Sunday, December 16, 2007

Soviets should smoke cigarettes.

A Soviet Poster A Day is a great blog that shows a different Soviet propaganda poster each day. I bookmarked this one from a while back to remember to post it to the blog. It's a pretty fascinating phenomenon in a centrally planned economy where the government has the duty of increasing demand for a product, especially and explicitly unhealthy one. I find especially amusing the contrast with the current war on smoking in public places in the United States today. See, the great thing about a free market is that those who don't want to smoke didn't pay for those cigarettes. In the Soviet economy, even nonsmokers had to pay for this good.

This kind of problem extends to all aspects of central planning. Take the BBC for example. Some hold the BBC as a great model of how the news can escape the profit motive by taxing their citizens, and deliver quality news that doesn't need to appeal to advertisers. Some of the Beeb's properties' may run ads, especially where the get involved in international markets, but I don't think it's their primary source of income, and I'm no expert on this subject.

Still, BBC is still just as guilty of deceptive practices, like any news network on television today, and furthermore, the BBC is not immune to bias, because all British taxpayers pay for it. So how is this fair? Someone who doesn't agree with the BBC's bias is still paying for it! This is compelled speech, and an immoral use of force.

Sure, CNN and Fox and MSNBC have increasingly bad soft news, but the great thing about having them in the context of a free market is that if you don't like it, you don't suffer. When the government does something wrong, or just something you might not agree with, the cost is on everyone, unfairly. In the free market, only those affected cover the cost.

I digress. It's funny that the Soviet government endorsed cigarettes because they couldn't anticipate what the demand was for them. The reason a market is so effective is because people themselves can decide what they want. Democrats, and to some extent, Republicans, rush to make government programs, forgetting that the government can't create services out of nowhere. Any program the government runs could be accomplished in the private sector, with less bureaucracy. If there's no profit motive, there's no incentive for the government program to be efficient. Remember, the government isn't a moneymaking body. Furthermore, a government program is funded an unjustified and immoral initiation of force. It's analogous to holding a gun to someone's head and taking their money to use in this program, but instead of a gun, the government is just using the threat of throwing you in jail if you fail to pay your taxes.

So the moral of this post is that the initiation of force is immoral. Also, if sufficient time has passed after a tragedy, like Soviet Russia's brief stint in existence, you can find humor in it.

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