Thesis Number: #4 (Page 7 of 8)
Learn, or Lament?
Critics have good cause to feel aggrieved about the State. Its taxes are mortal: they diminish the creative spirit and deprive people of the liberties they need to realise their full potential. But “small government”, as demanded by Tea Party activists in America, is not the answer. Given the sponge effect of the land market (Box 3), tax cuts morph into Lockean increases in rents that travel into private pockets. This, in turn, impoverishes the community, and drives governments deeper into debt. Good governance rests not on how much revenue is raised by the State, but how that revenue is raised.
Restructuring the public’s finances would raise economic growth above historic rates, but the most important gains would take the form of more leisure, the scope for rehabilitating human relationships and the incentives which deepen the cultural membrane that wraps us all in riches like the arts. Politics would mutate into an authentic democratic process: politicians would be constrained from buying votes by arbitrarily funding projects aimed at special interests. The State would be strengthened, rebased on foundations of fairness.
This will not occur spontaneously. In fact, the trend is in the opposite direction. In the 1980s the West began to shed its mature industrial status in favour of a total commitment to the rent-seeking paradigm. That predatory culture has trapped everyone in the arts of cheating. Example: the pursuit of capital gains through the housing market. Homes are no longer treated as family nests: they are viewed as financial assets.
This cannibalistic culture concentrates on lifestyles that enable people to live off the labours of others. Work has been outsourced to Asian countries, and the business of producing consumer goods has been outsourced to China.
The State-skewed land market is the central slush fund that rewards all forms of corruption, whether in the financial sector, the media, law-enforcement agencies…. and, of course, in politics. The law facilitates the transfer of the common wealth to the privileged few, legitimising the depletion of our humanity. An authentic democracy would not tolerate this tragedy.