Collectivism Promises Security In Exchange For Freedom, Then Fails To Provide Either

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Posted: Nov 29, 2018 11:27 AM
Collectivism Promises Security In Exchange For Freedom, Then Fails To Provide Either

Freedom in the free market is security, or self-reliance, in the United States.  But why not have, as collectivists demand, the security of employment, housing, or other such essentials?  These are certainly important needs in life; and the collectivist governance always promotes the guarantee of these needs.  They lay out a plan so that these needs are secured for the citizenry by the collective governance. 

Because it is functionally impossible to secure these needs, it is also impossible to secure these needs without destroying liberty.

Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek provides insight into both of these failures:

[T]he more we try to provide security by interfering with the market system, the greater the insecurity becomes; and , what is worse, the greater becomes the contrast between security of those to whom it is granted as a privilege and the ever increasing insecurity of the underprivileged.  And the more security becomes a privilege.[1]

In other words, who is going to set the price on an item?  You?  Your customer?  Or some price authority?  If you and your customer work to decide on a price, then both of you are free (liberty) to accept, deny, or haggle for a price which makes the most sense to each of you to qualify the transaction – or exchange.  Conversely, if either of you don’t like what the other party has to offer, you are free to do something else – buy later, buy from someone else, or decide not to buy at all.  If some authority establishes the price, much of the freedom of both parties – buyer and seller – is lost.  What if either of you don’t agree with the price established by the authority.  The answer – tough!  However, that is not the only issue.  Under this system, we actually become less secure, and those who gather favor of the authority can get a special discount, or can be subsidized.   Does that create security, or does it create clamoring to the authority for favoritism to get a leg up?  In fact, as Hayek explains, “security can be granted to particular groups only by the kind of planning known as restrictionism,” which in turn, “means that others who are worse off are precluded from sharing in the relatively greater prosperity of the controlled industries.   Every restriction on the freedom of entry into a trade reduces the security of all those outside it.”[2] 

What about income?  Surely the right – or security – to employment or certain wages helps the citizenry to be more secure.  Again, Hayek clarifies:

Certainty of a given income can, however, not be given to all if any freedom in the choice of one’s occupation is to be allowed.   And, if it is provided for some, it becomes a privilege at the expense of others whose security is thereby necessarily diminished.  That security of an invariable income can be provided for all only by the abolition of all freedom in the choice of one’s employment…

If those whose usefulness is reduced by circumstances which they could neither foresee nor control were to be protected against undeserved loss, and those whose usefulness has been increased in the same way were prevented from making an unmerited gain, remuneration would soon cease to have any relation to actual usefulness.  It would depend on the views held by some authority about what a person ought to have done.[3]

And who is to decide what a proper wage is?  You?   The employer?  Or some wage authority?  And what if you or the employer do not agree with the wage set by the wage authority?

When a person’s income is guaranteed, he can neither be allowed to stay in his job merely because he likes it or choose what other work he would like to do.  As it is not he who makes the gain or suffers the loss dependent on his moving or not moving, the choice must be made for him by those who control the distribution of the available income.[4]

Liberty is, at a minimum, diminished, and typically over time completely destroyed.   These tenets of the collectivist are utterly opposed to the tenets of America.  They are utterly opposed to the value of the individual which permeates from American Exceptionalism.  These tenets do not create security; they destroy security except for the privileged few.   “[W]ith every grant of complete security to one group the insecurity of the rest necessarily increases.”[5]

[1] Friedrich A. von Hayek (Bruce Caldwell, Ed.), 2007 (originally published in 1944), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, (Routledge, London: The University of Chicago Press), p. 154.

[2] Friedrich A. von Hayek (Bruce Caldwell, Ed.), 2007 (originally published in 1944), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, (Routledge, London: The University of Chicago Press), p. 153.

[3] Friedrich A. von Hayek (Bruce Caldwell, Ed.), 2007 (originally published in 1944), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, (Routledge, London: The University of Chicago Press), p. 150.

[4] Friedrich A. von Hayek (Bruce Caldwell, Ed.), 2007 (originally published in 1944), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, (Routledge, London: The University of Chicago Press), p. 151.

[5] Friedrich A. von Hayek (Bruce Caldwell, Ed.), 2007 (originally published in 1944), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, (Routledge, London: The University of Chicago Press), p. 153.