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Statism vs. Individualism

One of the most important questions in politics is also very basic—should people have the right to focus only on their own lives or should the government force them to contribute to society? Keep in mind, this is a political question, not a moral question. So it's not asking if being self-focused is right or wrong, it's asking whether it should be legal or illegal. In other words, should people be legally required to contribute to society?

Philosophers and political scientists have debated this question for centuries and their answers have formed two opposing political ideologies: individualism and statism. Individualism is the ideology that says, as long as we don't interfere with the rights of others, we can live however we want. Statism says we are subjects of society—that we are obligated to serve the needs of our fellow citizens however the government says is best. For example, if the government says it’s my responsibility to pay for someone else’s healthcare, statism is the philosophy that says I must comply.

Obviously healthcare isn't the only example. I chose it because it's an issue most people recognize, but I could have chosen any government program—any program that places the "benefit" of society over the rights of the individual. The program doesn't necessarily have to be something financial. It could be a limit on supersized soda, a ban on foreign imports, or a curriculum mandate from the local board of education. All of which fall under the umbrella of statism.

Whether these programs actually help society is certainly debatable, but at this point, not what I am trying to debate. As for now, I'm merely point out the difference in between individualism and statism. Whereas individualism says the purpose of government is to protect our individual rights, statism says the purpose of government is to create laws and regulations that will "improve society".

Statism and the expansion of government

Though they probably don't realize it's called "statism", statism is the philosophy of government a majority of Americans now support. They believe some people can be forced to help others and they believe the purpose of government is to "take care" of society. Examples of this psychology are everywhere. If the economy is down, we expect the government to stimulate it. If our employers won't raise our wages, we ask the government to coerce them. If some product or service is too expensive, we assume the government will pay for it.

Such a deep reliance on government demonstrates a radical shift in US political philosophy. Throughout history, Americans believed the government should be limited to three core responsibilities: maintain peace and order, establish a code of rights, and protect the country from foreign invaders. But now we view the government as our political parent—a central planner who engineers how we live our lives and how we spent our money. And the more we ask for the government to take care of us, the more we feel the effects of this engineering.

The desire for welfare and why people support statism

When polled, an overwhelming majority of Americans say they do not trust Congress, yet every year, we give more power to Congress—every year we give Congress new powers to authorize, ban, or regulate some key aspect of American life. We do this because the more we enable politicians to regulate society, the more we enable them to redistribute wealth. Statism is becoming popular because so many groups now have the option to participate in wealth redistribution.

A few groups who benefit the most are more obvious, such as with welfare recipients and government employees. But through a variety of middle class and corporate subsides, we also pay billions to doctors, farmers, teachers, and hundreds of politically connected corporations. All of whom will do just about anything to stay on welfare. The media criticizes corporations and lobbyists for bribing government officials to legislate on their behalf, but no group has prostituted themselves for government money and favoritism more than the general public.

Not only is this morally despicable, it's financially devastating. Because of our strong economic foundation, the country has been able to resist the negative effects of reckless government spending for several decades. But no matter how abundant in the past, economic prosperity can only last but so long in a hostile environment. We have arrived at a point where we can no longer survive on history's success. Regardless of a boat's massive size, even a small hole can sink the entire ship.

The establishment

Though bad for the economy, the welfare system is good for politicians. It is especially good for democrat politicians, who have shaped their entire party around the exploitation of welfare. Through their influence over the media and the public education system, democrats have been able to portray themselves as compassionate defenders of the poor and middle class. But in truth, they don't want to help these enormous demographics (over half of society), they want to control them. Welfare is the best means of obtaining this control.

And by using this strategy, democrats have been able to control the nation's political trajectory for almost three decades. Even when they lose elections, democrats succeed in moving society deeper into statism—and more dependent on government aid. For the young democrat who has been taught to believe they hold some rebellious, anti-establishment ideology, this is a tough pill to swallow. However, one can't support a political party based completely around government regulation and still claim they are "against the system".

Backed by the wealthiest, most influential people in society, democrats have formed a massive political establishment that has brought every aspect of modern life under the supervision of some government agency or institution. Your mortgage rate is controlled by the Federal reserve. Your doctor is controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services. The size of your soda is controlled by the FDA. The FCC controls what is played on the radio. The Department of Education controls everything our children learn in school.

And this is only a partial list.

Who cares?

If you don’t follow politics it might be hard to see why these regulations are so damaging. But the more the government regulates society, the less invested people become in their own lives, leading to an overall loss of creativity, honesty, and personal ambition. Human freedom is the cornerstone of societal progress and if people lack the ability to make their own decisions—and face the consequences of these decisions, society will move backwards. And the more the government controls our choices, the further back we go.

This point has been illustrated many times throughout history. Every country that has ever put too much faith in government has ended up on the same destructive path, which typically goes something like this:

Politicians gain excessive economic power. Politicians use this power to help themselves. The economy develops in a way that is good for the politically connected, but terrible for everyone else. Society eventually collapses. Sometimes this collapse happens quickly, as with Venezuela. Other times it happens gradually, as with the Soviet Union. But the end point is always the same—economic failure or civil war, or both.

While such a collapse in the US is unlikely, it’s naive to think it’s impossible. But why should we move backwards at all? Just a few decades ago our chief societal goal was putting a man on the moon, now it's merely to avoid bankruptcy. Over the past 50 years politicians have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in an attempt to what they claim will "improve society", but what part of society has been improved? More money goes to education—are people more educated? More money goes into welfare—is there any less poverty? More money goes to job creation—are there any better jobs? More money goes to public art—is the country any more cultured?

What about Sweden?

Though it would eventually fail, technically speaking, a national redistribution system could work in a country with a small population, possibly for a very long time, if the country was small enough and if it met other certain social and economic conditions. Most notably, if it had healthy trade relationships with larger, richer nations, it had a large economic surplus before its redistribution system got underway, and if the overall world economy stayed in a good condition.

And such is the case with the three to four Scandinavian countries who have expensive, yet still functional redistribution systems. Politicians often cite these countries as examples of how statism could work in the US, but this is absurd. The US and Scandinavian economic systems aren’t comparable in any way. For starters, Norway and Denmark are smaller than most major American cities. All the Scandinavian countries combined are still smaller the New York metro area. (For reference, Denmark has a population of roughly 6 million people. Chicago 10 million. NYC 23 million).

Saying that a certain economic policy could work in the US because it works in Sweden is comparable to a giant grocery store chain saying, “We don’t need to accept debit cards because we know of a few mom-and-pop stores that don’t accept debit cards—and they do just fine."

The opposition

According to the national political narrative, democrats are supposed to stand for statism. Republicans are supposed to fight against it. But so far republicans haven't been able to position themselves as a credible opposition. When campaigning, they claim they will advance the principles of limited-government and individualism. But once elected, they offer merely a lighter version of statism—a version with fewer regulations and a scaled back redistribution system. This "lighter version" may be more beneficial in the short-term, but ultimately is a slower fall into the same abyss.

Without a relevant opposition, the democrat philosophy has become so ingrained in our daily lives that many people tell me it cannot be stopped without an armed rebellion. However, I think there is still a chance of achieving the same goal with an opposition political movement. And with this conviction, I started such a movement. My mission is simple—I stand against statism and for limited government. If you share these beliefs, I encourage you to join.

The opposition logo

To streamline my message, I sketched a simple logo to reflect my beliefs. If you would like to show your support, displaying the opposition logo is the most effective tool for speaking out. It is subtle, but powerful. You can put it anywhere: your car window, wear it on a t-shirt, fly the opposition flag, get a tattoo...there are many options. Everyone says they'd like to participate more in national politics—make this your opportunity to take action.

As a visual representation of the basic mission, it says:

"I stand against statism. I stand for limited government."

But in a broader sense, it can also represent my entire philosophy.

It says: I believe in the goodness of humanity and the efficacy of the common man.

It says: I view no person or social class above myself—I can go anywhere and do anything.

It says: Welfare creates poverty.

It says: The only fair trade is free trade.

It says: Businesses create jobs. Government creates unemployment.

It says: No politician should be in office more than 8 years—demand term limits for Congress.

It says: Support school choice, end government controlled education.

It says: I love the skyscrapers of New York City and the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina and I love the culture that made these cities possible—American culture.

It says: I believe in the productivity of the American work ethic, the inventiveness of the American mind, and the passion of the American spirit. From the dawn of civilization until the founding of America, the world's entire population sat in the dark—alone, confused, and hungry.



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