Saturday, October 13, 2012

What's Really Wrong With America? Government and Centralization of Power - Switzerland Got it Right


Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote The Black Swan, a book and economic treatise on the necessity for free markets. Taleb believes that governments everywhere are way too powerful and that they disastrously intervene where they have no business intervening and to the detriment of liberty and prosperity. It's no surprise that Taleb was a diehard supporter of Ron Paul!

"I don’t care about [Ron Paul's] chances. I support him. We have no other solutions. It is my duty as a citizen and as a taxpayer who doesn’t want to be hoodwinked in the long term by bureaucrats."  Nassim Taleb, here.

Of course, the mere mention of free markets makes most Republicans cringe which is why Republicans rejected Ron Paul at the ballot box.  Free markets represent the absence of state power and the Republican Party is statist to its core.

Taleb recently wrote a piece for Foreign Policy that is definitely worth pondering..

Epiphanies from Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Taleb offers some extraordinary insights:
The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It's not even a city-state environment; it's a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don't adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe -- Switzerland. It's not united! It doesn't have a Brussels! It doesn't need one.

I just came back from Lebanon, which I feel is the most stable place in the whole area. Every risk is visible to the naked eye there; you can't be harmed by something like that. The homicide rate is much lower than that in the United States. The media says it's chaos -- but it's not. In the end, it's stable because Hezbollah and the Shiites know that they have to live with the Sunnis and the Christians. It can't fall apart because it's a perfectly controlled mess.

We need smaller, more decentralized government. On paper, it might appear much more efficient to be large -- to have economies of scale. But in reality, it's much more efficient to be small. An elephant is vastly more efficient, metabolically, than a mouse. It's the same for a megacity as opposed to a village. But an elephant can break a leg very easily, whereas you can toss a mouse out of a window and it'll be fine. Size makes you fragile.

The European Union is a horrible, stupid project. The idea that unification would create an economy that could compete with China and be more like the United States is pure garbage. What ruined China, throughout history, is the top-down state. What made Europe great was the diversity: political and economic. Having the same currency, the euro, was a terrible idea. It encouraged everyone to borrow to the hilt.

The U.S. government should have no deficit. There's way too much debt. It is inexcusable when you have the highest standards of living in the nation's history! When you get rich, you should have less debt. There's a vicious element to borrowing when you're very rich, and having a deficit is an extremely dangerous game.

It's not likely that the Keynesians, the statists, the autocrats, the plutocrats, the oligarchs and totalitarian thugs of all political stripes will ever heed the sane advice of Taleb.

But one thing is certain: Switzerland is an incredible economic success precisely because power is not concentrated, it does not engage in wars and the Swiss just go about making themselves wealthy and prosperous by making and trading their widgets while avoiding all the costly and bankrupting pitfalls that plague the rest of the world.  Of course, unlike America the Swiss kept their Republic.  


  1. Terrifically well-put, Ms. Morris. And thanks for the book tip! I found your blog via Wenzel's EPJ, and am delighted by what I found. Cheers from a fellow Texan.

  2. M. Spotter, I believe it will be a long Revolution that that liberty will ultimately prevail. Folks are waking up in the millions.


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