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The Futility of Reform


Why can’t statists see that their system is inherently defective and that any reforms that are enacted to fix it only makes things worse?

Look at Iraq. Twelve years ago, statists were celebrating “Mission Accomplished” over the fact that the most powerful military force in history had just smashed a small, weak Third World regime.

Statists were ecstatic over the U.S. conquest of Iraq. They were convinced that this time — for the first time ever — they would finally show the world what a great success statism could be when the U.S. military and the CIA were given a free hand to do whatever they wanted.

The idea was to show how military force, in the form of bombs and bullets, could transform a society into one of democracy, peace, prosperity, and harmony. Iraq was to be their statist model for the entire Middle East and the rest of the world.

The actual result? Alas, another debacle. Today, as everyone knows, Iraq is nothing but a hellhole of death, destruction, impoverishment, detention, torture, and dictatorship.

What better confirmation of the manifest failure of U.S. statism in Iraq than the new bombing campaign against ISIS that President Obama and the national-security establishment have just initiated?

And by now, we all know that it won’t end with ISIS. It’s just a beginning. Each new intervention brings a host of new problems, which then necessitate new interventions, which produce new problems. It’s a perpetual process.

Look at healthcare. It’s no different there. When Medicare and Medicaid were adopted in the 1960s, statists believed that they were bringing a new dawn to healthcare in America.  Instead, it turned out to just another statist debacle, with ever-rising prices, corruption, regulation, and disillusioned physicians.

What did statists do? With each new crisis, statists simply piled regulations and reforms on top of regulations and reforms, hoping that their statist healthcare system would finally succeed. That’s what Obamacare is all about — to address the problems that decades of Medicare, Medicaid, and regulatory reform have produced.

But Obamacare will not do any good. In fact, Obamacare will only make the situation worse than ever. Before too long, statists will be calling for new reforms to fix the problems produced by Obamacare. Those reforms will only make the situation worse than ever. That’s because it is impossible to fix a system that is inherently defective.

Immigration? Sometimes I wonder whether Americans just like living under a regime of constant, never-ending crises. You especially see that in the area of immigration. Every single American alive today has lived under a constant, ongoing immigration crisis since the day he was born.

Do you recall when they made it illegal to hire illegal aliens? They said that that would finally resolve the immigration crisis. After all, they said, if they can’t get jobs, they won’t come. But they came anyway because American employers wanted to hire them.

So they established those Soviet-style checkpoints within the United States, stopping travelers who had never entered Mexico and asking for their papers, just like in the Soviet Union.

Alas, that reform didn’t work either.

So, they built that Berlin Fence down on the border. Wasn’t that supposed to fix the immigration crisis once and for all?

It didn’t.

The fact is that nothing they can do can fix the immigration crisis. Let me repeat that: No matter what statists do, nothing will fix the immigration crisis. That’s because immigration controls, as a system of socialist central planning, are inherently defective. The controls themselves produce the crises. Any attempt to fix the immigration crises only makes things worse.

Meanwhile, statists wring their hands in perpetual anxiety over the immigration crisis. They keep demanding that public officials “do something” about those illegal aliens who are “invading” America. They don’t realize that there is nothing that public officials can do to fix the immigration crisis. In fact, whatever public officials do will only make the immigration crisis worse.

Look at the drug war. Decades of intervention punctuated by drug-war crises. Mandatory minimum sentences, asset-forfeiture laws, militarization of the police, overcrowded prisons, illegal searches and seizures, and highway robbery of innocent people.

None of it has done any good. On the contrary, each new drug-war reform has just produced more death, destruction, corruption, loss of liberty, and ruination of lives. That’s because statism is an inherently defective system.

Social Security, public schooling, the dollar, home mortgages, and on and on. It’s all one great big statist debacle. And each new reform to fix the problems caused by previous reforms only makes the situation worse, which inevitably brings new calls for reform.

If you choose, you can spend your life getting sucked into this statist maelstrom. You can pace the floors in deep anxiety over the latest official enemy of the Empire overseas or the ongoing, never-ending crises in healthcare, immigration, education, the drug war, and the rest of the welfare-warfare state. You can angrily demand that public officials “do something.”

If you choose that route, you’ll just be wasting your time, money, and energy. The fact is that there is nothing that can be done to fix or improve any statist program. Any new reform will only make the situation worse. That’s because statism is an inherently defective system.

There is only one solution: Stop trying to fix or reform any aspect of statism. Instead, dismantle every single welfare-warfare program. Don’t trim the weed. Pull it out by its root.

The only solution to the perpetual crises that statism produces is the philosophy of individual liberty, free markets, and a limited-government, constitutional republic.

That necessarily means dismantling the Empire, abandoning all military bases in foreign countries, bringing all the troops home, and ending foreign intervention, foreign aid, and foreign meddling.

It means repealing, not reforming, Medicare, Medicaid, occupational licensure, healthcare regulation, and all other state involvement in healthcare.

It means the lifting of all immigration controls, thereby enabling the free movements of people across borders.

It means a repeal of all drug laws.

It means a separation of education and the state and economy and the state.

It means a dismantling, not a reform, of the entire welfare-warfare state apparatus.

It’s the only way to bring us a society of peace, prosperity, and harmony. Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren?

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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