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The Myth of National Defense

Edited by Hans Herman Hoppe. ISBN: 0945466374 Also available in pdf at http://www.mises.org/etexts/defensemyth.pdf.

I actually read this book after I’d already gotten out of the Army and I wish I’d found it sooner.

Before this book, I realized we were making things worse overall but I didn’t have any viable alternatives to the way we do things. Yes, we could get back to the Constitution but I realized that given the nature of man, that what we’ve become was inevitable.

Government does a few things pretty well – break things and kill people for one. Secondly, it grows. When a business produces a terrible product, people quit shopping there. When government produces a bad product (think Iraq, Katrina, border control, illiterate school kids, etc.) we somehow think we should do the opposite and give them more money. They say it’s just a matter of not having enough money. And that’s how government grows even in peacetime.

It was inevitable that each branch of government would take more power than the Constitution granted it. It’s not because anyone in particular was evil incarnate, that’s just how people are. They start out with noble intentions and that’s the nature of the government machine.

This book will help you understand that there’s nothing the government does that the free market can’t do better… even national defense. That’s a revolutionary idea. That’s the one thing arguments about government will always boil down to. If we don’t need government to defend us, then do we really need them to do anything else?

The premise of the book is about monopolies. Most everyone will agree that monopolies don’t give us the best results because there’s no choice. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer supposedly. If we all agree that monopolies are the worst way to do things, why do we think they’ll somehow work out for the use of force?

Without reading the book, the knee jerk reaction is that it would be chaos and the biggest gun would rule. In truth, the biggest gun is ruling now.

In reality, we’d have law and order. We’d have private security firms protecting us as much or as little as we wanted. Right now you call the police to come when they feel like it. If you don’t like the service, you can file a complaint and pray that someone does something about it.

With free market solutions, we’d have insurance companies you pay to protect you. If there’s a problem, you use the legal system. Just try and sue a police department now. It won’t get you very far.

The book is a collection of essays by some of the best thinkers in the field. The four sections are:

  • State Making and War Making
  • Government Forms, War, and Strategy
  • Private Alternatives to State Defense and Warfare
  • Private Security Production: Practical Applications

The only question I had left after reading this book was what to do about borders and so called public land. How would you enforce property rights if there were no state owned security?

Once I figured it out, the answer is simple enough. If there is no public land, you have no issue. The solution is for government to sell all its land, pay off the debts and close up shop. If we drew it out, there’d be more opportunity for things to get off track.

Seeing as very few people probably even realize that going without a government monopoly is a conceivable option, someone who’s willing to reduce the size and scope of government is our next best option. That’s why I donated to Ron Paul yesterday for his Tea Party.

Each Monday, I’ll post a review of a book I’ve found to be helpful in the cause of liberty.

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