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L. Neil Smith's
Number 681, July 29, 2012

"UN Small Arms Treaty Dead!"

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Why I Won't Vote for Romney
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I see lots of stuff online these days saying, in effect, that now that Ron Paul is through (an assumption I wouldn't want to live or die by) and the re-election of Barack Obama is unthinkable (to me, it was unthinkable the first time around, but the drooling insanity, honking stupidity, and outright evil of George Bush and his accomplices made it inevitable), we must all pitch in and do our best to elect Mitt Romney.

For many reasons, that's a load of elephant dung.

In the first place, I'm not a Republican and I don't regard a Republican win as a victory for anything that I care about. I'm a lifelong libertarian, and since my own party has long since deserted the principles it was founded on, I won't be voting Libertarian, either.

As for Mitt Romney, the man is a store-dummy who has failed to raise a single issue in which I'm interested, and even if he did, given his background and record, I'm confident he'd be on the wrong side.

He is a known enemy to private gun ownership and he would fold like an origami pussy cat if the slightest pressure were brought to bear on his ethically delicate structure. At best, he sees your rights and mine as mere bargaining chips in some other, "higher" political cause.

He is a father of Marxified medicine in this country.

He wants to run the multi-continental empire that the United Nations will hand him. And even if he understood the mechanics of the mess that his cohorts and colleagues have dumped us into—which he does not—he wouldn't raise an expensively manicured pinky to fix it.

How do I know all that? Because I'm old. I've been around in politics for a long, long time. It's altogether too easy to recognize Romney for what he is, a spoiled preppie who, exactly like George w. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and shaky old George Bush Senior, never earned an honest, free-market dollar in his life, but was basically a "money-monkey", skittering around on a leash, doing the bidding of his masters, trading on connections with his family and semilicit business cronyships instead of toiling at the real work of the market. Barack Obama, at least, dealt out ice cream cones in Hawaii, and Ron Paul brought 4000 babies into the world, while Mitt Romney was standing around looking cute and letting others do the drudgery.

There is a difference between those who labor and those who only pretend. More precisely, it is the difference between capitalism— which Republicans pretend to champion—and mercantilism, which is what they're really guilty of. Both sides, left and right, Democrat and Republican, Socialist Party A and Socialist Party B, claim to be ignorant of the difference, but it is all too real, and was observed as early as 1776, when Adam Smith defined it in his book Wealth of Nations. [Barnes & or]

Let me say that again, so that nobody can miss it. Capitalism and mercantilism are two entirely different things, the former is based on individual freedom, the latter on political power. The latter often masquerades as the former, and nobody running the public schools ever taught you there is a difference, because the entire fragile existence of the mercantilist status quo depends on your being ignorant about it.

Capitalism, as Robert LeFevre used to explain it, is simply the practice of postponing consumption of resources and earnings now, in order to reap higher rewards later, through interest, investment, or the maturation of crops, for example. And to that extent, as LeFevre saw it, capitalism won over every other economic system long, long ago.

Even the Soviets practiced it, although folks tended to die in the millions during the postponement period, and the future rewards somehow never seemed to materialize. LeFevre never said they were competent capitalists.

The real conflict is between private capitalism and mercantilism. Under the former, individual enterprises compete with one another by producing the highest quality goods and services at the lowest prices possible. Competition is the engine of progress, as each enterprise thinks up better ways to compete—sometimes with new products, more often by producing better goods and services at even lower prices. If tissues that pop up prove more popular with the public than the old kind, then that's what you'll find in the marketplace—except in a special "retro niche" of consumers who prefer the kind that don't pop up.

Aficionados can still purchase vacuum tubes (some younger readers may have to look that up—Wikipedia has a very nice article on the subject) for their vintage "Hi-Fi" record players, from Russia, of all places.

One of the best examples of the way capitalism works is also in the area of electronics. When I started my first novel, The Probability Broach [Barnes &], in 1977, there were no personal computers. I was shown many dedicated word processors that were wedded to proprietary software and wouldn't do anything else, computerwise, that sold for $5000. Instead, I rented a typewriter, a Sperry-Remington SR101 that was itself a great improvement over previous typewriters like my ancient upright IBM electric so venerable it was labeled "International" across the front.

Over the next three and a half decades, we went from there to pocket calculators more powerful than any of the vast, room-filling government and academic machines of the past. We went from clunky telephones that were wired to the wall, to the tiny cellphones most of us carry today (unless we want that room full of vacuum tubes called "smart phones"). We went from whatever local TV felt like showing, to renting, buying, or watching whatever we desire on sites like HULU or NetFlix. We went from expensive, cumbersome letter mail, long-distance telephony, hair-whitening telegrams, and quirky short-wave radio, to the World Wide Web. Most of that hundred-year leap was possible only because it happened too quickly for government to get its clumsy hands on it, even when the medium—the Internet—was theirs to begin with.

Mercantilism, on the other hand, is mainly an attempt to avoid or suppress competition, rather than meet and respond appropriately to it. Under this "system", companies and individuals find various ways to purchase the influence of government officials who use their power to aid their "benefactors" in many different ways, or to hinder their competition.

From its inception, this country practiced mercantilism, not capitalism. When staunch conservatives speak out in defense of "free enterprise", they are defending mercantilism, which has absolutely nothing to do with free enterprise. They are not defending capitalism. When raggedy-assed, smelly protestors "Occupy" various places they feel are significant to the establishment, whether they know it or not, the establishment they are protesting is mercantilism, not capitalism.

Mercantilism's greatest 18th century American cheerleader was Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, whose duel with Aaron Burr was basically over who got to be the favored mercantilist. Our political and economic troubles today are with his political and economic heirs, whose cupidity and incompetence caused the collapse over the past few years.

The War Between the States was a mercantilist war, and didn't concern slavery at all (if it did, why were black slaves kept busy all through the war rebuilding the nation's capitol dome?), except in the sense that certain politicians and businessmen wanted everybody to be their slaves, through monopoly, taxation, and conscription. Above all, they didn't want the South—already paying 80 percent of the country's taxes—doing business with Europe and being paid world prices for their exports, when northern industry offered them so much less.

To 19th Century railroad magnate Commodore Vanderbilt, an "honest politician" was one who stayed bought. Payment might be in the form of cold, hard cash, or these days, of make-believe loans like the Obamas were given to pay for a palatial Chicago home, or vacations to various exotic and luxurious places, or the intimate company of various exotic and luxurious young females—or young males if that's the way the politician swings—or, best of all, lucrative and cushy "retirement" positions with the very corporate entities that the politician used to "regulate".

That's the way it was in the 18th century, the 19th century, the 20th century, as it is now. It has never changed, and it never will, left to itself, because it can't. Fearing change above all things, and worshipping the status quo, mercantilists are uninterested in progress of any kind and most of it has happened despite them. Former West Virginia governor Jay Rockefeller openly wishes that the Internet— and the revolutionary lateral, egalitarian communication that it has facilitated among those he regards as peasants—had never been invented.

If Rockefeller and his vile ilk had their way, we'd still be using the abacus, writing letters with quill pens on calfskin, sending our mail by messengers (the Pony Express was a capitalist improvement) and being "cured" by eating arsenic and letting leeches drink our blood, while the mercantilists and their government steal everything we have or ever will have, eat our children alive, inspire everyone in the world to want to kill us, and drink our souls like the vampires they are.

In the right light, you can see Mitt Romney's fangs.

Just as you could see his father's.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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