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, November 22, 2013

Self-ownership Does Not "Exist"

James E. Miller has published an interesting article. Miller is "editor-in-chief of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada." Miller's article poses the question: Does Self-ownership Exist?

As most libertarians, Miller is quick to answer in the affirmative:
"Rationally, the principle of self-ownership is true because of the human conception and natural understanding of possession."
Libertarians are attracted to the concept of self-ownership because it easily forms the bedrock of the libertarian philosophy of individualism, non-aggression and the perceived absolute, natural right of private property. That's a lot of heavy, philosophical lifting for a principle based on a "human conception" and a "natural understanding." I have a human conception and natural understanding of Casper the Friendly Ghost, but that's not enough for me to be certain that Casper "exists." It's time to rationally examine the principle of self-ownership.

First of all, we must define the concept of self. It is true we all have a human conception and natural understanding of the self as the essence of one's individuality as a human being. Of course, we cannot perceive our self objectively. All we know about our self must be gleaned through the filter of our own subjectivity. From this subjective viewpoint we learn that we have a special relationship with the physical body that encapsulates our self. We quickly perceive that this body does what our self tells it to do. So we come to view this body as an integral part of our self. Some might even go so far as to contend that this body is our self and vice versa. But if this were the case, how is self-ownership possible? Can a self logically own a self? Such a notion is obviously pointless and absurd.

In order to "rationally" conceive of self-ownership, one must necessarily imagine that we humans consist in reality of two separate parts: the body and something wholly distinct from the body, such as the mind or the soul in which the self lodges. Thus, by this view, the body is simply the means used by the self (the mind or the soul) in the process of human action in the real world. But this imagined view of the self presents problems of its own. How could a mind or soul (our disembodied self, as it were) exist in the real world? Wouldn't this self have to be wholly spiritual or supernatural? And if this were the case, how would such a self interact with the non-spirit and natural world? Wouldn't such a self require some sort of real and tangible mechanism or tool in order to act in the real world? Enter this flesh and blood body of ours which somehow, it is imagined, encapsulates the disembodied mind or soul. It's all a very difficult and complicated theory to imagine, but of such is the concept of self-ownership formed.

The problem with this line of thinking is that there is no absolute line of demarcation between the self and the body. One might suggest that the mind (or soul, which we will deal with a bit later) is encapsulated in the brain and, as such, the brain is really the mystical self of which we speak so glibly. But this doesn't solve the problem. If the brain is the mind, then the mind is the body because the brain cannot exist separate from the body which nourishes and sustains it. We are once again confronted with the original redundancy that our self is our self.

So, it doesn't really make sense to think of the human being as a dichotomy between mind and body, or self and body. Our self is, in fact, our mind and body considered as a single, unified one. Thus, by this measure, the concept of self-ownership is absurd on its face.

How would this argument turn if, in fact, each human being had an immortal soul and the dichotomy was not between body and mind, but body/mind and soul? The first problem, of course, is defining and discovering the nature and existence of the soul. Virtually all humans would agree, if they give any credence at all to the concept of soul, that the soul is a spiritual or supernatural entity. As such, evidence of the existence of the soul does not exist and may never exist. Thus it follows that self-ownership of the body by the soul cannot "exist."

However, even if we grant the independent existence of the human soul, could it rationally be construed as the primary self which has ownership over its host body? The answer to this question is no, not "rationally." Why? Because the will of the soul can only be manifested and observed through the actions of the body. For example, my soul might use my body to argue that every human being has a soul. However, what if I argue that the very idea of a human soul is fantastic and absurd? Is it rational to conclude that my soul is directing my body to argue against its own existence? What control can a soul really have over a body if it cannot control speech?

Do libertarians really want to rest their argument for the existence of the principle of self-ownership on such supernatural whimsy?

In fact, the concept of self-ownership has no solid, rational basis. In truth there is no dichotomy between mind and body, or soul and body, or self and body in the human individual. The idea of self-ownership is, therefore, absurd.

However, there is another, more compelling argument which exposes the concept of absolute and natural self-ownership as so much nonsense: the concept of ownership makes sense only in the realm of human, cooperative action. It has no logical foundation in individual action.

Man acts. He uses means to attain ends. Individual human action does not imply ownership, but purpose and control, i.e., the ability to use means to attain desired ends. The concepts of property and ownership arise from concerted human action, or cooperative human action.

To illustrate this truth, consider Crusoe  alone on a desert island. He controls all the resources on the island. He is able to use these resources as he desires to attain his chosen ends. He and he alone benefits from his action. The issues of theft, property and proper ownership do not arise. If Crusoe comes to refer to the island and its resources as "his," it is not a logical reference, but a reference learned from his past experience living in cooperation with other humans.

Once Friday appears on the island, circumstances change. Like Crusoe, Friday will begin to use means to attain his chosen ends. If Crusoe and Friday choose to live on the island but not cooperate, they will use what resources they want regardless of the other's presence. They may fight over commonly desired resources. On the other hand, they may choose to cooperate as only humans can.

Individual human beings cooperate for the same reason they act: to attain desired ends. They decide that these ends are best attainable or only attainable by mutual action. Mutual action entails a division of labor. Crusoe might be an expert fisherman and Friday might be an expert carpenter. They might agree to act in concert, or to exchange the products of their labor, realizing they would both be better off as a result. However, before they undertake cooperative action, they must agree on certain ground rules. They must agree not to murder each other or steal from each other.

Why? Because human beings act with purpose. They use means to attain ends. Each cooperator expects to receive a portion of the ends produced by cooperative action. Obviously, murder and theft would deny one cooperator or the other his portion of the ends of their mutual action. It follows that cooperative action is impossible without prohibitions against murder and theft. When Crusoe and Friday agree to cooperate, they agree at the same time to moral ground rules which imply rights of life and property for each actor. It is only after Crusoe and Friday agree to cooperate that the concept of ownership and personal sovereignty can occur to either.

Prior to his agreement to cooperate with Friday, Crusoe being a bright and reflective human being might imagine that his self is able to control his bodily movements, that his self is able to will his arms and legs to move as he wants them to move, but the concept of self-ownership as the foundation of a libertarian philosophy could not occur to him. The concept of self-ownership could only occur to him after his experience cooperating with Friday.

NEXT: Is the concept of self-ownership an essential prerequisite to living a life based on property, freedom and peace?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hubris, Stupidity or Just Plain Ego

Are you as irritated as I am by Hollywood actors and actresses who insist on having political opinions despite the fact that they are dumber than a stump?

Recently, Richard Dreyfus chastised the GOP for not helping Democrats "fix" ObamaCare. Dreyfus called ObamaCare a "safety net" and a "national endeavor." He said if Republicans don't get behind an ObamaCare fix "they should anticipate having the sick and the dying and the dead on their lawns.”

Really? On our lawns?

Dreyfus is not the only genius in Hollywood. According to reports, Antonio Banderas is an unhappy Hollywood camper. He wants the federal government to "nationalize" big American corporations "like Chávez did in his day." Apparently, Banderas is all for turning America into the third world country that Venezuela has become.

Oh, by the way, Dreyfus has a net worth of $55-million, and Banderas is worth a cool $45-million.

Why can't these super-rich actors leave us alone? They got their millions wheeling and dealing on the free market and now it seems they're trying to put the rest of us in the poor house by campaigning for tax-and-spend progressive Democrats.

I've often thought these privileged, super-rich movie stars are progressive Democrats because they feel guilty that they have so much and had to do so little to get it. They live a life of happy endings, where ends can be made happy and satisfactory by means of applied imagination. They live the life of kings and queens on earth by simply applying makeup and playacting. It pains them to see that so many others are not so lucky, that so many others have to struggle to make ends meet.

Plus, these privileged products of endless art and theater classes know little or nothing about economics. They solve problems as children do, simply and naively. If Paul lacks what he "needs" the simplest solution is to take from Peter what he doesn't "need." Problem solved. It never occurs to them that they don't need what they have. Therefore, they won't give away their millions, but they'll damn sure vote for politicians who will tax away our feeble incomes, and piss away their ill-gotten gains in the Washington latrine.

Here's the net worth of some other Hollywood liberals who refuse to practice what they preach to us:

George Clooney, $180-million

Cher, $305-million

Barbra Streisand, $340-million

Think about this the next time one of these wealthy windbags opens his yap and tries to tell you how to live your life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Glimpse Into America's Future

A government-sanctioned looter flees a Venezuelan department store, protected and escorted by Venezuelan police.
One of the main goals of ObamaCare, according to Nancy Pelosi, is "holding insurance companies accountable." Holding capitalists "accountable" is progressive-speak for burying businessmen and the free market under mountains of suffocating and destructive regulations. In 2010 President Obama, Pelosi and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid succeeded in passing ObamaCare. The chaos Americans are experiencing today in health care and health insurance is a direct result of ObamaCare holding these industries "accountable." Substitute doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the picture above in place of the looted electronics and you will see what America will shortly look like.

And when things really get bad -- as bad as they are today in Venezuela -- Obama and company (or Hillary Clinton and company, or whatever progressive is currently in charge of Washington, DC) will kick it up a notch. Holding business accountable will rise to the next level: price controls, profit controls, exchange controls, confiscatory taxation and nationalization. The wreckage left by these policies will be catastrophic. What little goods and services surviving in the country will settle into the underground economy. Anything abandoned above ground will be rationed, i.e., distributed by armed, government troops to meek, law abiding citizens, standing in endless queues, or these last remaining legal goods will be fought over by ruthless outlaws and looters.

Just how bad could things get in the U.S.? That depends completely on the aggressiveness of the progressives in charge and the passiveness of the American public. Will Americans stand in long, motionless lines for days for their weekly ration of bread and eggs? Will they be so fearful of the future that their brains will stop working? That they will believe the lies of the progressives in charge who will say that the country's troubles are due to profiteering businessmen and industrialists? Will American citizens encourage the progressive government to restore order by means of crackdowns, inspections, arrests and imprisonments?

A recent headline describes the way things are today in Venezuela: "Venezuela jails 100 'bourgeois' businessmen in crackdown." It seems the new President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has declared war on the country's "capitalist parasites." Maduro, the hand-picked successor of the Marxist ideologue and tyrant Hugo Chavez, "has arrested more than 100 'bourgeois' businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend...." Stepping into the shoes of Chavez, Maduro is being granted "decree powers" by the Venezuelan congress. He says he "needs" these powers in order to "fix the economy."

Sound familiar?

Why does the economy need fixing?

Inflation is running at 54% annually. Everyday commodities like food and toilet paper are in short supply. According to reports:
The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.
Sound familiar?

Socialist "revolutions" have ended badly wherever and whenever they have been tried, still the Venezuelan people allow Marxist ideologues like Maduro to try and try again. Why? Because Maduro blames the country's economic woes on "unscrupulous" capitalists who exploit the public with high prices and unfair profits. Maduro's "fix" of the economy includes flooding shops and factories with federal "inspectors" and price and profit fixers. Maduro is fixing to limit the profits of business to between 15 and 30%:
"Goodyear has to lower its prices even more, 15 percent is not enough, the inspectors have go there straightaway," Maduro said in his evening address, sending officials to check local operations of the U.S.-based tire manufacturer.
What could go wrong?

Maduro blames the big, bad USA for many of Venezuela's problems:
Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”
Sound more familiar?

Why do Venezuelans put up with such time-worn nonsense? Some of them are wising up...maybe:
“This country is a thousand times worse than it was six months ago”, said Pedro Sosa, a Chavez supporter who voted for Mr Maduro but now regrets having done so.
Sound even more familiar, especially to Americans who are hearing Obama voters complaining about losing their health insurance and paying higher prices under ObamaCare?

How bad can it get in America if Obama, Clinton, Pelosi and Reid continue to run wild and fulfill their dream of creating a progressive, socialist, European democracy right here in the good old USA? Look south to reports from Venezuela:
The desperate scramble for necessities is increasingly spilling over into violence. At the end of last month, a lorry driver was crushed to death by looters as they scrambled to steal his cargo on a Caracas motorway. In the eastern city of Ciudad Bolivar, a man died as a mob clamoured for a bottle of oil and a loaf of bread at a state-run supermarket.
Listen to a Venezuela mom who knows Marxist progressivism first hand:
“I have to go to four or five supermarkets to do a complete shop”, said Carmen Rodriguez, 49, a mother of three. “The queues are the biggest they’ve ever been. But if you don’t wait in line, you don’t feed your family”.
Think, people. For once in your life, think, before it's too late!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Will This Woman Preside Over The End Of The Dollar?

From her testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:
For these reasons, the Federal Reserve is using its monetary policy tools to promote a more robust recovery. A strong recovery will ultimately enable the Fed to reduce its monetary accommodation and reliance on unconventional policy tools such as asset purchases. I believe that supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy. Janet L. Yellen, Next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Nov. 14, 2013

For prospective and truth...
"Credit expansion cannot increase the supply of real goods. It merely brings about a rearrangement. It diverts capital investment away from the course prescribed by the state of economic wealth and market conditions. It causes production to pursue paths which it would not follow unless the economy were to acquire an increase in material goods. As a result, the upswing lacks a solid base. It is not a real prosperity. It is illusory prosperity. It did not develop from an increase in economic wealth [i.e. the accumulation of savings made available for productive investment]. Rather, it arose because the credit expansion created the illusion of such an increase. Sooner or later, it must become apparent that this economic situation is built on sand." Ludwig von Mises, The Causes of Economic Crisis (1931)

Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Nancy Pelosi

If you do, your babies will grow up to be totally clueless, dictatorial, economically illiterate morons. Notice, I won't call Nancy Pelosi a liar. It is my opinion that the woman is too stupid to lie. She likely believes every inanity that drips from her lips. She exhales rambling foolishness. She is the worst nightmare of our Founding Fathers and the best reason in the world to oppose tyrannical progressivism.

On passing the ObamaCare legislation...
“In doing so, we will honor the vows of our founders, who in the Declaration of Independence said that we are 'endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' This legislation will lead to healthier lives, more liberty to pursue hopes and dreams and happiness for the American people. This is an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country. Nancy Pelosi, March, 2010
On health insurance prior to ObamaCare...
Right up until now, being a woman is a preexisting medical condition. Nancy Pelosi, March, 2010
On passing ObamaCare to help artists and bipolar Americans...
Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar—you name it, any condition—is job locking. Nancy Pelosi, March, 2010
On the economics of ObamaCare...
For the American people, America's Affordable Health Choices Act will mean a cap on your costs, but no cap on your benefits. A cap on your cost, no cap on your benefit. Nancy Pelosi, July, 2009
On what she told her constituents about ObamaCare...
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters yesterday that she never told constituents they could keep their insurance it they liked it.

The Weekly Standard reported:
“Did I ever tell my constituents that if they liked their plan they could keep it?” Pelosi asked. “I would have if I’d ever met anybody who liked his or her plan. But that was not my experience.”

In fact, Pelosi said in 2009: “If you like what you have, you can keep it.” Pelosi’s website still states: “Keep your doctor, and your current plan, if you like them.” Per Gateway Pundit, Today
Did you get that folks? Her website still states what she denies stating!!


Outrageous Quotes From Nancy Pelosi

The Nine Most Outrageous Quotes From Nancy Pelosi



Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Buck Stops There!

President Obama at his press conference today according to Breitbart news:
“I was not informed directly that the website was not working,” Obama said. “If I’d been informed, I wouldn’t have gone out and said ‘The website is going to be great.’”
Apparently, the President thinks we're naive, stupid or both. Breitbart reports further:
Finally, under questioning from Garrett, Obama crumbled on his sinking credibility: “I think it’s fair for [Americans] to expect me to have to win back credibility,” he admitted. “That’s on me. We fumbled the rollout on this healthcare law.”
No, Mr. President, YOU fumbled the rollout. YOU lied repeatedly enabling ObamaCare to be passed. This entire abomination is on YOU and your fellow Democrats in Congress.  Let's hope Americans remember that during the next Congressional election cycle.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Sorry

The entertainment value of this post can be considerably enhanced by listening to the fabulous Brenda Lee while reading...

After weeks of denying any problem at all exists with ObamaCare, after weeks of claiming he was out of the loop, of blaming the big bad insurance companies and the no-bid Canadian programmers who blew through millions of tax payer dollars and three years of time creating a website that still doesn't work, of claiming he did not mislead the American people by promising them they could keep their doctor and their health care insurance plan if they like it, and that ObamaCare would lower individual health insurance premiums by thousands of dollars, President Obama has apologized for the fiasco...sort of:
"We weren't as clear as we needed to be, in terms of the changes that were taking place," Obama said in an interview with NBC News.

"I am sorry that they [individual Americans] are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me," he said.
Saying "I'm sorry" -- even half-heartedly -- makes everything better in today's America.  Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in one giant stroke of the pen virtually destroyed the health insurance and health care industry in the United States. But no harm done, for the President has apologized. (Reid and Pelosi have yet to apologize. In fact, they've doubled-down on their insanity.)

So all is well. Those of us who have lost our health insurance, or have seen our doctor retire, or will now have to pay higher premiums and ridiculous deductibles for higher priced health care, or wait months for an MRI or be denied a crucial medicine or operation in our old age...we should forgive and forget because the geniuses who passed this law without reading it and understanding it, or who misrepresented it or lied about it, are truly sorry.

As the Church Lady might say: "Isn't that special!"

On with life Mr. and Mrs. American. Carry on as if nothing has happened.

But not just yet...

It seems another former bureaucrat is sorry and has issued an apology for his malfeasance in office. Former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar wrote Tuesday:
"I can only say: I'm sorry, America," he wrote. "The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time."
Nothing to see here America. Keep moving along. Keep going about your business. Mr. Huszar and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve have been irrevocably destroying the dollar for a century but not to worry. Mr. Huszar has said he's sorry. So all is well.

When the dollar finally dies and the American economy collapses because of the uninformed incompetence of the morons at the Federal Reserve and the foolish spending and borrowing of the morons in Congress and the mendacious cheerleading of nincompoops in the administration, President Obama will attempt to make things all better by delivering a solemn, contriteful speech to the nation in prime time. I can hear it now.
My fellow Americans. I am truly sorry that you find yourself in this impossible and dangerous situation because of assurances from me that all would be well....    
And we Americans will accept with good cheer the death of prosperity as we knew it, because at least the official responsible apologized. At least he said: "I'm sorry."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Stupidity Has Consequences For The Dumbest Woman On Earth

As ObamaCare implodes, people who voted for Obama and supported his takeover of the health insurance/healthcare industry are having second thoughts.

Take Cathy Wagner of Colorado. She was an ardent ObamaCare supporter. And a nurse. She "retired early." Now she's received a letter from her insurance company cancelling her health insurance policy. She is shocked.
“I was really shocked … all of my hopes were sort of dashed,” Wagner said. “’Oh my gosh President Obama, this is not what we hoped for, it’s not what we were told.’ “
 Poor baby. Cathy is old enough to retire, yet still hasn't learned a basic lesson of life: You can't trust politicians to take care of you. Mr. Obama ran on a campaign of hope and change. Now Cathy's life has changed and her hopes are "sort of dashed."

And that's not all. Cathy has learned that one of ObamaCare's consequences is higher cost:
She was shocked further to learn that for the same coverage she would pay 35 percent more and have a higher deductible.

“Our premium for next year is going up to over $1,000 a month for two of us and we’re two fairly healthy individuals,” Wagner said.
  The reason Cathy is disillusioned is not because Mr. Obama lied through his teeth for the past five years about how wonderful ObamaCare would be, how it would be cheaper for all Americans, how it would allow individuals to keep their current policies and their doctors. No. Cathy is disillusioned because she is a stupid fool, a no nothing voter who not only voted for Obama but probably also voted for U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Colorado who promises:
“As we work through all of this I think that a year from now people overall are going to be very, very happy with the way the Affordable Care Act is working,” DeGette said.
Cathy isn't convinced. The ex-nurse says:
“The whole plan was to get everyone enrolled so there’s a larger risk pool and our costs go down,” she said. “Wow, not at all what we’re seeing.”
Poor, dumb, disillusioned Cathy. The "whole plan" was not to "get" everyone to enroll in ObamaCare. The whole plan is to force everyone to enroll in ObamaCare by penalty of law and the IRS. And larger "risk pools" don't make costs go down. Competition in the free market -- not government mandates and intimidation -- make costs go down.

You don't have to be a nurse to see through the ObamaCare scam. You simply have to be smart enough to know a little economics. And open-minded enough to understand that words have meaning. On July 22, 2009 U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the government's lead enforcer of the ObamaCare absurdity and perhaps the second stupidest person in the world, said:
For the American people, America's Affordable Health Choices Act will mean a cap on your costs, but no cap on your benefits. A cap on your cost, no cap on your benefit. That represents real change.
Was Cathy Wagner listening back then? If she was, did she not understand plain English? Or basic economics? Or simple flim-flam?

Imagine a hundred people outside a Walmart being told they can go in and shop with a cap on their costs but no cap on their benefits. You don't have to be a nurse or a health insurance expert or a government genius to imagine the consequences.
Has Cathy learned her lesson? Or will she continue to rely on politicians to keep her fat in health care and groceries?

You tell me. It seems Cathy has written a letter to Mr. Obama stating her disillusionment with ObamaCare in no uncertain terms and demanding he fix it.

Good grief! Is there any hope for a nation of morons?