The great way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.
When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn –
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 53, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
All of This is Robbery and Chaos
In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu insists that the great way is easy. I am not so certain I would call the great way easy, though. I think I would call it simple. But, whether we are talking about ease or simplicity, we are really talking about the same thing. We aren’t being asked to do something difficult. Our lives don’t have to be complicated. Following the Tao is simple. So, why do we prefer the side paths? Why do we insist on complicating our lives? All the side paths offer us are distractions, illusions. We shouldn’t be so easily misled; but, we are. Hence, there will always be a need for us to be aware when things are out of balance. Whether in our world, or in our own lives. We need to center ourselves once again, and remain centered, within the Tao.
Lao Tzu’s focus in today’s chapter is on the warning signs when things are out of balance in the world. And, who will dare argue with Lao Tzu’s diagnosis: All of this is robbery and chaos, and not in keeping with the Tao.
When rich speculators prosper while farmers lose their land. When government officials spend money on weapons instead of cures. When the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible while the poor have nowhere to turn.
No one dares to argue with the diagnosis. But, there has always been a lot of disagreement, when it comes to solutions.
Most people will argue these are complex problems which require complex solutions. We need to elect the right people into government, in order to work on these problems. But, as Robert Higgs wrote, and I reblogged his quote just yesterday on my tumblr blog, anyone who knows the history of governments, knows there has never been a time when governments could be counted on to solve these problems. If history is any indication, and it should be, we are never going to have the right people in government. Government isn’t capable of coming up with the solutions to the problems it has created.
Why are rich speculators prospering while farmers lose their land? Because governments enable it. Why do government officials spend money on weapons instead of cures? Because, from their standpoint, there is more to be gained. Why do we have an upper class which is extravagant and irresponsible while the poor have nowhere to turn? Once again, it is because governments enable it.
I get it! We just need to elect the right people. We need more regulation by governments.
And, we continue down these side paths, oblivious to the simple way. We elect people promising to regulate more. And the people we elect appoint the very people in need of regulating to write, and implement, the regulations. We literally put the foxes in charge of the hen house. And, then we wonder why the hens, and their eggs, are in constant danger.
Libertarians get a bad rap. And, I am afraid, it is somewhat deserved. We do a very good job of calling for a free market, and promoting deregulation. What we never seem to do a good enough job of promoting is how the free market truly can regulate itself. There have been volumes written on this. But getting people to read them is quite the challenge. It has always been intuitive for me. I am blessed that way, I guess. But, for others, they need something more. And, it doesn’t so easily fit into that infernal 140 character limit, which is, apparently, our collective attention span, to draw them into a more detailed explanation.
I would like to take the time to go into more detail about how regulation works in a free market. And, how governments, by monopolizing the regulatory markets, are the problem. It boils down to power to the people. But, time is of the essence for me on today’s post. That is always the problem. This is why we, libertarians, get dismissed. Still, I will throw this one thing out there for you to chew on. Just because we are opposed to government regulation, which always ends up being crony capitalism, like we have today, doesn’t mean we are opposed to regulation. We just believe the people have more power on their own to regulate, via a free market, than governments ever will. Once again, look back at the history of governments. We keep acquiescing to governments to do, what we could do far better. How many instances I would like to give! I could name the individual government regulatory agencies, one by one, and explain how each one of them ensures this robbery and chaos will continue unabated.
If any of my followers have any doubts, please message me. I welcome an opportunity to go into more depth.
For today’s commentary, let it suffice for me to say, we have to get off of these side paths. We need to recognize how out of balance things are, and how simple the solution is. Go back to being centered within the Tao.