Every Action has a Consequence.
That is a simple idea that most people hopefully will agree with. What most people will not agree upon though is who should experience the consequences of their actions.
Mises wrote in his opus “Human Action” that all individuals act in order to eliminate “uneasiness”. They do this in the best way that they know how to in order to replace their current state of being for one they believe will be an improved state.
Rothbard elaborated on the idea of action and stated that individuals act to achieve their highest priority on their scale of value. Both Austrian Legends agreed that only individuals can act and that all action is speculative.
No one can know for certain what result will be obtained with any particular action. But we do know that the action performed will generate a consequence. This can either be a positive or negative result. I like to think of a hypothetical particle generated by each action that when experienced by the individuals produces a ”good” or “bad” feeling. And these good or bad feelings shape individual’s behavior and induces them to take more efficient actions while achieving their life’s goals. In doing so these particles and the feelings that they generate “hold” Society together through the Law of Responsibility.
This hypothetical particle is what I like to call a “consequence particle“. It has either a positive or negative charge. In Society today individuals try to avoid experiencing the Negative Consequence Particle or NCP by using the State to swap them for the Positive Consequence Particles or PCPs that others have rightly generated through prudent efficient action. But the Law of Responsibility doesn’t allow them who make this unnatural swap to escape experiencing the NCPs that their actions generate for long.
The Law of Responsibility is a Natural Law that states simply that each individual is responsible for the consequences of his actions. It is an immutable law just as much as the Law of Gravity.
Like gravity it is experienced by everyone but still a mystery to the mechanism by which it works.
Gravity is a mysterious force that helps to hold the Universe together. Scientists today even the know-it-alls have to admit they are at a loss to explain the exact mechanism through which gravity works. Some believe that an imaginary particle ( a theoretical particle) called a graviton mediates gravity in the universe.
The Law of Responsibility stated differently is the expressed by the ancient admonition that “You Reap what you Sow.” . What you sow you have a God-given right to reap, whether the consequence of that planting (action) is positive or negative.
But today most folks don’t think they should reap the Negative Consequence Particles which make them feel “Bad” and instead they should benefit instead from the Positive Consequence Particles of others in order to feel “Good”.
The Law of Responsibility is a part of Natural Law and those who do believe that they are endowed with their Creator with certain inalienable rights among which are the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, should also include that they are endowed with their Creator with the Responsibility to suffer the consequences of all their actions.
The Law of Responsibility is like the Law of Gravity which both can be experienced firsthand and understood by a two-year old. Watch a two-year old throw a Duplo block into the air. When it falls back down and lands squarely on top of his head he begins to cry. He is lamenting his discovery of both the Law of Responsibility and The Law of Gravity.
What goes up must come down just as every consequence generated by an action must fall upon the man who initiated it.
Like the illusive graviton I believe that most folks fail to see the “consequence” particles that link their actions to the subsequent consequences that they cause.
This consequence particle whether Positive or Negative forces us all to eventually ”reap what we sow”. When I talk of action I use the term as Loa Tzu understood it, that non-action is the same as action when it comes to generating consequences.
Since the Law of Responsiblity is as immutable as the Law of Gravity these actions and their “consequence particles” still return to the actor even if he doesn’t realize it.
In this country today everyone wants to be shielded from their “consequence particles” and as a result the State grows because it is the only entity on Earth who can “legally” force “consequence particles” to fall initially upon others. People who support the Socialist programs do so because they fail to save, fail to learn how to be more of value to their employers, fail to improve themselves in order that they may take care of themselves later on in life. They don’t alter their actions because they don’t ”feel” the NCPs initially generated by these actions but over a lifetime of these habitual destructive actions they can not escape the NCPs that they created.
The politicians and the plunderers transfer the negative for the positive and instead of enjoying the rightfully acquired PCPs the most productive individuals must suffer with 50% more NCPs than their actions would naturally produce. That “bad” feeling generated by the NCPs which they are now subject to have no relationship what so ever to their actions. These NCPs initially effect the producer and in turn affect his future actions to avoid more of his PCPs from being stolen. This is what helps to worsen economic downturns and explains why Socialism can never work.
In Natural Society the only way to feel the effects of PCPs is by reaching one’s goals while respecting the Natural Rights of others. If you violated those rights you would of course be punished. Like Bastiat said, “Life, Liberty and Property do no exist because men have made laws. On the contrary it is because Life, Liberty and Property beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
Through trial and error and the experiencing of both PCPs and NCPs we learn which actions will likely be successful in the future which will enable us to more efficiently reach our goals. The NCPs are no fun and make us feel “bad”. This bad feeling is absolutely necessary to lead us away from actions which will waste our life in acting in ways contrary to attaining what we desire.
This is what Bastiat would call an Unseen consequence of the “bad” feeling caused by NCPs. The Negative Consequence Particles are meant to inflict “pain” on the one whose actions generate them. They are meant to change the behavior of the individual acting. Most people only see the suffering that they cause. But the Statists and Socialists fail to see how by experiencing NCPs individuals are actually benefited by this “suffering”.
If my goal is to lose weight but continue to each two Snickers Blizzards a day I will have to endure the NCPs generated by this action. When I look into the mirror or try to wear pants that no longer fit I will feel “bad” because of the NCPs generated by my actions. That ”bad” feeling is my brain registering the Negative Consequence Particles generated because my actions have led me away from my goal of losing weight and looking more attractive.
These NCPs help me to see my errors . The “pain” forces me upon a new course of action thus resulting in Positive Consequence Particles being felt instead of negative ones. My clothes fit better, I look more attractive and I feel more confident. Which then produce the PCPs I crave because I know if I experience that good feeling I know I’m on the right track to reaching whatever goal I am acting to acheive.
I despise the distinction of separating the activities of individuals into, economic, political, religious, personal categories. All Human actions are Human actions no matter what goal they are trying to achieve. When human action is categorized and segregated people tend to forget how all actions they we take are subject to the Law of Responsibility. It doesn’t matter if it is the action of an individual who is an entrepreneur, politician, or soldier. Human beings are indivisible and their actions are human actions no matter what the goal they are trying to achieve. Rothbard called this profit/loss of all actions as psychic profit.
Each of us working for someone else is always looking to sell our labor at the highest price. But in order to do this we must continually seek to improve our product (labor) in order to please the shifting tastes of our customers (Employers). If you have a product that no one wants to buy that should generate NCPs. Because only then will you want to improve that product and be able to sell it. But if the State through Force makes others buy your labor at a price they would not voluntarily do so you are escaping the NCPs generated by your non-action in improving your product(at least temporarily) by swapping them for your employer’s PCPs. By doing this though you lose out in the long run. Without experiencing the NCPs due to your actions of nonimporvement you are missing out on the key impetus that would encourage you through pain to improve your product so employers would pay more for your service.
The labor market is like the t.v. or tennis shoe market. The employers who are buying an individual’s labor, his service, wants to buy the highest quality product at the lowest rate possible, just as you want the clearest biggest HD LCD t.v. at the lowest price you can find. But prices tend to remain high on products produced when workers don’t improve themselves and the quality of their efforts. This is one way the Law of Responsibility ensures that the temporarily shifted NCPs always find their way back to the individuals who generated them.
The Law of Responsibility like the Law of Gravity can not be escaped. We can fly temporarily in a helicopter or jump on a pogo stick into the air but everything that goes up must come down. And when we act no matter if we transfer our Negative Consequence Particles initially to others we can not escape their effects. in the long run. When the delayed “bad” effects of the NCPs finally reach the initiator of them he more often than not fails to link the NCPs to the action that caused them. And even if he is able to determine the action or actions that generated the NCPs in his past he now finds them to be deeply ingrained and habitual in the present making different types of actions difficult in the future.
The State of the Economy (Society) today is the result of the Negative Consequence Particles of individual actions being funneled through The State and then spread out over millions of people. This problem is further compounded when these same people act and expect their NCPs to affect others besides themselves. So you have all this negative reinforcement being filtered and diluted and when the NCPs finally reaches the culpable individuals they are experienced as a down economy, a world in turmoil, and by extension a quality of life that is on the decline. Most react by railing against the ”world” blaming it for keeping them down but they fail to realize that every action they’ve taken in which the NCPs have been transferred to others whether it’s for their retirement,their power bill, their food, their housing, their low-interest rate, their security, their medical care, have produced the declining standard of living and a regressive Society through which they now experiences the NCPs of their past actions even though long-delayed.
If you want to live Free you must also Freely accept the Negative Consequence Particles of your actions immediately and not try to shift them to others. But the opposite of the negatively charged consequence particle is the positively charged particle which if you were truly free would be yours to experience fully. That is only if your your actions generated them did not violate the Natural Rights of others. The PCPs make us feel ”good” and steer us in concert with NCPs into making better decisions and acting more efficiently. The Law of responsibility like the Law of Gravity can be painful. But without it we would never understand why are lives are not improving and we would continue blaming others for all our woes.
I believe that when the mechanism by which Gravity effects matter is discovered it will be a boon to mankind. In the same way the more we are able to understand how The Law of Responsibility holds us accountable for our actions the more we will be able to take advantage of this Law of Nature. This knowledge will be a great benefit to every individual who realizes that the negative consequences of his actions are his God-given responsibility to endure in order that he may improve, and that the result of those improved more efficient actions will be the generation of PCPs which are by God-given right his to enjoy.
The more we are consciously able to experience the NCPs and PCPs generated by our actions the more we will be able to live the lives that we want.
And that’s my take.