For the last several months, we have witnessed one of the core principles of interventionism in economic affairs — that one government intervention inevitably leads to more interventions to deal with the crises and chaos that the previous intervention produces. What begins as a free-market economy — that is, one that is free of government control — ends up with socialism, where government owns and controls everything and everybody. That, of course, is what nationalization is all about.
But it’s not only in economics that we see this phenomenon. Foreign policy is another good example. The government engages in a pro-empire, pro-interventionist policy that includes killing and humiliating people overseas. For a while, the victims put up with the killing and the humiliation. But finally, anger and rage spill over, with some of the victims retaliating with terrorist attacks. Rather than ending the foreign policy that produced the anger and rage in the first place, federal officials use the terrorist blowback as the justification to do more of what they were doing before, which keeps the whole process going. Equally bad, they use the blowback as the excuse to suspend civil liberties and to increase government spending.
This week, we see another example of interventionism, this time in the areas of the drug war and gun control. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama administration intends to seek a new assault-weapons ban. Guess what Holder is using as one of his rationales: the heavy violence along the Mexican border arising from the drug war. The idea is that the Mexican drug cartels are getting their weapons from the United States and, therefore, an assault-weapons ban in the United States will supposedly quell violence in Mexico.
What better example of how interventionism works than that? We start out with the fact that some people in society wish to ingest what others consider to be harmful substances. The busybodies in the government decide that people simply do not have the right to do bad things to themselves. Viewing government as a daddy and the citizenry as adult-children, the government intervenes with a law that punishes the possession of illicit drugs.
Alas, however, people don’t voluntarily comply with the dictate, especially since many of them don’t believe that what they ingest is any business of government. That drives the busybodies crazy, which means a series of ever-increasing interventions, such as unreasonable searches and seizures, asset-forfeiture laws, more DEA agents, higher punishments, mandatory-minimum sentences, and so forth.
While the interventions fail to stem the ingesting, they generate an increasingly violent environment. The perfect example is Mexico, where for years U.S. officials have urged Mexican officials to ramp up the drug war. And ramp it up they have, including with the use of the Mexican military. The result? Ever-increasing violence, including gang wars, kidnappings, torture, and killings of government officials, not to mention the tremendous infringement on civil liberties. The harsher the interventions become, the worse the result.
So, Holder proposes what he and Obama feel is the next logical step — gun control.
And it gets worse. Texas Governor Mark Perry, a Republican, is now suggesting that he would welcome the federal government’s sending trained military troops into Texas to deal with the drug-war violence. He says that the violence “could be put to bed quickly” if the U.S. government were to fight the drug war as it’s fought the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, how about that? A remarkable confluence of interventions — drug war, gun control, and the war on terrorism. Just think: U.S. troops along the U.S. border doing what they’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan: barging into people’s homes without warrants, indefinite detentions, denial of due process, torture and other cruel and unusual punishments, enemy combatants, military tribunals, and, of course, confiscating people’s guns.
Of course, there is an alternative to all this violence and chaos that is available to the American people: freedom and free markets, which would entail a rejection of the philosophy of interventionism. In the economics sphere, that would entail a repeal of the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life. In the foreign-policy sphere, it would entail a dismantling of the U.S. government’s overseas military empire. And in the drug-war/gun-control sphere, it would entail the legalization of drugs and respecting people’s fundamental and inherent right to keep and bear arms.
Postscript: Our friends at Bureaucrash recently launched their “Revolution In a Box” to provide intellectual resources to 1,000 freedom-oriented individuals. Get yours at: https://social.bureaucrash.com/forum/topics/revolution-in-a-box. The package includes a copy of our book Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax by Sheldon Richman.