting task of footing the bill for their parent’s social programs. Not only is this immoral, but it will create massive tax burdens for the younger generations. Young people should be allowed to opt-out of these programs and actually take ownership of their savings without depending on the state. As more and more youth opt out, these programs will eventually be gradually phased out.
10. Restructure Business Incorporation: If we want to truly create a separation of corporation and state, there must be a push towards a more organic, free market manner of incorporating business. It is no surprise how even the smallest government interaction with business gives the government the opportunity completely get involved in business. All forms limited liability should be conducted contractually as opposed to the traditional top-down model of incorporating companies. All government sponsored liability caps should be done away with. Ultimately, there would be credit rating agencies to guide investors in knowing which companies would protect their investments the best. These institutions could also incorporate these companies through market means so that they can partake in interstate commerce. The only legitimate government involvement with these type of businesses should be court related with regards to dealing with contracts and torts. The goal is to essentially remove the government imposed corporate veil and look for market alternatives independent of the state to form businesses and handle liability and risk.