About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mother Of All Questions

Scientists agree that the mechanical, mathematical world of Newtonian physics no longer exactly reflects reality. Now there is a new world of quantum physics which recognizes a certain fuzziness in nature which must be accounted for in our calculations. Scientists allow the validity of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which recognizes that the more we can know about one variable, the less we can know about another.

And this thinking holds in Physics! A science which must assume that there is a regularity in the concatenation of natural events which allows us to exactly predict future natural events.

I think, in the realm of human economics, Keynesianism is analogous to Newtonian physics. It regards human nature and human relationships as mechanical behavior. It considers human beings and human society as machinery that can be exactly observed, predicted and manipulated with mathematical precision. It believes all economics is macroeconomics.

Austrian economics, on the other hand, is analogous to quantum physics. It allows a certain fuzziness in human beings and in the realm of human relationships. It regards human society as the product of purposeful, individual action. It understands that individuals are prone to act differently in similar situations because they each seek subjective ends that are inconstant and personal. It understands that manipulation of variables in society by a central authority can have no exactly predictable result in society because each individual in society acts upon and values each variable differently. It believes all economics is microeconomics.

The interesting question is this: If the scientifically minded person is willing to accept the uncertainty principle in the realm of physics, which studies the interplay of unthinking, purposeless, inanimate objects, why does he refuse to accept the uncertainty principle in the realm of economics, which studies the interplay of thinking, purposeful, human individuals?

Friday, May 29, 2015

The New Normal In The Nerd Reich

A couple days ago the American Thinker published an article by Jack Curtis entitled: "Impoverishment: America's New Normal."

Most authors will begin their article by stating their main theme and then building upon it. Curtis waits until the third paragraph from the end to put his finger on the point I think he's trying to make:

There seems little doubt that the economic pattern [of impoverishment] results from government intervention; it is nothing new in history. India’s static caste system and China’s 15th century halt of exploration and change both embedded poverty via economic stasis. In America, it has been overregulation and the increasing corruption accompanying crony capitalism.

Still, the article is written so badly that the author seems to miss his own point. He begins by listing the "conditions that lifted North America so far above the economic norm:"

...available land and resources, a smaller, pro-development government, disparate post Renaissance and mostly post Reformation immigrants that shattered traditional classes, and an industrial revolution supported with European capital.

He only mentions "government intervention" in passing and then refers to it as "smaller" and "pro-development." I suppose a government that barely exists could be considered "pro-development," but saying early government in America is "smaller" than government nowadays is crazy and misleading. It's like comparing the development of boats over the centuries and saying colonial frigates were "smaller" than the USS George H.W. Bush.

The unique and requisite "condition" that lifted America "above the norm" was a new culture that embraced laissez-faire government and individual liberty. People emigrated from Europe to escape old world aristocracy, intolerance and tyrannical rule. In America they built a nation based on equality of opportunity, tolerance and independent self-reliance. That cultural base has been eroded and all but destroyed since, and that is why the future of America today, both political and economic, is so bleak.

Yes, the American middle income segment of the population is shrinking. Wealth is being drawn away from that segment to the wealthy elite by two institutions: a monetary and financial system that enshrines continuous and steep inflation; and an interventionist state that embraces logrolling, cronyism and outrageous aristocratic corruption on a scale surpassing the Old European status quo that early American pioneers fled.

Is it any wonder then that "impoverishment seems likely to be the new normal for America?"

As for "robotic production" putting "masses of workers" on the dole, it's a red herring. Fears of "automation" are as old as technology. Progressives believe that each average, normal American shlub should have a "good" job and a "decent" living wage. That is simply bull shit propaganda. Americans don't live to work; they work to live. They want their efforts to translate into an improved standard of living. They want what capital accumulation, automation, a sound currency and government non-intervention provide: goods and services at a lower price and an easier life for themselves and their children.

A world in which robots make production of consumer goods and services more profitable and efficient is the world we should be striving for, not the world we need to fear...unless that world is devoid of truly private capitalists and entrepreneurs and is flush with crony capitalists who are in league with a managerial, interventionist state.

Curtis writes:

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and now a Professor of Public Policy, said that redistribution of incomes will be necessary to support the masses of workers unemployed as the machines take over.

This type of reductionist nonsense is so typical of progressives. They can't imagine a laissez-faire economy in which free individuals are able to manage their own affairs and their own property to their own best advantage WITHOUT government interference. In short, they believe ordinary Americans are too stupid and incompetent to survive on their own without the guiding mandates of the progressive, intellectual elite enforced by the heavy hand of an interventionist government.

Reich and his arrogant, aristocratic, fellow traveling morons are the reason America today is not the prosperous country our forefathers founded.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"

Robert F. Kennedy was a typical Progressive. He lived and died in the service of a dream that can never come true.

The Progressive sees himself as a cog in a social machine, not as a self-reliant individual capable of producing his own prosperity in a society of free and cooperative traders. In order for a Progressive to be all right with the world, the entire world must first be all right...or at least there must be a social dream in place that makes the Progressive believe the entire world will be all right.
Just as it is impossible to imagine that a particular cog in a gear could work and succeed independently of the other cogs, so it is impossible for a Progressive to imagine his own success and happiness existing independently from the success and happiness of "the masses." So long as there exists a single, unprosperous individual among us, thinks the Progressive, none of us can be truly prosperous or truly happy. 

The corollary to this mode of thinking is that all individuals must properly strive for the prosperity of all. There can be no child left behind. No senior lacking a comfortable pension. No sick person with a pre-existing condition lacking health care. No human being left unsatisfied.

Of course, there is a huge problem with such thinking: harsh reality. Neither as individuals nor as economic actors is it possible for us to satisfy others. Reality does not allow me to control your thoughts or your level of satisfaction, i.e., your happiness. I can only control how I think, what I feel and what I do.

Thus, the social programs Progressives devise to ensure the contentment and happiness of all are doomed from the start by the dual realities of nature and human nature. Even if it was possible to harness the entire human race in the service of the world's needy masses, the realities of time and resources would prevent the success of the endeavor. 

"Need" is a function of the human imagination which is limitless. "Rich" and "Poor" are relative terms describing disparities in material possessions which are finite. Any attempt to satisfy "Need" by ending the disparity between "Rich" and "Poor" is impossibly absurd. 

Moreover, unlike beasts of burden, human beings universally resent the bite of the bridle and the sting of the whip. Individual humans act with purpose toward achieving ends of their own making. Human beings forced or coerced to strive after ends devised for them by others will resist by becoming part of the problem, i.e., they will become unproductive and "needy," the very condition the system was designed in the first place to eliminate.

Progressivism is a syndrome of youth. By the time they have reached adulthood and have embarked on the very American tradition of "earning a living," most conservatives have become acquainted with and respectful of harsh reality. As a consequence, they have exorcized the mush of Progressivism from their minds.

If only my liberal friends would do the same. There is nothing more pitiful or more destructive to a society built upon the principles of private property and individual freedom than a graying Progressive who has not outgrown his or her youthful delusions, especially if this Progressive is elected to a position of authority. 

Barack Obama is living proof of this truism.

Friday, August 15, 2014

45% Of Likely American Voters Are Numbskulls (+/- 3 Percentage Points)

In a recent opinion column Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman praised the DMV:
The point is that the vision of hopeless government isn’t grounded in personal experience, let alone data. At this point it’s a cultural cliche, or a projection by people who read Atlas Shrugged in their teens and never grew up.
Of course, there were no "data" in Krugman's piece one way or the other. And by "personal experience" Krugman means "his" personal experience not "my" personal experience or "yours." Obviously, "his" personal experience is real and accurate. Mine and yours amount to a bogus "cultural cliche." Therefore, Krugman implies, social and economic policy in these United States should rightly be legislated based on "his" personal experience which is uncorrupted by perpetual, childish fantasy.

In other words, Krugman is saying that any American citizen who has had a bad personal experience visiting their local DMV, Post Office, VA hospital, IRS or Social Security office is delusional. According to Krugman, DMV employees are "generally helpful and the lines...moved fast." Thus, Americans should expect new and burgeoning federal behemoths like Homeland Security and ObamaCare to be like the DMV: models of efficient and effective customer service.

Hundreds of individuals in the comment section of Krugman's article agree with him. Apparently, libertarians and conservative Republicans are delusional, driven by emotions and ideology rather than fact and reality, mislead by biases against democratic government and influenced by wealthy corporate interests. On the other hand, liberals and progressives are extremely educated, street-smart and grounded in reality.

Meanwhile, over at Rasmussen Reports, we learn that 17% of likely American voters believe that the era of big government is over. Another 28% are undecided.

You explain it. I can't. Is almost half of the American electorate blind, stupid or both? All I know for sure is that libertarian politicians have their work cut out for them. How do you reason with voters, almost half of whom are numbskulls?

As for Krugman, Chico Marx said it first in Duck Soup: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

Actually, whether or not the lines at the Post Office move as fast as the lines at Federal Express is beside the point. Individuals patronize Federal Express because they want to. They spend money at the Post Office because they have to. Federal Express has customers. The Post Office ministers to a captive audience.

Krugman won his Nobel Prize in economics. Rather than boasting about how helpful employees keep the lines moving at the DMV, you'd think he'd be asking himself why DMV's in their present form exist in the first place. Ultimately, that is the single and distinctive difference between government agencies and private enterprises. Every day a private business exists in the free market, the entrepreneur who owns it must justify its existence and its method of operation. If he doesn't, a competitor will.

If Krugman had lived in socialized Italy during the middle of the last century, no doubt he'd write a column praising railroad conductors for being helpful and Mussolini for keeping the trains running on time.

Talk about missing the point!   

Friday, April 11, 2014

Really, My Leftist Friends, You Can't Be That Stupid!

As an advocate of the free market and laissez faire, I am often lectured by leftists who rant that unregulated capitalism is a danger to good and honest people. "We need government," they tell me, "to force industrialists to be fair and to prevent big business and corporations from becoming monopolists and robber barons who exploit the common man and nefariously enrich themselves and their crony friends."

Well, leftists should be pleased. We live in a country which is now overrun by federal regulators and government bureaucrats who inspect, manage, audit and control virtually every aspect of our lives. Are we better off as a result? Quite the contrary. It is our government politicians and bureaucrats who have become the robber barons. For evidence, all we have to do is examine the news.

Take the case of Tony and Heather Podesta, a high-powered pair of rich, Washington lobbyists who are currently in divorce court. The Washington Free Beacon explains their lifestyles and their political connections in an article titled, Divorce Beltway Style.

The Podestas -- consummate Washington insiders -- reap a fortune suckling at the teat of the Washington cash cow. If their last name sounds familiar, it's because Tony Podesta's brother John has been a powerful, Washington insider since 1997, when he served as President Bill Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff. John Podesta went on to found the Center For American Progress, an influential, progressive think tank which -- you guessed it -- specializes in government policy creation. According to Wikipedia John Podesta is the current chair of that organization and also serves as Counselor to President Obama.

Because of their political and family connections Tony and Heather Podesta are able to profit by playing both ends against the middle. According to the Beacon article, here's how they do it:

As government expands, extending its reach to every aspect of business, every sector of the economy, private citizens and corporations require sherpas to lead them through the mountains of regulations and tax provisions, to discover exemptions and special favors and other forms of relief or favoritism to improve the bottom line. And who better to act as sherpas than the relatives of the Democrats who impose the regulations and tax provisions in the first place, who better than the lively proprietors of a family business operating in the luxurious and morally uncomplicated world of the caste of limousine liberals who dominate politics, culture, news, and finance.

And the profits the Podesta's glean from the federal cesspool are substantial indeed:

In 2009, with the inauguration of Obama and the dawn of unified Democratic control of Washington, business boomed. Revenues at Tony’s firm close to doubled, and revenues at Heather’s firm increased by 50 percent. The money has continued to roll in. The Podesta Group had some $13 million in lobbying income in 2013, sporting clients such as Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, U.S. Airways, Walmart, and the National Biodiesel Board. Heather Podesta + Partners made some $4 million, lobbying on behalf of health companies, the American Beverage Association, Brookfield Power, DeVry University, and others. A portion of that money was recycled, contributing to Democratic campaigns, opening up avenues of influence: Tony gave some $45,500 in 2013, all to Democrats; Heather some $95,798 to Democrats, Democratic committees, and liberal groups.
Nice work if you're connected enough to get it. Reportedly, the Podesta's own a multi-million dollar mansion in Washington, DC and have an apartment in Venice, Italy which they visit "up to a dozen times a year." They both run with the most powerful crowd in DC. The problem is you and I pick up the tab for their extravagances by paying higher prices for the products made by their crony capitalist clients and higher taxes for the huge bureaucratic establishment the Podesta's lobby and patronize.

Tony and Heather Podesta are merely a single example of the millions of lobbyists and federal bureaucrats and politicians who every day feed off of each other and the American consumer and taxpayer. Here's another example. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) describes itself as "a small agency with a big mission: To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations."

Why then is the BLM currently attempting to force a Nevada rancher to stop grazing his cattle on federal land? According to the MailOnline, the rancher, Cliven Bundy, claims his family has been using the range land to graze cattle since the 1870's. The BLM claims it is trying to evict the rancher in order to protect the habitat of an endangered species of desert tortoise.

But knowledgeable locals tell a different story:

“It is not about turtles it is about water. There are developers working for military contractors that want that land and water for mining weapons grade minerals for industry… they want to sell the land by the highway for real estate development because it’s close to I-15 and the Bundy’s have been refusing to sell what they actually own directly for over 20 years. Many buyers sent me out there with crazy offers for that land for many years. It is prime real estate not worthless desert. There is a natural gas pipeline going through there and lots of water under ground too. Somebody connected to a military corporation is using political power and the BLM to muscle those people out.”
Imagine that! Federal politicians and regulators using their monopoly on the use of force and coercion to manipulate the real estate market in favor of crony friends, family and political campaign donors! Apparently, such practices are business as usual for the federal government, especially in Nevada.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Nevada Senator Harry Reid has a long history of helping his pals in the real estate business at the expense of the American taxpayer and those on the other side of the political fence:

It was the kind of legislation that slips under the radar here.

The name alone made the eyes glaze over: "The Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002." In a welter of technical jargon, it dealt with boundary shifts, land trades and other arcane matters -- all in Nevada.

As he introduced it, Nevada's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Harry Reid, assured colleagues that his bill was a bipartisan measure to protect the environment and help the economy in America's fastest-growing state.

What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons' and son-in-law's firms, federal lobbyist reports show.
Maybe it's merely a coincidence that Cliven Bundy lives in Clark County, Nevada, the place where Harry Reid cut his political teeth as a freshman in Congress many years ago. Maybe it's merely a coincidence that Reid was accused on more than one occasion of abusing his legislative power to benefit his family and friends. In fact, maybe it's merely a coincidence that, according to the Los Angeles Times, Reid and his family have their fingers in just about everything that goes on in Nevada:

So pervasive are the ties among Reid, members of his family and Nevada's leading industries and institutions that it's difficult to find a significant field in which such a relationship does not exist.

Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times reports, Reid's power over land interests in Nevada is extraordinary:

As a senator, Reid exerts a degree of power over local affairs that is unknown in most states.

That is because the federal government owns 87% of Nevada's land; to a large extent, Washington decides whether cities and businesses can expand and where economic growth may occur. Even local zoning may become a federal matter.

Over the years, Reid has used legislation to move federal land into private hands and private land into the public realm. He says he has done so to preserve scenic and environmentally sensitive areas while freeing up more land for urban growth.

Such was the case with the Clark County legislation.
Does Reid have anything to do with the BLM trying to evict Cliven Bundy's cattle from grazing land in Clark County, Nevada? I don't know if he does or doesn't, but I do know that the current head of the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, a Nevada native who, MailOnline reports "served previously as a senior adviser to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid."

No, I wouldn't be surprised if Reid is involved. After all, it wouldn't be Reid's first rodeo. According to Wikipedia:

A series of investigative reports in the Los Angeles Times[43][44][45][46] suggested that Reid had introduced legislation and imposed pressure on regulatory agencies to advance the business interests of his close friend Harvey Whittemore, a Nevada attorney-lobbyist who contributed heavily to Reid's campaigns and leadership fund and who employed Reid's son Leif as his personal attorney. With Reid's help, Whittemore was able to proceed with construction of a $30 billion planned golf course development, Coyote Springs, a project heavily criticized by environmental groups for reasons including its projected effects on several endangered species.
Just imagine how exploited we'd all be if Senator Harry Reid and the BLM weren't around to protect us from potential robber barons like Cliven Bundy.

Oh, by the way, according to the Gateway Pundit various private militia groups from around the nation are assembling in Nevada in support of the rebellious rancher.

Which reminds me of another story in the news this week. Reportedly, Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed the fact that his Department of Justice is looking into ways to make guns "safer." His department has requested "$382.1 million in increased spending for its fiscal year 2014 budget for 'gun safety.'”

Meanwhile, "President Barack Obama’s budget proposal also calls for $1.1 billion to “protect Americans from gun violence—including $182 million to support the president’s ‘Now is the Time’ gun safety initiative.”

Holder said he wants to force gun owners to wear a "gun control bracelet" on their shooting wrist so that he can make sure that only "lawful" gun owners are able to make their guns shoot. Holder expects both sides of the gun control debate to support his gun control bracelet idea.

I am amazed that Holder is so out of touch with both the American public and the US Constitution that he would go public with such a boneheaded idea. Surely he knows that any gun control bracelet smart enough to make a gun shoot is also smart enough to prevent that gun from shooting.

Law enforcement is already able to shut down your automobile in an emergency by remote control. A bill has already been introduced in the US Congress giving the federal government the authority to shut down the internet in a time of national emergency. Is it beyond the pale to imagine that the federal government might use a gun control bracelet to effectively disarm dissidents in a national crisis, perhaps a crisis like the one developing in Clark County, Nevada? (I am assuming of course that the government would require private citizens to wear the gun control bracelet and not members of the government's myriad swat teams.) 

Surely my leftist friends are smart enough to see through Holder's tomfoolery.

On the other hand, if leftists are foolish enough to believe that Harry Reid and his bureaucratic pals are protecting Americans from robber barons rather than acting like robber barons themselves, maybe they are stupid enough to believe just about anything.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Birds Of A Feather

Nicolas Maduro (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
On November 15, 2013 Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela and an avowed Marxist, was granted the power to rule by decree.

On January 14, 2014 Barack Obama, the President of the United States and a de facto Marxist, granted himself the power to rule by decree, saying: "I've got a pen and I've got a phone."

On November 22, 2013 the Washington Times reported that President Maduro "issued a decree that profit margins can be limited." The Washington Post reported:
Earlier this month, after railing against “bourgeois parasites,” Maduro ordered troops to take over a major electronics store chain and force managers to sell goods ranging from plasma TVs to stereos at bargain-basement prices.

On February 12, 2014 President Obama issued a decree that the minimum wage for federal contractors be increased to $10.10 an hour. On February 18, 2014 the White House blog stated that the minimum wage increase mandated by the President would not cause unemployment if the nation's bourgeois parasites lowered their profit margins:
In addition, businesses can adjust in other ways rather than reducing employment (for example, by accepting lower profit margins).

The Subway To Serfdom

Map courtesy of The Independent