Iron Man 2

Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau

Far too often in entertainment, government provided security is shown to be the harbinger of order and peace. Shows like Law and Order, Cops, Dragnet, CSI, NYPD Blue, and many others portray the virtue of government provided security/arbitration services as the only thing keeping us from chaos and disorder. Never is it considered that there may be a better way of providing these services; never is it considered that these services may actually be contributing to general mayhem and disorder. Instead, it is taken at face value that government is the only way to provide security.

Therefore, when a movie comes along which sheds light on this issue and portrays the opposite, that private industry is much more capable of providing those services and would bring about a lasting world peace and security not at the price of liberty, that movie should be viewed heavily and talked about in every social circle. Could private security truly work? Would it bring about a more peaceful society where citizens would not fear clan violence at every turn?


That said, the beginning of the movie opens up to Iron Man, who is a man by the name of John Stack who wears a suit which allows him to harness great amounts of energy to fly and use energy weapons/beams. He appears in a dazzling display of flight before an audience who greets him by cheering and shouting. He, somewhat pompously, addresses the crowd and says that he doesn’t want to take total credit for world peace, but that world was currently at peace and his company and suit may have had something to do with it. Throughout the movie, there are newspaper headlines that flash which show that disputes between eastern and western world nations had been resolved and that peace was, indeed, worldwide.

Some might have been put off by his pompous attitude, as I first was, but I realize that this man had much to be proud of. His father had given him the company a security company which developed technology to make the world safer, truly safer, and he had taken that company and profited and succeeded. He had developed useful tool and technology which he used to promote, not wars and destruction, but peace and prosperity and trade. He has every right to be proud by running a profitable company which is providing an essential service to mankind.

I would take a moment to outline my impression of his company and contrast it with the other major company portrayed in the movie. Mr. Hammer, who ran the other company, was a government contractor. He received his income from military contracts granted to him by the government. When he appeared at his own exposition later in the film, he was greeted by modest applause. His programs and weaponry consistently fail to impress throughout the movie; when he brings an array of weaponry to the higher ranked military officers, they meet him with cold stares as his weaponry is not even remotely as complex or technologically advanced as the devices developed by Mr. Starck.

In contrast, and I would love to be corrected if someone knows more about the comic series than I, but the company of Mr. Starck was driven purely by voluntary contributions. They would offer contracts to individuals and private security firms in the area to utilize or purchase the technology created by that company. There is a point in the movie where the current CEO of the company, which was handed this position by Starck, attempted to utilize patent laws to try and attack her competitors who were trying to copy those devices, but I am willing to overlook this small point for now. The importance I wish to draw to this company is that it was funded by voluntary contributions, and not through violent taxation and military contracts. In fact, he refused to sell them a suit or tell them how to make his technology.

In the next portion of the movie, Starck was forced to appear before a Senate meeting. The senator in charge of the hearing, Mr. Stern, sternly disallowed the utterance of any information he did not want involved in the hearing. He ordered a military officer who drafted a report to read only a portion of the report he had written, which involved exactly what the senator wanted heard. The report said that Starck was not under the command of any military officer, and could thus be considered a possible threat should he turn his weapons on the military or country. The military officer then proceeded to state that the rest of the report shows how there was no reason to be concerned based on the actions of Mr. Starck and his company and shown through the voluntary contracts of individuals contributing to the revenue of that company, but the senator quickly shut him up.

Mr. Hammer, Starck’s competitor, was also at the meeting and spoke out against Starck. This is telling of companies who wish to use the violence of government to halt their competitors in their tracks. He was hoping that the government would effectively put Starck out of business so that all of that money could come to him instead of Starck. This shows that those who are incapable of competing by providing a better product at a lower cost will inevitably seek violence, if it is available to them, to put those better and more able competitors out of business. This is the whole purpose of regulations and anti-trust/anti-monopoly legislation: it violently pushes competitors out of the market at the bequest of those who lobby the government.

The senator then went on to show images of the Iron Man suit and show how it could be a threat to the nation and how other nations were trying to mimic that technology. Starck then uses his fancy cell phone to hijack the computer and TV screen to portray his own images. The senator asked him what he was doing, and he replied that he was bringing some real transparency to the world. He showed images of mechanized weaponry in North Korea, Iran, and several other perceived or manufactured threats from those companies, and showed how their robots and military research was failing miserably. They were falling over, shooting their own people, or just failing to work entirely and falling apart.

This shows 2 things: 1) government projects are always prone to failure. They do not put in as much work or effort because there is no incentive to create quality products. In a free market, those who do well attract more customers and gain more market share. When a new competitor offers something better, the consumers leave the original company and flock to the new company. There is a constant incentive to create better and higher quality products because other, more capable entities will attract away your consumers if you do not. The government has no such incentive to improve their quality. All of it’s revenue is extracted by force and is thus guaranteed regardless of the quality of their product, so government is consistently prone to failure as a result.

2) Those nations who are perceived as threats are really no threat at all. This is a very important point, because it shows that government is constantly fear mongering and making up enemies who don’t really exist. It is constantly creating hobgoblins to scare the public into surrendering more money and freedom to the government, even when those hobgoblins pose no threat whatsoever.

As Mr. Hammer runs over to the screen and tries to unplug it, showing his complicity in trying to use the violence of government to put his competitor out of business and not wishing pieces of information which are detrimental to his cause being revealed to the public, Starck gets up and triumphantly leaves the hearing. He announces that he has “successfully privatized world peace!” which was a shining beacon of truth to my ears. There is no organization better suited to bring about world peace than private industry and the free market, as aggression and violence is always more expensive than defense and peace. There is no reason whatsoever for private industry to go and aggressively invade other countries or attack their States or people; those companies who attempted to engage in such actions would quickly lose business to those companies who provided defense and true peace.

Consider this: there are two private security companies. One seeks domination of another country, let’s say Canada, and the other provides solely for the defense of the individuals who seek it’s contracts and invests it’s capital only in devices which will defend those paying customers against attack. The one company who wishes to invade Canada has to purchase bombs, fighter jets, mortars, M-16s, missiles, helicopters, and major technological software and communication devices designed to coordinate attacks. They also have to employ pilots, assassins, soldiers, etc. The private company who does not invade but rather only provides defense will have a much smaller list of products to purchase: it will likely have a rotating employee list where it does not need to employ people until an attack actually occurs. It’s mechanized weapons will be much fewer and far between; it also does not have to consider the grave loss of many of those items. It will likely, instead of purchasing bombs, create laser technology or satellite weapons systems which will shoot down any incoming craft and missiles rather than invest in destructive weapons systems. Defense is always cheaper to wage than offense.

Therefore, the company who is aggressive will have to charge higher rates to it’s customers. Let’s assume that it’s security contracts, with individuals, is 2 to 1. So, the private company who is invading Canada will offer you a monthly fee of 600$ for it’s aggressive war. The other company will come to you and offer you defense services for only 300$ per month. Which is a more attractive deal? Customers would flee the aggressive company and contract, instead, with the defensive company. It is likely that the differential between these two prices will be much higher; aggression and violence is extremely expensive. 1 trillion dollars a year to keep up our military empire is certainly an empirical example of that.

Continuing on in the movie, we have another character. Ivan is a Russian scientist who was taught by his father who worked closely with Mr. Starck’s father. Ivan is jealous of Mr. Starck’s popularity, and sets off to build his own suit. He ends up building a somewhat primitive version of the Iron Man suit and fashions electrical whips. Instead of using his knowledge to start his own company and attempt to attract his own customers, he instead uses the suit to attack his competitor, Mr. Starck. He strikes Starck out of rage and jealousy, but Starck defeats him in his Iron Man suit. Ivan is then hauled away to prison.

A very important point here is a point which is often raised against the private provision of security. Since Ivan and Starck were private individuals, and Ivan went and used his technology to attack Starck, what is to stop private security companies from feuding with each other? Why would they not just fight away at each other in order to be a dominant and monopolistic firm where the consumers then had no choice? Again, we must assert that violence is always more costly than defense. Therefore, the company who is waging war against another company must have a substantial capital base. Where did they get this capital and how could they maintain their revenue streams? In the free market, the only way to acquire capital is by voluntary means. You must bid customers away from competitors by offering better products. In the case of a rogue security company, customers would likely leave in droves. They would not continue their contracts with that company.

Thus, with it’s capital pool depleted, this aggressive company would have difficulty hiring all the thugs and soldiers that it needs to wage war with the other companies. As it loses customers, it’s competitor gains those customers, and in effect has significantly more capital to ward off the threat of the aggressive company and protect it’s customers from that rogue company. There is also the problem of hiring those people in the first place: would you ever consider working for a company who’s business plan involves the blatant and violent destruction of all it’s competitors? Most people with some sense of morality would never concede to such a plan.

Additionally, all security companies would have to be insured by DROs, or dispute resolution organizations, in order to purchase the material necessary to produce those weapons and goods. DROs would be especially careful when insuring private security companies; the potential for abuse is quite high. DRO insurance would be necessary to trade with anyone else in society. In order to purchase electricity, steel, bullets, etc, you would have to be insured by a DRO. Any company who sold to uninsured security companies would themselves be blacklisted in society; they too would lose their insurance and be unable to trade with other people. The private security company who is uninsured would not be able to purchase any resources or hire any labor; anyone who worked for this company would themselves be blacklisted and be unable to trade with other people. As those employees would not have access to food or electricity or television or cell phone service or anything else they would want to purchase in society, working for this uninsured and rogue security company would have little benefit as those wages would not buy goods and services. They would find themselves effectively ostracized.

Being unable to participate in the division of labor would be quite a blow to any individual or company. The benefits of the division of labor are immense; without the specialization of individuals and companies providing different goods and services to those who can’t produce those things on their own, life would be brutal and short. We should not ever dismiss the possibility of insurance being dropped by DRO companies as being something which is not detrimental; being an outcast from the division of labor would be a seal of misery and starvation.

Back to the movie, Ivan is then broken out of prison by none other than government. This goes to show the complete corruption of government and why they should not run the jail systems. If they run the jails, then they can choose who to save if those people prove useful to them. Lincoln opened up the jails to turn these violent criminals loose on the Southern states during the War of Northern Aggression. After the authorities conspire to break Ivan out of prison, killing another prisoner in the process and setting off an explosion which causes damage to the prison the repairs of which will be paid for by taxpayers, Ivan appears before Mr. Hammer who lavishly wines and dines him at the taxpayer’s expense. Remember, his income is received by government contracts. Here he is getting all this food imported from everywhere around the world paid for by money received through taxation in order to woo a violent criminal to entice him to build weaponry for Hammer’s military company.

Ivan agrees and is taken to Hammer’s facility. Hammer then goes through the process of spending the taxpayer money on a bunch of mechanized suits. He shows them to Ivan, and Ivan immediately gets on the computer and starts hacking into them. Hammer stutters and says oh, we’ll get you a password. Ivan doesn’t speak and breaks into the computer system and starts looking at the software running the robots. Ivan says that Hammer’s software is “crap”, and he is easily able to hack into it.

This shows how government security is always prone to breeches. They, for the reasons listed above, don’t provide a high quality product. There is not as much of an incentive to develop highly secure software, because no competitors exist. Again, their revenue is gained by violent taxation and their reputation does not depend on their ability to keep data secure. For instance, I had a scare a while back that my bank had lost some of my financial and personal data. At that time, I started looking around for competitors who offered better security in their banking services. I didn’t actually switch banks, but the threat of losing consumers to competition constantly keeps companies on their toes. My bank issued a public apology about the data loss and even offered to purchase a year’s worth of identity theft insurance for each of the individuals affected. Imagine the government doing that.

Meanwhile, Starck is going through calamity due to personal problems and the imminent threat of danger because of the energy source of the suit. His life is being torn from him, so he becomes reckless and endangers himself and the people around him. This is a personal issue and is something that he dealt with by looking to himself, his ability as a brilliant inventor and entrepreneur, and his family and people who cared about him. In the meantime, one of his suits is stolen by his friend in the military who wrote the report I mentioned earlier. They get into a big fight because the officer believes Starck is acting recklessly, and takes off with one of his suits to a military base.

While the suit is in government custody, Starck is approached by an organization called SHIELD, headed by Nick Fury. This is a private organization who works under the radar of the government to protect people and society. I do not know how their income is received, but it obviously cannot be through government or taxation. This organization again provides private security and is more capable at doing so than government ever was. I was impressed at how efficient and skilled they were at doing their job. SHIELD stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. I’m not sure how much I like their name with those words “intervention and enforcement” in the title, but as a consumer I would be offered different and competing security companies. The name of those companies would be one of the many attributes that would play into my choice to purchase a security contract from them or not.

The government then goes to work contracting Hammer to develop weaponry for the new suit. Hammer is also working on the mechanized suits, which Ivan says should be drones. They attach a machine gun and put a missile in the suit. Soon after, the suit is on display at Hammer’s own expo, and he claims credit for the production of the stolen suit to save face in the eyes of the taxpayers. Soon, however, catastrophe occurs.

It never occurred to Hammer that the person he broke out of jail would be compromising his entire company and taking control of the robots for his own ends. Ivan had built the drones to be under his complete control, and he uses those robots to attack the people in the arena and also to attack Iron Man who comes to try to save them. This shows how easily a centralized organization can be taken over and used for evil means. All it takes for government to be compromised is a few evil people getting elected and gaining control of the mechanism of government.

In a free and decentralized society, there would be no tax base or military mechanism to gain control of. If an evil person managed to gain a foothold in a private security company and began using it for evil means, there would be a hundred other competing companies which would draw away that company’s consumer base as noted above. Therefore, evil people would have a much more difficult time gaining control of private security companies than they would a centralized government which has a tax base to exploit.

As seen here, Ivan had no problem infiltrating government and subverting their mechanisms. The same is true throughout history; Julius Caesar gained control of the army and marched it into Rome to take over and declared himself a dictator. Lenin gained control of the government through the Bolshevik revolution and violently turned himself into a dictator to gain control of their political system and made the way for the horrors of Stalin. Those who are evil will always be drawn to central authority; it is the only mechanism by which mass murderers can carry out their evil plans of killing millions and actually be praised for doing it.

Inevitably, Iron Man and his military friend end up defeating Ivan and his horde of robot drones. In the final battle, Iron Man shows his prowess in a dazzling display of weaponry. This shows the technology that private industry is capable of producing. In contrast, when the missile constructed by Hammer’s company is used against Ivan, the missile just bounces off and fizzles out. This again shows the failure of government security.

If we want lasting peace and true security, the private market is where we will find it. Government cannot provide true security because it is a violent organization. Violence will never bring about peace. A government is constantly at war with other nations and at war with it’s own people. It uses violence to steal their money and then legislate away their freedom. It is constantly at war with every class and every race and every people. The “Hammer” or bludgeon or club or gun is it’s only means of solving problems. It cannot possibly bring about lasting peace. Peace during the 1800s was largely attributed to a common money, gold/silver, and to the free market which harmonizes the interests of all people. It is not a coincidence that, when government was small and largely non-existent, that peace was widespread.

“There’s this absurd presumption that government is always better at providing security than the market, and when government proves to be terrible, the presumption is that any system would have failed under the circumstances, but that government failed less than others would have. What a leap of faith!”

~Lew Rockwell

Thank you also to the producers of Iron Man 2 for showing the benefits of the free market and private industry. Your contribution of this film which highlights the ideas which will lead towards acquisition of true world peace has not gone unnoticed.

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