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L. Neil Smith's
Number 598, December 5, 2010

"Government lies and secrets kill millions"

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Is The State worth it?
by Kent McManigal

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

What is the goal of statism? The two excuses for having a State I've heard most often, even by people who don't think of themselves as statists while still promoting the notion that "some government is necessary", are to protect the rights of people and to keep people safe.

Is that really the goal of The State or a dishonest justification covering the true goal? Well, since I am not a statist I can only look at the actions and results. Since I see very few actions by The State that would seem to be working toward this goal, and a bunch of actions that seem to be actively fighting against the stated goal, I would have to say the stated goal is not the true goal. Let's pretend for a moment that the stated goal is the real goal, however.

Are those goals "good" or "bad"? Do they help or harm?

Is it good to protect the rights of people? Of course this requires an understanding of what rights are and what they are not. First of all, do rights exist? If not, that means no one has a right to do anything, not even to control the lives of others, so there is no right to Rule.

If, on the other hand, rights do exist, a right can not violate the equal and identical rights of others. The basic right is the right to say "no". So, no one has a right to do things to someone else that would violate their self-ownership, self determination, and property rights. Rights can not impose an obligation on others beyond the obligation to not violate rights. Protecting your own rights and the rights of other people would be a good thing to do.

Does The State's existence advance this goal?

No, it fails to even advance toward this goal a tiny bit. The State has become the only credible threat to the rights of people. My neighbor won't steal from me (without repercussions, anyway), nor will he attack me for disobeying his edicts about how I choose to live as long as I am not infringing on his life or property. If he tries to do so, The State would protect him from my defensive actions more than it would protect my right to defend myself from his depredations. Fail number one.

Moving along to the second excuse. Would "keeping people safe" be a good thing? Maybe. Safety is in the eye of the beholder. True safety can never exist, nor would it be a completely good thing with no drawbacks if it seemed to. Life is dangerous. There is a thin line between safety and meddling. You might be safer to stay in bed and eat only pureed food while you breathe filtered and sterilized air, although such safety would be dangerous in its own way. No sane person would choose that "life" for himself (although he would have the absolute right to do so), and only an evil person would dictate that "life" for others.

Pretending for a moment that you could create a "safe" situation with no downsides, then it might be OK to do so as long as you didn't force it on those who don't consent.

Does The State "keep us safe"?

It partially depends on who "us" is. If you are talking about people who choose to steal, rape, murder, kidnap, and boss people around, then the answer is "yes"- as long as those people join the ranks of government. The State keeps them pretty safe from the consequences of their actions. If, on the other hand, you are talking about ordinary people who are simply trying to go about their lives, The State fails to keep them safe. It may protect them from some freelance thieves, but only by the trade-off of sending its own officially-sanctioned thieves instead. This is not a net gain.

The same applies for all other dangers. On the rare occasions that a freelance aggressor is stopped by The State, he is replaced with one or more sent directly from The State- aggressors who have legal immunity for the harm they cause. If you fight back against agents or bureaucrats of The State you will face an escalation of force on a scale unavailable to the freelance thugs The State claims to be protecting you from.

The actions of The State also directly threaten you by creating and encouraging enemies around the globe. Enemies that will want to harm you and me simply because they don't realize that The State is not me, I am causing them no harm and have no wish to do so, and I do not support the aggressive acts that The State claims are done on my behalf.

The bureaucratic "safety measures", such as "gun control", drug "laws", traffic "laws", airport "security", food and drug standards (and testing), all have hidden costs, which if taken into account honestly would diminish any "benefit" to those burdensome regulations to the point that they would be seen to create no net gain in safety. Fail, fail, fail.

The State does not "keep us safe".

My conclusion is that since The State fails in its stated goals it is obsolete and not worth its cost to civilization.

Jully RogerKent McManigal is the (an?) Albuquerque Libertarian Examiner. His personal website is


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