A New Idea?
Louis James



I just had an idea I'm sure is not entirely new, but I'm unaware of any concerted effort to apply it, in a broad way. So, I thought I'd run it by a few thoughtful individuals. I'm sending this out as a personal message, not intended to promote anything I'm currently working one. Feedback welcome, but no feelings will be hurt if you're busy.

I'm sure you've heard many libertarians observe (not to say bemoan the "fact") that freedom is a "hard sell."

The socialists get to promise a chicken in every pot, while we can only promise hard work and a chance at a pot full of gold...

But consider: not so long ago, huge numbers of poor people didn't have pots to complain about not having chickens in. Mostly, they just died. They died before being born, they died at horrible rates in infancy and childhood, and adulthood wasn't so great either. If it wasn't war, it was famine, or pestilence (what was the fourth horseman? The tax man?). Whatever the cause, they died in droves.

As we know, there have been enormous strides made in the material progress & well-being of people, especially in the West. Most poor people today in the west have TVs, refrigerators, and in 1st world countries, vehicles. The quality of life and the unprecedented life expectancy, even among the poor, would have boggled the minds of rich and poor alike, not so long ago.

And as we know, none of this came about because of the scientifically proven progress formulas or the economic justice schemes of the procrustean equality worshippers (socialists).

It's all a by-product of the so-called greed of capitalists.

But, as we know, the average Joe doesn't get it. Their minds are lulled by the siren song -- the apparent logic of: "you shouldn't have to work to get the things you deserve, like a house, food, medical treatment ... (It's not your fault you're a failure [and certainly not the fault of our economically suicidal policies], it's those mean rich people.)"

And beyond Joe Average in the U.S., there are the world's teeming masses. We don't like to face it, but political freedom is not the highest conscious value to many of them. We can say it ought to be, but when they can't even feed themselves today, it's damned hard for them to say no to a handout -- or even a mere promise of a handout. Who has patience to think through the logic of the marketplace when he's starving and the man who says he cares is promising food? Few indeed are the people who can think of high principles when their bony children are languishing.

It matters not that the folks that keep promising chickens in pots are the ones with the most dismal records on providing chickens. They keep promising chickens ... people keep wanting to believe ...

And we keep promising them an opportunity to work hard, and the certainty of having to pay for the consequences of their errors. That's when we're not arguing about laws and tax cuts and proposing plans so boring that most people's eyes glaze over before they can understand them.

So: what if we started promising chickens too?

Mind you, I am NOT talking about empty promises and lies, as employed by the left.

We know that the productive capacity of man labors under ever-increasing negative feedback in all but a very few places in the world. We know the explosion of wealth, should those restrictions ever be fully lifted, would make the industrial revolution look like finding a penny on the side walk.

Like my friend the nanotechnologist says; our problem is not too much technology, it's not enough technology! And we could solve that if the Luddites and control freaks would just get out of the way. We are close to making artificial trees that can replenish ozone, and adjust the balance of gases in the atmosphere any way we want it, etc. Landfills are about to become gold mines. With applied nano, forget about chickens, we can promise cars and house to anybody who's willing to raise a hand to get them.

Or, as my friend the Sci-Fi novelist says; the future is either in the sky or in the mud. With freedom, we can totally transcend the many miseries that have plagued humankind for so long. Not by fiat, not by command and control, not by coercing anyone to provide it, but by simply stepping aside and letting it happen, we can reach the stars.

What we can't promise is happiness.

The poor people with only one house, one car per family member, and forced to do demeaning manual labor like cooking chickens in pots ... well they'll be as unhappy as ever. So too would the 0.00000001% of the population too damaged by their lives to bother working half a day per month in order to earn their 5 BR house w/two-car garage on their acre of land (chicken coop optional).

But that doesn't mean we'd have failed to deliver on the freedom's promise of prosperity.

And who knows, if the market provides basic needs for everyone willing to exchange even a modicum of effort in order to receive them, perhaps that will free up more of them to pursue greater self-actualization, spiritual goals, or heaps more wealth.

So why not kick the only leg the socialists have left to stand on right out of under the deluded idealists (or deceitful bastards)?

It sure seems to me that we could stop apologizing for freedom (and "negative rights") and start selling it as a positive. Go on the offensive. It's not even a stretch.

How? And isn't that what some folks are already doing?

Well, some folks, especially some free-market environmentalists, have changed to a more positive message. But, to the extent I've seen such positive messaging, it still tends to be very logic/argument-oriented and/or focused on specific issues (like free-market environmentalism). The Bureaucrash project has the idea of simplifying the message pegged -- a great step in the right direction -- but the emphasis has been on making it cool and fun for young people, not necessarily positive (e.g. taxslaverysucks.com). IHS has an idea for finding clever ways to persuade (see: http://www.freedomads.org/), but again, the focus is not necessarily positive, nor is it on overshadowing the left's core promise with a better one. No one that I know of is "striking right at the root" of socialism with a simple, positive message that is as powerfully promising as the left's falsehoods.

Imagine, for example, taking a negative message like Tax Freedom Day or Cost of Government Day and turning it into a positive set of messages, such as:

  • If you (Mr. Avg. Joe) were free this year, you'd have $7,600 more in your pocket this X-mas.
  • If you'd been free all your life, you would have earned $1,576,000 more by now.
  • If we were free, we wouldn't need credit cards to buy groceries.
  • If we were free, our gas would cost half as much today, or less.

Or, in other contexts:

  • If we were free, we'd be eating more bread than tortillas (rice, etc.).
  • If we were free, we'd be using more oil in our own cars than we sell to the Americans.
And so on. These are very rough ideas, meant only to suggest my drift. Real materials would require serious thought by people who really understand the different target audiences. Just coming close to doing this, however, would be utterly devastating to the left. We, of course, would also have the advantage of having the facts and logical arguments, etc. on our side. But the important thing would be to smile and promise, in the simplest terms, a bigger chicken in a nicer pot than they ever imagined.

Ahem ...

Well, it's late. Actually it's early. I hope this makes some sense, and I welcome any thoughts you may have on my midnight musings.


Louis James
CEO, Free-Market.Net

"You can have a lord, you can have a king,
but the man to fear is the tax collector."
ancient Sumerian proverb

(Email reprinted by permission.)

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