Chapter 7 
   * Government defined  
   * Descriptions of Government  
   * Corruption in Government  
   * The Real Function of Government  
   * What Government Responds to  
   * Political Intentions are Irrelevant  
   * Failures and Contradictions of Government  
   * Why Government Failure is Inevitable   
   * Government Murders During the 20th Century  
   * The War On Drugs  

   My critique of government is based on the idea that there exist ethical 
principles which are external to government--i.e., which exist independently 
of government. Many statists assert the opposite idea: that there are no 
such independently-existing principles, and that government is necessary for 
(among other things) the creation of ethical principles. 
   The flaw in their argument is that if there were no independently-
existing ethical principles then there would be no principles according to 
which a government could be established, and no means by which the behavior 
of government could itself be judged. Since the ostensible purpose of law is 
to protect rights, if there were no natural rights then there could be no 
standard for judging the legitimacy or efficacy of government-made laws. 
(See Chapter 5  * Natural Rights) 
   See reference 
   When a social metaphysician (an individual who holds the consciousnesses 
of other people, not objective reality, as his ultimate frame-of-reference) 
becomes a politician, he aquires the coercive power to impose his judgments 
upon other people. This is his way of manipulating "reality." Here you have 
a psychological explanation for the attitude held by many statists of the 
social metaphysician type: that the government is the ultimate foundation 
for morality, ethics, and law. This also helps explain why many tyrants have 
the certainty that their decrees actually do constitute reality, and why 
those tyrants are often quite literally incapable of perceiving any inherent 
contradictions in their laws. In their minds, the law IS reality. But if 
government were actually the foundation of morality, if social justice did 
in fact result from law, then laws would in fact create social justice. The 
existence of widespread injustice proves this statist thesis to be wrong. 
The practical implementation of that thesis, by both fascist and communist 
States, has resulted in the most horrendous atrocities humankind has ever 

   * Government defined 
   We must keep firmly in mind the essential difference between governments 
and other agencies that deal in force. A government intends to profit from 
the initiation of force. A private agency (including a protection agency) 
intends to profit from trade. A government uses force to gain values. A 
private protection agency uses trade to gain values. Both deal in force, but 
the government uses it offensively whereas the private agency uses it 
   This is also true of law. Government institutions of law have a purpose 
different from that of the institutions of common law. Common law and its 
institutions facilitate voluntary interactions; government law and its 
institutions impose involuntary interactions. 
   Not only is it the case that government intends to profit from the 
initiation of force, government is structured in such a way that its 
functioning can ONLY result from the initiation of force. Without taxation, 
government could not function. This is the reason why government cannot help 
some people without also reducing other people's opportunities. TANSTAAFL. 

   A critique of the Randian view: 
   Rand defined government as "an institution that holds the exclusive power 
to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area. A 
government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force 
under objective control." 
   Attempting to circumvent its implications for coercion, Randites expand 
on this definition by claiming that in a free society the government is 
prohibited by a Constitution from initiating force. 
   Barbara Branden makes perhaps the best presentation of the Randian view 
of government. She claims that government is 
   "a social agency that performs the task of formulating and enforcing the 
laws of a country. The concept does not entail that a function of that 
political body will be the initiation of force. But because it is true that 
a factual function of government IS the initiation of some extent of force, 
people fail to grasp the possibility of an alternative to that factual 
function. They fail to separate the concrete from the abstraction. They have 
failed to differentiate some particular instances of government from the 
abstraction as such." 
   There are several flaws in this idea: 
   If, as Rand claims, government has exclusive power, then how can it be 
prevented from aggressing, since, being exclusive, there can be no 
restraining power to stand against it? The initiation of force cannot in any 
way be prevented except by bringing to bear against it an equal or greater 
force. But if government holds exclusive power, then there cannot exist any 
greater force, and thus government cannot be limited in the use of its 
force. As used by Rand, the concepts of "exclusive" and "objective control" 
preclude one another. 
   The constitutionalists make the mistake of confounding the term 
"prohibit" with the term "prevent." It is quite obvious that to forbid some 
action is by no means to prevent that action, and the idea that a document 
can, of itself, impose a restraint on the behavior of an organization of men 
possessed with weapons of destruction, is simply absurd. The only thing that 
can counter the power of a gun is another gun. A written Constitution won't 
stop a policeman's bullet, no matter how vigorously you wave it, nor how 
vociferously you assert its provisions. As Mao Tse Tung taught, "All 
government power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Thus it follows that all 
anti-government power MUST also grow out of the barrel of a gun. 
   The Randian abstraction is not an abstraction from existing concretes--
there is not now and never has been a government that did not aggress 
against its subjects. It is not "some particular instances of government" 
that manifest this attribute, it is ALL instances of government that do so. 
The aggression is a universal and fundamental characteristic of ALL 
governments. It is universal because any government, to be territorially 
exclusive, must compel every person within its domain to acquiesce in its 
sovereignty, regardless of that person's choices. It is fundamental because 
that acquiescence underlies ALL the other functions of government. 
Government MUST compel obedience to its laws, especially its tax laws, in 
order to finance its entire operation. Aggression is therefore a definitive 
characteristic in forming the concept "government." It is not 
epistemologically proper to hypothesize a non-existent concrete (a 
government without coercion) and subsume it within a conceptual abstraction. 
Branden insists on including an imaginary characteristic within her 
abstraction and in so doing creates not a valid concept but a fiction.  
   Branden insists that government be defined, not by what it IS, but by 
what she WANTS it to be. To speak of a government that does not aggress is 
like talking about a barking cat. This is a phenomenon that you can IMAGINE, 
but it is not something that exists in reality. We must perceive things as 
they are, not as we might want them to be. And we must define our concepts 
according to real, existing characteristics, not according to imaginary 
   The word "government" has an easily discernable meaning which can be seen 
by anyone who looks deeply enough into the factual nature of its fundamental 
distinguishing characteristic. To think about, and communicate sensibly 
about, an institution which does NOT share that fundamental distinguishing 
characteristic, we should select a verbal label different from the one that 
is already applied to the entity which DOES possess it. Thus it is improper 
to use the word "government" in the Randian way. 
   If we could actually institutionalize non-aggression we could not 
properly call the resulting institution "government." 
   Nock made a distinction between the State and Government: 
   "Government is an agency with strictly limited powers, devoted to 
protecting individual rights to life, liberty and property. The State, on 
the other hand, is an offshoot of government that develops when some people 
capture the machinery of government and pervert it, using its powers not to 
protect rights, but to violate them, to exploit people by confiscating their 
wealth, regulating their activities, and subjugating them whenever necessary 
to enhance its own illicit power." 
   This distinction is spurious. "Government," as Nock describes it, is 
something that has never existed. The State is not an offshoot of 
government--something that develops from the corruption of government--what 
he describes as the State is in fact the only one of the two institutions 
described by Nock that has existed in history. Except for some private 
agencies, limited in scope and subsumed by the State, there has in fact 
never been what Nock calls a Government. 
   A conceptual distinction can be made between the coercive institution I 
have described above as "government" and the more general notion of "the 
means by which peaceful order is maintained in a society" (the means may not 
necessarily be a government). Some people would use "state" to denote the 
first and "government" to denote the second, but this would be ambiguous--
for communication--in view of the widespread equivalence between the words 
"state" and "government," so I will use "state" and "government" 
synonymously, and use "governance" to denote the idea of "any means by which 
order is maintained in a society." 
   Coercive power is that which defines government and makes government 
different from any other (non-criminal) social institution. All other 
differences between states and other institutions flow from this fundamental 
characteristic. Thus the proper definition of government is "the strongest 
organization of aggressors in a particular area at a particular time." 

   * Descriptions of Government 
   George Washington: "Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is 
   Gandhi: "The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized 
form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it 
can never be weaned from violence, to which it owes its very existence." 
   Mencken: "The typical lawmaker of today is a man devoid of principle--a 
mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be 
applied to him he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology, or 
cannibalism." [Or infanticide, as we have seen in Philadelphia and Waco.] 
   Lane: "The nation is nothing at all but simple force. Not in a single 
nation are the people of one race, one history, one culture, nor the same 
political opinion or religious faith. They are simply human beings of all 
kinds, penned inside frontiers which mean nothing whatever but military 
   The essential characteristic of States and quasi-States (e.g., the PLO 
and the IRA) is that they initiate force to implement their policies. 
Viewing the State all through history, it is clear that there is no 
principled way to differentiate the activities of its administrators from 
those of a professional criminal class. Thus there are no ethical 
differences between a hoodlum protection racket and a State, save scale, 
sophistication, and success in conning the victims into acceptance of its 
   Rand was wrong about the government's desire to maintain a semblance of 
morality. A "semblance of morality" implies that there exists a moral 
principle which is external to the government and which the government 
considers itself under obligation to abide by. Such a consideration is 
impossible within a context in which all morality is derived from the 

   * Corruption in Government 
   When I attribute some purpose to government, I do not mean to imply that 
individual people who are members of government explicitly hold that purpose 
as their personal objective. This is quite frequently NOT the case at all! 
What I am attempting to do is explain the consequences of government in 
terms of institutionalized behavior whose implementation results in those 
consequences. Just as no one really INTENDS to kill himself when he begins 
to be an alcoholic, nevertheless his behavior has that as its consequence. 
The only choice a man has is what actions he will take. He has no choice 
about the consequences of those actions. They are rigidly determined by the 
law of cause-and-effect. By the Law of Identity. 

   "In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ 
of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover and wickedness 
cultivate." ... Thomas Jefferson 
   Being merely human, a percentage of bureaucrats can be expected to be 
corrupt, thus as the number of bureaucrats increases there will be more 
corruption. At the same time, increased government authority means that more 
property rights are controlled by government, thus there comes to be greater 
scope for corruption. The more severe are the legal constraints on private 
markets, the more valuable becomes the authority controlled by government, 
thus the reward for corruption increases. 
   Police corruption occurs in those areas where entrepreneurs would supply 
voluntary services to consumers, but where the government has decreed that 
those services are illegal: drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc. Where 
gambling, for example, is outlawed, the law places into the hands of the 
police the power to grant the privilege of engaging in the gambling 
business. In short, it is as if the police were empowered to issue special 
licenses for these activities, and then proceeded to sell these unofficial 
licenses at whatever price the traffic will bear. Whether consciously or 
not, the government proceeds as follows: first it outlaws certain 
businesses, then the police sell to would-be entrepreneurs the privilege of 
engaging in those businesses. 
   This is one area in which the most frequently-heard apologia for 
government is quite true: "Government is necessary to create the 
infrastructure upon which rests other social behavior." As well as providing 
the legal infrastructure for police corruption, for the immigration horror 
stories, for the drug war violence, and for countless other ills, the 
government also provides the infrastructure for more general moral and 
ethical wickedness, through the teachings in its compulsory education 
program (see my essay on Education in America), and via the examples of its 
own vicious behavior: young people who base their ethos on government are 
getting their examples from the Rodney King video. 
   See reference 
   Be that as it may, given the unfortunate and unjust laws, the police 
corruption described above may actually be beneficial to society. Society 
may be better off if corruption induces police to ignore many of the 
victimless crimes, thus leaving police resources available to prevent real 
crimes. Ignoring many laws, such as housing codes and import restrictions, 
would actually improve social welfare. In a number of countries, there would 
be virtually no trade or industry at all in the absence of the "corruption" 
that nullifies government prohibitions. 
   But how sane is the moral foundation of an institution that requires the 
corruption of its members to achieve beneficial ends? 
   As I try to make clear in my writings, I oppose government not only for 
what it is and what it does, but also for what it makes possible. Getting 
rid of government would not directly eliminate all the ills of the world, 
but it would free people to reduce or eliminate those ills themselves--"to 
take out their own garbage" as I put it. The elimination of those ills is 
something that government has clearly failed to do. 

   * The Real Function of Government 
   The police have no legal duty to protect individual citizens against 
crime, and cannot be held legally responsible if they fail to do so. Even if 
a citizen's 911 call gets through to the emergency center, the police can 
simply choose to ignore it, and the citizen has no legal recourse against 
them. The courts have repeatedly ruled on this. As far back as 1856 the US 
Supreme Court, in South v. Maryland, handed down this opinion. A more recent 
example can be found in Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982): 
"There is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being 
murdered by criminals or madmen. [The refusal by the state] to protect its 
residents against such predators... does not violate the due process clause 
of the Fourteenth Amendment, or... any other provision of the Constitution. 
The Constitution... does not require the federal government or the state to 
provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and 
   Author James Bovard has noted that "both the law and the courts have 
consistently held that police need not respond to citizens in deadly peril." 
Many police themselves, for example Richard Mack, Sheriff of Graham County, 
Arizona, admit that "police do very little to prevent violent crime." 
   As of 1990, the San Francisco police no longer investigate burglaries 
where the value of goods stolen is under $10K. Nor will they investigate 
bad-check cases if the amount is under $2K. In 1988 they investigated only 
26% of all violent crimes reported (but they spent 73 million dollars waging 
the drug war). 
   The Dade County police respond to only 2 out of 7 calls for help from 
their citizens. 
   In 1990, Americans were subject to 639,000 robberies, resulting in a 
total loss of $500 million. But the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 
$862 million worth of property and the Border Patrol seized $950 million. In 
1994, federal prosecutors confiscated $2.1 billion through asset forfeiture 
proceedings. Who is REALLY robbing you, the freelance felons--or the 
government goons? 
   According to the Statistical Abstract of the USA, the per capita loss to 
crime each year is $5,760. But this pales in comparison to the $20,470 that 
you could put into your pocket each year if government were abolished. (You 
can calculate this amount by summing up the total revenues of all federal, 
state, and local governments, then dividing that sum by the number of non-
government working people. The figures above are for the year 1990.) 
   This system is so much a fraud that it would be far better to do nothing 
whatsoever about crime than to do what government is doing now. 

   Nor does government protect people against foreign aggression--on the 
contrary, it coerces the people (by means of what is euphemistically called 
"selective service") into protecting and preserving the government's own 

   Have you ever wondered just what the government is REALLY doing while it 
is claiming to "serve and protect"? In 1971, the FBI office in Media, Pa. (a 
suburb of Philadelphia) was raided by persons unknown and a large quantity 
of documents seized. An analysis of the seized documents was subsequently 
published in the Los Angeles Free Press, 24Dec71: 
     40% surveillance of political groups 
     30% internal administrative matters 
     15% "ordinary" crime 
      7% military AWOLs and deserters 
      7% draft resisters 
      1% organized crime 
   This raid was considered so significant by the FBI that it closed about 
half its offices throughout the country, concentrating its resources in the 
remainder so as to provide for greater secrecy in its operations. 

   The true function of the police is not to protect individual citizens 
against crime. Their function is precisely described by the general name of 
their profession: Law Enforcement. It would help you think more clearly 
about them if you consider the word PIG to be an acronym: Protector of 
Institutions of Government. You should also realize that the phrase "Law and 
Order" is a perfect synonym for "Government Control." 

   Governments all behave in fundamentally the same manner, regardless of 
what they say their goals are. Perhaps they might be more accurately 
perceived as big machines that do what they are programmed to do rather than 
as bunches of people. A culture develops within government that is 
completely dominated by the advocates of government action. From 
constituents to lobbyists to journalists, the lawmakers very rarely, if 
ever, come in contact with anyone who advocates government INaction. Every 
employee at every level of every government department is affected and all 
those expensive people think they have to DO SOMETHING to justify their 
salaries, and every action they take is another interference with freedom, 
keeping people from doing what they want to do or making people do things 
they don't want to do. A bureaucrat dreads being accused of doing nothing; 
he has to do something to make it look like he's DOING SOMETHING, so he will 
continually proliferate rules. One result is that the American court system 
is drowning in the avalanche of legal pollution that could appropriately be 
called hyperleges. 
   Legislatures are founded on the assumption that there is a need for the 
continual production of rules to govern the lives of the citizens. Is this a 
valid assumption? Is it really necessary for you to live under more than a 
million laws in order to be able to go down to the corner store and buy a 
loaf of bread? This is no exaggeration: In 1992 it was calculated that among 
the Federal, State and Local governments, every American citizen lives under 
the shroud of more than a million laws. On January 1, 1996, one thousand new 
laws went into effect in the state of California alone. Not only are the 
laws multiplying in number, they are growing in size: the IRS code consists 
of over 9000 pages. 
   But hyperleges is inevitable under the present legal system: it is the 
natural function of a legislature to pass laws, just as it is the natural 
function of flies to make maggots. We have legislatures at the federal, 
state and local levels whose only function is to create laws, thus the 
inevitable result of 200 years of legislative function MUST be a plethora of 
laws. After two centuries, what could you expect but that the American court 
system would be drowning in laws? This is a situation that can only get 
worse as time passes and legislatures keep performing their natural 
   These laws are the structure of the culture of our society. It is 
universally observed that this culture is deteriorating--that there is more 
personal danger and less personal safety than there used to be in this 
country. But have the people themselves changed all that much? Are you 
yourself any less civilized than your grandparents were? I really don't 
think individual people have changed; what HAS changed is the social context 
in which we live. We have thousands, if not millions, more laws than our 
grandparents had. But we are people, just as our grandparents were. The 
difference is not in the people, but in the rules which limit our individual 
choices and govern our social interactions. 
   Eventually civilization will be destroyed in a crazy welter of laws, 
taxes, regulations, and the endless proliferation of government intrusion 
into all phases of human activity. Governments are not going to stop short 
at some point and quit implementing new laws. In reality they're going to 
continue just as always, passing new ones at the rate of tens of thousands 
per year. Can this go on indefinitely? Or is there a finite number of things 
that can possibly be regulated? Personally, I'm glad I won't live long 
enough to find out. 
   A Constitution should be a set of general principles that determine 
statutory law, but the Founding Fathers did not possess rationally-derived 
ethical and moral principles. The multitude of laws that we have today are 
inevitable because we do not have a principled foundation for governance. 
Since we cannot apply a principle to any given situation and thereby 
determine how to cope with it, we must have an individual law for each 
conceivable situation to tell us how to cope with it. And this law code 
must grow and grow and grow because it can never be complete. It can never 
encompass the totality of human experience. 
   (There is perhaps no clearer example of the fact that the American legal 
system--and indeed the American government in general--has no fundamental 
principles, than the process of confirming a judge--especially a Supreme 
Court judge--to office. This process makes it perfectly clear that the 
future of American jurisprudence rests, not on any ethical principle, but on 
the personal character and personal philosophy of the individual judge.) 
   If we view crimes as being behaviors that conflict with the interests of 
the segments of society that have the power to influence government law, 
then we realize that the government merely tries to balance the demands of 
conflicting interest groups, and to discriminate among them on the basis of 
their relative electoral power in order to determine who gains and who 
loses. Thus government pours forth a continuous stream of legislation, 
forcing pro-freedom groups to spend time, energy and money defending old 
gains rather than striving for new ones. 
   A primary function of government is to act as a mechanism to take wealth 
from some and transfer it to others. Governments protect individuals' 
property against the depredations of private criminals as a shepherd 
protects his sheep from shearing by others. But against their own 
government, individuals have to protect their accumulated wealth as best 
they can themselves. 

   Special interest politics is a simple game. A hundred people sit in a 
circle, each with his pocket full of pennies. A politician walks around the 
outside of the circle, taking a penny from each person. No one minds; who 
cares about a penny? When he has gotten all the way around the circle, the 
politician throws fifty cents down in front of one of the people, who is 
overjoyed at the windfall. The process is repeated, ending with a different 
person. After a hundred rounds, everyone is a hundred cents poorer, fifty 
cents richer, and happy. And the politician walks off with fifty bucks in 
his pocket! 
   The modern welfare state is merely a complicated arrangement by which 
nobody pays for the education of his own children, but everybody pays for 
the education of everybody else's children; by which nobody pays his own 
medical bills, but everybody pays everybody else's medical bills; by which 
nobody provides for his own old-age security, but everybody pays for 
everybody else's old-age security; and so on. 

   Those who claim that government, bad though it may be, is an absolute 
necessity for protecting people against crime, must explain the fact that 
for every 1000 crimes the American police are aware of, only one criminal is 
ever sentenced to prison. 

   * What Government Responds to 
   For many years I had a vague, non-specific realization that government in 
America is somehow fundamentally different from most other governments. But 
I could not specify precisely what that difference is founded on. I believed 
there to be a much stronger connection between government and the public 
here in America than in other countries, but I could not identify the nature 
of that connection. Then, when the passage of Proposition 13 in California 
in 1978 (by a margin of 2 to 1 at the polls) touched off a nationwide run of 
similar legislation in other states, I came to realize just how it is that 
the government is responsive to "the people." I now believe that elected 
officials base (sometimes explicitly, but not always so) their behavior on 
statement I use three terms very carefully and deliberately: perception, 
will, and majority (not the majority of the whole population, but the 
majority of the voters). 
   Most political behavior is not based on the will of the majority, but is 
based on what the politician PERCEIVES to be the will of the majority. This 
explains the influence of lobbyists and other pressure groups. Of course, 
this does not account for ALL political behavior--a lot of it is 
straightforwardly venal, and much is intended simply to increase the power 
of government. But in almost all situations where the issue under 
consideration is the subject of considerable publicity, the politician will 
do what he THINKS the MAJORITY of the voters WANT him to do. I believe there 
are no limits to this. None whatsoever. They believe that God's Ultimate 
Truth is engraved upon the impermanent stone of political polls, and, as 
Mencken implied, they would, if they thought it politically expedient, 
legislate infanticide just as readily as they voted in Prohibition and the 
War on Drugs. 
   This thesis leads to an answer to the question: "Why don't politicians 
have principles?" If my argument is correct, then it is an immediate 
conclusion that politicians CANNOT have principles (except the one that I 
have attributed to them). Any man who insists on shaping his behavior by 
reference to ethical or moral principles, rather than electoral pragmatism, 
would be unlikely to get elected. If his insistence on principle were to be 
adamant while he was in office, he would surely not get re-elected. Thus I 
see a selection process in action--a selectivity which ensures that 
politicians will not be the sort of people who understand and act on 
   The notion that politicians refer to "accepted religious principles" has 
considerable merit too. If the politician cannot see, clearly and 
explicitly, the will of the majority, he will act by default, as it were. He 
will consult whatever set of "principles" he holds implicitly, usually some 
set of religious ethics or, lacking that, a collection of cliches and 
   But there is a caveat attached to my hypothesis. Although I am quite sure 
that the government is sensitive to what it perceives the majority of voters 
DO want, there are certainly instances when the government does things that 
the majority of people DON'T want. For example, a Gallup Poll in 1977 found 
that Americans opposed minority preferences by a margin of 8 to 1; nonwhites 
opposed them by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The poll-takers concluded: 
"Rarely is public opinion, on such a controversial issue, as united as over 
this question. Not a single population group supports affirmative action." 
In spite of this clear indication of public opposition, the government has 
continued to mandate its programs for decades. 

   * Political Intentions are Irrelevant 
   The State makes promises to its citizens that it cannot even try to 
fulfill without employing means that frustrate their own ends. As the gap 
widens between promise and fulfillment, any perceptive and honest people in 
the political system tend to dissociate themselves from the process, 
abandoning it to those who are unscrupulous enough to accept and practice 
fraud. As the State extends its power, increasingly callous practices are 
required of increasingly callous people. The worst get on top, and try to 
stay there. Politicians have to be wicked: the requirements of office are 
such that no benevolent mind could meet them. Once a man has chosen to 
become part of the State, it is the nature of the institution that 
determines the context within which he functions, and limits the ways in 
which he CAN function, regardless of his intentions. 
   It is incorrect to blame the woes of the world solely on the individual 
people who help perpetrate them. For example, to blame the atrocities of the 
Nazi government on Hitler. The fundamental fault lay not with Hitler but 
with the social institution that enabled him to perpetrate his personal 
evil. Without that institution Hitler would have been merely a small-time 
local criminal. It was the existence of the institution that enabled him to 
perpetrate his evil on a world-wide scale. 
   The vices of an authoritarian social institution are that it enables 
people who are naturally savage to use their institutional authority to 
perpetrate that savagery in a widespread manner. And it induces, or even 
compels, the manifestation of savagery in people who might otherwise be 
decent. For example, police training systematically presents the idea that 
it is right to force others to obey orders. Thus individuals who become 
police are subjected to gradual changes in themselves which, like the motion 
of the hands on a clock, may be difficult to see at any particular moment, 
but are nonetheless inexorably cumulative. A man or woman of only moderately 
authoritarian tendencies at the time of first entering the police force soon 
begins to accelerate down the path to savagery. Perhaps the first time he 
witnesses fellow officers beating up a suspect, the new recruit is 
astonished and horrified. But he says nothing because so many officers with 
greater experience and authority accept the violence. The next time, the new 
recruit looks the other way and feels terribly upset. By the third time, he 
merely thinks: "Oh no, not this cruelty again." By the twentieth or the 
thirtieth time, the no-longer-rookie cop is accustomed to seeing such 
injustice, and after many years on the force, such a man or woman thinks 
nothing of performing such acts. But nowhere along the line could the cop 
see himself turning into a bully. He sees himself as civilized, but a 
policeman is civilized only so long as those under his authority act in such 
a way as not to arouse his innate savagery. Remember, no one can initially 
become a policeman unless he has already accepted the basic premise that 
coercion is ethically proper. His willingness to enforce victimless crime 
laws is the direct proof that he is non-libertarian. Though he may clothe 
his savagery in politenesses, this does not make him civilized. 
   Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. One meaning of this 
is that brutality profoundly affects the tyrant. Once a person becomes 
accustomed to coercion, that person's mind changes, becoming farther and 
farther dissociated from reality. Eventually, the trappings of tyranny 
become an inherent part of his nature, in a process so gradual and seemingly 
so logical that he hardly knows what has taken place. He becomes what he has 
done over the years. 
   The individual policeman may not be evil in personal intent, but he is 
compelled to be evil by the nature of the institution that controls his 
behavior. The laws he is obliged to enforce are themselves evil. No matter 
how well-meaning the individual policeman may be, the parameters of the 
institution in which he functions compel upon him this alternative: to 
accept the conditions of the institution or to withdraw (or be ejected) from 
participation in it. Part of "accept the conditions of the institution," 
whether it is a police institution or a military institution, is the 
requirement that the participant renounce his own moral autonomy, abandon 
his own sense of ethical judgment and allow himself to become the instrument 
of the judgments of his superiors: he must sell his soul to the institution. 
Once he has done this there are no limits to the wickedness he is capable 
of. He has lost that dimension of the spirit which defined his humanity. 
   It doesn't take an advanced degree in Sociology to understand what I'm 
trying to say. My thesis was encapsulated with remarkable precision and 
clarity in this comment from a teenage high-school dropout residing in an 
inner-city ghetto: "Naw, I could never be a cop. Cops gotta fuck with 
people. I couldn't do that for a living." 

   "When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of 
public duties they lead their country by a short route to chaos."... Sir 
Thomas More. 
   And after he has done it for a sufficient length of time, he will become 
so immersed in the life that no other alternative will be conceivable to 
him: "When National Socialism has ruled long enough, it will no longer be 
possible to conceive of a form of life different from ours."...  Adolph 
   Many men have no honor, but at least it is possible for an individual man 
to have honor. It is not possible for a government to have honor, simply 
because no one within it can keep his honor while continuing to condone and 
participate in the dishonorable behavior that is an inevitable concomitant 
of government. Nobody who is UNwilling to use coercion could accept and hold 
a position of power.  
   Every individual who begins working within the political system, in an 
effort to accomplish anything whatsoever, enlarges the system by his own 
presence. This is always true, even when the intent of the activist is the 
reduction of government. A pernicious system is not made less so by its 
adherents' intentions that it do good. 
   Success in the free market rewards the virtues of thrift, hard work, and 
far-sighted entrepreneurship. Success in politics, on the other hand, 
rewards the ethical vices of demagogy, mendacity, and expertise in the 
wielding of terror and coercion. The politician's job consists in 
sacrificing some men to others. Thus, no matter what choices he makes, they 
cannot be just. Proceeding from an unjust basis, he can have no rational 
standards by which to judge. Hence, the good people--from any rational point 
of view--will tend to rise to the top in a free society, while ethical scum 
will tend to rise to the top of a statist system. The Greeks had a word for 
it: Kakistocracy. In rough translation: shit floats. 
   The idea that the Libertarian Party can effect any changes in the 
performance of government is based on an incorrect assumption: that there 
can be honest, sane and benevolent people among members of the government. 
Even if a man desires very strongly to accomplish some good and beneficial 
end, he cannot do it through means which are fundamentally evil and, by 
acting via these evil means, he makes himself immoral REGARDLESS OF HIS 
INTENTIONS. It is as impossible for an honest and just man to participate in 
government as for an atheist to become an archbishop. Or a priest to become 
an abortionist. In each case, the alternatives differ in terms of 
fundamental principles so opposed that there is no possibility of overlap. 
   The purpose of becoming a politician is to compel your values on other 
people. Although you can become a political candidate for the purpose of 
using an election campaign as a means of education, you cannot use a 
political office except by means of coercion. That is simply not possible. 
   Throughout the history of government, there has been one thing only that 
has tied government behavior to the facts of reality: the necessities of 
military action. When you are making guns and bombs, you HAVE to know what 
reality is. Without this compelling link to reality, all government behavior 
would be totally insane. Even with it, most government behavior is 
irrational at best--madness otherwise. 

   * Failures and Contradictions of Government 
   There are many who claim that without government there would exist much 
more suffering and distress. In response to this manifestation of the 
"WouldChuck" fallacy I can only say that I am honest enough to admit that I 
do not know how much suffering and distress there would be without 
government. All I can do is point out some of the more blatant examples of 
how much suffering and distress there are WITH government, and observe that 
under the plausible pretext of protecting person and property, governments 
have spread wholesale misery, destruction, and death all over the earth 
where peace and security might otherwise have prevailed. They have shed more 
blood, committed more crimes, tortures, and murders in struggles with each 
other and with their subjects than society would or could have suffered in 
the absence of all governments whatever. 
   Here I want to present just a few examples of how government fails in 
practice. If you read the newspapers and newsmagazines regularly, you will 
quickly see that these examples are merely tiny drops in the huge bucket of 
government's incompetence and viciousness. 

   Scientific American, March 1995, contains an essay describing the effects 
of The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, telling how, 
"in typical fashion, the lawmakers gave little forethought to the social and 
economic consequences of the act." Some of its consequences run "directly 
contrary to the ideal that motivated NAGPRA in the first place." In 1992, C. 
Timothy McKeown of the Department of the Interior stated that he "would feel 
the department had done its job if all parties [to the act] were 

   Consider the requirements of the Gramm-Rudman law. And their actual 
effect on the federal budget deficit. Gramm-Rudman was not the first attempt 
to balance the budget, only the best-publicized. Anyone who has kept track 
of the legal mandates of these laws, and their subsequent actual effects, 
knows that the government's batting average in this area is precisely zero. 

   The Minimum Wage: The first thing that happens when a law is passed that 
no one shall be paid less than $3 for an hour's work is that no one who 
cannot produce the equivalent of $3 an hour for his employer can be employed 
at all. You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for 
anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive the employee of the 
right to earn the amount that his abilities would permit him to earn, while 
the employer is deprived even of the moderate services that the employee is 
capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage the government substitutes 

   The December, 1991, issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an excellent 
example of the precept that government is grossly inefficient at best, and 
counterproductive at worst. 
   An essay on "Homelessness in America" touts government as the only 
effective means of coping with the problem, and presents as an ideal remedy 
"a joint effort started in 1989 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and 
HUD. Under the Homeless Families Program, nine cities, including Atlanta, 
Baltimore and Denver, will receive a projected $600,000 grant each over five 
years to implement services for homeless families. The program also makes 
available 1,200 Section 8 certificates, public housing assistance funds, 
worth about $35 million over five years.... To date, the initiative has 
helped more than 100 homeless families move from emergency shelters to 
permanent housing." 
   What you see here is the government providing 100 dwellings, but when you 
look slightly deeper you observe that in so doing, the government 
expropriated enough wealth to have provided 160 houses. How so? Well, 
consider that during the two-year period "to date," this project had spent 
over 16 megabucks to provide those 100 homes. (That comes to $160K per 
dwelling.) But this occurred at a time during which the average cost of a 
new house in America was less than $100K. The 16 Megabucks, if spent by 
private builders, would have provided 160 dwellings. The more the government 
spends on housing, the fewer houses there will be in relation to the number 
that could have existed without government intervention. 
    Robert Heinlein once remarked: "Ten-dollar hamburgers? Brother, we are 
headed for the hundred-dollar hamburger; for the barter-only hamburger. But 
this is only an inconvenience rather than a disaster as long as there is 
plenty of hamburger." 
   So far there is still plenty of housing and hamburger in America (at 
least in comparison with countries where housing and food production are 
completely controlled by government). But as government intervention in the 
economy becomes more and more pervasive, the economy will become less and 
less able to provide these and other necessities of life. And the fewer 
houses produced, the more people will clamor for the government to "do 
something about the problem of homelessness!" And every time it does 
something, there will be still fewer houses produced, simply because 
government is not the solution--government is the problem. 
   (For a more thorough account of the effects of government on the housing 
market read THE FEDERAL BULLDOZER by Martin Anderson.) 
   Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries 
have lots of government, but very little affluence. 

   That same issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an article on America's 
Wetlands. In its attempt to preserve these ecological areas, the federal 
government has implemented several programs, including the 1972 Clean Water 
Act and the 1985 Swampbuster program. In spite of these schemes, some 300K 
acres of wetlands are lost every year, and the Department of the Interior 
estimates that less than half of America's original wetlands still exist. 
   The government's latest effort, the l991 Wetlands Guidelines, was used to 
evaluate 22 of Washington State's recognized wetlands. To the surprise of 
the scientists, only four of the 22 wetlands would still be so classified 
under the new rules. Many experts say the document is filled with 
inconsistencies and loopholes that could lead to the loss of designation for 
half of the nation's remaining wetlands. There are also several other bills 
pending in Congress that would alter the definition and relative value of 
wetlands. Each agency involved in wetlands management--the Army Corps of 
Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Sevice, the Soil Conservation Service and 
the Environmental Protection Agency--uses different guidelines to define a 
   Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan, when asked to define 'wetlands' 
   "I take the position that there are certain kinds of vegetation that are 
common in wetlands, pussy willows or whatever the name is. That's one way 
you can tell, and then if it's wet." 
   Here we see a situation worse even than the housing debacle described 
above. At least in the area of houses, there are SOME dwellings constructed 
as a result of the government's policies, even though the government's 
behavior in this area is grossly inefficient. But in its dealing with 
wetlands, the government is actually counterproductive. The more it passes 
laws and creates agencies, the more the wetlands vanish. 

   The automotive industry's anticorrosion treatments produce a zinc-rich 
sludge that in the past was sent to a smelter to recover the zinc and return 
it to the industry. But a decade ago the government began listing such 
wastewater treatment sludges as hazardous. The unintended consequence is 
that the smelters can no longer receive the sludge, because it has become, 
in name, a hazardous material, and the regulatory requirements for accepting 
it are too severe. The zinc-rich sludge is redirected to landfills, thereby 
increasing costs for automobile manufacturers and producing a waste disposal 
problem for future generations. This situation clearly illustrates what is a 
serious problem: well-meant environmental regulations, because they put up 
high barriers to reuse, often have the bizarre effect of increasing both the 
amount of waste created and the amount to be disposed. They might more 
accurately be viewed as anti-recycling regulations. 

   The imposition of restraints on Japanese automobile imports to the USA 
during the 1980s shifted the composition of those imports away from small 
cars and towards larger cars, as the Japanese attempted to increase their 
revenues without increasing the number of units they sold. Yet larger cars 
are relatively fuel inefficient. Thus the protective efforts of the US 
government had the unforeseen consequences of increasing the average amount 
of fuel used and pollution produced by imported cars. 

   Over the course of World War 2, oil companies built 9850 miles of 
pipeline in the USA for $127 million. The government built 3750 miles for 
$161.5 million. 
   With great fanfare and wonderful speeches, the Humphrey-Hawkins "full 
employment" bill was enacted in 1978 (when the unemployment rate was 6.1%). 
It set a national goal of reducing unemployment to 4% by 1983. In 1983 the 
unemployment rate was 9.6%. 
   In 1850, when Massachusetts became the first state to force children to 
go to school, the literacy rate in that state was 98%. Today, after nearly 
150 years of compulsory government schooling, the literacy rate is 91% 

   How well do delinquency treatment programs reduce recidivism? Overall, 
45% of participants in such programs are rearrested, versus 50% of those 
left to their own devices. Programs that concentrate on teaching job skills 
and rewarding pro-social attitudes cut rearrest rates to about 35%. On the 
other hand, "Scared Straight" and "Boot Camp" programs actually tend to 
increase recidivism slightly. Some of the seemingly best ideas have led to 
worsening of the behavior of those subjected to those ideas. Locking kids up 
will not reduce crime and may eventually make the problem worse. 
   One study tracked 10K males, born in Philadelphia in 1945, for 27 years; 
it found that just 6% of them committed 71% of the homicides, 73% of the 
rapes and 69% of the aggravated assaults attributed to the entire group. If 
one were to predict that every boy in the study who was arrested early would 
go on to commit violent crimes, one would be wrong more than 65% of the 
time. Those so misidentified are known as false positives. All delinquency 
prediction models consist of about 50% false positives. 

   The argument that the functions of government law are the assignment of 
property rights and the protection of those rights is a dishonest argument. 
Government governs by means of mediating wealth transfers, imposing behavior 
controls, and protecting (and expanding) its institutions. But don't expect 
honesty from government: in June of 1984, the Supreme Court ruled 
unanimously that prosecutors need not honor plea-bargain agreements. The 
Court maintained that as long as a plea-bargain agreement is "voluntarily 
accepted by a suspect" prosecutors are not bound to abide by it. 

   * Why Government Failure is Inevitable 
   As the problems created by partial controls multiply, there is a logical 
extension of partial controls to universal controls and it is here that the 
full and disastrous price of abandoning free market principles is made 
   In every session of all the legislatures of America, programs to solve 
the nation's debt, create jobs, and remedy social problems are launched with 
great fanfare and wonderful speeches. But then, when no one is looking, the 
politicians go back to their offices and the promises are forgotten. 
Although the scenarios that triggered the programs are frequently 
discredited, and the inadequacies of the programs frequently exposed, the 
bureaucracies that were created continue to exist and permanently retain all 
the power they accumulate. 
   Many government institutions, intended to help people deal with 
emergencies, start on small budgets. As the years go by the bureaucrats who 
run these agencies want to rise in professional standing. They make 
connections with congressmen; they find reasons to appropriate more money; 
they hire more people. They rise, become more powerful, and the more these 
agencies grow the more they clamor for money and personnel. Meanwhile the 
budget deficit grows, the public complains, and the competition gets ugly. 
Now funding goes to those who scream the loudest in the halls of government. 
To get funding attention, they must have something scary to scream about, so 
they create an atmosphere of fear. Now that a "terrible doom" is just around 
the next corner, politicians (and scientists) sidestep caution and jump to 
   Because those in favor of a government subsidy have much at stake, their 
lobbying efforts will be intensive and well financed. To the individual 
taxpayer, however, the impact will be at most a few dollars a year. 
Accordingly, opposition is usually quiet and dispersed. In concert with the 
lobbyist is the politician. Being human, he seeks a measure of personal 
importance, prestige and influence. Thus his interests are not served by 
minimizing the role of the state, but by maximizing it. He will have a 
natural inclination to insist that increased regulation is the appropriate 
remedy for any social problem. And so, year by year and decade by decade, 
the bureaucracy grows larger and larger, and the tax burden builds higher 
and higher. In such a context, totalitarians eventually gain the advantage, 
and it is merely a matter of time before freedom is extinguished. 
   Even when the people become aware that the government is hideously 
bloated, they have little incentive to curtail it. On the one hand, people 
don't have the foggiest understanding of "spontaneous order," i.e., that 
problems can be solved by unplanned processes that are not the result of any 
controlling authority's specific intentions or conscious designs. (The 
economic process by means of which everyone is provided with shoes is an 
example of such a "spontaneous order" phenomenon.) On the other hand, people 
don't understand that many of the social problems they face are the result 
of past government actions, and that the only real solution is an indirect 
one: to repeal earlier programs and let individuals take care of things 

   The rise of statism (and its accompanying monetary inflation) has seen a 
general economic trend away from far-sightedness and the building of capital 
and toward destructive looting of the stock of capital for short-term 
profit. The increasing scope of law-making, and its associated transfers of 
property rights from private individuals to government, undermines the 
private property arrangements that support a free market system. This 
process creates considerable uncertainty about the future value of those 
private resources that have not yet been seized by government. When resource 
owners are uncertain about their continued ownership of those resources, 
they tend to use them up relatively rapidly and have less incentive to 
enhance future production capabilities. Thus resources will be overused and 
underproduced. Even for statist-minded businessmen, the inevitable erosion 
of confidence in the future that results from the government's continual 
policy reversals, irresolution in the face of electoral whims, and stifling 
bureaucracy, makes long-term business planning difficult, and sometimes even 

   Ask yourself what products and services are currently least satisfactory 
and have shown the least improvement over time. Postal service, elementary 
and secondary schooling (one of the government's greatest failures is the 
public school system), police protection, sewage disposal, and railroad 
passenger transport would surely be high on the list. Ask yourself which 
products are most satisfactory and have improved the most. Household 
appliances, TV and radio sets, computers, supermarkets and shopping centers 
would surely come high on that list. The shoddy products are all produced by 
government or government-regulated industries. The outstanding products are 
all produced by private enterprise with much less government involvement. 
Yet the public has been persuaded that private enterprise produces shoddy 
products, that we need ever more government control to keep business from 
foisting off unsafe products at outrageous prices on us poor ignorant and 
vulnerable consumers. Regulation of economic activity is often justified and 
upheld by the courts on the fictitious grounds that a laissez-faire economy 
inevitably leads to "excesses" and "abuses," necessitating regulation which 
amounts to prior restraint upon private freedom of action. What the 
government refers to as "Fair Trade" consists largely of the government 
devising new ways to protect consumers against the scourge of low prices and 
high quality.  

   One of the unintended consequences of tyranny is that it forcibly 
stultifies creative endeavor. The object of a tyrant is to control 
everything in his domain. He cannot control something which he does not 
understand, therefore all things which he does not understand must be 
forbidden. (Unless they are rigidly controlled for the purpose of the 
tyrant--such as the Manhattan Project.) 
   As was very clearly explained to me one day by a local sheriff, he has 
not only the legal authority, but a legal mandate to interdict anything that 
HE considers to be unusual behavior. There I was, faced by an armed thug 
with an IQ of probably about 90 (maybe 95 on a good day), demanding that I 
give him an account, comprehensible to HIM, of my behavior. My behavior is 
generated by the choices and decisions of a mind whose IQ is 70 points 
higher than his, and yet that behavior must, by authority of law and force 
of arms, be subsumed within HIS cretinous intellectual frame of reference. 
The "unintended consequence" of this situation, and of tyranny in general, 
is that genius is constrained to function within the limited scope of 
mediocrity. The more intense the tyranny, the more impoverished the society 
must eventually become, because it is restricted to that which lies within 
the frame-of-reference of the tyrant. How many creative minds does your 
government turn off, directly or indirectly--intentionally or 
   Freedom MUST be preserved! Not for the multitude who do not want it, but 
for the few who must have it in order to exercise their creativity. 

   * Government Murders During the 20th Century. In Millions (thru 1985) 

   War      35.7    (battle deaths:  WW1 9   WW2 15) 
   Non-war 150.5 
   Total   186.2 = 5% of earth's population during that period. 
                   This averages out to be one murder every 15 seconds. 
   Communist governments: 126.2 
   Fascist governments:    23.4 
   Democratic governments:   .9 
   This distinction among government types, although certainly useful for 
deciding where you should choose to live, is seen to be somewhat spurious 
when you consider that the Italian massacre of the Libyans must be 
attributed to Fascism--but the French massacre of the Algerians must be 
attributed to Democracy. I really doubt that it made any difference to the 
dead Arabs who considered themselves neither Libyan nor Algerian, fascist 
nor democratic. 
   Communists don't scare me; communist governments scare me, but the 
frightful thing is the government, not the communist. The Hutterite sect of 
Christianity, whose economic beliefs consist of pure and absolute communism, 
has existed for over 400 years, and during that time there has never been a 
murder by one of its members. 
   Keep in mind that this little expose of government murders includes only 
those people who were directly murdered by governments. It does not take 
into account the tens of millions who died in the deliberately-caused 
famines in the Soviet Union (8 million during the 1920s) and China (30 
million during the 1950s). Nor does it count those poor unfortunates 
repatriated by the Allied governments in Operation Keelhaul. Nor does it 
encompass all the damage and suffering caused by enslavement, property 
seizure and income theft that are perpetrated on a regular basis by ALL 
   Every minute 30 children die of hunger and disease. But during that same 
minute government spends the equivalent of 1.7 million dollars on war--war 
that is more and more directed against civilians: During WW1 civilians 
represented only 15% of all fatalities. By the end of WW2 the percentage had 
risen to 65%, including Holocaust casualties. In today's (1995) hostilities, 
more than 90% of all of those injured in war are civilians.  
   As Ayn Rand was fond of saying, the enormous population growth of the 
capitalist societies during the 19th century should of itself induce any 
life-loving person to embrace capitalism. Well, the perpetration of this 
enormous amount of death should of itself induce any life-loving person to 
reject government. 
   You have been told all your life that the police serve the people, that 
they are the guardians of civilization. During a recent one-year period 
(1986), these were the rates of murders committed by police in various 
American cities. The government does not call these "murders," however. They 
are killings by the police, in the line of duty, of innocent civilians who 
are not suspected of any crime. No prosecutions ensue from these incidents. 
     Dallas       .924 per 100K of the population (9) 
     Los Angeles  .743                            (22) 
     Denver       .700                            (4) 
     Houston      .462                            (8) 
     NYC          .185                            (14) 
   The numbers in ( ) are the actual number of people murdered that year. 
   Dallas and LA have the two highest rates of all cities in the country. I 
do not know how the other listed cities rank, and these are the only data I 
have. (The FBI does not keep track of these numbers.) 
   The census bureau classifies the USA urban population as being 167M, or 
74% of the total. Urban is considered to be communities of 50K or more. I 
assume that most of the murders occur in urban areas and so I use the 167M 
as a population base for these two extrapolations: 
   1. Using the lowest murder rate available (.185) there would be just over 
300 murders per year nationwide. 
   2. Using the average of all the murder rates (.603) there would be just 
over 1000 murders per year nationwide. 
   It is probably safe to assume that at least one citizen is being murdered 
by the police every day somewhere in the country. Contrast this with the 
rate at which police are being murdered: just over 100 per year. These 
statistics ARE kept by the FBI--and widely publicized. In fact there is a 
national day of mourning observed for murdered police--it is in May each 
   You might ask "Who are these poor people?" (Keep in mind that police do 
not accidentally kill people; when a policeman takes out his gun and shoots 
it, he is TRYING to kill somebody. When a civilian performs the same action, 
it IS considered by the government to be an act of murder.) They range from 
a 5-year-old boy in Stanton CA to a 70-year-old woman in Dallas. They 
include an entire family of 11 people (including 4 children) who were 
DELIBERATELY burned to death in Philadelphia by the city police department, 
who held off the fire department until the fire had done its grisly work. 
This happened in May of 1985. After a two-year investigation, the city 
government announced that "no laws had been broken" by anyone involved. And 
mayor Goode boasted (yes, it was actually a boast!) that "the city 
government is more powerful now than it was then." 
   If deliberately (and legally) burning children to death does not convince 
you of the viciousness of government, what would? 
   During the decade of the 1960s the Philadelphia city police murdered its 
citizens at the average rate of one per week (2.5 per 100K on an annual 
basis). This caused such a scandal that it provoked an investigation by the 
Federal Justice Department and the city cleaned up its act a little bit even 
though there were no indictments. 
   If you are a decent and benevolent person, you ought to believe in 
something different from what has killed so many people, and espouse an 
ethics that human beings could actually live by, and work for it to become 

   * The War On Drugs 
   In view of the furor over "crime" in America, it is rather enlightening 
to peruse some of the actual measurements of this "crime." These data come 
from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1992 edition, pages 180 
thru 195. They clearly show the results of the Republican (Reagan/Bush) 
regime's emphasis on fighting the drug war. 

   Total number of criminal offenses known to the police: 
   1980 13.4million     1990 14.4million     a rise of 7% 

   Drug arrest rates (per 100K population) 
   1980 256    1985 346     1989 527         a rise of 106% 

   Tried in U.S. District Courts: 
   Marijuana    1980 2thousand  1990  5thousand   a rise of 150% 
   Other drugs  1980 3thousand  1990 13thousand   a rise of 333% 

   Sentenced to prison in U.S. District Courts: 
   1980    Total 14thousand   Drugs  4thousand 
   1990    Total 28thousand   Drugs 14thousand 
            a rise of 100%     a rise of 250% 

   Observe that half the sentences nowadays are for drug crimes and that the 
number of drug sentences today equals the total number of sentences for ALL 
crimes in 1980. 
   For every 1000 non-drug arrests made by the police, three criminals get 
sentenced to prison. For every 1000 drug arrests, 16 are sent to prison. 

   An examination of the breakdown of the "Total number of criminal 
offenses" reveals that many categories of non-government violent crime 
changed little during the 1980s. In fact, the increase in the total 
population of America has resulted in a per capita DECLINE in several of 
these rates: 
   Total of offenses known: -2.2% 
   Murder: -7.8% 
   Total property crime: -4.9% 
   Burglary: -26.6% 

   An analysis of these numbers reveals clearly that there is indeed a 
"crime wave" sweeping America. But it is not murderers and burglars who are 
responsible--it is people puffing the wrong kind of cigarettes who are 
overloading the nation's prisons. The FedGov's response--putting more police 
onto the streets and pouring more money into the coffers of local law-
enforcement agencies--is counterproductive: it can only exacerbate the 
situation because it will lead to a more vigorous and thorough enforcement 
of the Drug Laws. 

   Some measures of the insanity of the Drug War: 
   The morphine required for a $100 fix from a dirty needle in a back alley 
could be purchased from a local drugstore for just $1, if not for the anti-
drug laws. In 1973, John Hospers calculated that two-thirds of the violent 
crime in New York City would simply and quietly disappear overnight if all 
the drug laws were repealed, since that is the proportion of the crime that 
is caused by addicts who need the money for a fix. Half the prisoners in the 
Texas state prison system are there for violation of drug laws, NOT for 
violent crimes! How peculiar that the government does not blame the obesity 
of fat persons on the merchants who sell them food, but it does blame the 
drug habits of addicts on the merchants who sell them drugs. 
   You might think that sooner or later the government would realize the 
insane idiocy of its policy on drugs. But keep this in mind: although 
Prohibition lasted only 14 years, the Drug War has continued for over two 
generations with no sign of abating. Remember also that the Nazis did not 
abandon their persecution of the Jews, even when the manpower involved was 
critically needed to defend the gates of Berlin itself. Thus there is no 
reason to surmise the government will cease its insanity short of out-and-
out social collapse. 
   I see another rationale for the government not only to continue this 
insanity, but to amplify it: An American's enthusiasm for law and order is 
directly proportional to the degree to which he believes his personal safety 
and livelihood are threatened. When the perceived threat grows, so does his 
willingness to be policed. If the average American can be led to believe, 
through the government's stridently minatory propaganda about drug use, that 
these "rabidly crazed" marijuana puffers (remember the movie, Reefer 
Madness?) pose a horrifying threat, then an increasingly alarmed public will 
demand that every federal, state, and local police resource be augmented to 
combat the "narco-terrorists." This is good news for police budgets 
nationwide. (On the other hand, reclassifying marijuana possession from a 
felony to a misdemeanor reduced the felony caseload of the Los Angeles 
police department by 25%--a genuine threat to the department's budget.) 
   The bulk price "at the source" for such high-profit drugs as cocaine and 
heroin is roughly equal to the price of premium pastry flour. It would only 
take a small fraction of what is spent on interdiction to simply buy all of 
the available supply at the source. But actually eliminating the prohibited 
drugs would also have the utterly unacceptable adverse side effect of 
eliminating the need for drug prohibitionists. 
   Nor do I see hope in attempts to elicit public discussion of the issue. 
Discussion is futile when directed not toward general principles but merely 
toward the specific phenomena which are consequences of those principles. 
This precept becomes eminently clear during debates about legalizing drugs. 
They invariably degenerate from a very brief and superficial mention of the 
underlying principles into lengthy disputes over the specific means that 
would be used for distributing the drugs if they were to be legalized. But 
these disputes always assume the existence of a Controlling Authority that 
would have jurisdiction over drugs. 
   A disagreement that does not challenge fundamentals serves only to 
reinforce them. If, for the question: "Do you want slavery?" your opponents 
manage to substitute the question: "What kind of slavery do you want?" then 
they can afford to let you argue indefinitely; they have already won their 
point. Thus do the proponents of statism set the terms of the debate by 
swindling the advocates of Freedom into an implicit acceptance of the 
statist premise. If you allow them to get away with this, they will 
eventually end up setting the terms for everyone's life. But that is the 
ultimate goal of the State: to set the terms for everyone's life. 

   There are other, less widely-known, aspects of the government's drug laws 
that have severely detrimental effects on American society: 
   The FDA doesn't want anybody to be killed by medicines (that would look 
bad for the FDA's record) but they don't care how many people die of 
diseases resulting from the government's prevention of the development and 
sale of medicines. 
   Put yourself in the position of an FDA official charged with approving or 
disapproving a new drug. You can make two very different mistakes: 
   1. Approve a drug that turns out to be dangerous. 
   2. Refuse approval of a drug that would have been beneficial. 
   If you make the first mistake you will become infamous. If you make the 
second mistake, nobody will ever know it. Thus, with the best will in the 
world, you will inevitably tend to delay or reject any and every new drug. 
You will compel the drug companies to Shrug. 

   As many as 95% of cancer patients can get pain relief if properly 
medicated. Tragically, many continue to suffer needlessly. A 1993 study 
found that 85% of the physicians who treat cancer patients provided 
inadequate relief for the majority of those in pain. What accounts for the 
astonishing gap between the degree of relief that is possible and the 
suffering that still persists in reality? Sadly, the effort to improve the 
management of pain has been enormously restricted by the war on drugs. Years 
of anti-drug campaigns have left both the public and health care 
professionals with greatly exaggerated fears about the risks of opioids, 
which are still the most effective known painkillers. 
   Many studies have shown that the medical use of analgesic drugs is safe 
and does not cause psychological addiction in those who had not previously 
shown such a tendency. Even when patients can administer the drug themselves 
with bedside pumps they rarely deliver more than they need to suppress their 
pain. Those who receive opioids may become physically dependent--that is, 
the drug must be withdrawn slowly to prevent the physical effects of 
withdrawal--but this condition is very different from true addiction, which 
is characterized by constant craving and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. 

   The psychiatric profession is also deeply affected: 
   To therapists, the addict needs help to solve a problem, the problem 
being that he uses a drug of which they disapprove. But to the addict, the 
only problem is how to get the drugs he wants. He doesn't see himself as 
"sick," and he doesn't want "treatment." Authorities who are intervening to 
control his behavior react as tyrants always do--whether they be central 
planners trying to make their citizens conform to some national plan, or 
foreign policy planners trying to control people in other countries--by 
getting angry with the people who don't appreciate the intervention of 
"experts" into their lives. The victimizers, in short, blame the victims. 
They demand the right to enforce their ideas at the point of a gun, that is: 
through the power of government. And this IS a problem. 
   The principle role of medical, and especially psychiatric, professionals 
in the administration and enforcment of chemical statism is to act as double 
agents--helping politicians to impose their will on the people by defining 
self-medication as a disease, and helping the people to bear their 
privations by supplying them with drugs. This is a major national tragedy 
whose very existence has so far remained unrecognized, and whose 
consequences may be devastating. (See Chapter 11 - Dictatorship American 
   See reference) 
   Consider that the tranquilizer Valium is the most widely-prescribed drug 
in the USA. Its sale is a multi-billion dollar business. Suppose something 
happened that resulted in the cessation of its distribution (and also that 
of other similar drugs). What would be the effect on all those stressed 
people whose mental stability depends on such drugs? Kurt Saxon maintains 
that this might well be the most devastating result of a collapse of our 
economy. All those neurotics might go crazy and destroy everything in their 

   By and large, it is laws which create much of social context. The 
Prohibition laws created the "Alcohol War" context, and today's Drug laws 
create today's "Heroin War" context. But these unjust laws are also creating 
a deeply divided and corrupt society, where the appearance of orthodoxy is 
everything, and intelligence, humanity and common sense count for almost 
   If a man long afflicted by a toxic chemical suffers sudden convulsions 
and then dies from them, one might validly say that the convulsions were the 
immediate cause of the death, so long as one remembers the ultimate cause. 
The same is true of a country addicted to a toxic ideology.  
   Throughout history, rulers have picked on various scapegoats to divert 
attention from the results of their policies, including Jews, Christians, 
and eccentrics of various types. Today the scapegoats are drug users. If 
drugs were really so terrible why were they completely legal between 1776 
and 1914--without serious social problems? It is not the drug that is the 
problem, but the ideology of government. 
   Governments cause pain, misery and suffering by passing laws, and then 
point to that same pain, misery and suffering (which were caused by the 
laws) as the reason the laws are necessary--and even why the laws should be 
more strongly enforced! Nowhere is this spurious chain of "cause and effect" 
more devastatingly manifest than in the War on Drugs. The real cause of 
immigration and drug-war horror stories is the enforcement of anti-
immigration and anti-drug laws, not the people placed in dangerous and 
degrading circumstances by those laws.
   When was the last time you read about armed thugs doing battle over the 
distribution of whiskey? Not since the repeal of the anti-alcohol laws. 

   On to Chapter 8
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