In my first blog post here I pointed out how statism and monopolies had affected language. There is more to be said about this.
It’s not just candidates who invade our homes with political propaganda and petitions for votes. It’s also the almost exclusively pro-state media and academics. 2010 being an election year, rhetoric is rampant. Indeed, discussions about taxes and spending are all too common (and all too sad). And tax talk, of course, is not free of the very same examples of language corruption that allows the existence of certain ways that we speak about taxes and the desire for them.
Take the statement, “taxes give us roads and police.” Putting aside the monopoly aspects, what seldom gets asked is whether roads and police are needed, how much and of what quality. When someone complains about taxes or government spending, soon enough the reply will have to do about us being able to have bridges and other services. Sure, tax money goes to those and thousands of other projects.
Imagine a similar situation in everyday life. We go to the grocery store with a shopping list. The first item is “apples.” Fine–we need apples. But the list only says that. We do not know how many apples, what size, kind, or how fresh they should be. What about price? Whenever statists speak of roads, schools, bridges, police, education, health care, or anything else “offered” by the state, there is no specific mention of the multitude of aspects that a market entrepreneur would have to figure out (such as quality, quantity, etc.). Society needs such and such. That is all. Maybe there are too many schools. Maybe there aren’t enough. Where should they be located? How many students? What about curricula
One can go on and on about such minutia yet the point remains–the populous is not sold (or offered really, as these are taxes after all) a specific amount or number of goods or services but rather abstract, homogeneous, indistinct, monolithic blobs. While the entrepreneur risks scarce goods (time, labor, capital) trying to determine future market conditions to provide his fellow man with a good or service, the political process promises vacuous public works which are, due to the way they are financed and allocated, necessarily inefficient, for they bear no resemblance to what you and I and everyone else wants. (Not to mention that for every government project there is an army of bureaucrats making decisions “on our behalf,” somehow a) reading the minds of all of society; and b) trying to average out our desires. The result, far from being what “the people want” is rather what the lobbyists and politicians want.)
These days the hot topic is employment, with candidates/potential busybodies-tyrants promising an endless supply of jobs. The next time someone promises “jobs,” be aware of how corrupted (and corrupting) that sounds.