The ‘Could’ Conundrum

I love how liberals get all choked up about what a private company ‘could’ do, should the government not have control over them.  How about what private individuals ‘could’ do?  If government allows someone to heat their house, they ‘could’ burn it down.  If government allows someone to have a bathtub, they ‘could’ drown in it.  Someone ‘could’ walk in front of a bus, and yet government allows people outdoors.  There are in fact an innumerable number of things someone ‘could’ do, but that people would never choose to do.  If we do not assume that people will do stupid things just because they ‘could’, then why do we assume private businesses will?  Like individuals, private businesses act in their own self interest, and have no interest in doing things that would hurt them, even  if they ‘could.’  Those few businesses that do dumb things anyway not only will go out of business, but they should go out of business.  Free markets operate, after all, on profit and loss.

There is a reason millions of Americans do not drown in their bathtubs every day, or walk in front of busses, even though they ‘could’ do so, and that is because of the consequences of those actions.  Businesses too suffer consequences for their actions.  A business that ‘could’ discriminate against people, if the freedom of association were respected, would suffer consequences if it decided to discriminate, stemming both from the business lost directly because of discrimination (such as the lost sale of a cake for a bakery that does not want to participate in a gay wedding), as well as the business lost based on offending those who do not like the kind of discrimination performed.

I’ve read a great deal, over the past few days, about how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) ‘could’ do all kinds of things, after the elimination of net neutrality.  I have heard very little about what ISPs ‘will’ do, and I have seen very little showing a business case for why a business might do something consumers would not like.  I could cut my nose off with a kitchen knife, and yet I am allowed to own kitchen knives.  Why do people assume that businesses will cut their proverbial noses off, if given the chance?  ISPs, like other businesses, live or die based on their ability to offer a better product or service, to consumers.  ISPs and other businesses are not going to start doing things that cost them business, just because they ‘could’.

I’ve also read a lot about what ‘could’ happen with the Republican tax plan.  Between 13 and 18 million people ‘could lose’ their healthcare insurance is a particularly interesting claim.  Exactly zero people will lose their health insurance because of the Republican tax plan, but some younger Americans may decide not to carry insurance.  That’s a very different thing.

I’ve read that lower business taxes ‘could’ lead to higher profits, and more money for rich people.  If it does lead to higher profits, it will also lead to better performing 401K programs and pensions.  More profitability would be a boon to public pensions, which have been struggling for the past ten years.  Of course, lower business taxes also ‘could’ lead to the creation of more businesses, and business expansion, as profits currently parked overseas (to avoid our ridiculous business tax rates) are suddenly moved back to the United States.  The creation of new businesses, and the expansion of existing ones, ‘could’ lead to higher levels of competition, causing lower prices for consumers.

It is amazing how so much of our public, including so much of our mainstream media, focus only on those things that ‘could’ happen that they can spin into negatives, and note that profit is not evil.  Profit is the motivational force upon which progress is built.  Profit is the reason we have an economy, and those economies that try to run on things other than profit always collapse, which is why even China now runs on profit.

Workers work for profit (aka ‘pay’), making it someone hypocritical to think that business owners should not do the same.  Business owners take great risks.  Without risk, there can be no reward.  Our media likes to forget the fact that businesses often lose money.  Liberals completely ignore the fact that just as many businesses suffer losses, as make profits.  Why does the media never mention how when new, onerous regulations are passed, businesses ‘could’ be forced to cut back, causing layoffs, and harming working America?  Not only ‘could’ regulations harm the American worker, but it was precisely the fact that regulations do harm the American worker that caused the American worker to vote for Trump.  Democrats pretend that the Republican vote is a vote against the worker’s best interests, but workers benefit when there are more business competing to employ them, and Democrat regulations punish businesses, leading to fewer jobs.

Colleges ban what should be free speech on the grounds that someone ‘could’ be offended.  You know what?  I hope someone is offended when I post something.  If I am posting something everyone agrees with, what impact am I having?  We should embrace controversial topics.  There is of course a difference between being honestly controversial, and being what Milo Yiannopoulos calls ‘a professional provocateur.’  Some say that there is a fine line between controversy and provocation, but the line is obvious: it is based on intent.  Provocation is dishonest, but controversy is healthy.

I hear absolutely nothing on college campuses about all of the atrocities that could follow if we were to ban free speech, and the media glosses over those who say they know they are going against the Constitution, but that they do not care.  Our media ignores the fact that ANTIFA is more fascist than are those who get swastika tattoos, and that in fact both ANTIFA and neo-Nazis have the same world view.

The Republican tax bill will limit the federal deduction for certain state and local taxes, and Democrats are jumping all over every possible iteration of how that could affect state spending, no matter how improbably it may be that something may, or may not happen.  Democrats are making up all kinds of ways lower taxes ‘could’ hurt every group under the sun, with no regard for the spurious assumptions regarding spending cuts nobody has even proposed, and the mainstream media eats it up.  Did you know that Medicare could get axed?  Never mind that nobody is discussing axing Medicare – it ‘could’ happen, so let’s run a dishonest news story that makes it sound like this is something people legitimately should be afraid of.  Our media does this sort of thing all the time.

Our media is doing us a terrible disservice when it focuses on what ‘could’ happen, with all kinds of spurious assumptions involving people and businesses doing things that run directly counter to their own self interests, rather than focusing on what actually will happen, or on what is at least likely to happen.

The fact of the matter is that if my aunt had balls, she ‘could’ be my uncle.  ‘Could’ means nothing, and as soon as you see the word ‘could’ in a news article, you are no longer reading news.  When you see ‘could,’ you are not even reading opinion; you are reading wild conjecture.  ‘Could’ is the most dishonest tactic used in politics today, and it is time we start calling it out when we see it.  When you read a post that says ‘could,’ post it to Facebook and point out the spurious nature of the article – particularly if the word ‘could’ is in the title.

On a side note, I’ve been battling ridiculously high blood pressure for several weeks.  My doctor had me tracking my blood pressure, but wanted data before prescribing medication.  Last Wednesday morning, it culminated in a trip to the emergency room, where I was admitted to the cardiac unit with extreme vertigo.  The doctors ruled out a heart attack, and I went home Thursday afternoon, but I’m still recovering from vertigo, and I want to thank everyone for continuing to visit The Daily Libertarian, even while I have not been posting as often.  As I continue to get better, you can expect posts to become more frequently again.

God Bless – and THANK YOU for your support!