The invisible gun

There is just one thing people need to do to go from being able to demand a service by paying a price to becoming beggars – allow governments to control health care, education and infrastructure (power, water, telecommunications). Vote for “leaders” who promise you free (or subsidized) education, health care and power, and you have sold yourself into perpetual slavery.

Kerala’s Law Reforms Commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice VR Krishna Iyer, the man who wants India to enforce harsh “social justice” measures through a Defense of India code, has suggested that all couples who go ahead and have a third child should be penalized Rs. 10,000 and benefits provided by the government such as free health care and education should be withdrawn from the family. Who gave Iyer or the Law Commission the right to decide how many children people should have? That right has been usurped by government under what is referred to as “social justice” and “public interest”; “social justice” means the right to steal from you and hand over the loot to someone else, and “public interest” means anything that is in the interest of any unidentifiable mob that includes everyone except you. Since people have already voted for crooks making tall promises, and accepted the spoils of the loot – the said “free education” and “free health care” – they find themselves morally incapable of standing up to gross violation of their rights. Some idiots might even think that this is a good thing.

There are two classes of people in society who can access absolutely anything they want – politicians because they have power, and the connected rich because they have connections and the money to buy them with. So even if laws are passed that allow government interference into private affairs, these people can give such laws the go by. If the education sector is nationalized, their children can go and study in the best foreign schools and colleges while others have to make do with local government run schools; if the health sector is nationalized, they can fly abroad to fix a sprained ankle while others stand in line at government run clinics; if the power sector is nationalized, air conditioners will run 24/7 in their houses while most bill paying consumers have to suffer long power cuts with smaller business having to divert precious working capital into wasteful expenditure such as buying and maintaining diesel generator sets.

In India, thankfully, the health sector is still in private hands – you can visit general practitioners, dentists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists etc by paying reasonable sums of money, and more or less on demand. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about education or power or water because government laws make it extremely difficult to run “anything” for-profit in these areas. Schools and colleges can only be government-run or run by “charitable trusts”. If the world were really full of philanthropists, we would not be chopping each others heads so often; so a few exceptions aside, most of these “trusts” are run by so called “education barons or czars” and hardly provide world class education, and for every good government school or college, there are at least ten pathetic ones. The power sector is in shambles with highly industrialized states like Maharashtra suffering six-odd gigawatts of shortage at peak demand; with power being a politically sensitive subject and politicians having periodic fits where they promise free electricity to farmers, private participation in the sector is woefully inadequate. And if we leave the major cities aside, clean tap water is a luxury.

People pay a multitude of taxes, all to keep crazy government schemes afloat – money they could have used to buy services they need instead of throwing it down a bottomless pit. A lot of poor parents send their children to “private schools”, somehow managing to pay for it. They know that most government schools are useless – teachers are absent most of the time. Who pays the salaries of such teachers – the middle class tax payer who has problems of his own.

Nothing comes for free. Someone always pays – sometimes voluntarily, almost every time when they are confronted with soft force – “social justice” and “public interest”. When these invisible guns don’t have the intended effect, they become visible. The next time a “leader” promises “free” anything, ask him – who pays? And do yourself a favor, read the late libertarian Harry Browne‘s articles – Freedom to Work, to Earn, & to Buy and Defending our ‘Freedoms’. The sad state of affairs is – everything he says is near-universally applicable; which means governments around the world have gotten bigger and bigger and now they think they can dictate how the citizens of a country should lead their lives. The problem is, you cannot say no. Your life depends on saying yes. The invisible gun, remember?

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