A statist is someone who believes that a man’s work and life belong to the state, “to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation—and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.”
Does that sound like a Republican to you?
What if I told you there were many statist Republicans in the Missouri Legislature? Would you find that hard to swallow?
For some, it would be a given; for others, a bridge too far.
Let’s look at the recent Legislative Column by Sen. Mike Parson, who is running for Governor on the “I’m not from St. Louis” ticket.
Parson’s title for the column is “Protecting Agriculture in Missouri.” Now understand this: the only role government has in a free country is securing the rights of the individual. That’s it. Therefore, it follows that the only way a non-statist government could protect agriculture in Missouri is to protect the rights of individuals, including their right to property.
What does Parson say they did?
The agriculture industry in Missouri was strengthened this year with the passage of Senate Bill 12. The measure was signed by the governor and increases weight limits for trucks hauling livestock and grains during harvest, adds livestock to the equine liability waiver, and allows Missouri beef producers more control of the state’s Beef Checkoff program. The governor also signed House Bill 259, a measure known as the “Dairy Revitalization Act.” The legislation aids dairy producers with Federal Margin Insurance Premium payments; gives eighty $5,000 scholarships for students who want to return to the dairy industry; and requires an annual report by the University of Missouri on innovations for the dairy industry.
Not one of those things is a function of government.
Not one. It is a statist mind that accepts government imposing a weight limit on trucks. Why shouldn’t a farmer be allowed to haul heavy loads on public highways? Because it’s dangerous? Then isn’t the state absolving the farmer of any responsibility if something goes wrong? “Well, it was within the limits set by the state.” In a free country, the farmer loads his truck as he sees fit, and if his actions end up violating the rights of another citizen, then the state has a role. The state shouldn’t be in the business of using force to tell a person how much they can haul.
It is the statist mind that accepts that government can say that the liability of an employee’s death or injury during “livestock activities” is waived for “livestock activity sponsors.” Who defines what the “inherent risks” are? The “livestock owners” or the estate of the dead or their family? Or a bureaucrat completely divorced from the situation? It seems this is something best left individuals and to the courts. The court decides whether a person is liable, not a group of legislators. And there are insurance companies out there willing to insure against such liabilities.
It is the statist mind that accepts government even being involved in a “Beef Checkoff program.” But who would inspect the meat if the government wasn’t involved? This question exposes the mind influenced by leftism. It assumes that beef producers would willingly and knowingly sell products they know to be unsafe. I don’t believe that. Instead of making meat safer or of higher quality, it absolves Missouri Beef producers from having to protect the one thing that would make or break them: their reputation.
Alan Greenspan wrote about this back in 1963:
What collectivists refuse to recognize is that it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product. Since the market value of a going business is measured by its money-making potential, reputation or “good-will” is as much an asset as its physical plan and equipment.
Government regulation is not an alternative means of protecting the consumer. it does not build quality into goods, or accuracy into information. Its sole “contribution” is to substitute for and fear for incentive as the “protector” of the consumer.
What are the results? To paraphrase Gresham’s Law: bad “protection” drives out the good. The attempt to protect the consumer by force undercuts the protection he gets from incentive. First, it undercuts the value of reputation by placing the reputable company on the same basis as the unknown, the newcomer or the fly-by-nighter. It declares, in effect, that all are equally suspect and that years of evidence to the contrary do not free a man from that suspicion.
If the cattlemen of Missouri want to get together and create a standard, a Beef Checkoff, that doesn’t require the use of force to implement, go for it. But the idea that government’s involvement will somehow result in higher quality is statist thinking.
The one think present in all of these things is the rejection of a person’s individual rights, including property rights.
You can buy that truck if you want, but the state will tell you how much you can put on it.
You can work that job if you want, but the state will build a wall to protect the businessman, should you die.
You can own cattle if you want, but the state will decide if they are good enough for market, not the buyers and certainly not you.
Remember, the role of government is to secure rights. The statist mind rejects individual rights, replacing them with obligations to the tribe and actions by the state.
What’s even more revealing is the second paragraph in Parson’s column. It’s all about the EPA’s overreach in the “Waters of the U.S.” regulation. Parson’s doesn’t like the idea of the EPA writing regulations that affect “virtually any wet—or occasionally wet—spot in the country, including ditches, drains, seasonal puddle-like depressions, intermittent streams, ponds, impoundments, prairie potholes, and large “buffer areas” of land adjacent to every waterway.”
And he shouldn’t. No where does the federal government have the power to do any of that. But what Parson misses, or worse, accepts, is that the EPA is the embodiment of tyranny.
From the pen of James Madison in The Federalist No. 47:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
The EPA writes regulations with the force of law. In other words, they have legislative power.
They enforce the regulations. In other words, they have executive power.
And if they so decree, they can decide that you’ve violated their orders. In other words, they have judiciary power.
This is tyranny.
And while Parson’s is right to reject the EPA’s overreach, he ignores one simple fact: it’s all overreach. He shouldn’t be protesting the EPA’s actions. He should be protesting the EPA’s existence. Furthermore, he’s complaining about one illegitimate use of force by the federal government while bragging about being a part of multiple illegitimate uses of force on the state level.
This is the importance of principles. You can’t kind of be for individual rights. You either understand the purpose of government and limit it to securing the rights of the people, or you reject individual rights and justify the occasional use of force to violate them. “Oh, I’m all for using the state to do this, but those guys using the state to do that is bad.”
That shows a lack of principles and a misunderstanding of the role of government.
It is an example of the confused logic of the Republican statist.