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Freedom or Government?

by Harry Hoiles
Number 106 - Oct 2000

In the foregoing editorial we discussed the idea of freedom or government. We suggest that you read that editorial before proceeding.

"But how about the criminals?" those who are afraid of freedom again ask.

In answering this let's make two observations.

First, as stated above, this is a much smaller problem than is generally recognized. And it would be even smaller were it not for the fact that mankind has sanctioned government power to such an extent that power in itself has thus been sanctioned. By sanctioning government power, mankind has increased the tacit acceptance of power as a means to an end. The criminal believes that the end justifies the means. The increased acceptance of power as a means to an end leads to increased criminality. This is a logical inevitable development of mankind's acceptance of government power as a means to an end.

Second, power attracts criminals. The bigger government gets, the more power it has, the more criminals are attracted to get in government and use this power for their [own] benefit. This is the nature of things.

Therefore, the size of the criminal problem is increased in two ways by mankind's acceptance of government. One, the sanction of government power increases the sanction of power per se, and causes lack of recognition of abuses of power. Two, the existence of government power attracts the criminal and makes it possible for him to do much more harm than he could without this power.

Remove mankind's sanction of government power and the problem of criminality would be greatly reduced.

Another factor which would cause this reduction is increasing individual responsibility.

Government today, far from claiming only to protect the individual from criminals has become a great factor in penalizing the productive and rewarding the non-productive. As a result individual responsibility is on the wane. "Let government do it," is the cry on all sides when a problem arises. The only way government can "do it" is to take assets from those who have responsibly saved these assets and distribute them in a way people who have not saved them desire. This by its nature reduces responsibility and increases irresponsibility. Since criminality is irresponsibility, the actions of government in redistributing the wealth increases criminality.

A person who fears freedom then might say, "Granted government in three ways increases criminality but, even so, there would still be criminals. How would I be protected from them?

The answer is, by private protection agencies. Some of the largest organizations in the world today are insurance companies which now provide protection in areas which have not been usurped by government. Under freedom these companies provide protection which works in these areas. Under freedom, these or other companies could and would provide protection which would work much better than the illusion of protection which we now have in the areas usurped by government.

Freedom works when not outlawed by government. The history of these United States proves that. It cannot work effectively in fields dominated by government. Who can compete with government? Who can compete with dictatorship which is inherent in every government ever organized in human history?

The choice is not between government and anarchy.

The choice is between government and freedom. Or more accurately expressed:

The choice is between dictatorship and freedom.

[Editor's Note: These editorials probably first appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, and were copied from A Voice For Freedom, published by Register Division of Freedom Newspaper, Inc. on September 1, 1962. Readers who question Mr. Hoiles' view of human nature may wish to consult Murray Rothbard's comments in The Voluntaryist in Whole No. 95 where he refutes the myth that "Libertarians are utopians who believe that all people are good, and that therefore state control is not necessary."]

[Editor's Addendum: The editorial by this title first appeared in the Colorado Springs GAZETTE-TELEGRAPH on July 16, 1962.]