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by Benjamin Marks, Economics.org.au editor-n-chief

There is no such thing as government transparency. WikiLeaks recent heroic and justifiable releases has not struck at the root of the problem. In fact, most of the time making things available to the public, far from resulting in a more open and straightforward government, actually results in demagoguery. The fundamental problem for those who value liberty and property is not how to make public government actions, but how to communicate that government itself is the problem, that there is absolutely no evidence that anyone ever consented to it, and that there is absolutely no way of showing that taxation ever results in a superior outcome than if taxpayers were allowed to spend their money as they wish. No secret documents are necessary to find this out; only basic legal and economic investigation.

Secrets and lack of accountability — not real demonstrated consent, but tacit consent that cannot be shown to demonstrably differ from forced submission or acquiescence — is what government relies on to declare itself legitimate. Government is unable to show any evidence of demonstrated consent. There are no written, signed and witnessed contracts.

Government is unable to show any evidence that anyone prefers it over the market. The disadvantage that each taxpayer necessarily experiences in being forced to put their money to somewhere other than where they most want to put it (through taxation), cannot possibly be shown to be outweighed by any advantage that government expenditure may bring him later, because utility cannot be calculated or compared, and it is impossible to calculate what advantage he would have got by keeping his tax-money and putting it to a use he chose.

Furthermore, any attempt by government to cater to those who want or might want its services is necessarily at a disadvantage compared to the market, because with government, as Murray Rothbard said, “provision of the service is completely separated from its collection of payment.”1 It is not consumers-choose and user-pays; it is, every few years vote indirectly on infinite issues at exactly the same time, as represented by some celebrity who knows how to talk, and if you’re part of the largest voting bloc, the person you voted for gets in, and almost certainly does nothing you want.

Government services must rely on hearsay, rumour and guesswork in order to know if it is satisfying recipients. The game of Chinese Whispers shows how easy it is for errors to be introduced and the perpetrator of error, whether intentional or not, to get away with it. This, by the way, is Ludwig von Mises’s argument proving the impossibility of economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth. There is no way to gauge supply and demand, and if consent is claimed, there is no way it can be proven.2

The secret ballot is an obvious example of government not being able to identify which individuals want what. As Lysander Spooner observed:

As all the different votes are given secretly (by secret ballot), there is no legal means of knowing, from the votes themselves, who votes for, and who votes against … Therefore voting affords no legal evidence that any particular individual supports [anything]. And where there can be no legal evidence that any particular individual supports the [thing], it cannot legally be said that anybody supports it. It is clearly impossible to have any legal proof of the intentions of large numbers of men, where there can be no legal proof of the intentions of any particular one of them.3

What legal theory allows for a secret ballot to a binding agreement where participants are all anonymous and therefore unknown? How can you identify, for the purposes of accusation, conviction and punishment, the parties of the contract in case of fraud, misrepresentation and what not, when disagreeing anonymous people are only considered in aggregate?

Supporters of secret ballots claim that it stops voters from being pressured into supporting certain candidates. According to this logic, those who govern should also be unknown, for they might be pressured too. In any case, hiding those who support government and eliminating any pretence of accountability hardly seems a solution for the better.

In conclusion, we already have all the facts needed to show that government is criminal and destructive. WikiLeaks is doing great work and getting wonderful attention, but if it is to go further and make a productive difference, the basic legal and economic insights we have just discussed are what our primary focus should be. Otherwise, we’ll just replace one gang of criminals with another, and increase the involvement of even more kinds of uneducated people in the policy-making process.

PS

Economics.org.au had the world exclusive scoop on scandal in politics long ago. We are still waiting for its ramifications to filter through and the media to catch wind of it. Our website hosts have been warned.

Footnotes

  1. Murray N. Rothbard, “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics,” in his The Logic of Action One (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 1997), p. 249.
  2. Ludwig von Mises, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, trans. S. Adler (Auburn, Ala.: Mises Institute, 1990), p. 28.
  3. Lysander Spooner, The Lysander Spooner Reader (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1992), p. 82.
(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
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  2. Why Sports Fans Should Be Libertarians
  3. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  4. Government Schools Teach Fascism Perfectly
  5. Deport Government to Solve Immigration Problem
  6. The Drugs Problem Problem
  7. Self-Defeating Campaigning
  8. Gittinomics: Economics for Gits
  9. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  10. Population Puzzle Solved
  11. An Open Letter to the CIS
  12. Principled Foreign Policy Options: Reinvade or Shut Up and Get Out
  13. WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Political Corruption Exposed!
  14. Feedback please: Is this worth doing?
  15. CIS and IPA Defend State Schooling
  16. A Thorough Review Without Spoilers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  17. Dead Reckoning and Government: A Proposal for Electoral Reform
  18. Quadrant Defends State Schooling
  19. The MPS 2010 Consensus
  20. Slogans for Property Rights Funeral
  21. Government is Impossible: Introduction
  22. Government is Criminal: Part 1
  23. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  24. Response to Senator Cory Bernardi and the IPA
  25. Earn $$$$$ by Justifying Government Against Anarchocapitalism: Survey
  26. Statism is Secrecy: WikiLeaks vs Economics.org.au
  27. One question the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens, the CIS, the IPA, Ross Gittins, Ross Garnaut, Ken Henry, Gerard Henderson, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Tim Flannery, Catallaxy Files, Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne, Michael Stutchbury, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Dick Smith are scared to answer
  28. Libertarian Philanthropists Should Exploit Tax Evasion Convictions
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  30. The Minarchist Case for Anarchism
  31. Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
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  33. Libertarianism In An Executive Summary
  34. The Banking Bubble Blow-by-Blow
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  37. An Open Letter to Dick Smith
  38. Economics.org.au at 42
  39. "My boyfriend calls himself a Marxist and votes Labor, what should I do?"
  40. "He says if I leave him due to politics, I should leave the country too."
  41. No Booboisie at Gülçin’s Galt’s Gulch
  42. "Hey, Mr Anarchocapitalist, show me a society without government"
  43. The Three Epoch-Making Events of the Modern Libertarian Movement
  44. Government is Criminal: Part 2 - Methodological Individualism
  45. Government is Criminal: Part 3 - Subjective Utility
  46. Government is Criminal: Part 4 - Praxeological Synonyms
  47. Government is in a State of Anarchy
  48. Limited Government is Absolute Government
  49. Why the 2012 double Nobel laureate is coming to Sydney
  50. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  51. A Critique of the Opening Two Sentences of the "About CIS" Page on The Centre for Independent Studies' Website, www.cis.org.au
  52. An invitation for ANDEV members to the Mises Seminar
  53. Sell the ABC to Rupert Murdoch: Lid Blown on ABC Funding Disgrace!
  54. www.inCISe.org.au, The Centre for Independent Studies new blog
  55. The Unconstitutionality of Government in Australia (demonstrated in under 300 words)
  56. The Best Libertarian Film Is ...
  57. Launch Southeast Asian Military Operations to Free Australian Drug Dealers and Consumers
  58. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  59. Hoppe's Inarticulate Australian Critics: The Hon Dr Peter Phelps, Dr Steven Kates and James Paterson
  60. Vice Magazine Westralian Secession Interview
  61. Sideshow to Dr Steven Kates' criticism of the Mises Seminar: Davidson vs Hoppe on Adam Smith
  62. The Best Australian Think Tank Is ...
  63. Announcing a new magazine to rival Time and The Economist
  64. The exciting new Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
  65. Neville Kennard Obituary
  66. Contrarian Conformism
  67. An invitation for Dick Smith, the IPA and other Walter Block fans to the 2nd Australian Mises Seminar
  68. Westralian mining legend Ron Manners of Mannkal belongs in The Property and Freedom Society
  69. What would Bert Kelly think of the Mises Seminar and Walter Block?
  70. Bad news about the Mises Seminar
  71. Gina Rinehart Fan Club gives big to Australian political education
  72. Sam Kennard wins North Sydney by-election by unanimous consent
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