segunda-feira, 12 de julho de 2004

Breve análise dos tempos modernos

Em Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

"(...) How ironic that monarchism was destroyed by the same social forces that kings had first stimulated and enlisted when they began to exclude competing natural authorities from acting as judges: the envy of the common men against their betters, and the desire of the intellectuals for their allegedly deserved place in society.

When the king's promises of better and cheaper justice turned out to be empty, intellectuals turned the egalitarian sentiments the kings had previously courted against the monarchical rulers themselves. Accordingly, it appeared logical that kings, too, should be brought down and that the egalitarian policies, which monarchs had initiated, should be carried through to their ultimate conclusion: the monopolistic control of the judiciary by the common man. To the intellectuals, this meant by them, as the people's spokesmen.

As elementary economic theory could predict, with the transition from monarchical to democratic one-man-one-vote rule and the substitution of the people for the king, matters became worse.

The price of justice rose astronomically while the quality of law constantly deteriorated. For what this transition boiled down to was a system of private government ownership--a private monopoly--being replaced by a system of public government ownership--a publicly owned monopoly.

A "tragedy of the commons" was created. Everyone, not just the king, was now entitled to try to grab everyone else's private property. The consequences were more government exploitation (taxation); the deterioration of law to the point where the idea of a body of universal and immutable principles of justice disappeared and was replaced by the idea of law as legislation (made, rather than found and eternally "given" law); and an increase in the social rate of time preference (increased present-orientation.)

A king owned the territory and could hand it on to his son, and thus tried to preserve its value. A democratic ruler was and is a temporary caretaker and thus tries to maximize current government income of all sorts at the expense of capital values, and thus wastes.

Here are some of the consequences: during the monarchical age before World War I, government expenditure as a percent of GNP was rarely higher than 5%. Since then it has typically risen to around 50%. Prior to World War I, government employment was typically less than 3% of total employment. Since then it has increased to between 15 and 20%. The monarchical age was characterized by a commodity money (gold) and the purchasing power of money gradually increased. In contrast, the democratic age is the age of paper money whose purchasing power has permanently decreased.

Kings went deeper and deeper into debt, but at least during peacetime they typically reduced their debt load. During the democratic era government debt has increased in war and in peace to incredible heights. Real interest rates during the monarchical age had gradually fallen to somewhere around 2½%. Since then, real interest rates (nominal rates adjusted for inflation) have risen to somewhere around 5%--equal to 15th-century rates. Legislation virtually did not exist until the end of the 19th century. Today, in a single year, tens of thousands of laws and regulations are passed. Savings rates are declining instead of increasing with increasing incomes, and indicators of family disintegration and crime are moving constantly upward."

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