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Socialist Calculation versus Magical Monsters

  • anatomy-of-fire-breathing-beasts

Tags Taxes and SpendingPhilosophy and MethodologyProduction Theory


My friend, not exactly a libertarian but not a socialist (pro-market, anti-war, anti-cop) — okay, pretty libertarian, actually — thinks that if the US government, for the last 40 years, had spent nothing on war or welfare or anything else, but retained the same tax schedules, it would have been able to fund the creation of a dragon.

Yes, a dragon. As in a large flying nearly reptilian beast that breathes fire.

Aside from some limits of socialist calculation, he has a point. Maybe even with government inefficiency taken for granted, he might be onto something.The genetic and mechanical engineering and research could have been advanced if, starting with the moon landing, the feds ditched all other endeavors and focused on creating a dragon.

What do you think? For trillions of bucks in today's dollars, could we have a dragon? I think so.

Would it be a more libertarian expenditure than most things the government spends money on? Surely.

Would it be a cooler thing to spend money on than what the government has spent money on instead? Most certainly.

My friend, I believe, has stumbled upon a brilliant insight that would make Bastiat proud. For all this welfare-warfare spending, the feds could have made a dragon by now. The unseen cost of socialism and militarism in the American experience has been a dragon.

With a dragon, no country would mess with us, because we have a dragon.

We would again be the envy of the world.

I think the Islamo-fascists would have to agree, even, that there must be something to the American way of life that we could produce a dragon whereas all their jihadist war prayers and theocratic socialism continue to yield nothing so spectacular.

A dragon, I think, could have been made by the federal government, but probably would have not been made on the free market. Would this be an example of true market failure? (There's a fallacy by which people argue that a given magical item or practice can keep dragons away; all they do is say: "See! No dragons! It must work." I say this supposedly humorous fallacy is actually a pearl of wisdom in disguise. It is lavish, misprioritized spending and market economics that keep the dragons away, and not so mystically or mysteriously. Only a redirection of government spending could produce a dragon, which should not be seen as inimical, but rather as a social good — or, at least, very, very cool.)

Anthony Gregory is research fellow at the Independent Institute. See his website for more articles and personal information.

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