We received the following e-mail from Tim:
“I read your newsletter because I am bullish on gold and silver. However, I do not appreciate Mr. Cook’s right-wing editorials. His manipulation of terms and facts to fit his right-wing views are insulting. For example, his view that the founding fathers of this country were trying to protect us from ‘government’ is misleading. They sought to protect the regular person from the rich and powerful. Government is the tool to protect the common man. Without government you have the robber barons of the late 1800s and deregulation which led to the Enrons and World Coms. I thought Mr. Cook was an intelligent man. Maybe he is and I have just stumbled on to his purposeful selling of more lies to the ignorant Americans who buy all the corporate media proliferation of conservative thought. I am obviously not a Republican, but appreciate what the Republicans are doing to the price of commodities with their reckless spending and cutting of taxes. This will continue to explode the debt. As long as they are in power, I will be bullish on gold and silver.”
I responded as follows:
Your civics are a little rusty. Our written constitution, the separation of powers, the bill of rights and limitations on courts, legislators and executives all stem from the desire of our founding fathers to limit government. It’s what the Revolutionary War and the Constitutional Congress were all about.
Our founding fathers were the rich and powerful of their day. There was no stigma back then on becoming rich and there should be none today. Under our market system, wealth is accrued by serving the needs of others. We don’t need protection from the rich, we need protection from the government. As Woodrow Wilson once noted, “The history of liberty is the history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.” The economist Mises explained that, “it is necessary to curb the power of government. This is the task of all constitutions, bills of rights and laws. This is the meaning of all struggles which men have fought for liberty.”
You mention Enron and the sins of a few robber barons as if that were enough to condemn capitalism and encourage more government controls. Compare the minor warts of capitalism with its benefits and blessings. No other social system has come remotely close to improving the living standards of the masses as has the free market operating under minimal government intervention. Contrast that with an all-powerful government in Russia, which in the last century murdered 25 million of its own people. It’s imperative that the market economy be allowed to operate with as much freedom as possible. This is the sole source of America’s economic strength.
Who are the rich and powerful you wish to be protected from? Corporate power is a myth. The tobacco companies were rich but couldn’t avoid a shakedown by the government. Is it Merck who just lost a 300-million dollar lawsuit? In the final analysis, how much power did Enron or any other corporate lawbreaker have? A company can cheat, steal or deliver faulty products in our market economy, but they will eventually go out of business if they do. Competition eliminates any company that does not do the best job of serving the consumer. Outside of Coca-Cola, Ford and H.J. Heinz, I can’t think of many other corporations that have lasted for as long as 100 years. Meanwhile, the government has grown a hundred times over. They have the power. They collect half of all business profits and half of what everybody earns every year. If you don’t pay them, someone eventually comes with a gun and confiscates your property. With all they collect, they still borrow half again as much. That’s the definition of power, not some rich guy who can be audited at any time.
The government’s role should be limited to defending us against foreign enemies, protecting us from domestic criminals, protecting our health and safety, and taking care of the environment. End of story.
It’s not a question of conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican. Both wings sponsor the growth of government. Both parties are taking us down the path to economic and social ruin by continuously increasing the size and scope of the state. In the words of author, Robert Higgs, “To continue on the road we Americans have traveled for the past century is ultimately to deliver ourselves completely into the hands of an unlimited government…. We can have a free society or a welfare state. We cannot have both.”
P.S. As for reducing taxes, which you oppose, the economist Murray Rothbard had this to say. “The modern welfare state, highly touted as soaking the rich to subsidize the poor, does no such thing. In fact, soaking the rich would have disastrous effects, not just for the rich but for the poor and middle classes themselves. For it is the rich who provide a proportionately greater amount of saving, investment capital, entrepreneurial foresight, and financing of technological innovation that has brought the United States to by far the highest standard of living – for the mass of the people – of any country in history. Soaking the rich would not only be profoundly immoral, it would drastically penalize the very virtues: thrift, business foresight, and investment, that have brought about our remarkable standard of living.”