About That Obama Deficit Reduction Speech

In a speech outlining his administration’s approach to deficit reduction, U.S. President Obama hit four substantive points amidst the vast amount of rhetoric:

  1. Go with the spending cuts they’ve already been forced to agree to in Congressional budget negotiations.
  2. Order a review of military spending that might recommend some cuts to that which the administration might act on.
  3. Defend Obamacare on the grounds that it allegedly reduces health care costs.
  4. Raise taxes and call it “reduce spending in the tax code”.

What can be said about this from an anarchist perspective?

First, since anarchists advocate the abolition of the state, the financial sustainability of the state is not something we’re especially interested in. However, the harms the state may inflict in attempts to sustain itself are. Such harms may include both the revenue the state forcibly extracts and the vulnerability to privation endured by those who have been lured or herded into a status of dependency on the state. The correct approach for us to take, as anarchists, is to point to these harms and explain why they make the abolition of the state that much more of an urgent concern.

Second, the wars of the state (any state), are mass murder — so military spending is not only wasteful in its entirety but absolutely destructive. For a good overview of how legitimate defense services could be provided in the free market that would result from abolishing the state, see the second essay, “Private Defense”, from Robert Murphy’s “Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy” [PDF].

Third, if reducing health care costs is what you want, you need anarchy.
See also:

Fourth, taxation is theft.

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2 thoughts on “About That Obama Deficit Reduction Speech

  1. I'm curious as to what would happen if the USA were to become a stateless society while the government was still running a monster debt. Would the citizens be stuck with obligations to foreign lenders? If so, what if they defaulted? Is there any reason for principled anarchists to care about the debt at all, other than the consequences it has on a statist society?

    As for taxation being theft, duh. So is raiding Medicare and SS and other Republican/libertarian proposals, because those are investments that the middle class paid for and are entitled to. If you do care about the deficit and want to sustain the state, theft is pretty much mandatory because filling obvious moneyholes like the so-called "defence" budget (plus ending GOP punching bags like NPR and Planned Parenthood) isn't going to be enough.

    Personally I wouldn't shed a single tear if the state-privileged classes were taxed more (by property taxes or income taxes) to help fill the deficit (given that building counter-institutions and subverting the state wasn't an option). Conservatives would cry foul about "punishing success" and stifling the economy, but as Kevin Carson has pointed out, it seems pretty obvious that the supply-side is already absurdly inflated as it is. I don't think the prospects for that are too good though, because big business keeps the politicians firmly on their side and funds a 24/7 propaganda machine that shouts "Well obviously you can't tax US, so why not slash Medicaid?"

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  2. Generally speaking, the main reason for a government to pay on it's debts is to ensure ongoing access to credit. Abolish the government and that problem goes away. That could be regarded as an oversimplification, perhaps, in the sense that powerful holders of government debt will attempt to ensure that SOME SORT of government is in place that will pay on those debts, even if it's the debt of a previous regime. That's basically where the U.S. Constitution came from, after all. But, that's the gist of things.

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