L. Neil Smith's

Number 20, December 15, 1996.

The Spider at the Center of the Web

By L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         I saw David Rockefeller on TV the other day. He looked gratifyingly old. His brother Nelson, you'll recall, expired years ago while slaving over a hot secretary. It made me wonder how much time Ol' Dave has left, and more importantly, whether (e'er he shuffles off this mortal coil) he'll get religion and condescend to "Let My People Go".
         Now, I'm aware that even Rush Limbaugh sneers at people who see Ol' Dave as the Spider at the Center of a Web of Conspiracy. Most times, I'm inclined to agree, though I confess that in my darker moments, I suspect this may be Rush's real purpose, the reason he's allowed by Powers that Be to prosper. Here's a guy who won't believe the FBI did anything wrong at Waco. He is, after all, a Phil Donahue employee.
         You didn't know that?
         What's more, with one exception I'll get to later, I've never been motivated by any purely economic argument for individual liberty. Compared with other aspects of what's been, for me, a life-long struggle, that bores me bug-silly. So do most of the individuals who appear obsessed by it. Even among those who call themselves Libertarians, two economists in the same room usually means a noisy disagreement.
         Nonetheless, they reveal a basic truth that can't be denied, one at the heart of everything wrong with America. It's simple, really, depressingly simple considering how long the scam's been operating. And it won't be the first time in history that a free people were gulled blind because they refused to believe that everyone isn't as basically decent as they are. The recent Harry Browne campaign comes to mind.
         But I digress.
         You wanna be like Ol' Dave, buy a dozen congressmen and tell 'em, "Get out there and spend. I don't care how much you spend, even what you spend it on -- that's another issue entirely -- as long as you spend more than the IRS can rake in without starting a revolution. Then I'll come along and loan you enough money to make up the difference."
         And collect the interest on that loan. I heard another guy on TV say that, at the moment, it takes the taxes of everybody west of the Mississippi just to pay that interest, and that before long, it'll take everybody's taxes and no payments will get made on the principal. He seemed upset that federal taxes now consume 20-odd percent of what we earn. I'm more concerned that, when you add state, county, municipal, and other governments, the percentage rises to more than 50.
         The function of American socialism (and its leafy subsidiary, environmentalism) is to provide something to spend money on, filling the coffers of the very class socialists claim to despise. Marx must be spinning in his grave so fast he could be wired to generate electricity.
         Even the "little people", all the "widows and orphans" who are held up as an excuse for trying to repair a system that should never have existed, even they expected, like most "victims" of a con-game, to make out. When they elected Roosevelt, when they elected Kennedy, when they elected Johnson, they were cutting themselves a nice, thick, quivering, bloody slice of us. They were engaging, not just in cannibalism, but in its most repulsive form: they were eating their own young. Which is why I declared, in a Texas speech last summer -- a speech I was bitterly criticized for making, and one of the best I've ever given -- "Screw Social Security, let the bastards freeze in the dark".
         Most individuals, political pundits and voters alike, never get past the question of what the money gets spent on. But that's a different game, played on a different level. Overarching it is the corrupt matter of what we'll term "pseudocapitalism", and how for generations it has led us down what F.A. Hayek called "The Road to Serfdom". Clinton, Dole, and Perot serve exactly the same interest and it is that interest, rather than the government it owns and operates, that America's productive class find themselves the chattel property of.
         Two or three generations ago, big-banking buckaroos like Ol' Dave used to be smarter. In the same way Romans saved themselves a lot of trouble by keeping their hands off local religion, our herders used to give their cattle -- meaning us -- free range to do what we wanted, as long as we worked hard to produce enough wealth to "service the debt".
         Recently, senility and a degree of genetic depletion have set in, as they will with parasitic organisms. Ol' Dave has let his socialist front-men get out of control, penning the cattle too closely, making them dangerously discontent. Or maybe it's a matter of allowing his thin-blooded, Ivy League-tutored offspring to embrace the phony- baloney ideology that was created for the same reason we put sand in a catbox.
         The fact is, each of us pays half his income to one government or another, cutting his real wealth in half. Those we purchase goods and services from also pay half to government, except that they don't really pay -- we do, through prices twice as high as they should be. Which cuts real wealth in half again, to a quarter of what it would be if everyone kept what they earn. It also costs to comply with idiot regulations. Dixy Lee Ray, in Environmental Overkill estimated that it amounts to another halving, meaning that government sucks off seven eighths; we're left to survive on one eighth of our productive capacity.
         What I find fascinating is imagining (as I did in my book The Probability Broach) what it would be like to have eight eighths of our wealth to play with and government was left to freeze in the dark, too. Similarly, if the debt was created in the first place, at the behest of those it's owed to, it should be repudiated, or personally paid by the congressional crooks who took it on themselves to incur it.
         If you're not prepared to deprive them of their excuses, if you're not prepared to eradicate every evidence of socialism from America, including the bits of it you like, if you're not equally prepared to enforce the Bill of Rights -- letter by letter -- including the bits of it you don't like, then you're part of the problem you complain about.

L. Neil Smith's Prometheus Award-winning The Probability Broach offers a window onto a Libertarian civilization -- and enough sex and violence to keep even the most apolitical reader turning pages. Buy it at bookstores anywhere, or call Laissez Faire Books 1-800-326-0996

Next to advance to the next article, or Previous to return to the previous article, or Index to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 20, December 15, 1996.