They Will Betray You

My neighborhood is filling up with political yard signs. Vote for this guy! Vote for that guy!

I can’t understand why people are willing to give up precious real estate on their front lawns, make friends mad at them, and put their own credibility on the line to back some politico who will certainly betray them in a matter of weeks. The con men who people cheer in politics have done little or nothing to deserve this kind of public support.

My neighborhood forbids commercial advertising on the front lawn, but the code makes an exception for politicians running for office. If anything, it should be the opposite. Commerce serves me every day. I feel genuine gratitude for these companies who give me great products and services, always keep their promises, and never force anything on me.

Every day we all vote in the consumer marketplace. We buy or decline to buy. We do this by choice. Our choice makes a difference. How we use money determines which companies rise and which ones fall. Unless government jumps in to put companies on life support, consumers themselves can vote any company into non-existence simply by failing to buy its products and services. Ludwig von Mises described this as market democracy. It is the only kind of democracy that really works.

Let me give an example. I love this juice from Bolthouse Farms, a company in Bakersfield, Calif. They have these drinks made of fruits that are absolutely delicious. The one I drank today is pomegranate. But there are many other flavors, like wild berry, strawberry banana, carrot, and even chocolate. I get a great drink and don’t have to grow pomegranates, cut them open, pick out the seeds, and walk around with red-stained hands all day.

If someone would let me post a Bolthouse Farms sign on my front yard, I’d be all about it!

There are thousands, millions, of private companies that directly benefit me every day. I’m nuts for McDonalds, which keeps reinventing itself in the most marvelous ways. But I also love the pizza joint I will go to today for lunch. They greet me at the door. They give me a lunch special and let me choose what kind of dressing I want on my salad. They will serve me a yummy beer from the tap, and I can choose among many brands. My pizza has tomatoes, wheat, and pepperoni, and the creation of all these ingredients involved the productive works of many thousands of people in many different countries.

And it all lands in front of me in a matter of minutes at a very low price. Then they thank me for coming in.

And if I decide that I don’t want to go there for lunch, they don’t call the cops and drag me in. They try to do an even better job to attract me back. And when I return, they welcome me back to the fold and don’t resent me or call me a traitor for failing to show up for a few days.

What I need is a Brick Oven Pizza sign for my front yard. This one company has done more for me than every politician on the planet.

I’m thinking too of the cup of coffee I had this morning for breakfast. It was made with a coffee maker called a Keurig. This company figured out that coffee really is an individual matter. We don’t want a pot of coffee. We don’t want to touch grounds. We don’t want to measure. We want a cup just for us as individuals.

Keurig figured out how to do it. They knew that the cost was high. One of those little plastic cups is 50 cents or more each. Having coffee this way is much more expensive. But someone took the entrepreneurial guess that consumers would be willing to pay for it. That person must have been told that the idea was crazy, that no one would be willing to go for this. But the entrepreneur was a dreamer and took the risk.

So this is another sign I would post on my front yard, just as an act of gratitude and a suggestion to others that they give it a try.

Think of all the applications I use on my smartphone. I love the “AroundMe” app that permits me to know every restaurant, drugstore, movie theater, or whatever in direct proximity of where I am to be, wherever I happen to be. I was somewhere in the Midwest and pulled up the app and was able to even see the menu plus prices of a restaurant one block from where I sat in my own car. This is like a miracle!

There are dozens of other apps that have changed my life in a positive way. I can’t say that about a single person who has held public office, and I certainly can’t and don’t expect it of anyone who is running for public office now. None of them will do a thing to enhance my life. Like most people, I mostly fear what they will do with their power. Why do so many people advertise for these people?

It’s an incredible thing how people take their capitalist benefactors for granted, never thinking for an instant to be grateful or to praise a company for pushing history forward in a way that benefits humanity. Yet these same ungrateful people will attend rallies and post signs for politicians, and even clamor to hear their speeches and have them kiss their children and get their pictures taken with them.

I would as soon have my picture taken with the guy who spun my pizza crust on the slice I’ll have for lunch. This person is a hero in my eyes, a person who possesses a skill I’ve tried, but failed to master for years. He has dedicated his professional life to serving me even though I never asked for this and even though I might never express a word of thanks.

I never have to worry about betrayal from any of these people. Bolthouse will never knowingly sell me poison. Brick Oven will not promise sausage and give me Shinola. The AroundMe app will never deliberately send me to a brothel when I want a barbershop.

But every politician routinely claims insane things. They claim that their personal vision will be enacted and that the nation and the world will conform to their personal imaginings of how the world should work. They claim that they have the power to bring this about and that it can be brought about.

A politician’s promises are outrageous and obvious lies, no different from a promise I might make to build a skyscraper in your backyard overnight. When I don’t accomplish the task, you can say I betrayed you, and I have, but it might be a good idea to consider why you were so gullible as to believe it in the first place.

The nation-state is an unfathomably gigantic institution involving countless internal rules, conventions, employees, and exchange relationships, all of it rooted in graft and coercion, and most all of its operations administered independently of the elected class of political marionettes.

The permanent bureaucracy pays little attention to the comings and goings of the pretty and cunning boys and girls who are elected to occupy designated offices on a rotating basis. The pictures on the walls of the bureaucracies change, but not much else. The drones just keep droning regardless. Even the most powerful politician cannot touch them.

Meanwhile, the wonderful private sector is churning out beautiful surprises for us every day. We hardly even notice. We post no signs. We don’t attend rallies by the CEOs. We don’t urge our friends and neighbors to give up their time to visit our favorite stores and restaurants. On the contrary, private enterprise must pay to be noticed through advertising.

My fantasy is to spend some late night hours posting a hundred signs on my front yard that advertise everything from Bolthouse to McDonalds to Nike to CVS to Liberty.me. Then all my neighbors wake to see the sight. They complain and I refuse to take them down. The press calls and I use the chance to explain that these companies are treasures and benefactors, whereas politicians are just liars and looters.

I’ve plotted this scene for years. But, no surprise, these companies don’t print yard signs. They are too self-effacing, sweet, and humble to do that. This is why private enterprise ought to run the world and politicians should not.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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  • Now you’ve got me thinking about what signs I would post. Definitely Bolthouse. Belkin is a personal favorite. Unfortunately my wife has banned McD’s.

    It boggles the mind how people continue to believe that if we could just get the right combination of politicians and justices in DC life would be wonderful, at least for 2 years. Never mind the task of getting better candidates through all the primaries. I get tired just thinking about it.

  • Here in Mississippi, we have a candidate for attorney general (I refuse to capitalize) who is running an ad espousing his small town values, etc. and then promising to “end public corruption” if he is elected. I doubt many typical voters would notice any problem with such a statement, but all I notice is his incredible arrogance.

    He is walking across a field talking about his small town Christian values and then he makes a promise to end public corruption if he is elected. Ending public corruption is impossible, yet he promises to do it and I guess most people are impressed by such confidence.

    These guys get on television, talk Christian values and then tell an obvious lie in the same breath, yet most people still respect them. I will never understand it.

  • As Voltaire said, “It’s hard to free the fools from the chains they revere.” They would rather get instant gratification than think of long-term consequences that is implied in politics

  • Might be some of my favorite Tucker of all time:
    I never have to worry about betrayal from any of these people. Bolthouse will never knowingly sell me poison. Brick Oven will not promise sausage and give me Shinola. The AroundMe app will never deliberately send me to a brothel when I want a barbershop.

  • Voting is immoral. Those who vote for any person or policy are immoral. They want something from the government and government is a force-based construct that employs violence and even kills people. Government needs your vote to continue its violence. When you vote you endorse violence and ensure its continuation. The rule of law whereby laws are enFORCED with all the violence necessary is an immoral system. It is evil.

    Do you personally know someone who is a member of a government gang (federal, state, local) or profiting from it. Shun them! If someone attempts to tax you (viz. attack you in order to make you support evil), do everything in your power short of violence to defeat their purpose. Don’t ever use violence. That is the rulers’ and their henchmen’s game, which will eventually destroy them. Do nothing that might support or encourage them. Live free or die! .

  • @reece Matthew, thanks for your rejoinder. You may be right, but I don’t think so. Nonviolence–adamant, aggressive, unbending, irrevocable nonviolence–is finding more and more supporters as the most efficacious way to defang , defeat and dethrone violent aggressors. A good book on the subject is NONVIOLENCE, TWENTY-FIVE LESSONS FROM THE HISTORY OF A DANGEROUS IDEA, by Mark Kurlansky. There is a growing volume of books and essays on the subject. I am of the opinion that violence, whether aggressive or defensive begets only and always more violence, thus the only way to end it is not to respond in kind. A difficult assignment, no doubt, but rewarding.

  • @nednetterville Robert LeFevre was solid on non-violence. The moral right to defend oneself is clear, but in my own life, I have observed that bad people are always willing to take violence further than good people, so I choose from a personal, practical standpoint not to begin that cycle.

  • Great article. In these times of bold-faced corruption, what a great attitude antidote is provided by the free market. I’ve taken your lead and have spent time to day delighting in the pleasures that my entrepreneurial neighbors have provided in my life, and being thankful for them. Thanks for the needed and appreciated uplift.

  • “Unless government jumps in to put companies on life support, consumers themselves can vote any company into non-existence simply by failing to buy its products and services. Ludwig von Mises described this as market democracy. It is the only kind of democracy that really works.”

    What of the market for govt? Paraphrasing what you said: “Unless A TYRANT jumps in to put POLITICIANS in to POSITIONS, VOTERS themselves can vote any POLITICIAN into non-existence simply by failing to SUPPORT AND VOTE FOR HIM. It is the only kind of democracy that really works.”

    Govt is the hired help. Give respect earned. Demand respect owed.

  • Can’t help but think of the hybrid nightmares that are created when business and government get linked. Health insurance comes to mind, as I have been on the phone half the day trying to resolve a billing issue between a provider and the company. The insurance companies use the power of the state to force me to buy their product. I can’t just walk out the door without suffering considerably. Another example in the the telecommunications industry. Anyone who has dealt with AT&T or Comcast “customer service” knows what I mean. Their ability to control sectors of the market destroy the beauty of a simple interaction between two parties with mutual interest in a positive transaction. Part complexity and part complicity.

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