By David Tulis
James Catanzaro, a state official in charge of Chattanooga State community college, gives a lively lesson about how the free market works. It works through personal initiative and prospers by finding niches and cracks amid a gridlock.
Mr. Catanzaro, president of the school, was trapped in Atlanta’s famous snow-snarled traffic jam. After waiting 13 hours in his rental car on Interstate 285 he was told by another stranded motorist who’d talked to a state trooper that relief would come within 24 hours. So “he decided to break the rules,” says a newspaper report. “‘I had no alternative,’ he said. “Nobody could move in front of me. Nobody could move behind me. The sides? I was pinned in. I had no recourse. Either stay there for 24 hours, or do something bold.’”
Mr. Catanzaro steered his car down a ditch, up a slight hill, then sloughed a mile-and-a-half alongside the highway through obstacles, included abandoned school busses, to a ramp onto another interstate that was open. He went wrong way up a down ramp. “Enough is enough,” he is quoted as having told himself. “I don’t care what the rules are here. I don’t care what the probabilities are. I’m going to go for it and see what happens.”
Local economy, secret economy
As a Tennessee board of regents college president, Mr. Catanzaro works a job bound with rules, statutes, regulations, constituency demands, political arrangements, custom and school policies. He represents the remedial aspects of what Americans call “higher education,” a system which at every level is dysfunctional if one imagines its purpose to truly educate the citizenry. He represents the state factory school bureaucracy. But his Atlanta escapade is a picture of the free market, of the sly escape free people make against the system of surveillance, taxation, permissions, regulation, supervision, “oversight” and control. In this contrarian moment, he is a picture of local economy.
The free market exists at every point the modern welfare state does not. All the areas of human prosperity and economic activity where it has not extended itself is, by definition, free. Why has state control not been total? Because it cannot ever be total. Always there exist areas where the free man, the free mind, the independent spirit, can defy the rule-bound convention. The state is not competent to control everything, lacks energy and resource with which to do so. It hasn’t gotten around, yet, to every area.
If writers such as Gary North, Franklin Sanders, Charles Hugh Smith and Peter Schiff are right in their suggestions that debt-fueled national economy has reached a crisis point, then we will want to borrow Mr. Catanzaro’s bold declaration that he doesn’t “care what the rules are.” In the meltdown, the rules that govern will appear to have been vaporized. They will prove to have been part of a quiet deception of American common folk. The “do not enter” highway sign with its icicles will be meaningless.
Other rules will control, and their government will suddenly become so obvious even newspaper reports will consider them part of the new paradigm. The rules that come to the fore seem to bind hardly anyone today. But they are based on moral precepts that arise from the Word of God. They touch on matters of weights and measures, fraudulent dilution of goods, honest and fair dealings, greed and its prohibitions, “thinking of the other,” loving one’s neighbor and so on.
Upon their bases the great reckoning will roll forward.
Old order violators in new paradigm
Local economy already has growing areas that operate in secret and in defiance of the possessory customs of the state. I mention two. Hispanic immigrants are the great nonbanked and mostly live in a straightforward cash economy. They care nothing for legal niceties that oppress Caucasians. Secondarily, Internet entrepreneurs fly under the official radar, except at every point in which they deal with the banking system (part of Uncle’s surveillance apparatus). The Web and the digitalization of money are helping many escape the tyranny of locale.
In the collapse, the good people who run the national government and many of the federal states will be so busy with multiple catastrophes, multiple crises in finance and service, they will not pay attention to people we might identify today as scofflaws. Stock markets melt, retirement accounts go up in smoke and a credit typhoon is locked up in an insolvent financial sector. Seniors will be agonizing over medical insurance problems and cuts in welfare and social security.
The free market entrepreneur in his local economy won’t be the villain, the violator, the lawbreaker, but the hero.
Just like the self-delivering and bold James Catanzaro.
Sources: Tyler Jett, “Escape from Atlanta: Stranded on I-285 for 13 hours, Jim Catanzaro took action,” Chattanooga Times Free Press website, Jan. 30, 2014