Nov 172011
Black Market 640x380

Black Market 168x100“An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept.”

Ayn Rand – The Ayn Rand Lexicon pg. 23

In this case the anti-concept of “black market” replaces “free market,” meaning free from government taxation, and regulation.

It is an anti-concept because it is all encompassing of not only the criminal but the virtuous.  Take for example the “black market” of human organs.  If somebody kills someone then harvests their organs and sells them on the “black market” the real crime becomes the sale of the organs rather than the murder, while a labourer who sells his labour for cash and doesn’t claim it as income to the Canada Revenue Agency is also a part of the “black market” and is smeared with the same criminality associated with the murderer, and yet what the labourer is doing was perfectly legal, if not natural, prior to the implementation of the Income War Tax Act of 1917.  A labourer selling his labour for unreported cash in 1916 was an upstanding man earning an honest living but in 1917 became a member of the “black market.”

Today all transactions must be reported to the government, quite technically even bartered goods must be reported as income and the appropriate percentage of capital gain must be submitted in cash to the government.  If your neighbour helps you move and you pay him with a bottle of rum the neighbour is obligated to report the value of the rum to the government as income.  Not to do so puts him in the “black market.”

What was once a free market in trade for cash or kind has now been labeled with the anti-concept “black market.”

At the root of this is the improper belief that all economic behaviour falls under the jurisdiction of the government.  For a man to earn a living he must first submit to the tribe by giving them a cut of his profit.  This is extortion at the very least and slavery in essence.  This stems from a change in attitude of a civilized society of individuals acting in concert for the betterment of each player in a transaction to a tribal or collectivist attitude where a central authority dictates which transactions are acceptable and which are not; where a central authority coercively interferes in the livelihood of both parties becoming a parasite for the supposed benefit of the tribe.  Over the past 94 years (since the implementation of the income tax) most of us have become accustomed to this sense of tribal entitlement to the profit of others.

Another example of this sense of entitlement and the outlawing of what was once a person’s natural right to conduct business in a free market are competition laws, also called anti-trust laws.

“Under the Antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does.  For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too high, he can be prosecuted for monopoly or for a successful “intent to monopolize”; if he charges price’s lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “unfair competition” or “restraint of trade”; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “collusion” or “conspiracy.”  There is only one difference in the legal treatment accorded to a criminal or to a businessman: the criminal’s rights are protected much more securely and objectively than the businessman’s.”

Ayn Rand – The Ayn Rand Lexicon pg. 28

“The Rule of Law, in complex times,
Has proved itself deficient.
We much prefer the Rule of Men,
It’s vastly more efficient!”
“Now let me state the present rules,”
The lawyer then went on,
“These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
You’re gouging on your prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it’s unfair competition if
You think you can charge less!”
“A second point that we would make
To help avoid confusion…
Don’t try to charge the same amount,
That would be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,
Then the market would be yours –
And that’s monopoly!”
Excerpt from The Incredible Bread Machine – by R.W. Grant (1966)

The effect, and intention, of anti-trust laws is to hang a sword of Damocles over the heads of businessmen… all businessmen.  At any given time the government can, and has, destroyed wealth, raised the price of goods, and restricted economic choices under the guise of encouraging competition.  Ironically they have also created monopolies and subsidized one business over another in the same field.  Consider the banking industry and the telecommunications industry.  The government has also entered into private enterprise making it difficult for other businesses either to enter the market or to compete.    I am reminded of entities like Petro Canada (since privatized) and the CBC.

The businessman has gone from being an individual seeking profit by producing goods or services to willing customers to becoming the host of a parasitic society which feels an entitlement to those goods and services.  The businessmen, the inventors, the creative geniuses who create and sell these marvelous things which surround us have become a means to the tribes’ ends.

Whereas before we admired the innovators and businessmen, and erected statues in their honour we now tax them, regulate them and blame them not only for our failures but for their successes.  We now have labeled them the dreaded 1%.  And we, being the majority 99% must rein in their supposed excesses and bring them to heal.   They must do the bidding of the collective for the good of all and they must not expect to profit from their genius.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #226, November 17, 2011.)