20A024 Free Ponies for Everyone? by Jim Davies, 6/16/2020 


NPR interviewed Jo Jorgensen at the end of May, after she'd won the race for Libertarian Nominee for President, and I expect she'll do a sound and serious job - at least of education. Interviewer Scott Simon asked about the Veep running mate the Convention had chosen for her - Spike Cohen; and one could detect a little frisson.

Spike's Wiki bio is quite short, and worth reading. His lead theme is that if elected, he'll ensure that everyone gets a free pony.

Silly, say folk of my ancient generation; the guy cannot be serious. But to those raised in more recent decades, it does get the attention; and that's the point. Once he gets it, he moves on to more profound ideas. And when we think about it, Free Ponies for All says a surprising amount, as follows.

First, not everyone wants a pony, so for government to breed 130 million such quadrupeds and distribute them (one per household) to grateful voters really could not work. To keep a pony, you need an acre or five of open land, a stable, and some daughters of suitable ages. How many have those? Five percent? If so, government resources would be spent with 95% inefficiency, or waste. Oh, hello?

Corollary: unwanted ponies suffer. They are live animals, not weapons or other surplus equipment that just rots or rusts away in government storage. That's cruel. One more reason why government is un-natural.

Then, "free" ponies do not exist. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) or a free pony; so the candidate's promise is a fraud. Ponies need raising, and that costs money, so the money has first to be stolen from productive folk so that it can be mis-allocated by the Pols. Fraudulent promises. Sound familiar yet?

Spike can perhaps point out many other falsehoods, but I can see at least one more: the time scale is impossible. To breed 130 million ponies would take longer than the elected Pol will be in office (four years) and so the promise cannot be kept in any case, even if the money grew on trees.

So in just a single platform plank, Spike Cohen is drawing attention to the utter absurdity of the whole political charade by showing that government delivers things people do not want, fraudulently understates their cost, and does it (if at all) so that the instigator is out of office again before (s)he can be held accountable. NPR didn't perceive that, and JoJo did not have time to point it out, but I reckon that in a single slogan Spike has done a pretty good job. I'll not be voting, and hope you won't either, but if I were, he'd get mine.

There's a rational alternative to all such nonsense, and it's called the market, and it will be the only game in town come the zero government society. Such demand for ponies as does exist will be met by competing breeders, at optimal prices; should too many appear the price will fall until it clears, and vice versa. No pony will go without care, and no deserving daughter will go without a ride.

Whoa, wait up: will any daughter who wants one get a pony just because she deserves one? Yes, certainly; but that does need explaining. There are two ways it could happen: (a) parents able to afford it provide a pony as a gift, because they love her and want to enjoy the pleasure of giving her one, or (b) she wants one so much, she works for money and buys one. That second may not seem likely, until we consider Laura Dekker; from age 8 she wanted to sail solo around the world so needed a yacht, which her father could not afford, so between 11 and 14 she took every odd job she could, for cash, and saved it all up and bought her own. Did she break any child-labor laws? Pay tax on the earnings? - I've no idea.

But that's a deserving daughter.









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