How ironic. President Trump wants to build his wall along the southern border of the United States to keep Latin Americans from illegally entering the United States. He already has constructed a tariff wall to keep foreigners from freely sending their goods into the United States.
This past Saturday, we witnessed the spectacle of Trump doing his best to overcome the trade and immigration wall that Nicolas Maduro, the dictator of Venezuela, has constructed around his nation to prevent Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA from sending people carrying political aid into Venezuela. Wouldn’t you think that a man who favors a trade and immigration wall around the United States would have respect for a similar-type wall around a foreign country?
The real lesson here is that it is dictatorial regimes that build trade and immigration walls, not free societies based on a limited-government republic. Dictatorial regimes strictly control the movements and economic activities of their citizenry. In a genuinely free society, one based on a limited-government republic, people are free to travel wherever they want and trade with whomever they want.
Freedom of travel and freedom of trade is not a feature of life for people living in Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. It’s also not the case with the American people. Oh sure, Americans are permitted to travel to more places and trade with more people than Venezuelans, Cubans, and North Koreans. But that’s just because U.S. officials are more lenient than the officials in those countries. What matters is that Americans need permission to travel and trade as much as Venezuelans, Cubans, and North Koreans.
Don’t believe me? Try traveling to Cuba and spending money there without official permission. Or to North Korea. Try trading with Venezuelans in violation of U.S. sanctions. You will immediately be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, and fined. Oh, I guess I should have mentioned Iran too. If Americans trade with Iranians in violation of U.S. sanctions, U.S. officials will go after them with a vengeance for failing and refusing to obey U.S. control over their travel and trade activities.
Meanwhile, most Americans (libertarians excluded, of course) continue to believe that they live in a free society. In their minds, the greater the control over their economic activity by federal officials, the freer they are. They just keep reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that the state forced them to memorize at six years of age (with “liberty” for all) and continue thanking the troops for defending their “freedom.” Such people perfectly reflect the words of the great German thinker Johann Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Meanwhile, Trump is battling with Democrats over socialism and socialists. Trump says that America will never turn socialist, like Venezuela has. Some Democrats scurry to assure themselves and others that they’re not socialists either; others are proudly wearing the socialist label.
But what’s funny is how both Republicans and Democrats deny that America went socialist a long time ago. That’s what the welfare state is all about, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, the Federal Reserve, farm subsidies, progressive income taxation, and education grants. The fact is that every single one of those welfare-state programs is a core feature of the socialist systems in Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea.
What Trump and even some Democrats, as well as many in the mainstream press, don’t want to face is that the socialist train left the station a long time ago, when the United States embraced the welfare-state way of life back in the 1930s. By convincing themselves that the welfare-state way of life (and the warfare-state way of life) is actually “free enterprise” and “limited government,” both Democrats and Republicans live what might be called the “life of the lie,” the life that denies reality. And they simply hope that such a life has no adverse consequences, such as psychoses, which are oftentimes manifested through suicides, drug addiction, alcoholism, and irrational acts of violence.
That’s where we libertarians come into the picture. We are like societal therapists. We cause both Republicans and Democrats to face truth and to face reality. That’s why they both really don’t like us. Republicans resent our showing them that they are as wedded to socialism as Democrats are, notwithstanding their much-beloved free-enterprise mantras. Democrats resent our showing them that almost 90 years of their beloved welfare-state socialism have produced the very ills (e.g., inequality and poverty) that they themselves lament.
Venezuela is providing us with some great lessons in truth and reality. With socialism comes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, a Federal Reserve, paper money, public schooling, subsidies, and welfare, along with trade and immigration walls, all enforced by an all-powerful military-intelligence establishment. Sound familiar?