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Fighting Plunder with Plunder in Poland

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After more than forty years of suffering under socialism, the Polish people finally have an opportunity to pursue economic freedom. Yet, every indication is that the new Polish government intends to pursue the same old hackneyed ideas of plunder which caused so much misery and despair. Rather than immediately eliminate the immoral impediments to economic progress which have plagued Poland for so long, the Polish government is attempting to reinforce its system by having the American government through its tax system, plunder the American people and send the loot to the Polish authorities.

It is first important to summarize the principles of freedom which many of us consider so vital. Life, liberty, property, and conscience are fundamental, God-given rights rather than privileges bestowed on people by governmental officials. As long as there is no force or fraud against others, individuals have the absolute right to live their lives the way they choose, to engage in any occupation or business, to enter into any voluntary exchange using any mutually beneficial medium of exchange, to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, and to dispose of that wealth in any manner they choose. The only legitimate function of government is to protect the exercise of these inherent rights. It is also important to describe some of the characteristics of socialism. Under socialism, the government is the only employer in society. Individuals are not permitted to go into business for themselves or to work for private employers. If a person wants to eat he has no choice but to accept a job with the State. It is not difficult to imagine what happens to the person who displeases his boss in a system where there is only one employer. Under socialism, people either learn to conform or starve.

The socialist State also owns the results of production, that is, the income and savings of the citizenry. Through different levels of taxation, the government permits some people to keep more of their earnings and others to keep less. Almost no one questions the legitimacy of government making this determination. The idea that a person’s earnings are his by right and therefore not subject to being plundered and redistributed by the State, is an alien notion to people living under socialism.

Another characteristic of socialism is that parents are required to send their children to government-approved schools for a “free” education. Of course, many of us know that such a system is not free in any sense of the word. On threat of fine and imprisonment parents are denied the basic human right to have their children educated in the manner they choose. The entire system is financed by plundering the property of everyone to pay for the schooling of everyone’s children. The notion that parents should be financially responsible for the education of their own children is an anathema to people living under socialism. The idea that a free market would produce an infinitely better educational system is beyond the thinking of most of the citizenry. Finally, most people under socialism are comforted in knowing that their children are learning government-approved doctrines rather than ideas which might question the moral or economic legitimacy of certain governmental activities.

A third characteristic of socialism is the absolute control which the government maintains over the monetary system of the nation. Of course, political control over money invariably results in the insidious form of government plunder known as inflation, whereby the government debases the currency by simply printing more of it As Americans know only too well, currency debasement results in higher prices at the stores, accusations of price-gouging, the imposition of price controls, shortages of goods and long lines of people who seek to purchase such goods. That the concept of money should be left to the free market is considered ridiculous by most people who live under a socialist system.

What is so evil about socialism? First politicians are permitted to interfere with the fundamental God-given right of how a person chooses to live his life and dispose of his property. Second, the individual under socialism does not exist for his own sake, that is, for his own growth and development Instead he is a mere “cog in the wheel” serving the community in the manner the community chooses. Third, at the heart of the socialist system are the sins of envy and covetousness. With the exception of the political rulers, a person under socialism is not permitted to commit the “heinous crime” of having more than another person. Finally, with its system of plunder and redistribution of wealth, socialism results in economic impoverishment for the vast majority of the populace.

What then is the solution for Poland? Freedom is the solution! The Polish government should ‘push the button” and immediately remove all rules and regulations which interfere with peaceful activity. This would entail the right of each individual to open any business without government permission, to charge any price without threat of controls, to enter into any voluntary exchange using any mutually agreeable medium of exchange, to accumulate any amount of wealth without threat of confiscation, and to dispose of his wealth in any manner he chooses — in short, to do anything that’s peaceful.

The American government for its part should “push the button” by immediately removing all restrictions to the fundamental right of the American people to keep what they earn as well as removing all regulations which prevent or impede the investment expenditure, and donation of money in Poland. Not only would the removal of such restrictions be consistent with the basic moral values of freedom, it also would ensure that resources were being used for the benefit of the Polish people rather than the Polish politicians.

Two historical examples come to mind. Many Americans do not know that the colonists at Plymouth Plantation initially established a socialist system. The crops, for example, were not privately owned by the colonists but instead were owned by “the community.” Everyone was required to work for the common good, and the community leaders decided how the fruits would be distributed. The result? Famine and successive years of starvation! After a few years of experience under socialism, Governor Bradford decreed the end of this type of system and held that each family would thereafter own what it produced. The result? Tremendous plenty and successive years of thanksgiving!

Another example is that of post-World War 11 Germany. The German people were suffering under a myriad of rules and regulations which had been imposed by order of the Allied authorities. The German Minister of Economics, Ludwig Erhard, wanted to immediately abolish all of these impediments to economic activity. The American authorities, however, advised him that such action would result in economic chaos. To Erhard’s credit he rejected the thinking of the Americans and “pushed the button” one Sunday morning. The result? An immediate outburst of economic activity and the beginning of what became known as the German economic miracle.

American government aid to Poland is morally wrong. It is based on the same socialist principles of plunder and redistribution of wealth on which the Polish economic system has been based. Equally important it also impedes the implementation of solutions based upon freedom. Let’s not fight plunder with plunder. Let’s fight for freedom with freedom!

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.