Just wages, purpose of government

  1. Describing the “just wage”
  2. Shortages of sand?! Really?!
  3. The Austrian road to socialism
  4. The purpose of government
  5. Success of government, Strength of families

More notes from John Mêdaille’s Toward a Truly Free Market. I posted on his borrowed “Economic Stork Theory” four days ago. Caveat: Some of these notes are abbreviated or reformatted, but I don’t believe I’ve altered the author’s intent or his “flavor.” Of course, hyperlinks are my own since the book was a conventional paperback.

1

We can judge that the just wage is fulfilled under the following four conditions:

  1. That working families, as a rule, appear to live in the dignity appropriate for that society;
  2. That they can do so without putting wives and children to work;
  3. That they have some security against periods of enforced unemployment, such as sickness, layoffs, and old age; and
  4. That these conditions are accomplished without undue reliance on welfare payments and usury.

2

Milton Friedman famously remarked that if the government were put in charge of the Sahara, there would soon be a shortage of sand. It is a remark that delighted both libertarian and neoclassical economists. It is likely that Friedman repeated this remark at many a seminar. To do so, he had to leave his home, one built according to strict building codes and protected by the socialized services of the city police and fire departments, travel over socialized roads and freeways to a government-sponsored and government regulated airport, board an airplane after it had been thoroughly vetted by a government-supervised inspector, all before he even got to the seminar. And all of this took place under the protection of a military establishment which involves considerable expense to the government and its citizens.

3

The Reagan administration had another reason for their “starve the beast” strategy: they really had no philosophy of governance …  In practice, Austrian economics proved to be a faster road to socialism than the socialists themselves could build, but it was mainly a socialism for the rich. Since it is a woefully incomplete theory, its unintended consequences overwhelm its theoretical basis with the result that Austrian theory leads to a socialist practice, which is exactly the result that Hillaire Belloc predicted for such theories in his book, The Servile State.

4

The purpose of government is to provide the conditions under which all the other communities that make up the social fabric can flourish. First and foremost among these other communities is the community of the family, the one that first calls us into being through an act of love and gives us the gifts that will form us – not only the material gifts of food, clothing and shelter, but also the gifts of language, of culture, of our first experience of love and belonging, and, most importantly, the gift of the name, a name that ties us to family but is uniquely our own, the name that lets us know that we are both part of something and unique beings.

At once we note that we are at odds with the modern political and economic theories, which are built on the individual as the prime social and economic unit. But this is not correct because the individual, apart from the social order, is not capable of providing for himself. Indeed, the individual is not even capable of reproducing himself. The individual flourishes in and through the community ….

5

Therefore, we can judge the success or failure of government by noting the strength of the family units that make up the society. If they are barely surviving and chronically in debt, if mothers are forced to work by economic conditions and unable to attend to the education of their children, if families seem to be temporary and chronically subject to dissolution, if the children have only limited educational opportunities, if they are concerned only with the getting (and  destruction) of more things for their happiness, then we may say that the family is materially, morally, and spiritually weak.

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.