It can happen to anybody. Your income is low and costs ever-rising. Your bank balance escapes your clutches and plunges beneath that wicked red line. Disaster! Or not so much. The hand of central banking is in there somewhere, if only one has the stomach to look long enough. But on to brighter things. Today was in fact quite delightful. Despite some bad financial news yesterday I was able to quickly resolve matters in a way that was almost thrilling.

I was in the local branch of my bank, a swanky and bright place with standing staff, out on the ‘shop’ floor, eager to help. The whole place has a refined, cool elegance about it. Ever so slightly off-white walls with some dark blue accents, wood-panel floors, and big, inviting light fittings overhead, like the entire place has been designed as a nexus for classy people to hang out and discuss their finances. My ease and sense of welcome was immeasurably enhanced by a friendly gentleman with an Amish hipster beard and a mischievous sense of humour. He graciously assisted me using the new cash deposit machines – ‘whirr!’ it went as soon as I placed my bills inside – and in one minute flat my cash was deposited. What’s more, the moment I withdrew my bank card the monies were added to my bank balance.

This service just saved my bacon. Now I can afford to write about it! Immediately afterwards, and in stark contrast to the commercialism of the bank branch a lady in the street stopped me in an attempt to sign me up to donate to Greenpeace. I acceded by stopping and gently, politely stating that I have no truck with the existence of Greenpeace, or any NGO pursuing whatever cause its bosses may want, but I could not, in all conscience, make a donation, either as a one-off, or long term. I explained the basics of my financial and employment situation – we freelancers need as few different expenses to think of as possible – and so we agreed I did not represent a good lead, let alone prospect.

I smiled a lot, I spoke in a low but cheerful tone of voice, and I listened to rather than attacked the nice lady who was, after all, nothing but charming and civil. I explained that if people could enjoy private property rights over the ocean as they do over land then Greenpeace could simply homestead the North Pole and totally ban or closely observe fossil fuel exploration and drilling. What I was advocating was effectively free market environmentalism, but not once did I use the words free market. The woman talking to me gave the impression of someone who would spit large quantities of ink when confronted by such suggestions.

After a lovely and brief chat we parted ways amicably, and I began my usual daily routine of sitting in a local cafe and reading the news on my laptop. And then it hit me. I’d just tasted of commercialism and voluntaryism within minutes of each other! Both the commercial bank and the impromptu chat in the street required no coercion from outside to accomplish. I got what I wanted out of the bank, and they got what they wanted out of me. I got a brief chat wherein I got to suggest that Greenpeace homestead the oceans and land in the far North, and recommend they get into ad-hoc mobile lending. The last time I donated to charity was to an Oxfam fund for water buckets by donating my phone credit. If Greenpeace had had that option, I would have donated through it.

Or would I? If the guys at Greenpeace were seriously committed then they could surely find some use for the North Pole, persuade people to move up there and do it in Greenpeace’s name, and then claim to own the land. Alas, in a statist society such a move is unlikely to be suggested, and if attempted, unlikely to succeed. The statist quo was right there, impeding progress and getting between me and this undoubtedly very decent person’ earnest passion for the natural environment. I take Walter Block’s side, of course, and I dispute the efficacy of the extent and urgency of anthropogenic climate change so far and for the next hundred years at least.

There is more to all this, of course. The tedious but inescapable debt spiral. Fortunately my debts are very small ( in the lower single-digit thousands ) and manageable, if annoying. My fellow citizens’ are not so easily waved aside. Debts large enough to beggar the world’s population many times over and rising have been incurred in a world where money melts like ice cream in our hands. So don’t hold on to it. Spend, spend, spend! Deflation is your enemy, blah blah blah. Everybody is saying this, even The Economist, my news weekly of choice. Inflation is growth in the total supply of money, and leads to higher prices. Overall, prices have not risen as much as the quantity of money, but expressed in quantities of currency they have gone up, by and large. Only the freest industries have avoided this fate, for example automobiles, electronics, fashion, media and software.

This inflation drives people to spend when they should save, presumably under the bizarre Keynesian idea that there is no correlation between savings and investment. But since savings are invested, and investment in the work of profit-motivated entrepreneurs drives productivity growth and division of labour, it is clear that the more money is saved, the more money is invested, the faster productivity increases, and the faster prices will fall. This should apply to absolutely everything, even houses. But instead the cost of a house has risen exponentially over the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st.

After I’d offered the Greenpeace canvasser my suggestion for a free market solution, she then made it quite clear that what her organisation seeks to do is lobby government to introduce a boring old political ban on exploration and drilling north of the Arctic Circle. I held my tongue, knowing that any talk of free market nonviolence would be horribly misunderstood as an attack on the ecosystem of that beautiful and remote part of the world. Not to mention she was an employee at work, and in need of some prospects to convert. So on I went. As I parted ways and ambled peaceably to my final destination, I pondered the many unspoken flaws in the premises of this person’s pitch.

And there were many. First of all there are no clear grounds on which to indict oil firms for being free-market beasties at all. Hell, most of the biggest ones are state-owned; Saudi Aramco, Rosneft, Statoil, and Petrobras for example. The drilling industry is heavily regulated pretty much everywhere, with drillers applying for license from government rather than simply buying land, extracting what they can, then either maintaining or selling it on. The latter would be a free market situation and does not currently exist anywhere on Earth. A second problem is that the campaign is all about lobbying government; thus it is all about getting the violent monopoly to do what Greenpeace organisers want because they’re right and anyone contradicting them is wrong. The woman in the street said herself that they [Greenpeace] were lobbying to get a no drilling zone imposed, and that the oil and gas industry were lobbying for the opposite, surprise surprise.

In sum, both the banks and Greenpeace are guilty of using government tools against peaceful people with no dog in the fight, whether it be over stagnant pay and rising prices due to inflation, or the costs of enforcing a possible government policy that Greenpeace would see foisted on all human beings already living near or in the Arctic Circle. My commercial experience in the bank branch, and my voluntary one chatting in the street, were delightful exercises in spontaneous order, but I have no time at all to humour the engine they are both apologists for; the total and hungry state, growing in anonymity, inscrutability, and power every day.