One measure of a man, or of a people, is if they learn from their mistakes and the old adage from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is oft repeated though largely ignored. This holds double for government, which refuses to admit mistakes, first and foremost, and then attempts to let those mistakes play out to see if they’ll eventually be right. Our government continues to make the same mistakes over and over again at the expense of Liberty. Let me provide a couple of examples…
- President Obama’s latest liberty-infringing gaffe – namely his unwarranted spying on news agencies (for which the ACLU is suing over) reminds us of Watergate, with its secretive recordings.
- Our government’s current support of Al Qaeda rebels in Syria (yes, really), which it is arming to assist in ousting Assad. Naturally this reminds us of Afghanistan, where the U.S. provided arms to the Mujahideen in order to oust the Russians. Of course that led to the rise of the Taliban who we opted to attack later, and continue to attack today in a quagmired and failing effort. We aren’t at war with Syria, so why are we providing anyone on either side with arms? And why are we meddling with foreign entities that have nothing to do with the United States?
- The current prohibition on drugs (of any kind) is yet another example of a failed policy (prohibition vs. alcohol) being revisited despite zero evidence to support its effectiveness, and a complete disregard for the personal liberty of individuals of this nation. The war on drugs is a money losing endeavor, which has caused nothing but strife, violence, death and the unfair incarceration of U.S. citizens…the most highly imprisoned population in the world, even exceeding China. The government has no right to tell its citizens what substances they may or may not put in their bodies.
- Keynesian Economics continues to create bubbles which burst and provide weak patches to a broken system at the expense of the population. This is in the form of taxation that we see and taxation that we don’t in the form of inflation and debt. The economy survives despite worthless and pointless government infusions of money (the last of which was a ridiculous expense that provided almost zero ROI), and in the face of these failures our leaders continue to prop up the Keynesian theory. There is an excellent essay on this, which is available at Mises.org. There is also a recent article of ours here. An excerpt from the final paragraphs of the Mises Essay by Lew Rockwell:
The core issue is that (1) we have a monetary and banking system that is socialistic and therefore used by the power elite to enrich themselves at our expense, and (2) the policy elite clings to the Keynesian pretense that government is capable of waging a war against market forces. That, and the fact that Keynesianism empowers the elite, is why this pathetic and dangerous history keeps repeating itself.
In the market economy, there is a long-run tendency for errors to be corrected and replaced by different practices that uplift the people. In government, there is a long-run tendency to keep trying the same thing again and again, no matter how often or how badly it fails. Keynesianism is, after all, as Joseph Salerno points out, the “economics of state power.” And that guides us to the foundational problem: the monopoly entity that rules and devastates society for its own benefit.
Our government refuses to look at its own past failures, or to learn from them. The tragedy of this is that these mistakes continue to perpetuate themselves at the cost of liberty in one form or another to Americans. With advancements in the size and realms of oversight of government, the advancement of technology and our government’s ambitions in empire building abroad, things are only getting worse.