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Category: Economics

Some Thought-Provoking Commentary

Wendy McElroy says the “Violence Against Women Act” is an insult to fairness, because the statistics of violence show that men are also victims of violence, and she cites a statistic that “‘55.5 percent’ of women and ‘43.2 percent’ of men ‘have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner’.”

Meanwhile, Jason Brennan with a controversial article discussing the use of violence in self-defense against agents of the State, i.e. government police.

Tom Mullen has the best argument against minimum wage laws: you don’t own other people.

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Paul Craig Roberts comments on Meghan Murphy’s banishment from Twitter for writing that “Men are not women.” And, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between men and transwomen?” Twitter called that “hateful conduct.” And this is what feminists get when they engage in extreme identity politics. So now, we are not allowed to say that someone who is a male is a male even though he insists he is a female even though he actually is a male. We’re just not allowed to say that. i.e. saying the actual, scientifically proven truth is “bad” now.

James Bovard says that George H.W. Bush was worse than Trump as far as trade protectionism was concerned, as well as obstructing a special counsel and escalating the fascist drug war.

Bush and Trump should have listened to Frank Chodorov when it comes to free will and the marketplace.

And Bill Sardi looks at the alarming rise in polio-like infections in children.

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Thomas Knapp on doing justice to Donald Trump’s “invasion” claim.

Chris Calton writes about Let There Be Light: The documentary the Army suppressed.

Jacob Hornberger uncovers yet another unconstitutional U.S. government propaganda scheme.

Rod Dreher discusses the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

Ryan McMaken on immigration: give the private sector a bigger role in deciding who comes here.

And Robert Wenzel analyzes Day 9 of Paul Krugman’s Masterclass: How to justify hating the rich.

In the “Capitalism vs. Socialism” Debate, Freedom Is Found in Capitalism, Not Socialism

George Reisman has 13 illustrations of the benevolence of capitalism. It is a must read, in my view.

It is quite lengthy, but here are some excerpts that caught my eye:

(6) … in a market economy … private ownership of the means of production operates to the benefit of everyone, the nonowners, as well as owners. The nonowners obtain the benefit of the means of production owned by other people. They obtain this benefit as and when they buy the products of those means of production. To get the benefit of General Motors’ factories and their equipment, or the benefit of Exxon’s oil fields, pipelines, and refineries, I do not have to be a stockholder or a bondholder in those firms. I merely have to be in a position to buy an automobile, or gasoline, or whatever, that they produce.

Moreover, thanks to the dynamic, progressive aspect of the uniformity-of-rate-of-profit or rate-of-return principle that I explained a moment ago, the general benefit from privately owned means of production to the nonowners continually increases, as they are enabled to buy ever more and better products at progressively falling real prices. It cannot be stressed too strongly that these progressive gains, and the generally rising living standards that they translate into, vitally depend on the capitalist institutions of private ownership of the means of production, the profit motive, and economic competition, and would not be possible without them. It is these that underlie motivated, effective individual initiative in raising the standard of living.

(10 ) … capitalism is in actuality as thoroughly and rationally planned an economic system as it is possible to have. The planning that goes on under capitalism, without hardly ever being recognized as such, is the planning of each individual participant in the economic system. Every individual who thinks about a course of economic activity that would be of benefit to him and how to carry it out is engaged in economic planning. Individuals plan to buy homes, automobiles, appliances, and, indeed, even groceries. They plan what jobs to train for and where to offer and apply the abilities they possess. Business firms plan to introduce new products or discontinue existing products; they plan to change their methods of production or continue to use the methods they presently use; they plan to open branches or close branches; they plan to hire new workers or layoff workers they presently employ; they plan to add to their inventories or reduce their inventories.

Ironically … socialism, as Mises has shown, is incapable of rational economic planning. In destroying the price system and its foundations, namely, private ownership of the means of production, the profit motive, and competition, socialism destroys the intellectual division of labor that is essential to rational economic planning. It makes the impossible demand that the planning of the economic system be carried out as an indivisible whole in a single mind that only an omniscient deity could possess.

What socialism represents is so far from rational economic planning that it is actually the prohibition of rational economic planning. In the first instance, by its very nature, it is a prohibition of economic planning by everyone except the dictator and the other members of the central planning board. They are to enjoy a monopoly privilege on planning, in the absurd, virtually insane belief that their brains can achieve the all-seeing, all-knowing capabilities of  omniscient deities. They cannot. Thus, what socialism actually represents is the attempt to substitute the thinking and planning of one man, or at most of a mere handful of men, for the thinking and planning of tens and hundreds of millions, indeed, of billions of men. By its nature, this attempt to make the brains of so few meet the needs of so many has no more prospect of success than would an attempt to make the legs of so few the vehicle for carrying the weight of so many.

But as Dr. Reisman notes at the beginning of the essay, freedom is the essential element in free-market capitalism. So, I will add that besides economic freedom which is necessary to raise the standard of living for all, there also needs to be personal and political freedom as well. The freedom of speech and the Press, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to due process, and the right to be secure in one’s person, papers, houses and effects are important freedoms for a prosperous as well as free and civilized society.

In the U.S. we seem to be losing more and more of those personal and political freedoms, as well as the economic freedom that existed here prior to World War I and the imposition of the income tax-theft.

In Orwellian China, what they have now is some sort of “Social Credit Score,” in which almost everything the people do is monitored by the government. Their traveling behaviors, the trains they take or their behavior as a pedestrian following or not following the street lights, their social media expressions, and so on.

If they get a score of “untrustworthy,” those people are barred from trains and planes, and are “unable to move even a single step,” as the bureaucrats have stated. So I assume that the people of China are not or will not be able to “vote with their feet,” if they are not physically able to travel out of the country. How will they be able to travel out of such a tyrannical dictatorship hellhole? The former East Germany would shoot people trying to escape. Those trying to leave the former Soviet Union were considered deserters and traitors, according to Wikipedia.

Hmm, not being able to “vote with their feet” to leave tyranny reminds me of the uncapitalistic national socialist Donald Trump, except his restrictions and the government Wall he wants to surround his utopian closed society are presumably to keep people out and prevent foreigners from going to a better place as they attempt to flee tyranny. (But what will future Washington administrations use the Wall for, Donald? Hmmm?)

So, despite whatever capitalistic reforms China has attempted to make in recent years, it seems to want to become more like North Korea, rather than more like the U.S. (I want to say, “the former U.S.,” given how down the totalitarian drain Amerika has gone. Oh, well. We have the college campus craziness with the suppression of dissent from PC idiocy, and the Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes of the world who want to turn America into a socialist utopia, which, if you read the above Reisman article you will understand how such a utopia is literally impossible and historically always failed.)

If Donald Trump really wants to have the U.S. compete with China, he should dismantle all impediments to Americans’ freedom, especially economic freedom, not increase such impediments as he keeps threatening to do. Dump the tariff-taxes, get rid of the unconstitutional bureaucracies whose purpose is mainly to live high off the hog on the wealth those bureaucrats suck away from the workers and producers of society. Just as the area around Washington, D.C. is the wealthiest part of the country (because of all the parasites associated with U.S. government and all the wealth they siphon off the actual producers of America), the bureaucrats in China are also of great wealth.

As far as the increasing Orwellian government surveillance and molestation of the people and their private lives and movements in the U.S., what we need to do is have some sort of private agency, or agencies, to make government bureaucrats, including all lawmakers, law enforcers, judges, and executives like governors and Presidents, report all their activities and submit to 24-7 monitoring by the people, rather than the other way around. We really need to make it very uncomfortable and unprofitable for anyone to be a government official of any kind, which should help to ensure a freer and healthier society.

Nationalists Prefer Socialism in Trade and Immigration

Donald Boudreaux has this article on free trade and the false idea of “trade deficits,” and says that the “American economy” is not a single economic entity to be compared to a household or a corporation. “Americans do not work for America, Inc. And there are no goods or services that we Americans are managed as workers to produce for sale to non-Americans. America is not a business that operates according to a shared, unitary plan the success or failure of which is recorded on a meaningful budget.”

But those who seem to have this authoritarian nationalism stuff drilled into them see things otherwise. Many of them are with Donald Trump on government-controlled trade, rather than free trade which would be a part of free-market capitalism. The Trumpies are opposed to the ideas of individualism and economic freedom, in which people have the freedom as consumers to do whatever they want with their own money, trade with whomever they wish and from wherever, and as producers to buy whatever capital goods they need to run their businesses and from anyone they want anywhere in the world.

The Trumpies are also opposed to economic freedom in the immigration issue. They have this irrational view that workers and employers must get a government bureaucrat’s permission to work wherever or hire whomever they determine to be best for them.

Free-market capitalism and free trade — including people trading their labor with employers, customers and clients — are not impeded by government borders. If so, they are no longer free markets and free trade. The nationalists say otherwise. They prefer government restrictions on labor and trade, i.e. socialism. But I doubt that the Rush Limbaugh talk-radio ditto-heads would admit that (if they could actually understand the difference).

The “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence coincide with the free market and free trade. The nationalists’ utopia of socialist, central-planning economic controls in immigration go against the people’s unalienable rights. ALL human beings have “unalienable rights,” not just “citizens.” Right?

So the nationalists also seem to be obsessed with “citizenship,” like an individual must be “authorized” by the gubmint to live some kind of life and earn a living. What kind of life is that? It isn’t freedom, for sure. But sadly we have authoritarians who look to government as their god whose permission and authorization we must have to live.

The nationalists have this mentality that foreigners are “invading” America, invading “our” country, and “breaking into our home,” because they reject the concept of private property. In the same way that no one “owns a culture,” as Robert Higgs wrote just recently, no one “owns a country.” This territory of America is a territory, that consists of many parcels of private property. Each parcel of private property is individually owned, it is not owned by the community, by the entire population, or by the government.

But sadly, whether they are willing or able to admit it to themselves, the nationalists reject the idea of private property, and they consider the property within “America” to be ultimately owned by the collective. So to the nationalists the collective of the population has the right to determine (via their beloved government rulers) what privately-owned business owners may or may not do with their businesses, whom they may or may not hire, based on the whim of the collective and the diktats of the beloved government rulers (and based on anti-foreigner sentiments especially).

So really the nationalists and Trumpies really believe in a communal ownership of everything, and thus they are certainly closer to the communists than to the libertarians who believe in private property rights.

Now, regarding “public property,” which is supposedly owned by the “public” (although some people say it’s owned by the “taxpayers,” which I don’t agree with), as Jim Davies noted, “public property” is not legitimately owned by the government, but is unowned (although occupied by the government illegitimately).

If Only “Democratic Socialists” Learned More About Socialism

Benjamin Powell, co-author of Socialism Sucks, has an article at the Independent Institute asserting that “Democratic Socialists” really need to learn more about socialism. If those who declare themselves to be socialists went to actual socialist countries like Venezuela to see first hand how bad things are there because of socialism — just like the old Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, etc. — then maybe they might have a change of heart.

Here is an excerpt:

But here’s the problem. The word “democratic” isn’t magic fairy dust when put in front of “socialist.” The socialist portion of democratic socialism still means the state—the government—has undue control over economic decision-making that will result in stagnation.

And, as history has shown over and over again, you can’t really have a free society and free people without economic freedom. Democratic freedoms and economic freedoms go hand in hand.

In his 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek made the case that democracy is only compatible with competitive capitalism and that once a country becomes “dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”

The reason is simple. Centrally planned socialist economic systems necessarily concentrate economic power in the hands of government officials and planners. Without such power they can’t hope to “run things.” Yet this same power limits citizens’ ability to freely exercise their power when they become dissatisfied with the government. That’s because the government can punish them financially if they choose to oppose those in power.

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Matthew Silber writes about defusing a second civil war through peaceful secession. (In my view, the choices are voluntary, peaceful secession and decentralization, OR, let the society in Amerika collapse with chaos, violence and bloodshed. I prefer the former, not the latter.)

Thomas DiLorenzo asks, Where does the Constitution call for black-robed dictators?

Laurence Vance says that “libertarian” proposals to “reform” Social Security with new mandates are privatizing coercion. (With libertarians like that, who needs fascists?)

And Daniel Mitchell says that a Trump-Pelosi budget deal is a recipe for the worst kind of tax increase.

The Selfish, Keynesian, Socialist Election-Cheaters in Florida

These recent elections, with all the cheating going on Florida and other states, seem to be an exaggerated version of many times in the past in which we’ve seen people who will do anything for their immediate gratification fix for power and control over the lives of others.  I am reminded by an article I wrote in 2013 on Keynesianism and its policies of selfishness, irresponsibility and immediate gratification. So, I will repost that article here.

Keynesianism: Policies of Selfishness, Irresponsibility and Immediate Gratification

September 27, 2013 (LewRockwell.com, Link to article)

Our fanatically Keynesian President Barack Obama believes that governments should spend money they don’t have and put the country into debt. So he is whining to Republicans to continue raising the debt ceiling so the federal government can continue on its wild spending spree.

And Obama has the nerve to say that the opposing Party’s not wanting to do the President’s bidding by irresponsibly raising the debt ceiling is “extorting” the President. He claims that it is extortion when some of the people’s representatives tell the Dear Leader to stop stealing from our grandchildren!

This Obama person is just as bad as the Bush that preceded him. And the power-grabbers of the Federal Reserve and the banksters are just as dishonest and irresponsible.

But they are merely reflecting the general population now, the selfish, impatient and id-oriented population of America.

And some people are speculating that Janet Yellen, Vice Chairman of the Fed’s Board of Governors, will be picked to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, replacing Ben Bernanke.

Like Bernanke, Ms. Yellen apparently believes in using the apparatus of government intervention to control economic matters. And she certainly favors Keynesian policies, “easy money” and continuing with the self-indulgent spending habits.

The Economic Collapse Blog’s Michael Snyder notes how Ms. Yellen was totally clueless in 2007, really believing that those artificial housing and other stimulus would be “still likely to achieve a relatively smooth adjustment path.” And then in 2010 she testified that she did not see the meltdown and collapse coming, as the current Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, also did not see it coming.

However, those of the Austrian school way of thinking, such as Ron Paul, did see it coming, as I have noted before.

And in response to The Bernank’s recent “no taper” announcement, Ron Paul asked, morally what right does Bernanke have “to take away 2% of our purchasing power deliberately? What right does he have to punish the elderly who save money?”

Dr. Paul warned against further destruction of the dollar and malinvestment caused by artificial interest rates.

Actually, as long as any kind of economic activity is artificial, or artificially “stimulated” by monopolistic and unaccountable governmental intrusions, there’s a good chance that that will cause malinvestment.

And the other part of that is the intrusions are coming from some central planner, such as the Fed and its high-and-mighty Chairman or from an act of Congress, for that matter. What you will then have is “planned chaos,” as Ludwig von Mises pointed out.

In contrast, with freedom and free markets consumers and producers are left free to plan their own economic matters. In a system of more freedom and randomness, you have less chaos because such a system is freed from the destructive intrusions of those bureaucratic buffoons and parasites and their “fatal conceit” that guides them.

But sadly, the majority of people in America do not appreciate that freedom, independence and responsibility, in our modern age of decadence and covetousness.

America has become a society in which irresponsibility and immediate gratification are institutionalized, praised and rewarded. And that is exactly what the Keynesian economics of Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, Paul Krugman and millions of others promotes.

The truth is, those folks of the Keynesian way of thinking don’t even practice economics — their love is for politics and in strengthening the political class.

You see, at some point private economic matters in America became politicized. And it was the politicians who exploited crises, panics and economic downturns and they then sold a bunch of snake oil to the desperate masses as a means of the politicians grabbing more and more political and police power over the people.

And, coinciding with the decline of critical thinking in America, the politicians’ minions in academia and the Press supported the ideas of deficit spending and promoting debts as a way to get out of recessions and depressions.

Reflecting the mental laziness reinforced by government schooling, it makes the unthinking academics and pundits feel good when they are relieved of having to make any effort in solving the problems that caused those recessions and depressions in the first place, and instead they can just get their monetary meds right away. (Hmmm. Can we get Big Pharma in on this?)

But these kinds of irresponsible, immediate gratification habits are like drug addictions, and like drug addicts the spending addicts put their entire family into the poor house. And this is what the power-grabbing politicians want, encouraging the people to then beg them for  more “easy money” and other wealth-redistribution schemes to bail them out.

As long as they are further enriched and empowered over others, the politicians and bureaucrats get what they crave with each new power-grabbing vote in Congress, just as the Fed’s manipulations empower the banksters to get new money to fund their bonuses while the politicians’ Fed-stimulated inflation steals even more from the people.

However, America’s immediate gratification society can be seen in other areas now. For example, the cops and prosecutors, and “national security” bureaucrats who get away with warrantless searches and stopping and frisking innocent people. Why wait for a judge to sign a warrant? That takes too long. They crave to do their searches immediately. And even when there’s no suspicion of specific individuals they want to search anyway. And why go through the trouble of coming across some actual individual who is suspicious to then do searches of his emails or phone records? Instead let’s search through and collect and keep a database of all Americans’ emails and phone records, and that way we can then find our needle in the haystack.

So that is a current example of the kind of immediate gratification mindset that Americans have developed in many areas of life — not just economic — over the past century, especially since the implementation of the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.

But such behaviors are those of irresponsibility, and only promote the satisfying of one’s immediate desires with total disregard for ethics and for the future (or for the rights of innocent people in the case of the “security” fanatics).

People want “easy money,” and they want it now. (Especially the banksters.) Don’t wait until you have enough money saved or have enough of an income to afford to buy a house — get a loan NOW and get a mortgage now anyway, and get that house. And spend as much as you can on your credit card, and put yourself in debt. Who cares about your family’s future, as long as you get that stuff you want now.

And the banksters want easy money and bailouts, because they know that regardless how irresponsible their lending practices and their investments are (with their customers‘ money, just as Congress is with taxpayers’ money), they are guaranteed by the government to be free from bankruptcy. And they will keep their jobs (while you lose yours).

You see, such a Keynesian mindset is especially thriving in those who want to have some central authority, the Fed or Congress, to act as “stimulator” of the population’s prosperity, and to dish out food stamps and other goodies, as well as artificially-stimulated interest rates and “easy money” (for the banksters).

Sadly, the masses are being fed the false belief that they are benefiting from these government bureaucrats and those monetary central planners like Helicopters Ben and Janet who hand out the easy money like candy.

But, as Lew Rockwell recently noted, it is the State and its agents who are enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else, while the advocates of freedom and independence, such as Ron Paul, are the ones who want the people liberated from the State’s tentacles and from its exploitation of the people’s labor and livelihoods.

It would be easier to get more people to see that, if only they could overcome their long-ingrained habits of short-sightedness, and their blind faith in the State as a savior.