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The Sixth Monopoly

Force, land, money, tariffs, patents - and health will be coming soon.

by James Leroy Wilson
November 12, 2009

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The Sixth Monopoly

Robert Anton Wilson suggested that working for wages "did not appear on a large scale until the Enclosure Acts drove the serfs off the land in the past 300 years."

It appears that preserving and expanding the wage-based economy has been State policy since then. If individuals are allowed to occupy and cultivate land, the cost of living would fall drastically. So much so that governments would fall for lack of tax revenue - and for a lack of individuals who would need its protection and services. That's why the people's ability to live off the land, or to work for themselves, is severely restricted. Forced to work for wages (money), the people become dependent on others for their sustenance. This makes them worry whether they'll keep their jobs. The State exploits that fear. The regulated workplace, and the high prices it creates, generates the tax revenue to ironically serve the powerful yet also command the people's loyalty.

The State has achieved this through the power of monopoly.

Benjamin Tucker identified four monopolies of the State: the money monopoly, the land monopoly, the patent monopoly, and the tariff monopoly.

Robert Anton Wilson described three
: money, land, and force.

Combining the two, that makes five total.

I'll give brief descriptions of these monopolies and how we pay for them:

1. The force (security) monopoly: The State restricts, or even strips, the right of self-defense from individuals and from privately-arranged associations. The State then turns around and makes us pay taxes for police who are never present to deter criminal assaults, and for militaries who are never prepared for surprise attacks. This payment is called taxes.
2. The land monopoly: As Tucker put it, "the enforcement by government [that is, not by voluntary contract - jlw] of land titles which do not rest upon personal occupancy and cultivation." The owners then charge rent to others for the privilege of using the land. Or, they prevent occupancy and cultivation, in order to drive up its price.
3. The money monopoly: The State confers to one group - a central bank - the privilege of creating the official medium of exchange for society, and then they charge the rest of us for the "convenience" of using it. This form of payment is interest.
4. The tariff (commerce) monopoly: Initially understood as international trade protectionism, this can also be understood as applying to domestic regulations and subsidies. The purpose is to reward friends of the State for their inefficiency, by driving out competitors who provide better goods at lower prices. This form of payment is called high prices.
5. The patent (creativity) monopoly: As Tucker puts it, this "protects inventors and authors against competition for a period long enough to enable them to extort from the people a reward enormously in excess of the labor measure of their services" instead of "placing their products and works on the market at the outset at prices so low that their lines of business would be no more tempting to competitors than any other lines." It also punishes creators who unknowingly create a work similar to one that was already patented or copyrighted. The revenue that inventors and authors collect from this system is called royalties.

A "self-governing" people aware of their own interests would seek to abolish or at least severely restrict these monopolies. The agenda of government today, however, is to institutionalize a sixth: the health monopoly.

It's been developing for decades. The threats of "snake oil salesmen" and "quackery," not to mention hysteria about menacing "drug fiends," led to more restrictions and the increasing regulation of drugs, tonics, and health practitioners. Instead of imposing civil and criminal penalties for fraud or negligence in the instance of injury or death, certain substances and practices were instead banned outright. Professional standards were set, and alternative practitioners were marginalized.

All of this drove the price of medicine, and of medical care, through the roof. That's what happens when the supplies of both drugs and doctors are severely restricted. It's also what happens when the number of possible remedies are reduced by regulation and prohibition.

This skewed market in turn created a market for health insurance, and employers came on board because paying for employee group insurance would allow them to pay less in wages. And then the State imposed regulations on the system. As a result, individual choice regarding one's own medical care was diminished even further. If you're not the one paying the piper, you're not calling the tune.

But none of this necessarily created a permanent "health monopoly." Sure, it's close to one, just as we almost have an education monopoly. Alternatives are available, they're just pricey or inconvenient.

But the health monopoly may come very soon. A bill passed the House last week that would actually compel individuals to purchase health insurance - insurance they might not want or need - under terms and prices to be set by the federal government. Previously, the feds would force us to pay taxes, but never forced us to actually purchase something.

If mandatory health insurance comes, it will be institutionalized as the sixth monopoly. The government will intervene in our personal financial decisions in order to reduce the decisions we make regarding our own bodies. Previously, many of us felt like we've had no financial choice but to make certain distasteful decisions. But with mandatory health insurance, we will be forced, by the federal agent's gun, to pay more for less.

Which in turn, will make us even more dependent on the very government who committed this crime against us.

Like all the other monopolies, that is the very point.

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