Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 459, March 9, 2008

"There is no more useful death than
in the act of killing tyrants."

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Artificial Scarcities and Surpluses
by Dennis Lee Wilson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise*

I have recently been musing on some of the artificial scarcities and surpluses created by the multiple governments at all levels (National or Federal, State, County, Parish, City, School District & whatever) and what they have done TO the human race.

Cell phone companies and computer companies, along with auto manufacturers, shipping companies, clothing makers, camera, TV, hi-fi, music and video makers (and even gasoline makers) all encourage their customers to use MORE of their products and services — and continually offer more features for less money (adjusted for government caused inflation). Before governments confiscated railroads and airports, those industries created better and faster travel and advertised to encouraged passengers and shippers to use their services. They also encouraged more usage by offering lower prices and improved service. Given the advances in automobiles, telephones and computers, is it even possible to imagine what personal aircraft would be like now if government had not subsidized large aircraft makers and regulated and taxed small aircraft companies into bankruptcy?

In the mid 19th Century, (long before the gasoline engine was invented) private entrepreneurs — unhampered by regulations — exploited a black, nasty, gooey liquid that nobody wanted and refined it into lamp oil and kerosene, created markets for products that never before existed and built an industry that kept reducing the price of its products while increasing production. The petroleum industry eventually became heavily regulated, driving up prices and capping off production. "In the last years of the 19th century, citing national security, [the USA government] even attempted to create a government monopoly on the production and distribution of petroleum (look how well that worked for nuclear power)..."[1] Today governments have effectively accomplished that monopoly. According to MSNBC[2], three-quarters of the world's proven reserves of petroleum — the nasty goo that nobody wanted — are controlled by state monopolies that bar private participation completely.

As each year passes, there are fewer people who remember that the cities of the world used to be filled with methane producing horse manure accompanied by disease carrying flies. Governments invent and produce nothing. It was NOT government decrees or regulations that invented the automobiles that burned fuel made from that nasty, black, gooey liquid and freed the cities from the by-products of horses. But it IS government rules and regulations that are blocking the shift from carbon monoxide producing gasoline to water vapor producing hydrogen fuel.

In the early 20th century, electric power production, like auto production, was another brand-new, never-before-in-man's-history industry. Just like the automobile, there has never been anything remotely like electric power in the recorded history of mankind. Starting from nothing and operating without government regulation or aid, auto companies rapidly covered the entire country with new, inexpensive transportation products and power companies rapidly covered the entire country with generating stations bringing inexpensive electric power to millions of people. Now both industries are heavily regulated and subsidized by governments and we are asked (no, make that TOLD!) to limit our driving and to "conserve" our use of electric power because we are (allegedly) faced with fuel and power "shortages".

Consider what the USA government has done to the best health care system ever known in the history of mankind. Since the 1960s, when governments decided that health care workers should be slaves of the state, service has declined and life saving medicines and procedures that were once readily available can no longer to be had at any price. Canadians — including their government's prime minister! — come to this country for what they desperately need, but we will have no place to go when Hillary-Care or its ugly clone finally makes USA health-care worse than the Canadian system.

The most ludicrous and obscene situation exists in the water "industry". More than two thirds of the earth's surface consists of water — it is so abundant that it literally falls from the skies, flows down mountains and collects in low places, like lakes, rivers and huge, deep oceans. Yet, except for recent offerings of bottled water by private companies (which encourage their customers to use more, more, MORE), this industry has effectively been taken over by municipal governments and every single one of them encourages "conservation" rather than consumption.Government employees even dictate how much water a flush toilet and a shower can use.Some even use armed police to enforce water use restrictions! In this instance, governments have made a shortage of the most abundant thing on earth. Fortunately for us, they haven't yet been able to restrict our use of the air we breathe — but they are already working on doing just that.

Brainstorm: Taking a clue from the bottled water producers, perhaps there is a personal and/or marketing opportunity for "power packages" (small generators) that consume cheap fuel such that they can compete with big, government subsidized power companies like bottled water competes with municipal water. Such generators could first be used as standby units to provide power during brown/black-outs. Eventually they might provide full time power. Diesel and bio-diesel might be a way to start, although gasoline can be easily transferred from a carand LP is still readily available. Hydrogen generated from water is ideal and would be a wonderful paradigm shift. Recent mass production advances in NanoSolar panel electric power generation are very exciting, but their recent acceptance of massive government subsidies is an ominous sign of what that product will become.

Inflation — which is caused solely by governments printing paper money — seems to be one thing governments are good at overproducing, except during wars between governments when they overproduce enormous quantities of human corpses — which is technically destruction, not creation. Now that private enterprise has created electronic computers, governments are exploiting that technology to create even MORE money, faster. And contrary to the "conservation" edicts of water usage, governments seem to have no limitations on the production of either paper money or human corpses.

Governments are also actually capable of creating other surpluses. They do this by subsidizing (at taxpayer expense, of course, or by printing money) some product, such as corn, wheat, ethanol, milk or other farm products (much of which they then deliberately destroy) — and military weapons. They also create surpluses by banning lifesaving discoveries such as DDT, thereby causing a surplus of human deaths from malaria, with a body count in a mere 40 years that even exceeds that racked up by government sponsored wars during the entire 20th Century. [3]

Another method they use to create surpluses is to declare never-ending "War" on some activity, such as the War on Alcohol, the War on (some) Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Ignorance, the War on Immigrants, the War on Terror, the War on Malaria — all but the first are still ongoing (most started decades ago) and all of them unfailingly cause more of whatever the war was allegedly intended to eliminate.Michael S. Rozeff, writing at, notes that all of these kinds of things are folly in the end, as "The war to end all wars (World War I) initiated more wars. The war on poverty created more poverty and dependency. The war on alcohol stimulated greater alcohol use and crime. The war on drugs has also increased violent crime and imprisoned hundreds of thousands without stemming drug use, especially in the prisons. The war against terror has stimulated more terror than ever."

Governments like wars. ALL wars are started by governments against other governments; none are started by individuals. As we have witnessed, if governments are not involved in war, they will make one up from thin air. Even government social programs, such as those named above, are called wars. Government and war are equivalent. In this instance, governments have made a surplus of the least desirable things on earth — violence and destruction.

Although I began compiling these thoughts some time ago, I could find no better way to sum up my thoughts than to quote from a recent article by Butler Shaffer:

"This planet has ... endured the kinds of massive, destructive assaults of which the statists prefer not to speak. Wars and genocides that have killed hundreds of millions of people; the obliteration of cities, forests, and country-sides with the use of chemicals and other weapons designed for no other purpose than bringing selected portions of the world to ruin, the remnants of which linger on for generations. The political systems that have brought about such universal devastation now insist on managing life on earth for allegedly beneficial ends, an irony lost on most men and women!" [emphasis added] [4]

Since all governments have unofficially declared War on Liberty, perhaps the final irony will be that by abolishing governments, we may individually and in voluntary groups[5] finally get some Liberty for ourselves.


[1] "The High Price of Gas" by L. Neil Smith — THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE Number 272, May 23, 2004

[2] "Three-quarters of the world's proven reserves [of petroleum] are controlled by state monopolies that bar private participation completely".

[3] My TLE article "DDT Ban & Malaria: An Unnecessary Tragedy, INDEED!"

[4] Butler Shaffer

[5] My TLE article " Institute new Government, laying its foundation..."

Dennis Wilson is philosophically an Objectivist and the creator of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day in Ouray, Colorado which features Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project which in turn demonstrated to him the unworkability of "constitutional" governments. (Note: There is no formal "Objectivist Politics", only indications of Ayn Rand's preferences). As a consequence, he discovered and became a Signatory to and ardent advocate of L. Neil Smith's Covenant of Unanimous Consent and has written articles about it and other libertarian issues.

He is a semi-retired architectural designer, computer software engineer and commodity speculator who has witnessed Arizona change from Goldwater Libertarianism to McCain Madness and plans to change his residence to Free State Wyoming.

Visit his personal website & blog at and his graphic designs at Artemis Zuna Trading Post

*Originally published at Dennis Wilson's web/blog. Permission to redistribute this article is herewith granted by the author — provided that appropriate credit is given.


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