Friday, November 27, 2009

"Replacement, Not Capture"

Gary North's article "Digits and Revolution" presents the decline of the U.S. Postal Service as an example of how to recover freedom from a centralizing bureaucracy:

Years ago, my friend Robert Thoburn, the entrepreneur who developed Fairfax Christian School, was standing in line at the Post Office at Christmas time. The line was very long. He turned somebody next to him and said it would sure be better if the system were run by the government. He got an incredulous look; then that person smiled. Thirty years ago, that seemed like a fruitless observation. Yet, as it has turned out, we could lose the Post Office tomorrow and barely feel it. We don't use first-class mail to communicate any longer. We use the Internet. We use Federal Express and UPS and other delivery systems to deliver anything really important that we have to send. The Post Office in effect has gone senile.

We don't sense that it's gone. Yet the reality is this: we have replaced something with things that are better. Therefore, at some point, we will see the Post Office either go out of business or become simply a forgotten memory. Yet the Post Office is part of the Constitutional system. The Post Office has always been a way for the government to control the flow of information. As Robert Nisbet said in an autobiographical essay, in the year he was born, 1913, the only contact that the average American had with the Federal government was the Post Office. How much contact do you have with the Postal Service today? It delivers mostly junk mail to you. We ought to think of the U.S. Postal Service not as snail mail but as junk mail. It is the junk mail service for the junk mail industry. Even this is subsidized. It gets cheaper rates.

We have seen the demise of the Post Office operationally over the last ten years, yet we have paid almost no attention to this. There has not been a revolution in our thinking about the Post Office. There has simply been a kind of forgetfulness. We haven't paid much attention to the fact that we don't need it anymore. This has not taken any kind of an organized political movement.

The Post Office is sacrosanct. It is untouchable. But now it is simply ignored. This is the best way to have a revolution. Create a free-market alternative to a particular government institution, and then refuse to use the boondoggle anymore. At some point, we can simply vote to de-fund it. We can privatize it. Nobody will care, because hardly anybody is using the system any longer.

Here is my slogan for political reform: Replacement, not capture; then de-funding.

Let us take this slogan and begin to apply it to all the government institutions that we deal with on a regular basis. Apply it especially to the Federal government.

1 comment:

  1. “To improve our money system it is neither necessary nor wise to destroy our present system. It is only necessary to produce a better product and to introduce it gradually.” --Dr. Edward Popp, The Great Cookie Jar, 1978

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