21A016 Wealth in the ZGS by Jim Davies, 4/27/2021
After TOLFA and other freedom schools have done their good work in making everyone so disgusted with government as never to work for it, everyone in the resulting Zero Government Society will suffer no artificial impediment to the acquisition of wealth. However, what is "wealth," exactly?
Consider a small group - a village, maybe, not a thousand miles from Sedona. All living in it are laid-back, easy-going people with no grand ambitions, who just want to enjoy the sun, smoke a little pot, make love and study the plants and stones and stars, etc. They grow or catch their own food, trade with each other, sell a few pet rocks to tourists in exchange for gold or silver, but are otherwise independent and undemanding. Are they "wealthy"?
I'd say yes, certainly. They have everything they want. They pursue happiness, in their own way. Life expectancy is rather low, but life quality is very high and will remain at that high level, with no economic growth expected or desired. They'll make up part of the ZGS's rich, quilt pattern.
More commonly, I think, people in the coming ZGS will have definite ambitions, to improve their material living standards just as most of us wish to today; and that means we will take steps to increase tangible wealth. No government will exist to strangle initiative with regulations or to rip off what we earn with taxes, so as to frustrate that ambition. But, how?
Any society gets richer by either or both of two ways: (1) its members discover how to be more efficient in the work they do. Tasks that take an hour when first done, we each discover ways to cut it down to 55, then 50 minutes, etc. So, we can produce more and earn more. Often, that efficiency increases because we make machines (capital equipment) to perform part or all of the work.
Then (2) we each save some of what we earn and invest it - either in just such capital equipment, or in someone else's enterprise or new idea. In due course that yields us a return. Wealth increases.
Always, innovation and invention are the keys; and so is the freedom to make one's own decisions, to try and err and then try again and succeed. Millions of such choices are clearly the way to optimize the overall result, for a large number of well-motivated minds always do better than one committee heading a hierarchy. Each will try to build his own nest-egg of wealth.
If each watches that nest-egg and adjusts it to ensure his money is not tied up in a failing enterprise, it will compound. Perhaps at 3%, perhaps more. And 3% will double his wealth about every 24 years. In China after Deng Xiaoping allowed capitalism in 1978, the whole economy enjoyed massive growth for three decades, often reaching 9% a year. So 3% is modest.
If virtually everyone in the ZGS does that, the whole society will double its wealth every 24 years. That multiplies its wealth by over 16 times per century.
That rate is not at all incredible. Consider US history. In the 19th Century GDP per capita grew by 5 times, while immigration caused the population to explode from 15 times, from 5.3 million to 76.2! That century suffered relatively little government interference, except for the awful four years following 1860. What's suggested here then is that the ZGS will perform at least that well, every century. Human progress will be turbo-charged.
Can that be done without removing government from the scene? - no, because there's no way the US can be returned to the small-government era of the 19th Century. Government can be removed altogether, but cannot be wound down to some tightly limited size and kept there - otherwise it would not be government. Century 19 was remarkable, but as it ended, government burst the bounds that had been restricting the harm it does. "Limited government" is an oxymoron.
This wealth growth rate of 16 times per century really stretches the mind when we think not just about one period (1800 to 1900) but about all future centuries after the State has disappeared. In my Denial of Liberty I trace (at rather high speed) how government has hobbled human progress for the past several thousand years, and one of the examples taken is that of Egypt. For the three millennia B.C., it was the world's dominant empire - but after having established itself as such, progress was negligible because the Pharaonic ruling class absorbed all that was produced and invested little or nothing for growth. If it had been otherwise - had that State vanished after the First Kingdom, for example, so that an annual 3% growth took place, the country and the human race would have become so wealthy during the last 36 centuries as to defy the imagination.
It's not too late; mankind can get back on track. Remove the dead weight of government, and astonishment at continuing growth in wealth is exactly what to expect.