"Taking a man's money without his consent, is also as much robbery, when it is done by millions of men, acting in concert, and calling themselves a government, as when it is done by a single individual, acting on his own responsibility, and calling himself a highwayman."
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)
Spooner was a great, and early, American economic thinker!
His writings, and teachings, have to be viewed in the context of his time however. There was no Federal Reserve, for example, and the US currency was on the gold standard, fixed there, instead of silver, in 1792.
He was controversial!
He started his own post office and produced his own stamps in the 1840s.
He was a fierce abolitionist, even asked by William Seward to help with the founding of the anti-slavery Republican Party.
And he argued that federal gubment laws against high interest rates made it much more difficult for men to become self employed, as those with capital could not extend it to others and therefore would not be compensated properly for their own risk of doing so.
Spooner thought that self-employment was something the gubment should support and not dismiss through free market intervention. Intervening by controlling interest rates was what he called "free market intervention."
And this, the biggest -- he thought people should be able to issue their own currency to lend to those seeking to open their own businesses. And that those "capitalists" should be able to charge whatever interest rate the market would bear. Currency is, after all, only viable in an economy so long as it is accepted. If a man wished to open his own business, borrowing money to do so, he should be allowed to do so at whatever interest rate he could obtain. Being prohibited from doing so, according to Spooner, would render "a very large portion of them, to save themselves from starvation, have no alternative but to sell their labor to others."
That, my friends, was, in his view, a form of slavery. As I said, he was a fierce abolitionist!
He was controversial!
His debates continue today as the gubment tries to impugn this or that industry or sector of the economy, villifying the "rich," controlling mortgages, issuing "credit" for education, controlling interest rates and printing money.
Would Lysander Spooner agree with any of that? I can confidently say NO!
Would he be actively fighting against it? I can confidently say YES!
Would he be for or against a movement such as the Tea Party? You tell me!
ARE WE "ADMINISTERED" BY A GUBMENT OF HIGHWAYMEN? SPOONER WOULD SAY YES! ALTHOUGH HE WOULDN'T USE THE WORD ADMINISTERED. HE WOULD USE THE WORD CONTROLLED...