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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm A "Hater"

Some guy calling himself "grantinhouston" thinks I'm a "hater."

He visited my blog as a result of a comment I posted at Extreme Liberal's Blog, then stumbled onto my post on Michael Moore. Here's part of his comment on my comment:

TROLL Sherman, read you blog and love your “intellectual” infantile description of Michael Moore which shows you are a HATER.
This fat tub of lard, and his ilk, is not only evil but dangerous to the internal peace of our society.
The irony is the guy is purportedly “rich” himself!
I used to sit next to a guy like him in first grade. Get within two feet and the ass stench was unbearable.
I suspect Michael doesn’t have very many friends.
TROLL Sherman, you think your wife’s friend Irene is EVIL only because she is a liberal! I suspect your only friends are fellow HATERS.
I hereby confess that my Michael Moore post is not intellectual and totally infantile. However, I also confess that I hate Michael Moore. Why not? This olf is threatening my life style and the well-being of my family by his political activism and nonsensical political opinions. He's actively working to lower my living standard. What's not to hate?

I freely confess: I hate Michael Moore. I have hated Michael Moore for many, many years, ever since I first witnessed his open mouth and the crap spilling out of it.

Merriam-Webster defines "hate" as follows:
An intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury...extreme dislike or antipathy...
Yup, that about sums up my feelings for Michael Moore.

I guess grantinhouston is just going to have to get over it.

By the way, I'm not a "hater" all the time. Neither does "hating" define my personality. I am a discriminating "hater." Why? Because I am a thinking human being, able to discern right from wrong, good from evil. I love right and good. I hate wrong and evil.

Yes, grantinhouston, Michael Moore is evil. It's the chief reason I hate him.

I believe "hate" is a healthy emotion, so long as you control it and it doesn't control you. By "control" I mean keeping hate in the realm of language and abstract discussion. Allowing "hate" to break into the field of action and interpersonal relations is not wise.

So, grantinhouston, feel free to hate me. No harm, no foul. We all hate someone or something, don't we? Besides, like they say: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

By the way, just to be clear, I don't hate grantinhouston...not yet.

Maybe if I ever get to know him better...

The American Jobs Act

I recently commented on a article posted on the Extreme Liberal's Blog. The article is entitled: The American Jobs Act Will Prevent A Recession -- Pass It Now!

Below is my response to the claim that the Act will stimulate "demand."

Thank you for a reasoned response.

If, as you say, a “business does take its cue from the markets” and responds exclusively to the “demand thing,” then by your own argument all the incentives in the American Jobs Act aimed at business owners (payroll tax cuts, a tax holiday for hiring new workers or raising employee wages, tax incentives for new investment, tax credit for hiring veterans, tax credit for hiring the long term unemployed and regulatory reforms and reductions) are worthless window dressing.

Thus, again by your own argument, the only useful measures in the President’s bill are those that increase demand in the economy (preventing layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters, modernizing public schools, modernizing roads, airports and waterways, expanding access to wireless, subsidized employment and job training, cutting employee payroll taxes and “allowing” Americans to refinance their mortgages at lower rates).

However, let’s examine these measures more closely. Preventing layoffs will not add new demand to the economy. It merely preserves current demand.

Modernizing and repairing infrastructure will add new demand to the economy only to the extent that new workers are hired for these projects. Any new demand will be over the very long term.

Even if half of the unemployed workforce found subsidized jobs and training as a result of the bill, new demand added to the economy could be at most 5%.

Payroll tax breaks and refinancing opportunities would increase the incomes of ordinary Americans by a few percentage points at best, but these measures would only add new demand to the economy to the extent that these ordinary Americans spend the increased income rather than save it for a rainy day.

In truth, neither you nor federal government planners can know what exactly ordinary Americans will do with this bit of extra income. They are as likely to hold it or to spend down debt, as to create new demand.

The only consequences of the American Jobs Act that can be accurately predicted are the amounts of money that will be distributed initially by the government to favored political cronies and constituents.

Of course, due to the fact that the bill is “fully paid for,” this money will have been taken from others in the economy in the form of taxes. As a result, those “others” will no longer be able to save or spend it. Thus, the effect on overall new demand will probably be nil.
All efforts by government planners to direct or out-guess buyers and sellers in the free marketplace are vain. All these efforts are eventually exposed as sops to favored constituencies and interest groups. This truth holds true no matter the party in charge of the government. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama's Shovel-ready Construction Tripe

The latest from the White House is Obama's shameless push to put Americans to work building roads and bridges.

Who does this guy think he is, an Egyptian Pharoah? FDR?

Half the workforce is female and most of it is white collar. Does Obama really believe a laid off secretary or office manager is going to cut it on a road crew?

Besides, I was thinking. Isn't there such a thing as the Highway Trust Fund? Haven't we been spending billions of dollars in gas tax money for the last 50 years re-building our roads and bridges? Why are they, allegedly, still such a mess?

Maybe because Congress has been spending the Trust Fund on something other than road and bridge repairs. Maybe like moving sidewalks, light rail, bike paths and trollies. Or maybe politicians have been busy earmarking monies from the Trust Fund for vanity projects like roads, bridges and runways to nowhere, instead of directing the funds where they are really needed.

Whatever. It only goes to prove that the federal government exists only for those who are in it. We don't need it. We don't want it. Turn Washington into a Ghost Town as quickly as possible. We'll manage nicely on our own, thank you.

The Most Disturbing News Of The Day...So Far

From Politico. "Michael Moore Threatens The Rich: "Let's Deal With It Nonviolently Now."

This fat tub of lard, and his ilk, is not only evil but dangerous to the internal peace of our society.

The irony is the guy is purportedly "rich" himself!

I used to sit next to a guy like him in first grade. Get within two feet and the ass stench was unbearable.

I suspect Michael doesn't have very many friends.

Debate Post Mortem

My overriding sentiment after watching two hours of the FOX News Presidential debate last night was: Is this really the best we got?

First a word about the FOX production... Those pundits who compared the debate to a game show almost got it. The debate was more like a video game with Google supplying the technics. Does a major news company really need YouTube, live internet polling and Google search statistics to determine the best questions to ask a wannabee President? And why do the questionnaires get two or three minutes to frame their question and the candidates only one minute to respond? And did anyone else watching get irritated by these windbag questions being asked of only a single candidate? Wouldn't it have been instructive to hear less questions and more answers from each candidate?

MICHELLE BACHMANN I guess her heart's in the right place but where's her head at. To me she comes across as a bit too Washingtonian, too over-coached. Lady, drop the stupid grin and get real. Did she really say we get to keep every dollar we earn because the money is ours but that we also have to give some "back to the government" to "run the government?" Did she really say the very first thing she would do as President is repeal ObamaCare? I didn't know Presidents could do that. Her best answer was to the question of whether or not states should enforce national borders. She said she'd do her job as President and have the federal government enforce its borders. Yawn...

JON HUNTSMAN Another bigger yawn. This guy tries hard to be politically correct. He weaseled out of Chris Wallace's accusation that he subsidized "clean energy" as Governor of Utah by saying "we've" learned that subsidies don't work. Then he proceeded to talk about how "we" should begin the conversion process to natural gas for our energy needs. He also believes that living abroad for a period of years makes him a qualified expert in foreign policy. If this guy isn't another Bush, I'll eat his birth certificate.

RICK SANTORUM Speaking of foreign policy, this guy is just plain scary. He makes Barry Goldwater look like a pacifist. Not only don't I want this guy's finger on the trigger, I don't even want him within 50 feet of the gun cabinet.

RON PAUL/GARY JOHNSON Paul still makes the best arguments despite his screechy, ranting style. Johnson would make the best President of anyone on stage. Plus, he bought himself a suit that fits. I was put off by his endorsement of the FAIR Tax which seems to me to be a way to fund huge government. The truth is the Washington elite wouldn't let either one of these nerds get close to the oval office, even if it were only on a tour bus passing by. Remember JFK?

HERMAN CAIN The most personable guy on stage, but I worry about his naivete. His 9-9-9 plan doesn't stand a prayer of passing as he conceives it. Congress would twist it into a way to fund big government. The guy reminds me of a black Herbert Hoover. He's got the solution to every problem imaginable. Washington would eat him alive.

NEWT GINGRICH The best debater of the lot, but too smart for his own good. The guy is a closet Woodrow Wilson. When asked whether it was right that individuals can receive unemployment benefits for 99 weeks, Newt answered "No," except if they were forced to get some "training." Are you kidding me? It's not that Newt doesn't have the balls to say "No" and stop there. He just believes too much in government solutions.

RICK PERRY This guy looks, smells and acts like a career politician without an ideological rudder. He reminds me of "W." He's memorized all the conservative things to say, but whent he time comes to act he lets his heart lead him around by the nose. Could it be the guy is another compassionate conservative? Lord save us.

MITT ROMNEY Slippery as a greased pig. If he ever got to debate Obama, the stage would be neck deep in bullshit. The guy is a wildcard, a loose cannon. Elect him and I'm afraid power would go to his head. He's another Nixon. No, such a comparison would do a disservice to Nixon. The guy is the definition of a RINO. If he were elected, he'd set Republicans back further than McCain did...and that's pretty far back.

SARAH PALIN (Come on, Sarah. It's time!) 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bill Clinton Can Go To Hell Too

Is there a reason why we have to endure about a dozen dopey comments a day from this former joke-in-chief?

I think it's clear that the Clinton quotes appearing in the media on almost an hourly basis is a planned strategy of the Obama campaign. I guess someone has decided that if you can't sell Obama -- a President most everyone dislikes -- then sell Clinton, a President most everyone tolerates, if only for his folksy buffoonery.

But no one can tolerate Bill Clinton in large doses.

Please go away, Bubba.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Buffett Rule

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration will "launch an effort Monday to prevent millionaires from paying taxes at lower rates than middle-class Americans as part of its package of ideas to reduce the federal deficit."

First of all let me say that the Obama administration knows that this "effort" is absolutely political. There is no possibility that such a bill will pass the house.

Second of all, this "effort" confirms the extreme tax and spend mindset of Mr. Obama and his friends. The last thing Washington needs is more revenue. The last thing entrepreneurs need is more taxes.

Third, consider if you will how the value of the dollar has fallen over the years. Not too long ago a "millionaire" was a truly wealthy individual. A million dollars used to be an astounding amount of money. Now, not so much. Game shows regularly award million dollar prizes. Upper middle class housing is commonly priced just shy of a million dollars. Many upper middle class white collar workers earn a hundred thousand dollars or two a year. Many upper middle class households have two such high income workers. Many work for the government. Many, many have net worths approaching a million dollars.

"Millionaire" has a certain cache, but in real terms a million dollars today is chump change -- well, not exactly chump change, but certainly not enough to classify one as "rich."

The tragedy of all this is twofold. Rapid inflation of the dollar is good for government (it collects more taxes) and good for the friends of government (they are the first at the government feeding trough). It also makes members of the upper middle class feel wealthier than they are. Moreover, it kills the prospects of the lower and lower-middle class, who experience rising expenses and falling wages. In short, inflation deepens the "class gap," which is not the gap between "rich" and "poor," but the gap between the "connected" and the "unconnected." "Depression" nowadays means partying at the top and economic backpeddling by those near the bottom.

The second tragedy is that Obama seems to have no clue about how his policies and rhetoric exacerbate the conditions described in the paragraph above.

This man must be defeated in 2012. But more importantly, he must be replaced by a true, free market advocate such as Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. If not, true poverty awaits all of us except those at the very top.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Are Progressives Evil?

I had a chat with my wife today. She has an acquaintance that is a crusading Progressive. I’ll call her friend “Irene.”

Irene lives in that hotbed of Progressivism, Madison, Wisconsin. Irene is a friendly soul with an outgoing personality. She works in an office and earns a modest income. She is normal in all respects except that she believes with all her heart that “the rich” quite literally owe her and all her friends a goodly portion of their wealth.

Irene loves Barack Obama with a passion. She campaigned to get him elected. She will work tirelessly to get him re-elected. She believes that “the rich” are selfish. She believes that wealth is largely a matter of luck. She observes an individual with obvious wealth and thinks: There but for the accident of birth go I.

Irene believes, as Obama believes, that at some point “the rich” have more money than they need. She argues, as Obama argues, that there is a dangerous and growing gap between “the rich” and “the poor” in America. She proposes, as Obama proposes, that the wealth gap be narrowed, that taxes on “the rich” must be substantially increased and the proceeds must be “re”-distributed to those less fortunate.

In the course of our conversation about Irene my wife told me she disagrees with Irene’s politics, but that Irene is basically a good person with a good heart. I disagreed. I told my wife I thought Irene was evil. My wife was aghast.

“Evil!” she exclaimed. “Irene is not evil.”


We are living in trying times. Some say we are experiencing another great depression. 10% of Americans are unemployed, and an equal number of people have stopped looking for work. Prices of goods and services are rising; wages are falling.

In a vain effort to “turn the economy around” our Washington rulers are spending money like there is no tomorrow. Borrowing money they don’t have, they are creating skyrocketing public debt. Obama is proposing a magical job creation act that will cost close to half a trillion dollars. He says he wants “the rich” to pay for it.

Irene says opposing the President’s plan is unpatriotic and racist.

In the midst of all this economic turmoil pundits wonder why. Why do “rich” corporations refuse to expand and hire the unemployed? Why is this great, formerly prosperous nation, going belly up?

Barack Obama and his biggest fan, Irene, think they know the answer. Americans must sacrifice more. The rich must sacrifice most of all. Once income is properly re-distributed and the wealth gap is closed, all Americans will equally prosper.

But will they?

In his book “Liberalism” Ludwig von Mises wrote the following:

Those who advocate equality of income distribution overlook the most important point, namely, that the total available for distribution, the annual product of social labor, is not independent of the manner in which it is divided. The fact that that product today is as great as it is, is not a natural or technological phenomenon independent of all social conditions, but entirely the result of our social institutions. Only because inequality of wealth is possible in our social order, only because it stimulates everyone to produce as much as he can and at the lowest cost, does mankind today have at its disposal the total annual wealth now available for consumption. Were this incentive to be destroyed, productivity would be so greatly reduced that the portion that an equal distribution would allot to each individual would be far less than what even the poorest receives today.
Re-read Mises’ prophetic words very carefully.

What Mises is saying is that the very act of re-distributing wealth, i.e., forcing people to give their money to other people via taxation and government spending, destroys the very system that made wealth creation possible in the first place!

This obvious, economic truth is easily observable in socialist countries wherein all wealth is transferred to the central government and re-distributed among the citizens. North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union ran their economies into the ground and their people into the poorhouse by virtue of their ruthless, income re-distribution schemes. In time there was no wealth left in these countries to re-distribute. Reagan called these countries evil empires. And he was right.

Now the same thing is happening in America, but at a more deliberate pace. Could it be that this stubborn depression in America is the direct result of Obama’s (and his predecessor’s) slow but sure income redistribution schemes? Could Mises’ theory be coming true here?

I think so.

My fellow Americans, the economic engine that has made this country and its people the most prosperous on the face of the earth – free market capitalism – is being shut down by Progressives like President Obama, his allies in Congress and his political sycophants in flyover country – like my wife’s friend, Irene.

If the power of these Progressives goes unchecked, if Obama is re-elected, America’s engine of prosperity will be no more. The tough economic conditions we experience now will inevitably become the miserable, shabby existence we witness in Cuba and North Korea.

Which begs the question: Are Progressives truly evil?

If a robber broke into your home, assaulted you, stole your money and permanently disrupted your way of life, you would call that robber evil. If the robber’s friends not only defended his theft but also cheered him on and suggested he rob others, you would consider them evil as well.

We in America are being slowly robbed of our prosperity and our very livelihood by Obama and his cohorts in Congress who persist in their mindless and pandering income redistribution schemes. Envious Progressives like my wife’s friend, Irene, cheer them on and encourage them to tax more and spend more.

I can come to no other conclusion. President Obama is evil. His political allies, like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are evil. My wife’s friend, Irene, is evil.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we bring Progressives up on charges or burn them at the stake. I am saying it’s time we call a spade a spade.

The next time I see Irene and she starts piously spouting her redistributionist tripe, I’m going to tell her to her face that the policies she’s advocating are evil. And then I’ll tell her why.

I suggest you tell your Progressive friends the same thing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And The Correct Answer Is...

Last Monday's Tea Party Republican Presidential Debate was disappointing and depressing. Tea Party members asked good questions of the candidates. However, I was disappointed in the answers. The depressing part was CNN's presentation. The transcript can be found here.

Did CNN really have to introduce the debate by labeling the candidates as if they were characters in a movie: Michele Bachmann, "The firebrand;" Jon Huntsman, "The Diplomat;" Rick Santorum, "The Fighter;" and Newt Gingrich, "The Big Thinker." Oh for the good old days BSF (Before Spoon Feeding).

And why did Wolf Blitzer solicit questions from the audience and then proceed to paraphrase them for the candidates? The questions were particularly thoughtful and well-stated. Did Wolf think the candidates were incapable of understanding plain English? Or was he afraid they would understand it only too well? Here's an example:

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Sandra Jones (ph) from Yorktown, Virginia. My question is, what would you do to get the economy moving forward? Do you have a plan? And, if so, what is it?

BLITZER: All right, good question. Let's ask Governor Huntsman. The first thing you would do as president of the United States, knowing, of course, that President Obama today formally gave legislation to Congress with his jobs plan?
Wolf's "paraphrase" isn't even close to the original question. Here are the questions asked without Wolf's spin and the correct answers the candidates should have provided.

Question: How will you convince senior citizens that Social Security and Medicare need to be changed and get their vote?
Answer: I will not try to "convince" anyone of anything to "get their vote." I will tell the unvarnished truth. Social Security and Medicare rob Peter to pay Paul. Seniors who are open to the truth may vote for me. Seniors who want to continue lying to themselves about their right to spend other people's money may not vote for me. I'll let the chips fall where they may.

Question: Do you agree with Governor Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?
Answer: Of course it is. Like a Ponzi scheme, Social Security is not funded by invested capital of any kind. All the money received by today's Social Security recipients is taken by force of law either from today's taxpayers or tomorrow's. Social Security's so-called Trust Fund contains no real assets, only phony, unmarketable IOU's from other agencies of the federal government that have spent Social Security tax revenue as fast as it has been collected. Stripped of government lies and accounting gimmicks, Social Security is just another federal income redistribution scheme, a welfare program different from unemployment compensation and food stamps only in size and scope.

Question: What would you do to fix Social Security?
Answer: Fix it? As a great philospher once said: "You can't fix stupid." My goal is to abolish Social Security. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not only immoral, it's fiscally irresponsible. Eventually Peter runs out of money and the whole scheme crashes and burns.

Question: [W]hat is your plan to balance the budget and get this spending under control so that my children's share of the debt is erased without compromising my retired mother's already tenuous financial future?
Answer: Your question implies that years of welfare state lies, looting and distribution of the spoils can be reversed without pain and suffering. Whole generations have gotten used to living on the dole of government largesse in one form or another. My plan is to put an end to this foolishness. Those unscrupulous Americans used to living off others will get a bit riled up when we derail their gravy train. And derail it we will. No more welfare programs or stipends or grants or subsidies. No more bureaucratic, counterproductive rules and regulations. Legitimate government expenses would be balanced to the penny by revenue. The good news is the vast majority of Americans will be set free of their federal shackles. They'll go back to work and prosper. In the long run we'll all be far better off -- including you and your mother -- spending our own money and fending for ourselves.
Question: The question to you: If you were president -- it's not a difficult question -- would you vote to eliminate, to repeal those prescription drug benefits for seniors under Medicare?
Answer: Presidents don't vote, but I would certainly work to repeal all government welfare schemes. And the prescription drug program is one of them.

Question: My question is, what would you do to get the economy moving forward? Do you have a plan? And, if so, what is it?
Answer: My plan is simple: turn Washington into just another run-of-the-mill tourist town. The military, law enforcement, the judicial system and administrative operations are legitimate federal government functions. The rest can go. Anything else worthwhile the federal government does now can be done better and more cheaply by the free market. It's simple common sense. As a result, ordinary Americans will prosper again.

Question: All of you profess to be pro-business candidates for president. Can you be pro-worker at the same time?
Answer: Your question implies there are two classes of Americans whose interests are contradictory: workers and business people, labor and management, the proletariat and the bourgeosie. This is absurd Marxist nonsense. A truly free market serves the interests of all who freely trade on it. Each individual trader must offer to give something in order to get something. And it all happens peacefully, without coercion from big brother. In the free market, no one is above the law and no one is favored by the law. Traders have equal opportunity to profit and fail.

Question: What is your position on the Federal Reserve? Should it indeed be audited and be held accountable by the American people?
Answer: The Federal Reserve should be abolished. Traders on the free market can create and produce money as efficiently as they create and produce everything else. The good news is there would be no currency manipulation by government, no tampering with interest rates to serve special, monied interests, and no crony capitalism bailouts. I will not rest until the US Dollar is once again "as good as gold."

Question: My question is, out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?
Answer: By all that is right, your private property is yours to keep and do with as you please. The dollars you honestly earn in the free market are your private property. A better question would be: How many of these dollars do you think the government has a right to take from me in taxes? The right answer is: How ever many you authorize it to take. Politicians and bureaucrats get their taxing authority from the people. However, the authority to tax is not a license to steal wealth from Peter and redistribute it to Paul. Taxes should pay for the legitimate functions of government and nothing else. If you agree with me, vote for me.

Question: My question is, would any of you be willing to support the fair tax?
Answer: I would not support the fair tax as a means of funding the big government we have now. I would support the fair tax as a means of funding only the legitimate functions of a vastly smaller government. In that case the fair tax rate should be so low as to be almost negligible.

Question: My question has to do with executive orders, under what circumstances should a president sign an executive order? And how frequently should such an order be signed?
Answer: A president should sign any executive order that reduces the scope and power of federal authority. A president should refuse to sign any executive order that increases the scope and power of federal authority.

Question: What is your plan to reduce the cost of health care so that our insurance premiums and other related costs can also be reduced?
Answer: There is only one way to bring the cost of health care and health insurance down: eliminate all government intervention of any kind in the health care and health insurance industries. Individuals who freely trade in the market place are smart cookies. They consistently create and produce the highest quality goods and services at the lowest possible price. There is no reason to believe they wouldn't do the same for health care and health insurance.

Question: Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?
Answer: The behavior of the man in your hypothetical example is consistent with the behavior of a man who lives in a cradle-to-grave welfare state. Such men spend their money lavishly and irresponsibly, knowing that the state will compell others to bail them out in an emergency. In a free society no such state compulsion exists. In a free society this harsh reality is the incentive for imprudent men to change their behavior. Those who do not change put themselves at the mercy of friends, family and the charity of others. In short, they get what they bargained for.

Question: Yes, what -- what would you do -- what would you do to remove the illegal immigrants from our country?
Answer: My Constitutional duty: enforce the law.

Question: What are the candidates doing to attract the Latino voters?
Answer: I would say nothing or do nothing to attract "Latino" voters or any other special interest voter. The prosperity I promise by means of the free market is an opportunity available equally to all under the law.

Question: What will you do in your first 100 days in office to assure the American people that energy independence will finally become reality.
Answer: I would do what I could to establish a totally free market in the United States -- for all goods and services -- within the first 100 days of my term. The rest would be up to you and your fellow American traders.

Question: Do you plan to decrease defense spending to balance spending? Or do you believe high spending is essential to security?
Answer: As President, I would do whatever is possible, prudent and necessary to make the United States military the most powerful and lethal armed force  in the world. My task is to create in the United States the most dynamic free market the world has ever known. I will spare no expense in defending it from those would destroy it.

Question: And my question to you is, as the next president of the United States, what will you do to secure safety and protection for the women and the children of Afghanistan from the radicals?
Answer: As president, my Constitutional duty will be to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not Afghanistan. You are an Afghani. A better question is: What will you do to protect your own countrymen and women from assault?

Question: I want to go down and get your thoughts on something you would bring to the White House if you were the next president of the United States.
Answer: I imagine I'd have to bring along a change of underwear. And I would guess, Wolf, that if I'm elected President, you'll need a change of underwear yourself.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Dose of Old School Thinking

I am Old School.

I grew up in a small town, Christian neighborhood. I was raised a Christian. I attended a parochial grade school. I was taught by Catholic nuns. One of the lessons they taught me -- no, drilled into my head! -- was a deep, fearful faith in God and an abiding reverence for the Ten Commandments. I'll repeat them here from memory. I shall remember them until my dying breath. If the words are not precise, the gist is.

I. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not put strange gods before Me.
II. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
III. Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath.
IV. Honor thy father and mother.
V. Thou shalt not kill.
VI. Thou shalt not commit adultry.
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

Christian or non-Christian, who can deny the wisdom of these Commandments? Can anyone be of the opinion that an individual can live a decent life in society without heeding these basic rules of conduct?

Perhaps an athiest would argue that the first three Commandments are irrelevant. A man can live peacefully in society, be a good neighbor, a virtuous citizen and at the same time be a non-believer. Quite true. I'll concede that point, so long as a man does not use his disbelief in the first three Commandments as a rationale to disregard the last seven.

An individual with corrupt, evil or depraved parents may object to the fourth Commandment with good reason. Why honor individuals who mock and disdain the very rules that command they be honored? I'll concede this argument as well. I believe honor and respect should be earned, not commanded. On the other hand, don't the two individuals who made it possible for the life of another to exist on this earth merit a modicum of recognition for that accomplishment? I think so.

Commandments five through ten relate directly to society and proper behavior within society. Boiled down to their essence, these Commandments order human beings to: 1) Not murder their fellow man; 2) Not steal from their fellow man (or contemplate it); and 3) Not screw around with the spouse of their fellow man (or contemplate it).

I have not only argued that murder, theft and adultry are practices that threaten peaceful cooperation within society, I have also argued that cooperative society is IMPOSSIBLE without mutually understood and obeyed rules against murder and theft. (Adultry is just plain a bad idea for reasons we are probably all too familiar with.)

In short, individuals cooperate in society to achieve ends they cannot acheive, or cannot acheive as efficiently, by acting alone. It is absurd to believe a purposive, rational individual would agree to cooperate with other individuals who have an inherent right to murder him and steal from him. Such absurd rights would contradict the very reason individuals agree to cooperate in the first place.

So, abiding by The Ten Commandments is not only a good idea, but mandatory human behavior if one desires to live in society. As an aside, please note that a cooperative prohibition of murder implies the right to life for all cooperators. Similarly, the prohibition of theft, implies the right to property. This is common sense. You don't have to be Old School to understand the truth of it. It should be obvious to even the harshest critic of some of The Ten Commandments, that abiding by it's prohibitions against murder and theft is the surest way to live at peace with your neighbors in society.

NEXT: Vices, Virtues and Progressivism


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Progressivism vs Harsh Reality

I regularly follow a blog called "Extreme Liberal's Blog." I recommend you do the same. Why? Because we live in a society -- like it or not -- which is at war with itself, politically, and it makes sense to understand what motivates the political opposition. As an example, I refer you to a post by one Joan Ruaiz: "We All Have A Choice In The 2012 Election."

In her post Ruaiz asks a series of questions aimed at progressives who are cooling in their political support for Barack Obama (because Obama is not progressive enough for them!). In an attempt to discourage apathy and gin up support, Ruaiz asks recalcitrant progressives to imagine the horror they will experience if a Republican is elected President in 2012. She asks, for instance, "How will you feel when the new President gets to sign into law the privatization of Social Security?"

[It is amusing that questions designed to instill terror in the heart of a progressive can make a conservative enthusiastic about the prospects of victory in 2012!]

However, Ruaiz asks another question that I find disturbing and truly indicative of the ideological gulf that separates the combatants in this political war we find ourselves fighting. Ruaiz asks:
"How will you feel when you have to look at this new President on the television. a President who talks in bumper sticker slogans, while being divisive. ideologically driven, and grossly arrogant, and who governs with regard to his own base and not all Americans?" [sic]
Are you kidding me?

How can an individual be so ideologically blind that they cannot see that their own President, Barack Obama, exhibits these selfsame characteristics?

On the other hand, perhaps I am ideologically blind as well and it is this blindness which prevents me from seeing Obama as Joan Ruaiz sees him, i.e., as the antithesis of her evil, arrogant Republican "President on the television?"

Hmmm... Not a chance.

The one characteristic that I consistently notice about my conservative friends is that they are grounded in reality. As individuals, they are prone to rely on their own experience and their own judgment rather than trust a consensus opinion or an argument from authority. As level-headed, down-to-earth employees, entrepreneurs, traders (both producers and consumers), they must regularly separate the wheat from the chaff in the economic marketplace. As such, they gain a respect for and knowledge of economic reality. They recognize and accept that there is no such thing as a free lunch, that every action entails a benefit and a cost, that every trade means getting something in exchange for giving something, that honesty and self-reliance are key moral values and that private property and freedom are essential to achieving prosperity.

Progressives? No so much.

I've noticed Progressives are prone to see themselves as cogs in a social machine, not as self-reliant individuals capable of producing their own prosperity in a society of free and cooperative traders. Thus, it is impossible for a Progressive to separate their own success from the success of the "masses." 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 machine 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 others in society. So long as there exists a single, unprosperous individual among us, thinks the Progressive, none of us can be truly prosperous.

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.

Oh that Joan Ruaiz and all her extreme 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.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

UPDATED: When Passion Turns Deadly

Economics has always been my passion. Why? I enjoy the logic of it. Unraveling the logic of economic arguments to me has the allure that crossword puzzles have on others.

In college I had a latent interest in economics. However, my professors with their mathematical and Keynsian mumbo-jumbo turned me off. Then I started to read Ayn Rand. Then Harry Browne. Then Hayek. And, finally, Ludwig von Mises. At last I had found not only a teacher and theorist who believed that the logic of his economic arguments lead to inexorable truth, but also a philosopher who demonstrated convincingly why this must be so.

As I read more and studied more I was fascinated by the difference between economic truth as Mises unveiled it and the economics understood and practiced by main stream academia and politicians. I approached this difference as an intellectual curiosity. All of Mises' theory (Austrian Economic Theory) predicted the certain outcome of the fiscal and monetary policies employed by the government of the United States: inflation and, eventually, monetary collapse.

That was in the 70's and 80's. Today what is happening to the lifeblood of our economy -- money -- is no longer an intellectual curiosity. Today we are staring life and death in the eye, literally.

I think many in Washington and academia believe, either because of their Keynsian training or massive egos, that the US monetary system is absolutely controllable and indestructible. Federal spending, public debt, Federal Reserve money-printing, zero interest rates...none of these policies, so those in charge believe, will have any detrimental effect on our fiat money system, on our business habits, on our individual, economic decisions.

How foolish! What was understood a hundred years ago, not by economists, but by men of sound, common sense is today scoffed at and discarded. Today's ignorant and arrogant authorities, enabled by an ignorant and amoral public, are destroying the American way of life: private property and individual freedom. They are doing it by destroying our means of surviving in this society: our money.

Without a sound and trusted money individuals have no choice but to revert to barter and a self-sufficient, hand-to-mouth existence. Money is the key to maintaining the complex system of the division of labor that has been hundred of years in the making and has brought prosperity to millions over the years and today. When money is destroyed, that system of the division of labor cannot be sustained. When money is destroyed, individuals who depended on a store of money for their very survival are left helpless. The old and infirm are the first victims. They are threatened by hunger and loss of shelter. They will eventually be reduced to begging...or they will die.

When the system of the division of labor can no longer support government largesse, the next victims are those who depend on government handouts for their survival. Being ignorant, they cannot understand why government is no longer able to provide for their needs. Those responsible in government, who turn to "austerity" policies in an attempt to keep their wealth redistribution schemes viable, are called greedy, uncaring and unfeeling. Those losing their government stipends and subsidies take to the streets.

There is no good that comes from the destruction of money. Progress is halted. Indeed, our standard of living reverts to levels of hundreds of years ago. In our modern society, the destruction of money results in panic, conflict, riots, destruction and death.

There is still time to turn things around, but I seriously doubt there is the will to do what must be done.

UPDATE: This article by Ralph Benko, entitled "Fiat Money: The Root Cause of Our Financial Disaster," is an apt study guide for those who doubt the power of a "sound and trusted money" to secure property, freedom and prosperity.

Benko writes: 
There is ample evidence that restoring gold convertibility would put the world back on the path to jobs, growth, and a balanced federal budget. Politicians do not like messing around with monetary policy. But gold, recently rediscovered by the tea party, has an impressive technical, economic, and political pedigree of gold convertibility and a very well established track record of job creation, properly applied, during many eras.
Our Washington ruling elite has no taste for restoring sound money. The windfall it reaps from debauching money is too precious to our ruling powerbrokers. Fiat money manipulation is the very source of their power and wealth. Restoring sound money will have to be accomplished by individuals, the states and upstart political thinkers like members of the Tea Party.