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Monday, November 1, 2010

Lessons from Halloween for Statists

I am not sure if you celebrate Halloween or not, I do not, but there are some nice hidden lessons in Halloween. Lessons which most people probably never realized. These lessons are most important to hardcore statists and central planners.

What I find amazing about Halloween is how many people celebrate Halloween all over the world. It is not just an American holiday. I know Canadians celebrate it. I spoke with a guy from Chile who said his town was celebrating it. It is celebrated, though not to the same extent as in US, in Europe. It is fair to say that is a world holiday.

Halloween is very different from Christmas. Christmas is a religious holiday. Catholics are compelled to celebrate Christmas, for them it is a very important holiday. So I can understand why Christmas is celebrated throughout the world. But Halloween is different. It is not really a religious holiday. I am not familiar with the history of Halloween, it probably started out as a religious holiday, but today it is not a religious holiday anymore.

Halloween is celebrated today for one and one reason only. People like it and so people agree to celebrate it. Halloween is celebrated by voluntary participation. People from all over the world simply agreed to wear costumes and give out candy to kids on Halloween. There was no state law making people do that, there were not central planners that planned for Halloween to take place. Halloween emerged as a holiday all by itself. In fact, if there was a state law mandating some new holiday, people would most likely not celebrate it. Ever heard of anyone celebrating Martin Luther King day? These holidays, like Halloween, are celebrated from the emergence of human interaction, it is a bottom-up arrangement, not a top-down arrangement that central planners have a big giant hard-on far.

By the way, lest statists accuse me of using Halloween as an argument for freedom, I am not. I am not saying, "Halloween exists therefore freedom works". That would be an embarrassingly terrible argument. I am rather trying to point to a world wide agreement between people that took place voluntarily. I am using Halloween as an example of how large scale agreement can happen. Thus, look at my example just as an example, not as an argument.

The second lesson is even more important than this lesson. On Halloween I had this thought. A thought that most normal people would never have, because they do not have such a sick and corrupted mind like I do. I had this thought that I can poison candy. Then when kids knock on my door for candy I can give them poisoned candy. If 50 kids show up, I might be able to exterminate 90% of them.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to poison candy and kill children? It does not even have to be poisoned candy. I can make homemade brownies for Halloween and make them with a poisonous ingredient. Then when children knock on my door to collect candy I will give them my poisonous brownies. They will eat those brownies when they come home and minutes or hours later die.

But somehow this never happens. When was the last time you heard of some mad crazy psychopath poisoning candy for children on Halloween? I never heard of it. Maybe it happened like once or twice, but you never hear about it. If some madman did this it would be all over the news and a national candy scare would soon follow. We never hear about it, so it is likely to assume that the situation I described either never happened or was/is statistically insignificant.

And this is the second lesson that I am trying to illustrate. Just because something terrible can happen does not mean it will. Hardcore statists and central planners have a general mentality about behavior. They think that human behavior would be out of control if there was no law to stop that behavior. I speak from experience here. Back when I was a statist I thought that if there was no laws then the world would be out of control. People would be running in the street and stabbing babies with number two pencils. Pedophiles will be raping children in the street. There would be constant car accidents all over the place. Everyone would steal and lie. And so on and so on.

Or consider this non-violent example. I am not sure how you feel about public sex but it does not bother me. In fact, I think it is great to see free porn shows in the street. But people who against public sex, and in particular people who advocate laws to prevent public sex, tell me that if there was no public sex laws then everyone would be doing it in the street all the time. These Bill O'Reilly's that tell us this non-sense do not have any idea what they are talking about. I like to respond to that argument by saying that there are no laws stopping people from walking in the street with meat cleavers, yet somehow we never see people walk in the street with meat cleavers.

Let us return back to the poisonous candy example. There are no regulators that go from house to house to inspect the candy and homemade food that is made before it can be handed out to children on Halloween. There are no laws for Halloween. But somehow there are no cases of psychopaths poisoning candies on Halloween. As I said, just because something can happen does not mean it will happen.

Again I am not trying to give the impression that my argument is that, "non-poisonous candy is handed out on Halloween therefore statists are wrong and I am correct". That would also be an embarrassingly terrible argument. My entire point of this example is to illustrate the slippery-slope that these hardcore statists create. Statists love to assume the worst, generate fear, and then justify their statism and central control. I wrote back about it more here. I am using Halloween candy as an example of something entirely uncontrolled which does not cause any problems whatsoever.

When I tell a statist that I think there should be no FDA regulating food and drugs, and that any food can enter into the market without having ingredient regulations on it, statists immediately create a slippery-slope. They tell me, "you hate children, if there were no regulations evil businessmen would put bad food that will harm or kill children, what about the children?!".

And maybe they are right in this instance. Maybe when it comes to making profits certain evil businessmen would take advantage of people and put bad food on the market (candy is different, it is a gift, there is no profit in it). I am not trying to say this scenario will never happen. I am just trying to debunk the hugely over-exaggerated blown out of proportion reaction from statists and central planners. Yes, I am sure bad things will occasionally happen if profits are at stake. However, do you not think that statists blow it way way out of proportion? They create a world in which nearly all food and drugs are harmful or poisonous. I find that to be an extreme slippery-slope. As I said, just because bad things can happen does not mean it will necessarily happen. There is no problem with candy. So do you not think that people who exaggerate the danger of unchecked food are creating an extreme slippery-slope?


  1. What, precisely, is the profit to be gained by poisoning drugs?

  2. "What, precisely, is the profit to be gained by poisoning drugs?":

    I agree with you that it is silly to say that drug companies, in absense of the FDA, will make poisonous drugs.

    But there can be a short-term profit. I think most pro-FDA people agree that the market will prevent long-term profits. Because if a drug company makes untested fake drugs (which are possibly poisonous) then they would be driven out of the market. However, a drug company may, if it is small, have a short-term profit by lying to people and getting their money.