Robber Barons and Busybodies

by | Apr 27, 2011

C.S. Lewis said: “It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” He’s right. “Robber barons” was the term for the successful businessmen of his time. There is no theft in success, however. This wrong idea led to the proliferation of the welfare state and the eventual slow collapse of […]

C.S. Lewis said: “It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

He’s right. “Robber barons” was the term for the successful businessmen of his time. There is no theft in success, however. This wrong idea led to the proliferation of the welfare state and the eventual slow collapse of the American Republic. Look around you today, and look around in the months and years to follow, as we continue to operate on that false belief that all business is theft. The difference between business and politics is that business people make their money honestly — through the persuasion of those who choose to buy their product. Politicians are the thieves. The moral busybodies have nothing to offer other than their capacity to encourage guilt in others — and then steal what isn’t theirs.

C.S. Lewis went on to say: “The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” Again, Lewis is wrong about “robber barons.” But even if he were right about that, he’d be correct to say that the self-anointed do-gooders — of which Obama may be the climax in American history — do far more harm than anyone in business ever could.

Business survives on the intelligence of its customers. It’s true that there are frauds in business, just as there are frauds in anything. But in order to survive and thrive long-term (and usually short-term as well), business has to be based on reality, honesty and pleasing its customers. Moral do-gooders, who practice their profession in politics, rely on vague and meaningless generalizations, false and misleading statements, and — in the end — brute force to obtain their ends.

Businesses seek to make your life better and make a profit in the process. Political do-gooders claim to make your life better but in actuality are seeking to satisfy their urge for brute force and power.

Worse, do-gooders (claim) to have morality on their side. This is where they get you, only if you let them.

What you have to understand is that business, not politics, has morality on its side. Business is based on the voluntary exchange of value for value. It’s based on the trader principle, or the principle of rational and voluntary exchange. Not all business transactions always go well, but this is always their intention and what the entire process depends upon. Politics does not depend on persuasion, not even in a democracy.

In a democracy, you have to submit to the will of political authorities that 51 percent of the population approves of. That isn’t freedom, and it isn’t voluntary.

 

People are wrong to trust any of today’s politicians. Polls show that a vast majority mistrust all politicians of both parties. Most people seem to sense that they’re dishonest, misleading and wrong. Most appear to feel that politicians are all a bunch of phonies who mean little or nothing of what they say.

 

The rational answer to this would seem to be: limit the rights of politicians to run our lives. Instead, people will tolerate no such thing. They want the politicians to keep funding health care and Big Government as we know it. Sooner or later, they sign on to give the government more and more power than it ever had before, or ever should have now.

 

This contradiction is the fault of the people. The majority of people who want the “do-gooders” to have their way have no business criticizing those do-gooders when they make our lives less self-responsible, less meaningful, less sane and less efficient than they otherwise would be.

It saddens and sickens me to watch government increase its control over our once excellent and self-initiating society.  

A terrorist attack on our nation, a real estate depression which affects everyone, and now a budget and national debt calamity which threatens our very currency and economic underpinnings — none of these have been enough to encourage the majority of Americans to grow up. It stands to reason that the vast majority who are suffering — and who will suffer more, on our present path — deserve what they are getting. C.S. Lewis was wrong about many things. But he got this right. Most Americans today are not even that smart.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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