Unlimited Voluntary Exchanges
by R.C. Hoiles
From Volume 3 Number 17 - August 1985
In a talk before the Exchange Club of Santa Ana on voluntaryism, I used the subject
voluntaryism rather than libertarianism because I do not believe there is as
much confusion about voluntaryism as there is about libertarianism. Libertarianism
has become distorted to mean liberalism of other people's money.
My contention was that I believed in unlimited voluntary exchanges. Some of
the points I tried to emphasize were that voluntaryism really meant that one
should get what he gets by benefitting those from who he gets it, that in voluntaryism
not only both parties were benefited but everyone else in the world was bendfited;
that voluntaryism was, in reality, nothing but a free and unhampered market;
that to the extent voluntaryism was practiced, every individual got all he produced,
and the only fair way of measuring what each and every person produced was to
have jobs interchangeable so that any person who thought he was getting too little
and someone was getting too much would have not only the right, but it was his
duty, to render a better service for the same money or the same service for less
money, and thus benefit both parties to an exchange. Not only would both parties
be benefited, but everybody else in the world would be benefited because each
of the parties would be better able to benefit those with whom they exchanged.
I further tried to emphasize that voluntaryism meant that in creating wealth
and exchanging it, both parties were benefited - that it was not like war or
gambling or fraud where one man benefited and another man lost.
It was my contention that most people believed in voluntaryism as individuals
but few people believed in voluntaryism in groups; that most people seemed to
think it was al right to do things collectively, like getting a service on an
involuntary basis when they would not think of trying to do it as an individual.
I pointed out that the two things that people seemed to believe were virtuous
if done by a group but vicious if done by an individual were labor unions and
government; that they seemed to believe that it was all right for government
to initiate force to take from one to benefit another, but they could see that
it was harmful and vicious and wicked for an individual to initiate force to
take from one to give to another; that the government had passed laws that gave
labor unions monopolies and the right to do things that would be a crime if done
by other people; that this form of involuntaryism caused governments to grow
and expand and eventually get so tyrannical that people overthrew them; that
I could think of no way of keeping government down other than having it supported
on a voluntary basis; that government would cost very little - maybe only 2 per
cent or 3 per cent of the national income - if it was limited to only trying
to stop people from practicing involuntaryism in getting things.
It was my contention that voluntaryism was in the minds of the framers of the
Declaration of Independence when they wrote that the governments derive their
just powers from the consent of the governed; that that meant exactly what it
said and that if a man did not believe that everybody's life and property should
be protected, he should not be forced to support the government, because if he
was forced to pay taxes to support the government, in order to be fair he should
have the right to vote. And then he would vote to take from one to give to another
and there would be no limit to the growth of government; that governments in
the United States used to take about 2 per cent or 3 per cent of total production
and now they are taking around 33 per cent of what was produced - all because
the majority of people believe that groups have a right to do things that they
would hesitate to do as individuals.
Since I do not believe very much in speeches where the speaker is protected
from questions, I allowed about one-half the time for questions.
Of course, one of the questions usually asked is how you would raise the money
to defend this country from a national standpoint. It was my contention that
if the government were operated on a voluntary basis where they had no power
to interfere with people freely exchanging goods and services throughout the
world - that is, where we had no protective tariffs and immigration quotas -
we wouldn't be in these wars and wouldn't need all this wealth for protection.
It is the government practicing involuntaryism against the people of other governments
that leads to war.
One man asked how the Civil War would have been handled. My answer was that
if we had not had protective tariffs it is doubtful whether the South would even
have wanted to secede, and if they had wanted to secede, they should have been
permitted to secede if we followed the ideologies as set forth in the Declaration
of Independence, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of
the governed; that the North should have had such a good government that people
wanted to belong to the government.
Another party observed that he had a visitor from India and that their wages
were so low that if we permitted our workers to exchange with them our wages
would become low. He wanted to know how voluntaryism would prevent such a catastrophe
coming to the American people. My answer to that was that I spent three hours
one day on a train with a student from China who was going to school in New York;
that he contended the Chinese could not compete with the people in the United
States because the people in the U.S. had such efficient tools that they could
undersell the Chinese people. The people in the United States contend that they
cannot compete with the people of China and India and other countries because
their wages are so low.
Then I tried to explain that the wages there were so low because they did not
have the tools and therefore each worker produced very little and could not be
paid more than what the worker produced; that each man must produce his own wages.
It was my contention, of course, that our standard of living would be a lot higher
if we more nearly practiced voluntaryism on a free and unhampered market.
The members of the Exchange Club are performing a service because their ideology
is that exchange of ideas is beneficial to everybody. And that is true because
ideas come before things are created and exchanged. Anything that enlightens
mankind is beneficial to everyone.
Yes, I am for unlimited voluntary exchanges.