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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

"...now will we deal worse with thee, than with them."

Now that the political conventions of both major parties have come and gone, I've been struggling to make sense of the upcoming presidential election. I had planned to compose a definitive post on the subject. I had it all figured out. But, after several fits and starts, I had nothing. I was ready to give up.

And then it hit me. We're not Americans electing the next President of the United States. We're residents of Sodom or Gomorrah electing a new mayor!

Yeah, I know, that's kind of an over-the-top analogy -- and kind of silly to boot, but all I ask is that you give me a few minutes to explain and then think about it.

I love old movies, the ones in black and white starring deceased actors. I just finished watching one made in 1950: "The Next Voice You Hear...." James Whitmore stars as "Joe Smith, American." Wikipedia describes Joe and his wife, Nancy Davis (yes, that Nancy Davis, Reagan's wife) in the movie as "a typical American couple." Some would call the film a corny, little allegory. Maybe it is. One thing is sure. Hollywood won't be making the sequel anytime soon. You see, the movie was produced by a major studio (MGM) and its theme was the inherent goodness and greatness of God.

Whether you agree with the movie's message or not, what's interesting about the film is that it describes life in 1950's America pretty much to a "T." I know. I grew up in the '50's in small town America, smack in the middle of flyover country. My mom worked at home in an apron and packed a lunch pail for my dad who worked at a local factory that made outboard engines for boats.

Our neighborhood was a close-knit group. It wasn't unusual for "Neighbor Gus" to invite me into his home for cookies and milk with his wife, Ella, or to slap me on the butt for getting into trouble when my dad or mom weren't there to do it themselves. Dad carpooled to work with another neighbor and I rode along as far as my Catholic grade school. And oh, like the kid in the movie, I had a paper route too and my dad helped me work it once when I was sick.

Critics and skeptics would be quick to point out that my small-town world at the time was story-book, lily-white and Christian. And they'd be right, but that's just the way things were back then and I'll be damned if I'll apologize for it. Blacks and Muslims simply lived in another part of the world. I couldn't help that. All I know is that the neighbors I knew (and I knew most of them) were good people, friendly and caring, with nice families willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.

The movie reminded me of the values that permeated society back then, the same values I write about here: private property, individual freedom and peace. Joe Smith, American, was an assembly-line worker always pressed for cash. He couldn't afford a radio for his car. He put up with a starter that didn't always crank. When the refrigerator broke down, he didn't call a repairman or 911, he fixed it himself. Sure, he had a one-time, drunken bout with despair, but in the end he persevered because he believed in God, loved his family and lived the American way. He was confident life for him and his family would improve because he was working his way up to foreman.

The problem is that somewhere between then and now the country lost its way. We, as citizens, lost respect for traditional American values and, as a result, we lost respect for our neighbors. Instead of a friendly society we find ourselves now in an angry one. Instead of a healthy respect for the law and those that enforce it, each of us tries to turn and twist the law to our own political advantage. Today citizens and policemen are killing each other in our streets, and some are bragging about it. Instead of the peace I knew in my world of the 1950's, conflict is rampant today and, if we're not careful, the whole thing is going to blow up in our face.

Americans, especially Americans like me who are old enough to have lived the traditional American way, know that all is not right in America today. We can sense it. There is a tension in the air. Black or white, liberal or conservative, Americans feel the country has one foot in the grave.

Consequently, our politics this year is fierce. The political slogan might be: "a matter of life or death," or "you're either with us or against us," or "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Democratic and Republican partisans argue that their candidate is America's savior incarnate. The ironic part is these partisans don't seem to believe it themselves. They commonly end arguments with undecided voters by describing their candidate as "the lesser of two evils."

Hogwash. I don't believe evil exists in degrees. Neither do I believe that the next president is capable of pulling our sorry asses out of the wringer. America's problems are much deeper than that and much more personal.

I believe the traditional, American values of private property, individual freedom and peace are implied by the very logic of a cooperative society which must outlaw theft and murder in order to exist. And this truth implies that the only acceptable way to live within a cooperative society is by means of voluntary, peaceful exchange. The happy result of a highly cooperative society is an extremely small government (to enforce the taboos against theft and murder), maximum prosperity for all individuals and peace (a minimum of interpersonal conflict).

Do the major party candidates believe in these American values? Hardly. They represent large factions of modern day America and this country is no longer Joe Smith’s America.

You've probably been thinking this very thing the whole time you've been reading. Americans today are likely to say: "What's wrong with working together. There's nothing un-American about being your brother's keeper!" No, nothing wrong with that sentiment at all so long as "working together" is voluntary and "being your brother's keeper" isn't public economic policy enforced by the IRS!

Americans today conflate individual and personal virtue with Marxist government and good public policy: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” This juvenile idea is foreign to the traditional American way and contradicts the principles of private property and individual liberty.

Do you know how sad this trend toward coercive collective government makes me? I've become a man without a country. Not only is the neighborhood I grew up in lost forever, but apparently its values and my values are passe, which is the very problem at the root of our troubles!

Maybe now you'll understand my Sodom and Gomorrah analogy. We are what's wrong with America, and one election -- one newly elected, superhero President -- isn't going to fix us! We've got to fix ourselves! We've got to learn to believe in property, freedom and peace again! Then, we can start believing in each other!

So how will I vote this fall? Beats me. The tiny Constitution Party and its candidate seem to share my values and ideals. But that party isn’t even on the ballot in all 50 states. Which just serves to prove my point.

I tell you what, I'll think about this election later and get back to you.

Right now I'm not in the best of moods. Right now, if I had to make up my mind, I wouldn't vote at all. I'd turn my back on the presidential election, walk away and let the whole bleeping country go up in flames.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A New Beginning...

This blog has been in stall mode for quite a while now. I've neglected it due to personal, family problems and a general disgust with all things political which, let's face it, comprise the subject matter of a large percentage of posts here and elsewhere on the internet.

There are two problems with politics in this country: first, they've become personal; and second, they've become factional. The two are related.

One cannot have a discussion about politics nowadays without being smeared as a worthless or evil sycophant of one faction or another. I've been guilty of this myself from time to time. No more. When I post again on this blog it will not be to politic for one party or another, or one candidate or another. Those interested in politics are capable of forming their own opinions and voting accordingly.

From now on I will write about ideas and only ideas. Yes, at times I will be inspired to write about an idea because it was uttered by a political personality in the news. But I will criticize and castigate the idea, not the individual who holds it. Readers can draw their own conclusions about the character of individuals who hold and believe in corrupt ideas.

As always, my bias will be on the side of property, freedom and peace. Why? Because I believe in a cooperative society, which means a society in which individuals voluntarily act in concert to attain mutual goals. In order for such a society to exist the members of such a society must follow and believe in two absolute moral laws: Thou shalt not kill, and Thou shalt not steal. These laws imply the rights of life and property. Living by these laws implies peace, a condition of mankind that I believe 99% of human beings desire and strive for.

Of course, and this goes almost without saying, my other biases are on the side of reality and logic. Reality, as they say, is a harsh mistress. The natural state of man is animalistic and savage. However, logic instructs us that individual human beings act with purpose and, by acting, human beings can do what lesser animals cannot: they can cooperate, and enjoy all the fruits that cooperation implies.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

"Good Grief!"

This morning I wasted a few minutes watching FBI Director James Comey testify under oath about why he felt Hillary Clinton should go scot-free after months of investigation by his agency. I felt slimed just by watching.

One of the Congressmen asked Comey why he gave Hillary a pass for failing to recognize top secret emails that she handled with extreme carelessness. Comey said it was because Clinton -- the most qualified person ever to run for President -- was basically computer illiterate.

The Associated Press quoted Comey as saying that his investigation "did not establish that Clinton was 'particularly sophisticated' with the use of electronic information."

Responding to Comey's ridiculous reply, Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis threw up his hands and sighed "Good grief!"

Then another Congressman asked Comey why he felt Clinton kept a private server in her basement to conduct government business. Comey answered that he believed Clinton did so "as a matter of convenience," an answer that matched Clinton's campaign rhetoric almost word-for-word.

Never mind that a May, 2016 report on Clinton's email practices published by the Office of the Inspector General clearly showed that Clinton refused to use a government Blackberry after being told that doing so would guarantee that all her emails would be preserved subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

When asked if he had determined that Clinton's testimony made under oath to Congress at the Benghazi hearings was perjured -- testimony which contradicts his own FBI investigation results, Comey said he had received no directive from Congress to make such a determination. 

"Good grief!" indeed.