Thursday, December 31, 2009

Government Motors - A Day in Headlines

GM Replacing Top Lobbyist With Two Former AT&T Executives
CNNmoney.com

GM Recalls Corvette Models to Fix Roof Panel
consumeraffairs.com

GM Recalls Equinox, Terrain Models
consumeraffairs.com

US Treasury Gives $3.8 Billion More To GMAC
CNNmoney.com

Merit Pay Returning to GM
The Detroit News

"I don't know anything about cars."
- Ed Whitacre, GM's Government Appointed Chairman

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Robbed for Their Own Benefit

"Ever since the advent of representative government placed the ultimate power to direct the administration of public affairs in the hands of the people, the primary instrument by which the few have managed to plunder the many has been the sophistry that persuades the victims that they are being robbed for their own benefit. The public has been despoiled of a great part of its wealth and has been induced to give up more and more of its freedom of choice because it is unable to detect the error in the delusive sophisms by which protectionist demagogues, national socialists, and proponents of government planning exploit its gullibility and its ignorance of economics."

From "Preface to the English Language Edition" by Arthur Goddard, in Economic Sophisms by Bastiat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Vain and Empty Hope

"Conservatives have often placed their central hopes in big businessmen. This view of big business was most starkly expressed in Ayn Rand’s dictum that “Big Business is America’s most persecuted minority.” Persecuted? With a few honorable exceptions, big business jostles one another eagerly to line up at the public trough. Does Lockheed, or General Dynamics, or AT&T, or Nelson Rockefeller feel persecuted?

Big business support for the Corporate Welfare-Warfare State is so blatant and so far-ranging, on all levels from the local to the federal, that even many conservatives have had to acknowledge it, at least to some extent. How then explain such fervent support from “America’s most persecuted minority?” The only way out for conservatives is to assume (a) that these businessmen are dumb, and don’t understand their own economic interests, and/or (b) that they have been brainwashed by leftliberal intellectuals, who have poisoned their souls with guilt and misguided altruism. Neither of these explanations will wash, however, as only a glance at AT&T or Lockheed will amply sho w. Big businessmen tend to be admirers of statism, to be “corporate liberals,” not because their souls have been poisoned by intellectuals, but because a good thing has thereby been coming their way. Ever since the acceleration of statism at the turn of the twentieth century, big businessmen have been using the great powers of State contracts, subsidies and cartelization to carve out privileges for themselves at the expense of the rest of the society. It is not too farfetched to assume that Nelson Rockefe ller is guided far more by self- interest than he is by woolly- headed altruism. It is generally admitted even by liberals, for example, that the vast network of government regulatory agencies is being used to cartelize each industry on behalf of the large firms and at the expense of the public. But to salvage their New Deal world-view, liberals have to console themselves with the thought that these agencies and similar “reforms,” enacted during the Progressive, Wilson, or Rooseveltian periods, were launched in good faith, with the “public weal” grandly in view. The idea and genesis of the agencies and other liberal reforms were therefore “good”; it was only in practice that the agencies somehow slipped into sin and into subservience to private, corporate interests. But what Kolko, Weinstein, Domhoff and other revisionist historians have shown, clearly and thoroughly, is that this is a piece of liberal mythology. In reality, all of these reforms, on the national and local levels alike, were conceived, written, and lobbied for by these very privileged groups themselves. The work of these historians reveals conclusively that there was no Golden Age of Reform before sin crept in; sin was there from the beginning, from the moment of conception. The liberal reforms of the Progressive-New Deal-Welfare State were designed to create what they did in fact create: a world of centralized statism, of “partnership” between government and industry, a world which subsists in granting subsidies and monopoly privileges to bus iness and other favored groups.

Expecting the Rockefellers or the legion of other favored big businessmen to convert to a libertarian or even a laissez-faire view is a vain and empty hope. But this is not to say that all big businessmen, or businessmen in general, must be written off. Contrary to the Marxists, not all businessmen, or even big businessmen, constitute a homogeneous economic class with identical class interests. On the contrary, when the CAB confers monopoly privileges on a few large airlines, or when the FCC confers a monopoly on AT&T, there are numerous other firms and businessmen, small and large, who are injured and excluded from the privileges. The conferring of a monopoly of communications on AT&T by the FCC, for example, for a long while kept the now rapidly growing data communications industry stagnating in infancy; it was only an FCC decision to allow competition that enabled the industry to grow by leaps and bounds. Privilege implies exclusion, so there will always be a host of businesses and businessmen, large and small, who will have a solid economic interest in ending State control over their industry. There are therefore a host of businessmen, especially those remote from the privileged “Eastern Establishment,” who are potentially receptive to free market and libertarian ideas."

From For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard

Copyright © 1973, 1978 by Murray N. Rothbard, and 2002 this online edition by The Ludwig von Mises Institute. Used with permission.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Passed, but Unpopular

Best headline of the day:

"Health Care Bill That Is Hated by Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Socialists, Christians, Feminists, the Media and the American People Passes Senate"

Reason, Hit and Run.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Anniversary of Bastiat's Death


HERE LIES

FREDERIC BASTIAT


representative of the people to Parliament,
Correspondant of the Institute of France,
born in Bayonne in 1801,
died in Rome on 24th December 1850.

Parliament will miss such an enlightened and conscientious representative,
political economny, such an eminent exponent
of its purest doctrines and of the harmony of its laws.
His family will only find consolation for such a painful separation
in the memory of his Christian death


in pace

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reliving the Crash of '29

Mises Daily: Monday, December 21, 2009
by Murray N. Rothbard


[First published in
Inquiry, November 12, 1979]

A half-century ago, America — and then the world — was rocked by a mighty stock-market crash that soon turned into the steepest and longest-lasting depression of all time.

It was not only the sharpness and depth of the depression that stunned the world and changed the face of modern history: it was the length, the chronic economic morass persisting throughout the 1930s, that caused intellectuals and the general public to despair of the market economy and the capitalist system.

Previous depressions, no matter how sharp, generally lasted no more than a year or two. But now, for over a decade, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness led millions to seek some new economic system that would cure the depression and avoid a repetition of it.

Political solutions and panaceas differed. For some it was Marxian socialism — for others, one or another form of fascism. In the United States the accepted solution was a Keynesian mixed-economy or welfare–warfare state. Harvard was the focus of Keynesian economics in the United States, and Seymour Harris, a prominent Keynesian teaching there, titled one of his many books Saving American Capitalism. That title encapsulated the spirit of the New Deal reformers of the '30s and '40s. By the massive use of state power and government spending, capitalism was going to be saved from the challenges of communism and fascism.

Read the Entire Article Here


Monday, December 21, 2009

Better Business Defense

If they want to improve the reputation of business, business people have to change the way they talk about it. So says The Economist.

A column entitled "The Silence of Mammon" says business can no longer rely on blaming "a few bad apples." Nor can it rescue its reputation by doing public good deeds -- that looks like appeasement -- and it can't win converts by boasting that business creates wealth. For those who don't place wealth high up on the scale of virtues, the argument rings hollow.

A better defense of business would focus on three things:

First, business is a remarkable exercise in co-operation.

Second, business is a creative act.

Third, business promotes pluralism.

Read the column here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Keynes Debate....continues....




Lord Robert Skidelsky and Professor Russ Roberts debate the legacy of government intervention and share their views on why markets fail.

Watch the entire conversation here

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Cover

Copenhagen is a cover for "uglier agendas," says Jonha Goldberg in the National Review:

"Bolivian president Evo Morales was interviewed by Al Jazeera television while in Copenhagen. “The principal obstacle to combating climate change is capitalism,” he explained. “Until we put an end to capitalism, it will continue to be a big obstacle for life and humanity.”

Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe proclaimed in a speech: “When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere, who gasp and sink and eventually die.”

Right. That is, unless Mugabe kills them first.

The big name in the anti-capitalism club was, of course, Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan national-socialist strongman. In a typical stem-winder, he belched: “Capitalism is a destructive model that is eradicating life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.”

I don’t know how to say “chutzpah” in Spanish, but you’ve got to hand it to the leader of the world’s No. 5 supplier of oil for bemoaning the system that keeps his regime afloat by buying his product."

Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 - 2011 Koch Associate Program

The Koch Associate Program is a challenging job opportunity for professionals who are passionate about free-market ideas and want to become more effective at advancing liberty throughout their careers. During the year-long program, each Associate works in a full-time, paid position with a market-oriented think tank, policy institute, or grassroots organization; while also receiving valuable management training in a seminar setting one day out of each week at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. For more information, visit www.cgkfoundation.org/associate-program.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fruits of Public Service

"...there is a robust job market in Washington for former Democratic congressmen with good political skills. Members of Congress make $174,000 a year; heads of trade associations make upward of $741,000 and don't have to return to home districts on weekends."

Michael Barone, washingtonexaminer.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon...

From reason.tv, a look at a new book that asks the question "If we can put a man on the moon, then why does government screw up everything else?"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shut Up and Go Away

Witness a new era of respect for civil disobedience, via Big Government:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top 20 Debtor Nations

Source: CNBC

http://www.cnbc.com/id/33506526

Gross External National Debt and % of GDP

20. United States – $13.454 trillion or 94.3% of GDP


19. Hungary - $207.92 billion or 105.7% of GDP

18. Australia - $800.2 billion or 111.3% of GDP

17. Italy - $ 1.823 trillion or 126.7% of GDP

16. Greece - $343 billion or 161.1% of GDP

15. Spain - $1.403 trillion or 171.7% of GDP

14. Germany - $2.918 trillion or 178.5% of GDP

13. Finland - $193.5 billion or 188.5% of GDP

12. Sweden - $344.3 billion or 194.3% of GDP

11. Norway - $275.4 billion or 199% of GDP

10. Hong Kong - $306.6 billion or 205.8% of GDP

9. Portugal - $236.5 billion or 214.4% of GDP

8. France - $2.128 trillion or 236% of GDP

7. Austria - $329.5 billion or 252.6% of GDP

6. Denmark - $203.6 billion or 298.3% of GDP

5. Belgium - $389 billion or 320.2% of GDP

4. Netherlands - $672 billion or 365% of GDP

3. United Kingdom - $2.226 trillion or 408.3% of GDP

2. Switzerland - $316.7 billion or 422.7% of GDP

1. Ireland -$188.4 billion or 1,267% of GDP

See the depressing slideshow here

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God Bless You, Mister Scrooge

I've always felt a certain sympathy for Ebenezer Scrooge.

As villains go, he really isn't that bad. He doesn't steal, he doesn't murder, and he doesn't ask the government or anyone else to do either one for him.

In fact, there are qualities in his unreformed character that are downright heroic. He might be a little rough in his people skills, but remember this was a long time before How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Scrooge is all Wharton and no Stanford. That doesn't make a guy bad, just completely misunderstood by people who don't like numbers.

Frankly, Scrooge deserves better treatment than being scared into giving his money away.

At last he gets it. God Bless You, Mister Scrooge!: A pro-Capitalist Christmas Carol, is a play that asks important and long overdue questions:

Why is Scrooge so successful if he’s such a villain?

If Bob Cratchit is so abused, why doesn’t he get a different job?

Just what is Scrooge supposed to do about Tiny Tim’s crutch?

The New York Times says of the play:

"Janet Hopf actually elevates the old miser in her interesting “God Bless You, Mister Scrooge!,” in which the fellow who in Dickens is so easily manipulated by those ghosts is given a backbone. He debates economics with the apparitions, offers capitalism’s arguments against encouraging people to rely on handouts, and apologizes for nothing.

“My wealth is a measure not of what I take from the world but what I give to it,” he says. Jan-Peter Pedross is quite good as Scrooge, and Marley’s ghost (Marc Geller) is creepy as can be, making the already chilly La Tea Theater at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on the Lower East Side even more so."

A few other comments:

"If I could see it, I'm sure I'd love it." Ayn R.

"No taxpayers were harmed in the making of this show."

December 4-20, Wednesday-Saturday, 8pm, Sundays at 3pm.

La Tea Theater
Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street, Second Floor
New York

Tickets $10 in advance, available at Theatermania.com
$15 at the door

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The New Lexicon

Skeptic (skep-tic): noun

1. a person of superior intelligence, analytical gifts, moral insight, critical judgement, political importance, scientific training, and great physical beauty who doubts the truth of religion, UFOs, and paranormal events. Synonyms: genius, Einstein, sage, scholar, thinker, guardian, protector, hero.

2. a stupid, selfish, and immoral neanderthal driving around in an SUV who stubbornly ignores the wisdom of his betters when it comes to the self-evident truth of anthropomorphic climate change. Synonyms: denier, disbeliever, doubter, kook, criminal, murderer, Republican.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shifting and Filling

You may not have heard of Thomas Kuhn, but you have certainly heard the terms he made famous.

The Harvard-educated PhD in physics was the first to use the now ubiquitous terms "paradigm" and "paradigm shift" to describe the way science really works. Kuhn argued that science does not work the way most scientists say it does. Instead of open-minded scientists accumulating objective conclusions from an unbiased analysis of the evidence, Kuhn saw science as a particular kind of culture, one where scientists evaluate evidence through a reigning paradigm. Kuhn called this "normal science."

No paradigm lasts forever. Errors accumulate, and the accumulation of anomalies causes the paradigm to breakdown. This leads to philosophical and methodological arguments, often nasty ones. This is what Kuhn called "extra-ordinary science." From this kind of science emerges a new paradigm. The paradigm shifts.

Kuhn's view of science is especially important today. We are told that the science is settled on many issues, most notably the issue of climate change. But what if Kuhn was right? What if the only thing settled is the paradigm through which scientists view the evidence? Then the most responsible thing a scientist could do is not to cover up the anomalies in the data, but to look for an entirely new paradigm revealed by the anomalies. In Kuhn's words, stop thinking in terms of normal science, and think extra-ordinarily.

In the same way that commercial revolutions do not come from meekly accepting the words of those who are already commercially successful, scientific revolutions do not come from meekly accepting the words of those who are scientifically successful.

The commercial entrepreneur has much in common with his scientific cousin. Both see what other people don't. Both destabilize settled worlds. Both create work for those who exploit and extend the useful life of new ideas. In the business world, we call those people managers. In the world of science, perhaps we should distinguish between entrepreneurial and managerial scientists. One shifts the paradigm, the other just fills it in.

As the advocates of anthropomorphic climate change regularly remind us, the drama of the climate debate recalls the great scientific revolutions of the past. However, the respective roles of hero and villain are not quite as clearly defined as they would like. Just who is the new Galileo, and who is playing the part of the Catholic Church?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Propagandistic Lockstep

George Will on climate change...

"...never in peacetime history has the government-media-academic complex been in such sustained propagandistic lockstep about any subject."

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Pretense of Knowledge

BY WALTER WILLIAMS for Creators.com

The ultimate constraint that we all face is knowledge — what we know and don't know. The knowledge problem is pervasive and by no means trivial as hinted at by just a few examples. You've purchased a house. Was it the best deal you could have gotten? Was there some other house you could have purchased that 10 years later would not have needed extensive repairs or was in a community with more likeable neighbors and a better environment for your children? What about the person you married? Was there another person who would have made for a more pleasing spouse? Though these are important questions, the most intelligent answer you can give to all of them is: "I don't know."

Since you don't know the answers, who do you think, here on Earth, is likely to know and whom would you like to make these decisions for you — Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, a czar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? I bet that if these people were to forcibly make housing or marital decisions for us, most would deem it tyranny.

You say, "Williams, Congress is not making such monumental decisions that affect my life." Try this. You are a 22-year-old healthy person. Instead of spending $3,000 or $4,000 a year for health insurance, you'd prefer investing that money in equipment to start a landscaping business. Which is the best use of that $3,000 or $4,000 a year — purchasing health insurance or starting up a landscaping business — and who should decide that question: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, George Bush, aczar appointed by Obama or a committee of Washington bureaucrats? How can they possibly know what's the best use of your earnings, particularly in light of the fact that they have no idea of who you are?

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Federal Debt: A Real Hockey Stick Chart


Via Hit and Run, this chart comes from Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, writing in The American.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hypothetical Machiavellian Advice

From Bryan Caplan at Econlog:

"Suppose a politician wanted to cynically take advantage of voter irrationality to gain their support for costly measures to fight global warming. What would his most effective strategies be?

One of my answers: Loudly announce that industry, not consumers, will pay the price."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Field of Dreams

The government stimulus field of dreams: if you build it, they will come...and they will stop going anywhere else.

Onvia Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Eric Gillespie told the Washington Times, "We've seen businesses go from viewing the government as the last client standing, and now we are hearing government spending is a key part of their business strategies. There is almost a philosophical shift in the industry where more and more businesses, large, medium and small as a result of the stimulus and their realizing there is a large, untapped revenue stream where they haven't been focused before."

Onvia is a Seattle-based company that monitors the government's contracting activity.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hide the Decline

What does an ambitious climatologist do when the data doesn't cooperate with his thesis of anthropogenic global warming?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

They Dare Call It Science

Intimidation. Blacklisting. Fudging the numbers. Destroying the evidence. Ignoring the law.

And they dare call it science.

Patrick J. Michaels of George Mason University and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute discusses the climate data breach on WIBC's The Garrison Show (Indianapolis, IN).

Listen here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Quotable Bastiat

Il ne pouvait donc s'introduire dans la Société un plus grand changement et un plus grand malheur que celui-là: la Loi convertie en instrument de spoliation.

"It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

La Loi/The Law

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bastiat Meeting - December 2nd

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Robert Bradley Jr. from the
Institute for Energy Research.

Time:
5:00pm Reception
6:00pm Speaker

Place:
Harbor Club
35 Prioleau Street
Charleston, SC


His topic for us will be:

"Political Capitalism: The Beast that Broke the Cage"

Description:

Drawing upon his research for his book trilogy on political capitalism, Bradley explores the theory and history of business/government relations in the United States. Of particular interest in the author's take on Enron, where he worked for 16 years and was Ken Lay's speechwriter. While the mainstream interpreted the fallen giant as capitalism gone awry, Bradley convincingly shows that Enron was a government-dependent enterprise that would not have existed in a free-market economy.

Bradley is author of, most recently, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy (the first volume of his trilogy), copies of which will be available at the talk.

Please RSVP by emailing us at - bastiatsociety@gmail.com



More on Dr. Robert Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the founder and chief executive officer of the Institute for Energy Research, a 501(c) 3 educational foundation with offices in Houston, Texas, and Washington, D.C. He is an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute and of the Competitive Enterprise Institute; a visiting fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; and an honorary senior research fellow at the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. Bradley, who holds a BA and MA in economics and a PhD in political economy, received the Julian L. Simon Memorial Award in 2002 for his work on free market approaches to energy sustainability.

Bradley worked at Enron for 16 years. As director of public policy analysis, he was a trenchant critic of the company's (government-dependent) investments in wind and solar and climate alarmism. His principled opposition to Ken Lay's "political capitalism" model is documented at http://www.politicalcapitalism.org/enron/.

Bradley is author, most recently, of Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy, an application of the capitalist worldview to corporate and energy controversies. His website www.politicalcapitalism.org expands on material in this work and in the two forthcoming books in his trilogy on corporate governance and political capitalism in the energy industry.

Bradley's other books are: The Mirage of Oil Protection (1989); Oil, Gas, and Government: The U.S. Experience (2 volumes: 1996), called "a landmark in regulatory studies"; Julian Simon and the Triumph of Energy Sustainability (ALEC: 2000); Climate Alarmism Reconsidered (2003); and (with Richard Fulmer) Energy: The Master Resource (2004), which Milton Friedman praised as a "splendid" book that "effectively debunks the widespread predictions of energy doom."

Bradley, who blogs at www.masterresource.org, has also published numerous essays pertaining to government intervention, with particular application to energy markets. His public-policy approach combines an understanding of the historical record with market-process economics and libertarian social theory.


For more information regarding the Institute for Energy Research click here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Peter Bernstein on Risk

Business is always and everywhere the act of taking a risk.

The more we understand the nature of risk, the better decisions we will make, both in business and in its dependent and unstable partner, government.

From the McKinsey Quarterly, Peter Bernstein, the celebrated author of Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk explores the history of risk and how it works in real-world markets and in our lives.








McKinsey Quarterly, Permission Granted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wealth Creation in Africa

More Aid and More Government is Not the Answer

In this provocative talk, journalist Andrew Mwenda asks us to reframe the "African question" -- to look beyond the media's stories of poverty, civil war and helplessness and see the opportunities for creating wealth and happiness throughout the continent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Prayer

"Dear Global Economy,

We thank thee for thy economies of scale, thy professional specialization, and thy international networks of trade under Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage, without which we would all starve to death while trying to assemble the ingredients for such a dinner as this.

Amen."

From Overcoming Bias.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

by Dr. Peter C. Calcagno
Professor of Economics at the College of Charleston

As we are sitting around the table this year giving thanks for our friends and family and getting ready to enjoy turkey and football we should remember why the pilgrims gave thanks. It was not just for the bountiful harvest and their survival, or for the agricultural knowledge they gained from the American Indians. What they were truly thankful for was the institution of private property. As Gary Galles and Richard Ebelling each explain the Pilgrims of Plymouth had tried an experiment with common property and it failed miserably. The colonists had started out with collective farming and were starving to death Governor William Bradford wrote:

"For this community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontentment and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . all being to have alike, and all to do alike . . . if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them."

He decided drastic steps were necessary and he privatized the farms.

"All their victuals were spent . . . no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length . . . the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . . And so assigned to every family a parcel of land . . . "

The end of the story we all know: A bountiful harvest for which they gave thanks. So when you sit down to give thanks remember Governor Bradford and give thanks for the birth of private property rights in the colonies, which are the corner stone of free-market capitalism.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sponge Is a Mess!

By Robert Anderson for LewRockwell.com

It’s been over fifty years since I first heard Leonard Read make the comment, "The market is analogous to a sponge. The market can absorb a lot of government mess until, like a saturated sponge, it becomes a mess too!" Looking back, it’s been almost fifty years since Leonard (he was my best man at our wedding) told me marriage and the market share this similar trait, so keep your sponge dry. While our marriage has done so, sadly the same cannot be said about the free market economy over these past fifty years.

Today I find myself reflecting on another Read comment, but this one related to human progress. He often noted that a social order advances through folks overcoming adversity, and thus periods of what he liked to call devolution, are essential to achieving that end. Of course, Leonard’s abstract idea sounded a lot better to me fifty years ago than it does from experiencing it today!

It’s frightening to me how much individual liberty has been lost during my lifetime, and especially since the birth of my father. When my father was born near the end of the nineteenth century, the only awareness that a federal government even existed in his family’s life was the local postman delivering the mail. Today, that same government is about to force some people to purchase medical insurance with fines and jail threatened if they do not comply. These are apt anecdotal reminders showing how the concept of government has radically changed when compared to more than a century ago. Unfortunately, an omnipotent and omnipresent plundering state has become today’s replacement for that old nineteenth-century relic.


Read the entire article here.

__

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tax Those Who Have It

The timeless script in Washington is a simple one. No thought required.

"Higher-income Americans should be taxed to pay for [insert favorite government program here]."


The latest Washington wise man to use this script is Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Bloomberg reports that Senator Levin said “an additional income tax to the upper brackets, folks earning more than $200,000 or $250,000” a year, could fund more troops...They have done incredibly well, and I think that it’s important that we pay for it if we possibly can."

The Senator's argument makes it sound like the people who earn more than $200,000 are just lucky. They didn't work hard to make that much money, according to the Senator, they just "did well," like a lottery winner or a gambler in Vegas.

If he had been honest about this point, the Senator would have said, "Folks earning more than $200,000 a year have some money coming in, and I think it's important they pay our bills because we can't get money from folks who don't have it."

Of all our natural resources, the first one to be exhausted may be the taxpayer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting Creative with Creation

From the "Least Surprising News of the Week" file -

From ABC News

Creating Job Creation?
Lawmakers Question Obama Administration Stimulus Claims Vast Errors in Reporting Jobs Data Leave Lawmakers Angry at Recovery.gov Numbers

A raft of reports of questionable or downright faulty jobs numbers -- including many uncovered by ABC News that show dozens of jobs created and millions of dollars spent in congressional districts that don't exist -- has cast a harsh spotlight on the jobs claims connected to the $787 billion stimulus package.

Leading members of Congress from both parties are promising increased scrutiny of the Obama administration's data on job creation, amid widespread errors in official stimulus data reported by the federal government.

The Obama administration stands by its claim that the stimulus "saved or created" 1 million jobs. But the reporting process has involved errors: The administration chose not to include some 60,000 jobs reported by recipients as products of stimulus spending, citing "unrealistic data."

Read the entire article here.

-----


I'd still like to know how you would document a "saved" job.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unleashing Capitalism in SC

Here is a much-needed alternative to top-down government planning for prosperity.

Unleashing Capitalism is an expert prescription for the systemic problems that keep South Carolina poor. The book is a road map to prosperity through policy reforms that will put economic power back in the hands of the people.

View the book here.

It is edited by Peter T. Calcagno of the College of Charleston, along with associate editors, Joshua C. Hall and Russell S. Sobel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cap and Tax

The economics of clean electricity is simple - if we demand clean energy, they will provide it - at a cost. If we, as a society have decided against "dirty" energy (as the politicians claim we have), then we should have no problem paying a premium for it. If our policy makers are confident that society is truly against "dirty" energy, why disguise the additional costs through subsidies, taxes, and carbon trading systems? Why not simply force energy companies to "go green" and make us pay for though increased energy bills? I suspect that would be to much to ask of our pseudo environmentalist policy makers.

Nov 12th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Nuclear energy is unlikely to work without a carbon tax

PLANNING is not the only obstacle to a rebirth of nuclear power in Britain. The technology’s torturous economics are, if anything, even trickier. The trouble is that, whereas the fuel is cheap, nuclear-power plants themselves are very expensive to build and the pay-off from that investment is slow. To the industry’s opponents, all this is proof that nuclear electricity is uneconomical. Generous atomic subsidies offered in America—including loan guarantees, tax breaks and promises to cover cost overruns—lend support to that view, though ministers have promised that new nuclear plants in Britain will receive no such special treatment.


Read the entire article here


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Envelopes and Stethoscopes?

Economist Steven Horowitz writes...

"CNN reports that the US Postal Service lost $3.8 billion last fiscal year. Delivering the mail is pretty easy compared to running the health care system. Why would anyone trust the folks who can't even deliver the mail to run health care?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stimulating the Piggy Bank

Savings in the US is slowing increasing, despite the spend, spend, spend mentality in Washington. Maybe we are beginning to learn a valuable lesson - you cannot spend your way out of debt. Now, if we can only get Congress on board with this idea.

from NPR's Weekend Edition

For nearly two years, the U.S. economy has been struggling with a recession brought on by excessive borrowing, both for home mortgages and consumer purchases. Economists say many people have learned a lesson; the personal savings rate is inching back up as more Americans embrace the "new frugality."

Still, half of U.S. households don't have even modest savings, according to a new study conducted by TNS Group, a market researcher, with help from professors at the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College.

The researchers conducted a survey to see how many households could round up $2,000 within 30 days to cope with an emergency, such as having a car breakdown or needing a major home repair. About half said that even if they turned to relatives for help, they could not come up with $2,000 for a "rainy day," the study found.


Read or listen to the entire story here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Prisoner, New Prison

Popular culture both reflects and influences the angst of an age.

Anyone who is seriously concerned with promoting a free society must pay attention to popular culture, and specifically to the two most powerful forces, religion and entertainment. What themes are circulating? Who are the villains? Who are the heroes? What is more important, the individual or the community? What does heaven look like? Is there a hell?

The answers to these questions reveal the dominant social operating system, and they make it easier to identify and combat anti-individualist ideas embedded in daily life.

Consider this example. AMC is remaking The Prisoner, the 1967 cold-war classic about a man furiously trying to assert his individuality in a captive world of cheery conformity.

The old series starred Patrick McGoohan as a top-secret government employee who resigns from his job, only to wake up in the Village, a comfortable sea-side resort. The problem is he can't leave. He is a prisoner. He has become No. 6. The Village is run by No. 2.

What does No. 2 want? "Information."

"You won't get it." No. 6 throws back.

"By hook or by crook, we will."

No. 6 shouts, "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

A menacing and mocking laugh follows.

In 1967, the social operating system was the battle of the individual versus the state. Whose state? It didn't matter. They all played the same game, and individuals were the game pieces.

But 1967 was a long time ago. In the new AMC series, the prisoner is in a new prison. He is enslaved by capitalism. So says Sir Ian McKellen who plays the part of the new No. 2.

No. 2 embodies the drawbacks of capitalism, McKellen says. "Capitalism offers you freedom, but far from giving people freedom, it enslaves them...That's part of the show's message."

Naturally, the new No. 6 is no longer a top-secret government employee. He's an employee of a "shadowy corporation" with it's very own web site, Summakor.

The show's writer, Bill Gallagher says, “The original [series] says we must assert our individuality....But one thing that interests me is that perhaps we have become too individualistic.”

It sounds like the new Prisoner is the doppelganger of the old series. Fans of the old series are likely to be disappointed if they tune in looking for a revival of the man versus state story-line. Best be prepared for something different. It's not just the prisoner who has changed. The prison has, too. Or, more accurately, the popular idea of what is a prison has changed, and not necessarily for the better.

But let's be charitable. It's not fair to draw too many conclusions about a show until you've actually seen it. That's why I'll be tuning in this Sunday at 8 pm Eastern. Frankly, I'm skeptical.

Watch episodes of the classic series here. The first episode appears below. At the very least, watch the introduction, and consider whether or not it has lost any of relevance.

Be seeing you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Triumph of Socialism

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., Mises Daily

A new BBC poll finds that only 11 percent of people questioned around the world think that free-market capitalism is a good thing.

What can we learn? Far from not having learned anything, people have largely forgotten the experience and have developed a love for the ancient fairy tale that all things can be fixed through collectivism and central planning.

The fashion for socialism and the opposition to capitalism should alarm every lover of freedom the world over. We have our jobs cut out for us, but with numbers this bad, it is not difficult to make a difference. Every blow you can land for free markets helps protect freedom from its enemies.

Read the entire article here.

Special thanks to the Ludwig von Mises Institute



Friday, November 13, 2009

The Conventional Wisdom on Higher Education – Not Just Wrong, but Harmful

By George Leef
Reprinted with permission of the author


The case I’m going to present began taking shape in my mind in September of 1980.

After having foolishly devoted three years to earning a law degree, I realized that I would rather teach than practice law. While job hunting in the summer of 1980, I was lucky enough to hear about a small college with a decidedly free-market perspective that was in desperate need of someone who could teach economics, business law, and a few other courses.

I was hired in July and started preparing for the courses I’d be teaching. One of them was an ethics course for juniors and seniors. About two weeks into the semester, one of the readings in the text raised the issue of “social justice” and I figured that the students should read F.A. Hayek’s attack on that concept. I copied a few pages from his book The Mirage of Social Justice and handed the material out at the end of a Thursday class, telling the students that I wanted them to have read it and be ready to discuss it on Monday.

In Monday’s class, I asked several questions intended to catalyze discussion of Hayek’s argument that “social justice” is not just meaningless but a dangerous idea. But each question drew only puzzled looks, yawns, and downcast eyes. It began to dawn on me that the students had either not bothered to do the reading, or if they had, nothing from it had stuck in their heads.

At last, after much painful silence, one young fellow raised his hand. I called on him eagerly. He said, “Couldn’t you just, y’know, tell us the main point?”

I tried to gently rebuke him and the whole the class, saying that college isn’t about simply memorizing a few “main points” but rather should be about learning to pry out meaning on your own. You can’t go through life waiting for others to always tell you “the main point,” after all.

That incident made a big impact on me. I had already begun to suspect that many of the students I had were not much interested in learning and that class confirmed it. As I got to know the students better and better, I discovered that few of them had any sparks of intellectual curiosity. Most were academically weak and disengaged, with reading and writing skills that would have been thought poor for grade schoolers back when I was in grade school. Mostly, they were in college because it was fun to get away from home and because they assumed that having a college degree was the ticket to a good career and prosperity.

I began to see, in short, that college had been oversold.

My teaching career came to an end in the fall of 1989 and the reasons why are also pertinent to my case. For years I had ignored suggestions from the administration that I was too hard on the students. My grade average was one of the lowest at the school – only a few hard-nosed accounting professors were usually lower – and some students were choosing to take Business Law at a community college where the amount of work was less and it was easy to get at least a B. The school was concerned about the loss of revenue. Therefore, I was given an ultimatum: either I had to make my courses more “user friendly” or else my contract would not be renewed.

I didn’t think that I was too hard on the students. Those who made any decent effort passed. The problem, as I saw it, was that a large percentage of the students were used to passing without putting forth the least bit of effort. They hated the few courses where their enjoyment of college life was hampered by the need to read and study. Instead of caving in, I decided to quit.

Ten years later I was hired for a think tank job involving higher education, director of the Pope Center, then a branch of North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation. As I immersed myself in the world of American higher education and especially its problems, I came to see that there is a conventional wisdom about higher education – a galaxy of ideas that’s overwhelmingly accepted by education leaders, politicians, and most of the public. At the center of that galaxy, to continue the astronomical allusion, is a pulsar that keeps sending out the core idea. MORE EDUCATION IS GOOD. MORE EDUCATION IS GOOD. MORE EDUCATION IS GOOD.

The “education” there means formal education. Excluded is education that occurs on the job or is undertaken individually. It’s not that such education is bad, but that we must place our trust in organized education that’s overseen by experts.

What I want to do with my remaining time is to take a critical look at some of the main ideas in the galaxy of conventional wisdom. I’ll argue that those ideas are mistaken and that their acceptance by policy-makers has some adverse consequences for the country. Here’s the first:

College education adds greatly to a person’s knowledge and skill base, thereby increasing his lifetime earnings.

We hear constantly that getting a college degree is a great “investment” for both the individual and the nation because people with degrees earn much more than do people without them. It’s almost always assumed that the years of college work is responsible for this high level of success and that if only we could get more people into and through college, we would have a more prosperous society.

It is true that on average, people with college degrees earn substantially more than do those without them, but it does not follow that this higher earnings level is caused by the human capital gains from college studies. Nor does it follow that putting anyone who has not gone to college through to a degree will give him any earnings boost at all, much less the million dollar figure that is carelessly tossed around.

Now, I’m emphatically not saying that college education never does any good for any student. I’m confident that I learned some useful things in my college years. I’m even more confident that my son at Duke with his dual major in mathematics and biology, is adding to his stock of human capital. My contention is that it’s a mistake to assume that every college student gains in useful knowledge and skills from his college courses.

We shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that high-income people who are college graduates enjoy that success because they went to college. Most of them already have an abundance of knowledge, skill, and ambition before taking any college classes. Whether their studies enhance their productivity or not, they’d still have greater financial success in life than those who have less natural ability and drive.

And on the other hand, it’s clear that many of those who have graduated from college derive little or no benefit from it. Several years ago I discovered that the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of the level of education of workers in a vast number of occupations. For years I had been hearing anecdotes about PhDs delivering pizza and the like, but the BLS provides hard numbers to show that lots of Americans with college credentials are employed in mundane jobs that could be done by almost any moderately bright high school kid.

Here are just a couple of data points I recently pulled from the BLS site. In the job category of “baggage porters and bellhops,” 33 percent have “some college” (that is, they took some classes but did not graduate) and 16 percent have a BA degree or higher. In the job category “ushers, lobby attendants and ticket takers,” 30 percent have “some college” and 17.5 percent have a BA degree or higher. There is much more information like that, showing that we have such a glut of college graduates that they are spilling over into work that demands nothing more than basic trainability.

It isn’t true that college adds a lot of “human capital” to every student and it also isn’t true that there are good-paying jobs for every graduate. Believing that we can make everyone better off by sending him through college is like believing we can make everyone better off just by printing up more and more money.

Here’s a second belief:

Economic growth and competitiveness depends on an increasing level of educational attainment.

It is widely believed that our national prosperity hinges on maintaining a high level of formal education in our labor force – and best of all to have the position of international “leadership.”

For example, in his speech to Congress last February, President Obama asserted that the country needs to regain the place we once held as the nation with the highest percentage of college graduates in its workforce in the world. The president’s idea is perfectly consistent with the pulsar: MORE EDUCATION IS BETTER.

The trouble here is that there is no necessary relationship between the level of formal education and prosperity in a nation. Just as there is no necessary connection between an individual’s educational level and his income, so is there no necessary connection between the general level of education in a country and its prosperity.

In her excellent and iconoclastic 2003 book Does Education Matter? Alison Wolf, who teaches at King’s College in London, examined the assumption that there is a direct relationship between a nation’s educational level and its standard of living. She found that the assumption does not hold. There are prosperous and economically advanced countries (for example, Switzerland) that have less “investment” in education than other countries with poorer economies but more “investment” in education (for example, Egypt).

Maximum prosperity in a nation does not come from pushing more and more formal education. Rather, it’s a result of finding the optimal level of investment in both physical and human capital. Individuals and firms are quite good at discovering the level of knowledge and training that maximizes productivity, and much of that comes from personal and on-the-job learning rather than formal courses.

It is often said that America’s great post-war economic surge was due to sending many veterans to college under the GI Bill, but that proves nothing because the US had the world’s most vibrant economy back in the 19th century and early 20th century when there was comparatively little college education.

Back when my grandfather was a young man starting a business just about a century ago, the US was a highly skilled and educated country, but most of that skill and education was derived outside of formal education. We had no shortage of excellent engineers, architects, accountants, lawyers, teachers, and so forth, but few of them had college educations. The GI Bill did not give the nation a “more educated” workforce; all it changed was to put a college degree in front of the process of learning many occupations.

Eventually, having college credentials would become a requirement for a great many fields, but that is not because only individuals who’ve been to college could possibly learn what’s needed to do the job. Rather, it’s because college is now treated as the proving ground that high school used to be. When people say that most good jobs now require a degree, that just means that companies won’t consider high school graduates. I recently learned, for example, that Enterprise Rent-a-Car only hires college grads for its service positions. Obviously you don’t have to completed college to learn that work.

But what about the fact that several other nations now surpass the US in terms of the percentage of the labor force that has a college education? Belgium and Finland already have a higher percentage, at least of younger workers, but what many are really worrying about is China and India, which are said to be investing heavily in education, producing more scientists, engineers, and mathematicians than we are.

We should stop worrying. If it really makes the Belgians and Finns and Chinese and Indians more productive to push higher education – and I’m very skeptical about that; I suspect this is just rent-seeking on the part of the higher ed establishments in those countries -- that doesn’t tell us anything about what we should do. Since we already have large numbers of people with college degrees in mundane jobs, it’s clear that further expansion of higher education would be a poor use of resources. That’s something that truly would damage our economy.

Third:
College education leads to good social outcomes such as better health and civic participation.

Advocates for the higher education establishment often haul out the argument that the nation benefits from having more and more people go to college because there are ancillary social benefits. For example, a report called the national report card on higher education put out by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education claims that besides the supposed economic benefits of promoting higher education, there are also social benefits including higher voting percentages, more volunteerism, and increased charitable giving. And I’ve even heard it said that college is good because college grads are less likely to smoke.

No doubt, all of those outcomes correlate with college, but it isn’t true that college is their cause. People who are more inclined to civic participation and disinclined to smoke are apt to choose to go to college, but there’s little reason to believe that being in college changes people in any of these respects. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that it doesn’t do so, starting with a well-known smoker who went to Columbia and Harvard Law and now resides in the White House.

If there are behaviors we want to encourage or discourage, putting people through college is a very costly and ineffective way of doing so.

I’d like to turn now to some harms that stem from our mania for higher education.

Credential inflation.

One of the consequences of overselling college education is credential inflation. That is, once a certain level of formal education becomes commonplace, it takes a higher credential for top people to distinguish themselves.

Stanford University professor David Labaree hit the nail on the head in his book How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning, writing:

“The difficulty posed by the glut of graduates is not that the population becomes overeducated (such a state is difficult to imagine) but that it becomes overcredentialed, as people pursue diplomas less for the knowledge they are thereby acquiring than for the access that the dipomas themselves provide. The result is a spiral of credential inflation, for as each level of education in turn gradually floods with a crowd of ambitious consumers, individuals have to keep seeking ever higher levels of credentials in order to move a step ahead of the pack. In such a system, nobody wins….At all levels, this is an enormously wasteful system.”

Work that used to be done by people with a high school education or less is now often restricted to those with BA degrees, and many jobs that used to be done by college grads are now open only to those with MBAs. All of that formal education is often irrelevant to the work involved, but with a glut of people in the labor market with these educational credentials, employers can afford to screen out people with lesser ones. As James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield put it in Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money, “ The U.S. has become the most rigidly credentialized society in the world. A BA is required for jobs that by no stretch of imagination need two years full-time training, let alone four.”

Credential inflation means we’re wasting resources. People spend great amounts of time and money pursuing pieces of paper just so they can get over the credential hurdle and have a shot at employment that only calls for trainability, not advanced academic coursework in preparation.

Dumbing down the educational system.

Another adverse consequence of our overselling of higher education is that we dumb down the whole educational system.

As colleges have sought to keep growing by accepting increasing numbers of weak and disengaged students, they have chosen to accommodate the preference of such students for courses that aren’t rigorous by allowing (or as in my case, encouraging) professors to lower their standards and water down the material. Temple University English professor Stephen Zelnick writes that academic standards “went slack” in the 1990s “when Temple decided to open its doors to all and sundry in order to pay its bills.”

Not only have standards plunged and grades been inflated, but we now find the curriculum at many schools cluttered with courses on pop culture and leftist manias like global warming and “sustainability.” As a result, employers find that many college graduates can’t write a clear paragraph or do simple math, but can hector you on the imperative to recycle everything.

Furthermore, since so many high school grads (around 70 percent) now end up in college, the pressure that high schools used to feel to ensure that their students were well educated has eased. With most colleges doing remedial education, the K-12 system can slide into the easy path of passing students along even if they haven’t learned much about reading, writing and math.

Bad influences

I’ll add just one more point before closing. Higher education often has a bad influence on young people. For every professor like my two compatriots here, there are dozens who use their classrooms to push their collectivist, anti-market beliefs on students. Rarely do those beliefs have any relevance to the academic subject matter of the course. Even that well-known leftist intellectual Stanley Fish has complained that, for example, composition courses are often far more about the highly ideological reading material than they are about the competence with which the student writes about that material.

Overwhelmingly, American higher education promotes and reinforces ideas that are hostile to limited government and the market order. The longer students are in the presence of the professoriate, the more they’re apt to absorb at least some of their belief system, which embraces a host of socialistic notions while rejecting capitalism. That, I believe, is the unspoken reason why Obama and his allies want to expand college education. They know that it tilts the political playing field in their favor.

At the root of all this waste and educational degradation is government subsidization of higher education. It plays the same role as government subsidization of home ownership, changing people’s incentives, distorting the market, and wasting resources. I’m convinced that the change that would do the most good of all would be for the federal and state governments to withdraw from the financing of college education so that all costs would be borne by voluntary payers.

I’ll conclude with this thought. It is frequently said that the United States is such a prosperous country because it has spent so much in educating its citizens. The truth, I submit, is exactly the reverse. Only a very prosperous country could afford to squander so much on an educational system as wasteful and inefficient as ours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Stupid Horse

From Investor's Business Daily...

In a short article on the economist Joseph Schumpeter, David Saito-Chung relates this story:

Peter Boettke, a professor of political economy at George Mason University in Virginia, likens capitalism's success to a horse race.

One horse, named Schumpeter, represents innovation. The second horse, called Smith, stands for free trade. The third is government "and its stupid decisions," Boettke said.

"As long as the first two horses stay ahead of the stupid horse, the economy's cycles are manageable," he told IBD. "The trouble happens when the stupid horse's nose gets in front by (creating) policies that restrict trade or are anti-technology."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Risk Takers

by Russ Roberts on November 10, 2009
in Financial Markets

From an article on Goldman Sachs, from a conversation with the CEO, Lloyd Blankfein:

He starts with a little humility. He understands that “people are pissed off, mad, and bent out of shape” at bankers’ actions. Goldman played its part in the meltdown that almost destroyed the global financial system. It, like most other banks, lent too much money, made its first quarterly loss for more than a decade last year and ended up taking bail-out cash from Washington. “I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer,” he says. But then, he slowly begins to argue the case for modern banking. “We’re very important,” he says, abandoning self-flagellation. “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.” To drive home his point, he makes a remarkably bold claim. “We have a social purpose.”

I used to feel this way. I used to think that Wall Street innovation was part of our prosperity because the innovation made markets more efficient. But that only works when firms face profits and losses. When losses are truncated by bailouts, you get anti-social risk-taking. You get a cycle not of virtue but of vice. You get $1.5 trillion poured down the black hole of subprime lending. The bottom line of the current system is that Blankfein won and the we, the people, lost. Shame on the people who allowed him to play with our money instead of his own. Shame on him for pretending he earned our money and the profits he made playing with it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Long and Confusing Rules

Now that the House has passed a health care bill that it promises will fix the health care system once and for all, we should stop and think about the proper use of the law before we go any further.

The law was not made to manage the many fine threads of complex human relationships. Trying to fix the health care system with legislation is like trying to fix a spider web with the broad end of a broom.

Properly used, the law should define the general rules of the game, and no more. When it goes beyond that, when it attempts to legislate every contingency, it morphs into a 2,000 page bill which no one will read...until it is too late. Then the 2,000 page bill will spawn 20,000 pages of regulation, and what used to be an individual decision will become a hopelessly public one.

In such a world, life will be a Kafkaesque journey where the rules are so long and confusing that they might just as well be arbitrary. In such a world, more will be lost and destroyed than ever will be saved.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Quotable Bastiat

"When legislators, after having ruined men by war and taxes, persevere in their idea, they say to themselves, 'If the people suffer, it is because there is not money enough. We must make some.' And as it is not easy to multiply the precious metals, especially when the pretended resources of prohibition have been exhausted, they add, 'We will make fictitious money, nothing is more easy, and then every citizen will have his pocket-book full of it, and they will all be rich.'"

"What is Money"?

Quand les législateurs, après avoir ruiné les hommes par la guerre et l'impôt, persévèrent dans leur idée, ils se disent: « Si le peuple souffre, c'est qu'il n'a pas assez d'argent. Il en faut faire. » Et comme il n'est pas aisé de multiplier les métaux précieux, surtout quand on a épuisé les prétendues ressources de la prohibition, « nous ferons du numéraire fictif, ajoutent-ils, rien n'est plus aisé, et chaque citoyen en aura plein son portefeuille! ils seront tous riches.»

Maudit Argent!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Atlas Continues to Shrug

"She would have been horrified," Anne Heller tells All Things Considered host Guy Raz. Heller's new book is titled Ayn Rand and the World She Made.

Over the past year, Rand's books have reappeared on the bestseller lists. Heller says that makes perfect sense.

"When there are periods of economic decline," she says, "people are more likely to absorb [Rand's] message."

At last summer's tea-party rallies, some people held signs with the famous first line from Atlas Shrugged, "Who is John Galt?" Galt is the character who personifies capitalist idealism.

Read and listen to the interview here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rap and Reality

From How Capitalism Will Save Us by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames...

Is Capitalism Moral?

THE RAP: Capitalism is an amoral, dog-eat-dog system founded on greed and the survival of the fittest.

THE REALITY: Capitalism is the world's most humane economic system, promoting the democratic values of a free and open society: hard work, cooperation, generosity, charity, and devotion to the rule of law.

Isn't Capitalism Brutal?

THE RAP: The free market is brutal: Big players with too much power crush smaller competitors. People are laid off without warning or protection. Individuals are vulnerable to ups and downs in remote sectors of the economy that have little apparent connection to their daily existence, suffering untold disruption to their lives and businesses.

THE REALITY: Democratic capitalism can be disruptive and unpredictable. But the process of "creative destruction" is critical to a healthy economy and society. New products and industries render old ones obsolete. Some jobs may be destroyed. But other jobs--more of them--are created. In this way, individuals and resources go where they are most needed by people and businesses, and wealth-producing innovations are developed. Without creative destruction, the economy would stagnate. Living standards would be lower and unemployment would be far higher.

Aren't The Rich Getting Richer At Other People's Expense?

THE RAP: The rich are a privileged group that prospers at the expense of everyone else, exploiting employees and customers to stay on top, while getting special treatment and tax breaks? Meanwhile, the poor get poorer and the middle class struggles to keep from falling behind.

THE REALITY: Rich people make their fortunes by creating opportunity and wealth for others. They do this by launching businesses that create jobs, by investing in new ventures, or by spending money on other people's products and services. The rich are not a fixed aristocracy. Who is rich and who is poor is always changing. You can't have a prosperous or innovative economy unless people are allowed to become rich

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bastiat Meeting

November 4th

Please join us this Wednesday for our November Bastiat Society Meeting. Our guest speaker for this month is George Leef from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. His talk is entitled:

"The conventional Wisdom on Higher Education: Not Just Wrong, but Harmful"

Please RSVP by emailing us: BastiatSociety@gmail.com

_______
Time:
5pm - Reception
6pm - Speaker

_______
Place:
The Harbor Club
35 Prioleau St
Charleston, SC 29403

map

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monopoly Money

Would currency competition lead to a sounder U.S. dollar?


By Dr. Ron Paul (R-TX)
Submitted to CNN


"The prospect of American citizens also turning away from the dollar toward alternate currencies should provide an impetus to the U.S. government to regain control of the dollar and halt its downward spiral. Restoring soundness to the dollar will remove the government's ability and incentive to inflate the currency, and provide stability to the financial system. With a sound currency, everyone is better off, not just those who control the monetary system."

Read the entire op-ed here

Saturday, October 31, 2009

We'll Be Broke

Another "successful" government program like cash for clunkers, and we'll all be broke...

Edmunds.com, the premier resource for online automotive information, has determined that Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold.

Nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, officially known as CARS, but Edmunds.com analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program.