We Believe

a "Bagatorial" written for the Cheaper! discount grocery stores.

by Wendy McElroy

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." - Voltaire

You are a self owner. You own your body. This is an inescapable truth of human nature: you and you alone control your actions and are responsible for them.

The alternative is that someone else owns your body, which is slavery.

Your labor is a direct extension of your body. As such, you own the profits of your labor. Whatever you produce is your property, in the same sense that your body is your property.

The alternative is slavery.

Every other human being is also a self-owner. It is wrong to use force against anyone, because this violates their self-ownership; it violates their rights.

By using force you tell other people that you have a right to control their bodies and their property. You say that they are less than human beings.

Government law is just a form of force that some people -- called legislators -- have agreed on.

Laws don't change anything. People don't need the law to tell right from wrong.

"When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken." - Benjamin Disraeli.

A peaceful society comes from respecting each other's boundaries. This is a compassionate society where people lend the other fellow a helping hand.

Force kills the natural compassion people feel for each other. Force is the death of humane society.

The absence of force will not bring utopia. Utopia is not possible on earth. But freedom offers the best chance we have for happiness and prosperity. Freedom is the best we can do.

Doesn't freedom mean doing anything you want?

No. Liberty does not mean license. It means self-government. Freedom has obligations. The two main ones are:

1) You must take responsibility for yourself and for your actions. You can't blame others for what's wrong. Take control of your own life.

2) You must respect the freedom of other people. It is wrong to use force or fraud. Force denies people's humanity. Fraud denies the truth.

"When a ... man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is despotism ... No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." - Abraham Lincoln.

But what of government?

Government is just a group of people who claim the right to tell you what to do with your life. They get away with this because they are "elected." According to politicians, this means that a majority has voted them into office. In fact, less than 50% of Americans voted for anyone in the last elections.

Even if a majority had elected them, what would it matter? Why should you obey? Might doesn't make right.

If it is wrong for one man to take your money, how can it be right for a group of men? Calling it "taxes" rather than "theft" doesn't change the fact ... it is your money.

Anything that is wrong for an individual to do is wrong for a group of individuals.

Government gets away with force because it claims to "represent the people." Politicians represent their own interest. Government exists to benefit its members -- politicians, bureaucrats and other people who can't get an honest job. They grow fat off you and your family.

"As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?" - William Marcy (Boss) Tweed, 19th Century N.Y. Politician.

All organizations exist to serve their members. This is also true of business. But business is voluntary. No one is forced to buy or sell. An exchange occurs only if both sides think they benefit. The only choice government gives you is: pay up or go to jail.

Customers vote with their dollars. If a businessman stops caring about your vote, you can take your dollars elsewhere. What choice do you have with a politician? Will he give you a money-back guarantee? Can you take your business elsewhere?

Why are you so against government?

Government produces nothing. It operates through force and fraud. It takes money from you and your family. It makes promises it does not keep.

Politicians steal your freedom. Then, they insult your intelligence by asking for your vote.

Government destroys people's independence through its promises to take care of them. But how many people can trust social security to support them in old age? How many people are homeless because they believed in social programs? The government's promises are lies. You have to take care of yourself.

"It is error alone which needs support of government. Truth can stand by itself." - Thomas Jefferson.

Government is the biggest threat to your freedom and safety. It is the biggest threat to your family and friends.

And it keeps growing...

How much government would you accept?

About the amount that would fit into Independence Hall in Philadelphia. About the amount envisioned by the founding fathers.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government." - Thomas Jefferson.

We believe in a night watchman style of government. A government that acts like a security officer, who patrols a building at night to make sure everything is safe.

A night watchman has three functions:

  1. to defend against attack (military);
  2. to ensure a peaceful society (police);
  3. to adjudicate disputes (courts).
It does not tell people how to live. It does not regulate business. It does not provide services, such as the post office or National Arts Council.

What about essential government programs?

"The good governor should have a broken leg and keep at home." - Cervantes.

Most of what government does is not essential. Most is better left undone. For example, your security does not require the U.S. to police the globe. Your family does not need a government funded space program. Or grants to the arts. Or subsidies to business.

Essential services include roads, postal delivery, medial care, and education. These were provided by the free market until government monopolized them.

Government should never provide essential services. Government is inefficient and corrupt. It leaves the customer -- you -- with no recourse. If you refuse to pay for bad service, it takes your property.

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread." - Thomas Jefferson.

People have been brainwashed to think that only government can build a road or deliver a letter. But government doesn't provide any service. Individuals do the work. Individuals pay the bill. Government provides bureaucrats to supervise what the free market would do naturally.

There is a solution: privatize government services. Let the free market do what it does best -- provide service.

People forget ... before government took over, individuals took care of themselves and others. Literacy rates in colonial New England were higher than they are now. America was crisscrossed by privately built railways. The Pony Express went where no government delivery was attempted.

It is crazy to run over things, like medical care, to a bureaucracy. Do you want the same people, who run the post office, to supervise open heart surgery? Do you want your life to depend on a civil servant?

The free market can provide society's needs. You can take care of yourself.

What would a free market society look like?

Capitalist acts between consenting adults.

Absolute liberty for the peaceful individual.

A return to the ideals of 1776:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence.

So ... what can I do about it?

How else can I change things?

There is something you should not do.

Politics is the problem. Government takes power and dignity from the individual. It steals money. It is a criminal process. Do not become part of the problem.

Do not run for office.

Do not pay homage to public officials. Never contribute your time, money or approval to a candidate or a political movement.

DO NOT VOTE. Don't willingly surrender control of your life to someone else.

"Elector: one who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice."
"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." - Ambrose Bierce.

People think they can cast "protest" votes. But you can't attack government by voting. You can't attack crime by becoming an accessory.

Politicians of every stripe tell you to "get out and vote." Because they want your sanction. It is how politicians justify their power over you.

Voting is the way the majority tells the minority how to live.

No one has a right to vote on how you live your life. Every vote cast denies your liberty.

What can I read to learn more?

These are some of the books we recommend:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
The classic novel of individuals challenging authority.
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
A man's quest for self-sufficiency and self-knowledge.
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, Harry Browne
"How-to" live free, even under the shadow of the state.
Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt
The free market explained simply and elegantly.

A parting thought

"Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called." - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

The world will never be perfect.

We don't have all the answers. We don't even have all the questions. That's why we want to hear what you think. Write to us. What do you believe?