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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Americans Had It Coming


Everyone is complaining and crying about the high gasoline prices and, well, the rising prices of most everything else, especially food.

The problem is that hardly anyone wants to admit that it’s all part of the cost of empire and imperial adventurism. Do Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind?

In 2001 and 2002, weren’t many Americans (libertarians being the notable exception) exuberantly supporting the imperial adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan that has caused federal spending to soar through the roof? Well, what did Americans think — that empires come cheap?

Do you recall what conservatives used to say when the Soviet Empire came crashing down? They bragged that Ronald Reagan had caused the Soviet Empire to spend the nation into bankruptcy. Of course, there’s nothing new about that, as people who lived under the Roman Empire and British Empire learned.

But notice now that conservatives no longer brag about how they brought down the Soviet Empire. Why not? Because someone (such as a libertarian) might ask the obvious question: If out-of-control federal spending was bad for the Soviet Union, why isn’t it equally bad for the United States?

Of course, one big problem is that Americans convinced themselves that Iraq and Afghanistan were going to be free. U.S. officials could take control of Iraqi oil and finance not only the Iraq invasion and occupation but also the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. A self-funding imperial operation! Or they convinced themselves that the “coalition of the willing” would bear the costs of America’s imperialism.

Alas, it was not to be. Year after year, Iraq and Afghanistan have become a veritable black hole of federal expenditures, much of which cannot even be accounted for by U.S. officials.

Americans can’t say that they weren’t warned. From the inception, libertarians kept warning that the out-of-control costs of empire and intervention (on top of welfare and regulation at home) would inevitably be reflected in a crashing dollar and rising commodity prices.

Today, unfortunately all too many Americans are doing their best to avoid accepting responsibility for rising prices. That’s why they’re coming up with all sorts of interesting rationales for rising prices and the crashing dollar: foreign demand, speculators, oil companies, OPEC, capitalism, and tax cuts. Before long, they’ll undoubtedly add illegal aliens to the list.

Consider Zimbabwe, where prices are three billion fold greater than seven years ago. Yes, three billion fold! Prices for food double every hour.

Now, what’s the cause of those rising prices in Zimbabwe? The average Zimbabwean might take the same position that the average American takes: “Mysterious, unseen forces in the universe that periodically attack countries, foreign demand, speculators, the business cycle, or tax cuts for the rich.”

Of course, all those rationales would be nothing more than an attempt to avoid placing responsibility for the rising prices squarely where it belongs — on the out-of-control government spending at the hands of the Robert Mugabe administration in Zimbabwe.

Heck, let’s face it: the only people who have a moral right to complain about rising prices of gasoline and most everything else here in the United States are libertarians, given that we are the ones who have been opposing both the welfare state and the warfare state and the massive government spending needed to fund them. Unfortunately though, we’re still outnumbered by big-spending welfare-warfare statists, both conservatives and liberals, and, therefore, unfortunately we too must pay the price for their big-government follies.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.