HomeBudget & Tax NewsHere's the Real Source of National Anger, Division.

Here’s the Real Source of National Anger, Division.

“What causes the degrees of divisiveness, anger, and fear among people today … is that this type of government preempting and co-opting touches matters close to many people’s personal concerns and values.”

Division and Anger Come for Winner-Take-All Politics

Divisiveness, anger and opposition are inescapable when either one side or both sides of the political debate over the nature and necessities of the society require the use of “activist” government power to bring the goals to fruition. The reason for this is that democratic politics is a winner-take-all system of decision-making and action.

For instance, Joe Biden has said more than once that, “if necessary,” he would work to impose a national mandatory face masking. He has said that government will fight the coronavirus. He states that America suffers from a “systemic racism” that only heavy-handed government can cure. And that the world faces climate changes that only government command and control can find answers for.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is insistent that America is pervaded with racist and sexist discrimination that oppresses people of color and women. Plus, she has made it clear that, in her view, it is not sufficient for all people to receive an equality of individual rights before the law; no, it is necessary to use the powers of government through regulation and redistribution to assure an equality of outcomes.

The problem is that, in general, either each person has the same recognized and respected individual rights before the law, with inevitable differing results and outcomes among people. Or, the government attempts to impose some benchmark of measured equal outcomes on all, but only by treating individuals in differentiated unequal ways. Kamala Harris’s goal is to hammer us down into those equalized outcomes, whether you want it or not.

Markets Offer Diversity, Politics Imposes Uniformity

This gets to the heart of the reason behind the clear anger and fear that is expressed by both Biden and Trump supporters about a defeat of their candidate and victory of that of the opponent. Everything increasingly becomes an “affair of state,” by which I mean all of life becomes more and more politicized. The nature of almost all political “solutions” to some supposed “problem” is that it imposes one answer to the question.

In the workings of the market arena of the peaceful and voluntary civil society, there are as many avenues to deal with various social issues as individual human beings who imagine and attempt to implement ways of dealing with them on their own or in mutual agreement with others who they can find to collaborate with them.

Not only does this set free multitudes of minds to possibly discover means and methods to deal with the problems of concern, but it allows competing possibilities to be experimented with at the same time, since the very nature and usefulness of competitive discovery processes is that it accepts the fact that it can never be known with certainty who or how an answer may be found until it is tried.

It is always easy to see the answer after it has been unearthed. But before the fact, there is no way of knowing for sure which lines of inquiry really are dead ends or a misdirection of research and resources. Markets offer the possibility and opportunities for rival attempts of finding out what may work. Therefore, what appears to some as wasteful, competitive duplication of effort may, in fact, be the most creative and cost-efficient institutional way to foster problem-solving in society.

Government “taking charge” to solve the problem preempts and co-opts much or all of this. The political authority drains the private sector of financial and real resources via either taxes or deficit spending to fund the selected and privileged attempt to find the answers. It, thereby, narrows the field of potential discovery. Or, government regulations and restrictions may, at the same time, prohibit or hamper alternative avenues of discovery that may end up preventing or postponing a better answer than the government-backed and permitted lines of inquiry.

Delusions and Misunderstandings about What Comes “Free”

But what causes the degrees of divisiveness, anger, and fear among people today about the outcomes of political elections, as the opinion polls seem to highlight, is that this type of government preempting and co-opting touches matters close to many people’s personal concerns and values.

How and who will provide categorized people with health care, housing, education, retirement funding, employments and incomes, business opportunities and research funding? Because of confused meanings in words and ignorance concerning the wider consequences from implementing various types of policies, many people really do not know or understand what they are for or against in supporting one set of policies compared to some other.

There are people who, when they are told that health care or higher education will be “free,” give no or little reflection on the reality that nothing is “free” in the way implied. Someone will have to be taxed to provide the funding that makes all these things available at little or no financial cost to others. And among those “some” who will be taxed to do so will be many of the very people who are thinking that these “good things” will be coming their way at no expense.

Politicians, bureaucrats and “progressive” intellectuals assure people that they are “entitled” to such things just because they are human beings or members of a particular society. Indeed, it is their “right” as a person. But if someone has an entitlement “right” to something that involves the supplying of real goods and services, there must be someone who reciprocally is obligated to provide the real and financial means to supply them. When it is the government that is the conduit to assure these “rightful” entitlements to one group of people they must, inescapably, compel a forced “giving” from others to cover the expenses.

If any reflection on this crosses a person’s mind about the rightfulness or justice of compulsorily taking from Peter to transfer to Paul, any questions or twinge of conscience is smoothed over by saying that the required taxed funds will come from the higher-income “one percent,” and how could anyone have become that rich in comparison to others, other than somehow cheating or exploiting or oppressing their fellow human beings? Thus, making “them” pay is simply a rightful taking of some of the ill-gotten gains that should not have been theirs to begin with.

Government as the Political Parent over All of Us

Besides, are we not all family members of a community of people living in the same society? Don’t family members share and sacrifice for each other? Don’t mom and dad do without so the children may have? And aren’t siblings expected to help their brothers and sisters even when they don’t want to and would rather do other things?

We, therefore, owe it to each other. Just as mom and dad may have to “insist” that one of the children fulfills their family obligations, just like the others in the family are expected to, the government, which symbolizes and serves as our societal mom and dad, must see to it through imposed regulation and compulsory redistribution that each of the society’s family members do their part, their “fair share.”

Whether the issue is “guaranteed” national health care, or “free” college education for all, or a “living wage” at $15 or more an hour, or a “fair” representation in various walks of life measured by percentages of people based on gender and race, or assuring neither “hurtful” nor “harmful” words or deeds by restricting what people may say and how they can associate an interact with others, everyone’s options and fate and happiness is now tied up with whether or not your political candidates for the presidency, Congress and state-level legislative houses win the current and future elections.

The anger, hate and fear among voters come from the uncertainty and concern that the other party’s political dads and moms will be elected to government offices with the legitimated authority and power to make each and every one of us conform to and be confined within what our elected paternalist parents coerce us into, about how we shall live, work, earn, act, speak, and prosper.

Modern democratic politics, therefore, poisons every facet and corner and aspect of human life and social existence. This is and will remain inescapable for as long as government’s reach extends beyond merely protecting our respective lives, liberty and honestly acquired property from the aggressions of others.


Read the first part of this article here. Originally posted by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). Republished with permission.

Richard Ebeling
Richard Ebeling
Dr. Richard M. Ebeling is the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel.


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