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, December 14, 2013

The Truth About The Infamous Ryan/Murray "Budget Deal"

You've all heard about the infamous "budget deal" which was hammered out by self-described conservative Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and leftard Democrat Congressman Patty Murray. The House approved the deal a few days ago. The Senate will approve it soon, and the President will sign it. Washington is collectively patting itself on the back for exercising fiscal self-control. The fan bases of the two major political parties are unhappy but they seem resigned to accept the deal. The Tea Party is livid.

First, the facts...

1. The deal does NOT cut net federal spending, not in the next two years nor in the next 10 years. In fact, net federal spending increases by $12 billion:
The deal raises spending $63 billion in 2014 and 2015, split between defense and nondefense programs. That is a lot of money even by Washington standards...So there are more spending hikes in this package ($63 billion) than claimed spending cuts ($51 billion). So this agreement makes government bigger, not smaller, even by its own accounting.
2. The deal's spending "cuts" noted above are not slated to occur until 2022 and 2023. Moreover, they are not cuts in discretionary federal spending but in entitlement programs:
Most of the 2022 and 2023 savings ($28 billion) are supposed to come from putting caps on entitlement spending in those years.
3. The deal raises taxes by $34-billion:
According to the SBC analysis, $34 billion of those savings are actually revenue increases...
4. The new taxes will mostly affect airline passengers:
Airline fees: If you plan to take a trip , buy your tickets now and save a few bucks. The Ryan-Murray agreement would raise the TSA security charge to $5.60 for any one-way trip.  So $11.20 round trip.  Currently, the so-called "9-11 fee" is $2.50 for a nonstop flight and $5 for travel that involves connecting flights.  The deal would charge the same $5.60 regardless of whether the flight plan was nonstop or not.
5. The deal only affects federal discretionary spending, reducing it on paper in the near term by $38 billion. This paltry sum (by Washington standards) amounts to a mere 1% of estimated federal spending in 2013.

So, to sum up, this infamous budget deal raises current discretionary spending, increases current taxes and delays spending cuts to third-rail entitlement programs to 10 years from now in order to make the figures come out right. Moreover, all the fuss is over less than 1% of what Washington spends each year. In short, this bogus budget deal is more of the same old Washington slight of hand.

The only real effect of the budget deal is that it guarantees there will be no political battles over the next two years with regard to raising the debt limit or closing down the federal government. In other words, the national spotlight on the Washington sewer will be dimmed for the next two years!

No wonder the Washington establishment -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- are hailing this "deal."

Lead Democrat negotiator, Patty Murray, said of the deal:
“And I know it would have been far more devastating to working families if the certainty of Congress lurching towards either another government shutdown or continued sequestration was added to the uncertainty surrounding their unemployment insurance.”
Paul Ryan added:
“This agreement will stop Washington’s lurch from crisis to crisis,” Ryan said in a statement after the bill was passed. “It will bring stability to the budget process and show both parties can work together.”
And President Barack Obama was pleased:
The President called the bill’s passage a “positive step forward for the nation and our economy,” but said he would have liked the bill to extend unemployment insurance. Still, he said in a statement, “it marks an important moment of bipartisan cooperation and shows Washington can and should stop governing by crisis and both sides can work together to get things done.”
No wonder the Tea Party is outraged. The Tea Party wants the size of the federal government and its influence on the lives of individual citizens rolled back. The Tea Party wants the national spotlight turned on the Washington sewer brighter and brighter. The Tea Party wants real progress, not business as usual. This budget deal does nothing in that regard.

In fact, it does the opposite while providing the Washington establishment the political cover of bipartisan smoke and mirrors.

House budget data
White House budget data

Friday, December 13, 2013

Liberals Are Children Who Never Grow Up

Think about it.

The lyrics:
Are you ready for today's lesson?

Yes, Peter!

Listen to your teacher. Repeat after me:
I won't grow up,
(I won't grow up)
I don't want to go to school.
(I don't want to go to school)
Just to learn to be a parrot,
(Just to learn to be a parrot)
And recite a silly rule.
(And recite a silly rule)
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!
Not I,
Not me!
Not me!
I won't grow up,
(I won't grow up)
I don't want to wear a tie.
(I don't want to wear a tie)
And a serious expression
(And a serious expression)
In the middle of July.
(In the middle of July)
And if it means I must prepare
To shoulder burdens with a worried air,

I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me,
Not I,
Not me!
So there!
Never gonna be a man,
I won't!
Like to see somebody try
And make me.
Anyone who wants to try
And make me turn into a man,
Catch me if you can.
I won't grow up.
Not a penny will I pinch.
I will never grow a mustache,
Or a fraction of an inch.
'Cause growing up is awfuller
Than all the awful things that ever were.
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up,
No sir,
Not I,
Not me,
So there!

I won't grow up!
(I won't grow up)
I will never even try
(I will never even try)
I will do what Peter tells me
(I will do what Peter tells me)
And I'll never ask him why
(And I'll never ask him why)

We won't grow up!
(We won't grow up)
We will never grow a day
(We will never grow a day)
And if someone tries to make it
(And if someone tries to make it)
We will simply run away
(We will simply run away)

I won't grow up!
(I won't grow up)
No, I promise that I won't
(No, I promise that I won't)
I will stay a boy forever
(I will stay a boy forever)
And be banished if I don't!
(And be banished if I don't)

And Never Land will always be
The home of beauty and joy
And neverty
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!
Not me!
Not me!
Not me!
No sir!
Not me!
And then there is this: 1 Corinthians 13:11...

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition

Consider this item from the NY Daily News: 6-year-old boy suspended from school for kissing student on the cheek....
Adults take notice! Leftists, liberals, progressives, leftards...whatever you wish to call them...are screwing up your world because they refuse to grow up in theirs. They remain forever children. They conflate "childish things" and adult things. In their world, which is quickly becoming your world, a six year old child can be guilty of sexual harassment, and a 10 year old can be suspended from school for shooting an imaginary bow and arrow.


Leftards see the world, speak of the world and understand the world as children. If they see something they want, they don't understand why they simply can't have it, especially if lots of other people have it. So they lobby to pass laws that tax other people so they can enjoy subsidized health care, public housing, food stamps, free public education, low interest rates, a guaranteed job with a guaranteed wage and a fat pension. 

If they see something that might hurt them, they want it to be outlawed, thinking the very act of passing a law will consequently make the threat go away.  If they imagine a world boiled over by man-made global warming, they pass laws to ban incandescent light bulbs, "gas guzzling" automobiles, non-recycled aluminum cans and bottled water. Scared of their own shadows, leftards pass laws that ban guns, cigarettes, soft drinks, transfats and texting while driving.

Consider this item from the NY Post...Beneath Yellowstone, a volcano that could wipe out U.S. How do you think leftards will deal with this threat? Ten to one they will claim global warming causes volcanoes to erupt so they will lobby Congress to pass more laws forbidding Americans to fly, or drive or travel as they wish, or eat meat as they wish. Or, they might simply pass a law forbidding volcanoes from erupting. 

These forever children hate adults who tell them the truth: that these laws won't work and will have unintended consequences, that they can't get something for nothing, or that the world is not as simple and childish as they imagine it to be. Leftards hate these adult truth tellers with the unbounded passion of a child, wishing them horrible suffering and death.

These children-who-won't-grow-up see the world not as it is, but as they want it to be, or as they imagine it to be. They don't believe in or understand logic. Like children, they suspect adults conspire against them at every turn. Since they "know" they are right about everything, they also "know" those who disagree with them must be wrong and, if wrong, then those who argue with them, or correct them, must be motivated by ideological zeal, or racism, or sexism, or ageism, or homophobia, or Christian fanaticism or just plain hate or stupidity.

Because of their disdain for logic and their firm belief in their own infallibility, it is impossible to convince leftards of anything. The only way they might change their mind is when they are hit between the eyes by an unstoppable blow of reality...and even then they will resist the truth.

Ever wonder why leftards are so clanish? Why their universities and cliques are such exclusive clubs? Why they work so hard to ban contrary opinions? Why they ridicule outsiders and stifle dissent with uncommon but characteristic cruelty?

Go to the playground and watch your children at play. Now imagine your world run by spoiled rugrats.
You will then have the answers to all these questions. You will then understand what the future has in store for you.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Look To The Cookie!

Seinfeld, the classic sitcom, ran for nine years, from 1989 to 1998. It flourishes today as popular as ever in syndication. Why? Because Jerry Seinfeld's humor is timeless. It is famously "about nothing." Jerry's comedy dissects everyday life in our American culture, and then questions these banal slices of Americana from the critical but naive viewpoint of a child.

When faced with race rioting, the childlike Rodney King famously asked: Why can't we all just get along? Similarly, the infantile Jerry Seinfeld in the clip above wonders why black and white can't coexist in society as peacefully as chocolate and vanilla coexist in a cookie.

It strikes me that collectivists are like Rodney King and Jerry Seinfeld. They see the world as children see it, critically but naively. They are at once insightful and detached, practical and unrealistic, wise and foolish.

Collectivists are disturbed by conflict between the races, so they imagine baking a black and white social cookie in which individuals of both races magically mix in the right proportions and "get along." Collectivists observe "rich" and "poor," so they envision baking a black and white social cookie in which wealth is spread evenly across the surface of life like chocolate and vanilla frosting. They observe that some people have health insurance and some people don't, so they envision baking a black and white social cookie which will satisfy the palates of all.

The problem for collectivists is that social engineering is not baking a cookie. Neither are purposeful human beings the inanimate ingredients of a cookie recipe. If we were, Seinfeld's humor would be lost on all of us.

Some social engineers recognize and accept this fact. Lenin, for instance, understood that social engineers "have to be willing to break a few eggs." Somehow, I think, this realization eludes most of today's collectivists. Would they be so eager to bake cookies -- with the rest of us as the ingredients -- if they truly understood that the essential baking tool required was not a KitchenAid mixer but a SWAT team?

Like Jerry's character in Seinfeld, collectivists invariably see the world through one-way lenses. For instance, this morning on Politicususa,

in the NY Times. In it he talks about how modern medicine is good "at keeping elderly people with chronic diseases expensively alive."
At 83, I’m a good example. I’m on oxygen at night for emphysema, and three years ago I needed a seven-hour emergency heart operation to save my life. Just 10 percent of the population — mainly the elderly — consumes about 80 percent of health care expenditures, primarily on expensive chronic illnesses and end-of-life costs.
Callahan questions the "potential social benefits" of keeping seniors like him alive:
Is there any evidence that more old people will make special contributions now lacking with an average life expectancy close to 80?
My mother-in-law is over 80 and is currently consuming a vast number of health care dollars in order to stay alive. Would it be heartless of me to question Haraldsson about the social benefits of keeping his son alive? Or to ask him why my mother-in-law's egg should be scrambled so his son is able to dine on the ObamaCare social cookie?

Of course, such questions are never asked or even considered because the starry-eyed collectivists who baked the ObamaCare social cookie see only endless benefits. They ignore costs.

They live in the fantasy world of a Hollywood sitcom where endings can be manipulated as desired, where black and white social cookies can be baked to please every palate.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm Sorry, Barack Obama, You're A Dumb Ass Too!

Yesterday, President Obama exposed his economic ignorance. (Either that or he exercised his penchant for telling shameless, bald-faced lies.) According to reports, Obama said:
"There's no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage costs jobs, and research shows it raises incomes for low-wage workers and boosts short-term economic growth," he added.
Mr. Obama likes to use the phrase "research shows." In truth, research of every size, shape and quality is ubiquitous today. In short, you can find empirical social research to "show" anything you want if you look hard enough.

Here is the undeniable, economic truth:
Raising the minimum wage above the level that would otherwise obtain in the free market will tend to create unemployment for those currently earning less than that minimum. Setting the minimum wage to a level at or below that which would otherwise obtain in the free market will have no effect on the rate of unemployment.
Put more simply, if the lowest market wage in a particular job category is $10 per hour, raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour will result in increased unemployment. Setting the minimum wage to $9 or $10 dollars an hour would have no effect at all.

If you doubt this, ask yourself why politicians never advocate raising the minimum wage to $50 per hour, a sum undoubtedly higher than the lowest wage that would obtain in the unhampered, free market. Isn't it obvious, that such an increase would unquestionably result in increased unemployment? Now ask yourself why this is.

I defy anyone to logically refute this truth. Note I said logically. I'm sure it is possible to find some obscure research study that "shows" that this economic law was, in fact, falsified in some small city in Massachusetts in the last century where the study proved an increase in the minimum wage "raises incomes for low-wage workers and boosts short-term economic growth." Of course, to rely on such an obscure study one would have to discount literally thousands of mainstream studies which "show" results predicted by the law. Or one would have to believe that economic laws are true everywhere but in Massachusetts. Or that only research done in Massachusetts is able to uncover economic truth. Or that the "short-term economic growth" observed was more in demand by consumers than the short-term economic growth that would have obtained if the minimum wage had remained unchanged. 

No matter. As I've written many times here before, economics is not a empirical science like physics or chemistry. Economics is an analytical science like mathematics. It's laws are developed and proved not by empirical research but by logical reasoning. Thus, empirical research is unable to falsify economic truth. Why? The short answer is that there is no way to isolate variables in human action.

Now, is it too much to expect the smartest President in history to know or understand what I have just written? Do you understand it? Do you agree with it?

If you don't, refute it...by means of logic and reasoning.

Or do not. Continue on your unthinking, merry way , and you'll be like Obama, a dumb ass too!  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Sorry, Pope, But You're A Dumb Ass!

Recently, Pope Francis published an "exhortation" to his faithful flock titled "Evangelii Gaudium." Here is an excerpt:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. 
I defy anyone who respects logic, economics, social cooperation and, indeed, reality itself to make sense of this paragraph. It verges on the unintelligible and the delusional, yet it is meant to guide the thinking and actions of millions of Catholics the world over. What does it mean? I don't know exactly, however, I can speculate on what I think it means...

Assuming whoever wrote it was not high on crack and describing some narcotic-induced dream, it seems to trade on the well-worn, Marxist canard that the people of the world are divided into two definitive classes: rich and poor. The rich, an oligarchic minority are exponentially more prosperous than the poor, an unprivileged majority. The rich are exploiters; the poor, the exploited. The rich are happy; the poor not, either because their poverty is absolutely unbearable or because it is simply unfair relative to the exaggerated wealth of the rich.

Of course this class ideology is completely imagined and unrealistic. The world's people are not so bifurcated. That there are nearly infinite degrees of wealth and happiness in the world's individuals cannot be denied. Moreover, there are hundreds of economics systems, regulated to various degrees, currently operating in states throughout the world.

Nevertheless, the Pope endeavors to explain how and why the people of the world came to exist in such a bifurcated class society. He claims the bifurcation is "imbalanced" and the classes are the result of "ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation."

Is the Pope here indicting free market capitalism? The insinuation seems plain. However, the ideology of free market capitalism does not hold that markets are absolutely autonomous. Neither does it hold that these markets tyrannize anyone, or unilaterally impose their "own laws and rules" on anyone. Free market capitalism holds that participation in markets is voluntary and that these markets are free from third party coercion or intervention.

In this sense, the ideology of free markets "reject[s] the right of states...to exercise any form of control" over the market, whether or not those in charge of the state feel "charged with vigilance for the common good."

The ideology of free market capitalism imagined by the Pope exists nowhere in this world, and if it doesn't exist, how could it result in any sort of real world consequences. Contrarily, everywhere we look in the real world we see states exercising control over markets and market participants, states which are usually acting under the assumed authority of "vigilance for the common good." If there is any tyranny involved in economic systems, it is the tyranny of the state relentlessly imposing its laws and rules upon the market.

Indeed, when the Pope writes that debt "and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power," he seems to be referring to the common state practices of accumulating mountains of public debt and debasing the money supply. The rest of the paragraph, which deals with corruption, tax evasion and the thirst for power, applies more appropriately to actors employed by the state than voluntary participants in the market.

The Pope then makes a passing swipe at the profit motive which, admittedly, motivates market participants. However, he mentions nothing of the greed that motivates state politicians and bureaucrats to no less a degree. And, to allege that "whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market" and "increased profits," is pure fantasy and demagoguery. If the Pope thinks that the state cannot and does not impose its laws and rules on the marketplace to defend "whatever is fragile, like the environment," then he is sadly isolated from reality.

Indeed, the clear thrust of the Pope's message is to advocate more controls on markets which are already heavily controlled, and to call for more state rules and laws where they now exist in abundance. In fact, the Pope seems to think that state seizure of the private assets of those who own more private property and the coercive redistribution of these assets to those who, for one reason or another have less, are the means to creating a more peaceful and less violent society of happier individuals.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Can anyone honestly agree with the Pope that having the state rob Peter to pay Paul is the formula for a conflict-free society of happy individuals?

Well, the Pope for one does believe what he says and others who think like him believe it as well. Why? Because the Pope and his sycophants have a different idea of private property and, consequently, of theft than you, I and most every other individual on earth who lives in society.

To illustrate just how out of whack the Pope's idea of theft is, simply consider the following quotation from the Pope's exhortation to his flock:
"Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.
The quotation is from one of the "sages of antiquity," Saint John Chrysostom. Saint John lived and studied theology back in the 4th century, well before economics was even a glint in Adam Smith's eye.

Taken as a moral guide for the voluntary actions of private individuals -- in other words, in a theological context -- Saint John's words might be considered allegorical and instructive. However, considered in the context of sociological and economic truth, Saint John's words are contradictory nonsense.

If the Pope truly believes these words should guide the policies and actions of "financial experts and political leaders" in states the world over, then Pope Francis can only be described as a socially and economically illiterate dumb ass.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Floridians...Abandon Ship!!

This from the Daily Kos: Could Charlie Crist save Florida from climate change?

If you live in Florida, you might want to pack your bags. According to the Daily Kos the Earth's ice caps will melt by the end of the century and Floridians will find themselves underwater. Of course, due to the recent real estate collapse in the state, most Floridians are already underwater, so what else is new?

Seriously, if you believe the video above, it's time to run for the hills...or vote for Charlie Crist!

Yup, it seems America's best known political hermaphrodite is best equipped to literally keep Floridians' heads above water. How? According to the article...
When Charlie Crist had been in the Florida governor's mansion for only one year, he held
a two-day climate summit that he wrapped up by signing three sweeping eco-executive orders.
His plans include adopting California’s strict vehicle-emissions law, making Florida the first Southeast state to go that route; calling for a 40 percent reduction in statewide greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025; and requiring state agencies to prioritize fuel efficiency when buying or renting vehicles and to hold events in facilities certified as green by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Crist is also asking state utilities to produce 20 percent of their power from renewables, and creating a Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change.
I'm convinced. If anything can stop Mother Earth from melting her ice caps and flooding Florida out of existence, it's a "Florida Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change!"

Good grief! No wonder the irreverent among us call them leftards!