Monday, April 09, 2018

On the Worst—and Best—Rising to the Top

When initiated coercion is legalized, it attracts those who are willing to use it.*

Those who are more willing to use legalized, initiated coercion than those who are hesitant will advance faster in the system. Eventually, the more willing rise to the top. The more willing, then, use the initiated coercion against those they have bypassed and anyone else who gets in their way.

This in essence, though not his words, is the identification made by F. A. Hayek in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom (chapter 10, “Why the Worst Get on Top”).

The identification explains how and why an interventionist, increasingly bureaucratized government becomes a dictatorship.

The way Hayek put it is that “democratic statesmen” expect citizens to approve of their coercive policies peacefully through discussion and majority vote. As this does not work, and leads to chaos, those with “lower moral and intellectual standards” step in to take over. They appeal to the “docile and gullible,” uniting them with a “hatred of an enemy” and “envy of the better off.”

A casualty along the way is language, meaning the rise of Goebbelsian propaganda, with the word “liberty” being the first to go, or rather, turned on its head, Orwellian fashion, into its opposite.

By “democratic statesmen,” Hayek means the democratic socialists who thought they could avoid a Marxist violent revolution by voting their brand of initiated coercion into power. Instead, they paved the way for the Lenins, Stalins, Mussolinis, and Hitlers of the twentieth century.

The “docile and gullible” in today’s political climate are the patsies of the socialist/fascist left. They are those alleged victims who in reality are beneficiaries and opportunists of our entitlement culture. They are the ones who clamor for coerced handouts and privileges in the name of reparations for past discrimination and in the form of protections and other initiated coercions against the hated enemies, their alleged current persecutors.

The “hated enemies” of today have congealed around several targets. Historically, ever since the rise of the early Progressives from their democratic socialist beginnings, and continuing in the present, the favorite Marxist whipping boy has always been, and still is, big business—“America’s Persecuted Minority,” as Ayn Rand so aptly put it.

Other hated targets include white straight males and, of course, our current president, and anyone who dares to disagree with the socialist/fascist left’s mantra.

Envy of those “better off” targets is the motivation of our contemporary “democratic statesmen” and their “docile and gullible” followers.

Envy—not a self-confident, self-responsible, and independent psychology.

The way, indeed, is being paved for a modern-day . . . well, who knows what.

In contrast to the upward mobility of the worst in government, the most competent and able, self-responsible, and independent individuals—the best—rise to the top in free-market businesses.

When ability is recognized and rewarded, as in a private, profit-making business in a totally free market, which means where there are no interfering regulations imposed as a result of initiated coercion, the most competent at identifying what will improve human life and most able to deliver created goods and services to their customers will advance.

In business, competence and ability are rewarded. In a bureaucratized government, willingness to develop new laws and regulatory rules and the desire to execute them, which means more opportunities to coerce, is the criterion of advancement.

In business, the criterion and means of success, and therefore the means to high profits to sustain and grow the business, is customer satisfaction, that is, making products better than the competition to meet the objective needs (the requirements for an improved life) and wants (optional tastes) of the customer.

The day to day work, whether by employee or entrepreneur, entails a myriad of detailed communications, both outside the company, with customers and suppliers, and within the company, to employees in the various departments necessary to run the business. All of this “myriad detail,” then, must be coordinated to produce and deliver the product in a timely, need- and want-satisfying manner.

Those who possess the greatest ability to communicate with others and to motivate them in a positive way, and who can retain the greatest detail, which includes surveying the company for means of improvement and, especially, the market for opportunities, will be the ones to advance.

Today, however, we do not have the kind of freedom I have described above. Today, we live in a “mixed economy,” which means a mixture of freedom and dictatorship.

Business people today are harassed by thousands of regulations—legalized, initiated coercion—that deflect attention from the proper operation of their companies.

As a result, the incentives become mixed. Some incentive of customer satisfaction remains, but much of the time today is spent on compliance with the regulations, many of which conflict with customer satisfaction.

Increased prices is the most obvious conflict, but reduced supply and elimination of some products from the line also follow the increased regulation.

In heavily regulated industries, the “best” who rise to the top are likely to be the ones who are good at working with regulators, complying with the rules. In such industries, the business has become so bureaucratized that it operates much like a government bureau—meaning incompetent and indifferent to customer needs and wants.

It’s not uncommon for “successful” bureaucrats in these businesses to join government agencies to become regulators themselves and administrators of legalized, initiated coercion.

This is where we are today. Only time will tell how far the socialist/fascist left pushes us.


* “Legalized, initiated coercion” is the pernicious opposite of the constitutionally valid and rights-based self-defensive use of force.


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