“To eliminate statism is not to physically subdue the rulers, but to mentally liberate the ruled.”
Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski
For those like myself who were not familiar with the author of the above quote, I first read of Jakub in a Mises article. He is a professor of Law, Administration, and Economics at the University of Wroclaw with an MA in philosophy from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in political economy from King’s College London. He is the author of many books about political science and economics. I found this quote to be particularly relevant to the topic of this post.
When politicians sense that their popularity, i.e. power, is falling, they have a well-used tool chest to fix the “problem”. In general, the most useful tool is a crisis, and if there isn’t one handy, they will create one. Crises give cover to those who crave power, especially when their agenda is not being well received. It provides a narrative around which they can construct a reasonable argument for doing those things the general public would likely not tolerate in less turbulent times, a narrative that blurs the lines between society, government and the state.
The pandemic, despite the recent uptick in positive testing (send out massive quantities of test kits, get back massive results), is a crisis of more than two years with now diminishing returns for power grabbing. What politicians in trouble love more than anything is a good old fashion war. Nothing satisfies a power lust like what you can grab with a war; it’s like blood for a vampire as it sucks the life out of a nation’s polity, economy and social stability.
In the case of the Russian/Ukrainian War, as has been stated many times before here and by the more well known intelligent and moral folks than those in power, the US has no treaty, security or territorial basis for involvement in that conflict. However, it represents an opportunity for the current administration to deflect attention from its many failures by making this a crisis for the US regardless of the fact that none exists.
Add to this that President Biden announced today a deployment of seven hundred American troops to Somalia. While I have been highly critical of Trump, one thing he did that I supported was getting us out of that slow burn war that had no legitimacy whatsoever; so to see Biden reverse that on the pretext of “….a more effective fight against Al Shabab.” is truly alarming. When did we declare war on Somalia? Are we going to do so to every country where a terrorist organization exists? Why then did Biden withdraw from the Forever War in Afghanistan only to redirect the same stupidity in Somalia?
The answer is the economy. As it becomes increasingly obvious that inflation is persistent, and that the Fed is way behind the curve and desperately trying to catch-up with ever increasing rates, lower GDP forecasting a slowing economy, a falling market, and persistent supply problems, polls are showing a steady decline in Biden’s popularity. Distractions like the leaked Alito preliminary opinion fueling outrage on a likely reversal of Roe vs. Wade are just not getting the kind of crisis needed for a sufficient deflection from the hurt on American’s pocket books.
Trying to blame business for high prices after the most egregious monetary and fiscal bloating of all time has just not had the traction the administration hoped for; while current American society is no more economically astute than in the past, that old deflection isn’t making points anymore. The mystery that some folks question is why is the dollar so strong? What we need to understand is that the nature of fiat currencies, which is the only type left in the entire world, is relativity; when all central banks inflate, and all governments spend from empty pockets accumulating incomprehensible debt, the only differentiating element is interest rates, and on that score the US is ahead of others, at least for the moment.
We have now spent more on aid to Ukraine than we have on our own infrastructure over the last year, despite the largest appropriation for that in generations, and in the face of record debt and a falling economy. We have a critical shortage of life essentials like baby formula, but stupidly refuse to allow importation of European and Canadian products. We have an energy crisis resulting in record energy prices yet the administration inexplicably cancels federal leases for major gas and oil production. So it’s understandable in the midst of all this mismanagement why deflection is needed.
This is what happens when government “manages” an economy; it’s not just a Biden administration issue, it’s an American issue, and we will all suffer the consequences, because all such things have consequences. Americans pay the state about $4.5T in taxes each year, and this is what we get for our money. The state does a poor job at protecting our rights while funding military adventurism, bailing out big banks, giving lucrative grants to the politically well-connected, keeping half the population in a state of dependency, and flying drones around the Middle East and Africa blowing people up. We have politicians of both parties supporting ever increasing belligerence and confrontation with Russia, China, Iran and a host of smaller countries for no other reason than to maintain the straw man of American hegemony, and of course deflect attention from problems they create.
Increasingly, we hear from both parties a call to repress “disinformation”, a phrase as elastic in meaning as anything that is contrary to what those in power want you to know, believe or express. This particularly virulent form of statist virtue signaling we used to call censorship, a word that is politically and constitutionally toxic, so instead we get the benevolent sounding words like “fake news”, “misinformation” and “disinformation”. However, be found within the ever expanding scope of what is not acceptable and you are viscously attacked with labels like “racist” or “fascist”; in short, don’t be a crisis pooper.
It is time for the American people to do something they haven’t done in a very long time, and that’s to say “no”, or to put it in Jakub’s terms, become mentally liberated. Americans have allowed themselves to become conditioned to repress their own self-interest for the “greater good”, that vague and malleable concept politicians love as if politics has become a new religion. There’s another word for that kind of persuasion, and it’s called manipulation.
For the politically elite, it has become a way of life. They never take responsibility for their actions, always attempting to convince us that there’s a crisis that needs our attention more than what we actually need to do. They take and take until you’ve finally had enough, then they move on to the next crisis. It’s time to look for new leadership, and listen to those that tell you that your interests are more important than theirs.