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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How the State Destroys Social Cooperation - Mises Daily

Mises Daily: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 by Gary Galles
Many of our present economic difficulties, while blamed by politicians on freedom and markets, are in fact the long-run effects of government policies emphasizing short-run, visible benefits that mask hidden or delayed costs. 

In particular, our economic woes reflect government’s reliance on coercion, whose harmful effects expand over time, in contrast to voluntary cooperation, whose beneficial effects expand over time.

Voluntary market cooperation expands because the more time sellers have to respond to increases in demand, the more their incentives lead to better ways of accommodating buyers with improved output. Similarly, the more time buyers have to respond to increases in supply, the more profitable uses are discovered. That is, when you give individuals better incentives to voluntarily cooperate in the marketplace, over time, they discover and implement more effective ways to do so, expanding cooperation and the mutual benefits that result.

We see this everywhere in personal computing and technology in which convenience, computing power, and portability of devices increase constantly, at rates much faster than most ever anticipated in earlier times. In contrast, when the state employs coercion, it encourages buyers and sellers to act against what would be in their self interest in a free economy. Over time, those who would otherwise spend time thinking about their trading partners, instead respond to coercive measures by expanding the ways they can evade the burdens imposed. In such a situation, social cooperation contracts.

Taxes (including deficits, which are delayed taxes), subsidies, and mandates all illustrate coercion’s progressive undermining of social cooperation. For example, when government raises taxes on income earned by benefiting trading partners, those who provide the benefits earn less over time. In response, those burdened with the new taxes have incentive to do less to benefit others while substituting more effort to avoid taxation.

Moreover, when government mandates employer-provided “free” benefits, employers then reduce other parts of compensation that many workers may actually value more than the mandated benefits, to “pay” for them. Or employers may simply hire fewer workers. We see this already in Obamacare’s mandated increases to employers’ labor costs. Employers have cut jobs and hours (the mandates don’t apply to under-30-hour-per-week workers), or employers squeeze other parts of employee compensation, including on-the-job training, which is a crucial mechanism through which workers learn their way to success...READ MORE>> MISES.ORG