Inflation propaganda infomercial MGM - 1933
desde 1914, 95% do valor do dólar foi roubado à Economia pelo Estado e sistema financeiro
The characteristic mark of a tyrannical regime is that it eventually finds it necessary to erect walls to keep people from leaving. This is why we should be troubled by the “Ex-PATRIOT Act,” an egregiously offensive bill recently introduced in the Senate. Following a long line of recent legislation and regulations attempting to expropriate more and more wealth from hard-working Americans, this new bill spits in the face of overburdened taxpayers and tramples on the Constitution.
We live under a federal government that has eviscerated our Fourth Amendment rights, that can detain U.S. citizens indefinitely based solely on the President's word, that assaults toddlers and grandmothers at airports in the name of security, and regulates virtually every aspect of our economic lives. No wonder increasing numbers of Americans feel this government is engaged in outright warfare against its own citizens. Every day the noose grows tighter, yet anyone who sees the writing on the wall and seeks to leave must pay exorbitant taxes just for the privilege of leaving, and increasingly the possibility looms of never fully breaking away from the government's tentacles no matter where they go. Ultimately, the Ex-PATRIOT Act proposes to control people by controlling their capital, and it has no place in a free society.
It’s easy for people who consider themselves “rational,” those who luxuriate in things like facts and proofs, to look down on those who cling to this type of magical thinking. But .. belief in preposterous things is an ancient and species-wide condition, and therefore must have conferred some evolutionary benefit to our ancestors. In other words, believing in stupid things may make sense — at least some of the time:
Once you’ve accepted that the brain constructs reality and that the brain has evolved like any other organ to help its owner survive and reproduce, it follows that the brain constructs reality in the most useful way possible for its owner. The key word here is useful, which is not to say accurate. The brain doesn’t care so much what’s really out there, it just needs to stay alive and be replicated, which might involve telling us a white lie now and then.
.. liberal magical thinking on economic matters begins to make at least some sense. Liberal politicians believe and say these things because it helps them get elected; people like to be given free stuff, and they like to get it from the rich (those bastards!). Marxist and Keynesian economic prescriptions are always and everywhere disastrous wealth killers — but that is not the point. The only jobs they create are those of liberal politicians, but that is quite their purpose, after all. Magical economic thinking is a survival mechanism, and a very effective one for the likes of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Barack Obama.
The liberal brain couldn’t care less whether liberal ideas work in the real world — the real world has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with telling the masses what they want to hear in exchange for wealth and power.
Libertarians and conservatives rejoice in charts and graphs and history; liberals in wishes, fear, and fables. A peak into the balance sheets of the the West gives a sense of which side is better armed for the long, Darwinian struggle ahead.
O nome “Escola Austríaca” deriva do facto de terem nascido na Áustria e no Império Austro-Húngaro alguns dos pensadores mais influentes da respectiva linha intelectual, em particular Carl Menger (1840-1921), Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914), Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) e o vencedor do Prémio Nobel de 1974, Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992).
Os austríacos acreditam que a paz e o direito à propriedade nos guiarão à prosperidade enquanto povo, se para isso negarmos actos criminosamente estadistas como a tributação, o controlo de preços e as acções governamentais que violem a liberdade dos indivíduos, acreditando assim na máxima de que a liberdade de cada um acaba onde começa a liberdade do outro. Já por isto, Mises escrevera que “a primeira tarefa de um economista é dizer aos governantes aquilo que eles não podem fazer”.
'Os "austríacos" defendem que só podemos estudar o Ser Humano, se analisarmos os factores que levam as pessoas a atingir certos fins. Para isto devemos recorrer à “praxeologia”, que mais não é para um “austríaco” do que a ciência (ou teoria geral) da acção humana.'
Embora pudesse apontar cerca de trinta diferenças que separam a metodologia dos “austríacos” dos métodos utilizados pelas escolas de pensamento mais badaladas, as últimas pecam especialmente por se esquecerem do elemento de estudo central da economia: o Homem!
Muito a isto os nossos erros se têm devido: tendemos a esquecer que a economia é uma ciência social, não uma ciência natural como a física ou a química. Somos seres orgânicos, não meras máquinas programadas, ou simples objectos sem mente cujos comportamentos possam ser previstos por algum matemático confiante nos seus dons para o cálculo e para desenhar gráficos pomposos com índices complexos e de leitura técnica exigente.
The point that Rothbard made over 40 years ago was this: socialism is driven by envy, not jealousy .. Therefore, it does no good to attempt to get a settlement with envy-driven people who are promoting socialism. You cannot persuade them by showing that socialism is less efficient than capitalism. They do not care that they would be richer under capitalism than under socialism. They realize that socialism is a system for tearing down people who are more successful. Therefore, you cannot placate a socialist who is driven by envy.
The problem is this: all trade is based on comparative advantage. Somebody else does something better than you do, so you trade with him in order to better your position ..
Free trade of any kind, whether with someone across the street or around the world, benefits the other person .. advances everybody's wealth. A specific case of free trade can lead to a loss of income by somebody who is not efficient in a particular field in the economy. But, if we are talking about the effects of the system on the lives of all customers, free trade is universally beneficial.
The way to get rich is not to enslave somebody else. The way to get rich is to offer somebody with money to spare a deal that he will not refuse ..
This is obvious in a one-on-one situation. But, when people begin to think about the invisible line called a national border, they lose their ability to think economically. An invisible national border is Kryptonite for economic reasoning.
.. Americans are illogical in economics. They do not follow an economic argument. I think the reasons they do follow are twofold. First, they think as producers who are facing competitors. They do not think of themselves primarily as customers who are getting a better deal. Second, they really are driven by envy .. they resist additional trade, because they know, as a percentage of personal wealth, the Asian will do better from the trade. He is so poor compared to an American, and the American is so rich compared to the Asian, that the voluntary exchange is likely to improve that Asian's lifestyle more than it improves the American's lifestyle. This is resentment by rich people against poor people.
Do not worry about Asians getting richer at Americans' expense. Everybody gets richer at somebody else's expense, which is the meaning of trade. There are no free lunches. Everyone gives up something in the transaction. But the emphasis should be on the words "everyone gets richer." Do not be fooled by words "at the expense of."
Something is seriously wrong here. Only totalitarian regimes punish people for leaving. They take everything away from those who can get out of the country. An entire community in the U.S. (Miami´s Cubans) is made up of people whose assets were expropriated because they left their country (of course, many left because certain things had been taken away from them by Castro but whatever they left behind was subsequently stolen by the government.) The Nazis imposed predatory exit taxes on the victims lucky enough to leave, as did, and continue to do, the communists.
Only totalitarian regimes retain the (feigned) loyalty of their citizens by force. Free countries do so simply by offering citizens more liberty and security, and therefore more opportunities. That is all that the U.S. had to do for a couple of centuries to instill in millions of people the desire to become Americans. In order to retain their loyalty, it did not have to subsequently threaten them or impose impossible exit barriers on them.
And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs .., [the] President .. talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.
In countless debates and conversations with modern proponents of social justice, I have noticed that they are less interested in justice than in material equality. They borrow the language of justice and the common good but have either forgotten or rejected the classical meanings of those terms.
Let me list some of the conditions that are especially important for human flourishing:
- Rule of law in the sense of courts acting in a non-arbitrary manner; secure private property in the means of production.
- Stable money to serve as a reliable means of exchange
- The freedom of enterprise that allows people to start businesses to pursue their dream
- The freedom of association that permits people to reach mutually unforced agreements for employing or being employed
- The enforcement of contracts to ensure that people keep their reasonable promises and that disputes are arbitrated justly.
- Vibrant trade within and among nations to permit the fullest possible flowering of the division of labor.
..many contemporary proponents of social justice miss the importance of economic freedom and are quick to denounce the profit motive and commercialism. They then compound their error with incoherence, since they seem to think the key to happiness is giving people more stuff—by enlisting the coercive power of government. Their exclusive focus on income and wealth as the sources and markers of equality is, ironically, merely another variety of the greed and consumerism that they are quick to excoriate. This is not really social justice; it’s materialism. And it certainly isn’t generosity, since these people’s focus is on giving away other people’s money.
Czech Republic President, Vaclav Klaus, on why it’s important to not let climate change skeptics be silenced and his fight against climate alarmism among other world leaders and the UN.
Es obvio que tiene mucho mérito correr 100 kilómetros a través de las cimas del Himalaya, como también lo tiene aprenderse de memoria 100 complejos temas de derecho. La cuestión es si un empresario contrataría a alguien basándose en estos criterios, y la respuesta basada en la evidencia práctica es que no: un empresario, con su dinero, no contrata a nadie por haber hecho la exigente ruta antedicha, pero tampoco por ser capaz de memorizar unos textos, por largos que sean.
Porque, en el mercado, la cuestión no es si la actividad tiene mérito. Lo importante es si esa actividad tiene valor. Para el tipo que se hace los 100 Km, como para el que se aprende los 100 temas, esa actividad sí tiene valor, pues de lo contrario no la hubiera llevado a cabo. Pero se trata de un valor subjetivo suyo, y sobre él ningún empresario va a tomar la decisión de contratarle.
La única forma e "objetivar" ese valor es poner la actividad en el mercado, y que aflore su precio. Ese precio, el valor de intercambio, es la mejor aproximación al valor que la sociedad da al mérito.
¿Qué ocurre en la Administración Pública? Como son actividades no sujetas a la disciplina de mercado, no hay forma de obtener el precio que ponga en valor los méritos de los contratados. En ausencia del criterio de precio de mercado para contratar personas, se han de buscar otras formas de selección.
If the roads were privately owned, the addled and inept could be told – nicely and politely: We’re very sorry but you’re not quite up to operating a vehicle safely on this road. You will have to make other arrangements. We know of an excellent driver-training program. Here is their phone number.
This is not such a strange idea when you stop to think about it a little. I sometimes do track days – driving a car or riding a motorcycle on a race track. The track is privately owned. The owners (or the people renting the venue for the day) can pluck people off the road or deny them admittance if they deem them not up to snuff to driving/riding on the track.
It’s called red flagging.
If government owned the race track, the reverse would happen. The capable drivers and riders would be forced to accommodate the inept ones – and penalized if they didn’t – irrespective of their competence .. This is the system we have. And it’s why we have the hassles and idiocy we have .. Think about the inherent meanness of velocity violations (i.e., “speeding”). It is the very essence of an arbitrary offense and victimless crime ..
Privately owned roads strike at the root of this problem. In the race track example, the owners have the right to limit access to their venue based on their criteria because they own the facility. Usually, the drivers/riders pay a fee to use the facility; however – and this is crucial – no one is forced to pay to use the facility. It is a voluntary transaction – for both parties, who each accept the terms of the transaction without any coercion having been applied. This (again) is the antipodal opposite of the way government-owned roads operate.
Natural rights, or any rights for that matter, are inherent due to our very humanity. Our right to life and liberty, whether one believes that those rights come from God or not, can never be bestowed by men. For if men can bestow rights, then they are not rights at all, because they can just as easily be taken away ..
Our rights to life and liberty are evident from the time of our very existence. These rights encompass all others, for without the right to life, and the freedom to sustain and protect that life; no other rights could possibly exist ..
As I see it, the U.S. Constitution is one of the most misunderstood documents in history ..
The most prevalent belief it seems is that the constitution somehow miraculously limits the power of government ..
Those seeking freedom and liberty must look to themselves for answers, not to a very flawed piece of parchment. Individual sovereignty is key if liberty is desired. It is apparent that those who came before us, those called the "Founders," especially the federalists led by Hamilton, were simple men, nothing more. They were not saints, and they were not givers of rights, as our natural rights pre-exist all men. Until this is understood, most will continue to rely on those they mistakenly call "leaders" for answers. For freedom to truly exist, the only leader necessary is self.
.. our most common reaction to Memorial Day is to criticize war. We rip the phenomenon to shreds logically, point by point. We offer up military dissidents for admiration instead of military loyalists.. This is smart and admirable but I propose going a step beyond our usual anti- antics and into the pro- category.
I propose that on Memorial Day we libertarians remember our fallen libertarian heroes. Let’s proclaim to the world that we are free and safe and we don’t need wars to keep us that way .. Let’s remember that we all have a piece of the truth in us. We all have the spark of greatness. We each have something to add. So let’s also honor the greatness and heroism within ourselves that can only fully come out when liberty and peace reign.
Who are your fallen libertarian heroes? Which one makes you feel freest? These ones come to mind for me ..
Mohandas Gandhi .. Karl Hess .. Lysander Spooner .. William Lloyd Garrison .. Étienne de La Boétie .. Ayn Rand ..'The War Prayer' by Mark Twain:
When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
Howard argues that the flawed conception of law as a way to compel correctness manifests itself in the assumptions of modern legal orthodoxy: Making law too detailed is just a version of central planning—forcing both regulators and the regulated to “go by the book,” whether or not it makes sense .. The solution, Howard argues, is for law to set goals and general principles, so people can use their judgment within legal parameters, and if there’s a disagreement, argue over what makes sense rather than over formalistic compliance.Duas notas que Philip Howard parece passar por cima:
When Paul Krugman dies, he’ll be primarily remembered for three things: He won the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics; he has been one of the world’s most-read and most-influential political pundits; and he said with total seriousness (watch the video) that a way to fix America’s economy would be for the government to spend a ton of money preparing for a nonexistent alien invasion because at least that would get people working.
In short, to use the kind of colorful language the great Nobelist favors, Paul Krugman is a jackass.
.. as a Keynesian, Krugman usually maintains that it doesn’t matter what you’re spending on, as long as you’re spending: Just shovel the bucks in the furnace, we’ll all warm ourselves by the glow.
Hence his “Independence Day” stimulus scenario: To you and me, that looks like a colossal waste of money on laser cannons that will never be used and will sit there rusting and burning up maintenance dollars for the next hundred years. But you and I aren’t geniuses like Krugman.
Krugman’s problem, as he reminds us in “End This Depression Now!” is that he is a fanatic in the grip of a religion called “Keynesianism” which says you should borrow and spend your way out of a recession.
Krugman’s Keynesian faith is at best an unproven theory. It’s a pretty good rule not to throw trillions of dollars at unproven theories.BÓNUS: Quote of the Week – BONUS Krugman insanity edition
.. rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. You see all, sooner or later. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government does not give a fuck about them! The government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety. It simply does not give a fuck about you! It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.
People buy and sell stuff all the time. Unfortunately, this leads many to the false conclusion that they understand economics. Engaging in commerce doesn't impart an understanding of economics any more than being sexually promiscuous imparts an understanding of genetics.
Economic ignorance, bolstered by the random musings of politicians and pop icons, holds that the wealthy get money by taking it from the rest of us. That isn't wealth -- it's plunder. Plunder comes from coercion, and to obtain plunder you need to force people to do things they wouldn't do freely. Wealth comes from free markets, and to obtain wealth you need to offer people something they find so valuable that they freely give you their money in exchange for it.
But when the government interferes in the economy, you become rich by convincing politicians to force people to buy your product to prevent people from competing with you -- and to require people to invest in your business.
In a government-controlled economy, having money is an indication that you have taken more from society than you have contributed.
Bootleggers and Baptists, is a model of politics in which opposite moral positions lead to the same vote. Specifically, preachers demand prohibition to make alcohol illegal while the criminal bootlegger wants it to stay illegal so he can stay in business.
There exists a certain amount of confusion today about what money truly is, how it originated and who should produce it (the government or private individuals). For this reason, it is useful to provide a brief summary of the origin or money and the differences between the various types of money. In this manner it will become clear that money should only be produced by the market.
The monetary use of a commodity is derived from its non-monetary use. When we consider how money comes into being (through indirect exchange) we know this must be the case ..
In the case of gold or silver, it is obvious that these commodities have a value independent of their monetary use. Gold has historically primarily been used as jewellery and today, like silver, it has many industrial uses that establish a non-monetary value.
It is clear now that paper money established by government fiat cannot have any non-monetary value. It is not a good (according to the definition by Menger) or a commodity that can be widely bought and sold. No man desires paper money for its own sake. It cannot satisfy any need of man .. It is arguably, an imaginary good, as described by Menger ..
.. the optimal money derives its value from its prior non-monetary use (i.e. that of being a valuable commodity). Paper money has no prior non-monetary use and thus derives its value from government legal tender laws. In other words, it has merely an imagined value. In free market, there would be no fiat paper money. Government has no place in the production of money. Free money protects the population from the costs of fractional reserve banking and stunts the growth of government. Furthermore, with free market gold money (or similar) inflation will be limited to the illicit activities of fractional reserve banks thus the length and depth of the business cycle will be greatly reduced.
.. the narrative that Colonialism is responsible for the poverty of the Third World is also wearing increasingly thin, not only because of changing global power structures, but also because of the existence of prosperous ex-colonies. Despite the pervasive existence of exploitation in many European colonies, the truth is that the colonial system also brought trade and industry ..
It is necessary to point out also that the modern definition of Colonialism is ultimately related to Western identity. For the rest of the world, the White man is the colonizer even when he is not colonizing anything. The modern system of economics and politics, although not always imposed upon the Non-white masses of the world, is copied as a matter of economic, social and technological necessity.
In former colonized nations, Non-whites may have expelled the White man, but he also kept the White man’s stuff, along with the White man's system of economics, politics, morality, and in many cases, religion. The same thing is happening now with Modernity .. among the problems of Modernity is the uniformity of values that it imposes upon a complex multiplicity. This imposition – like Colonialism prior to it – leads to an alienation that is not yet fully felt among many developing countries.
Modernity is similar to Colonialism in that it imposes a set of Western and Liberal norms and morality upon Non-white societies. The complication however is that many Non-whites do not actually want to get rid of globalism and Modernity .. The result is a desire by Non-whites to recreate Modernity in their image, which needless to say, creates a set of very complex problems.
When the colonial powers became weak, those who were colonized seized control of the system of the colonizers. This trend is folly however, because Modernity is antithetical to any meaningful form of identity, and ultimately it will destroy those who are trying to control it. The answer to the alienation of Modernity and universal egalitarianism is not to change or take control of it, but to ignore it, and to return to the traditions which are the root of all differentiation.
Dr. Krugman, you have me worried here. And I think our viewers, too. The only response you have to the abject failure of your policies is that we should do more of them. Whatever Keynesian stimulus is being implemented and whatever money the Fed prints, all you ever say is that it is not enough. We need more. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the problem is the policy itself? Maybe your medicine is making things worse and not better.
“And something else worries me, Dr. Krugman. When do we ever stop printing money and borrowing? I think that you are stuck in a failed paradigm, a failed economic theory and a failed policy program. This has happened to scientists and politicians before. You cannot admit that failure. When you are confronted with the failure of modern central banking, of Keynesian stimulus and of moderate inflationism, your only answer is that nothing is wrong with any of it, it is just not implemented forcefully enough. Dr. Krugman, you remind me of a doctor who misdiagnosed the disease and prescribed the wrong medicine and who is now unwilling to look at the situation objectively. All you want to do is increase the dosage.
The Reichsfluchsteuer, or Reich flight tax, that the Nazis imposed on Jews trying to flee in the 1930s was 25 percent; Mr. Schumer and his Senate colleague Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, want 30 percent.
Others have observed that it is not the only parallel that can be drawn between today’s era and the Weimar Republic, which featured high unemployment, deficits, and the threat of inflation.
Ellis writes that the exchange control policy remained in place “because it was an instrument par excellence of political power,” and concludes, “the political predecessors of Hitler nurtured an institution which paved the way for totalitarianism.”
The left will already be furious about this column for its mention of Nazi Germany in the context of capital gains taxes. Let me conclude by getting the right angry, too, by invoking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a product of the United Nations. It says, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own” and “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” What meaning does a right to leave have if the government is going to help itself to 30 percent of the migrant’s property on the way out?
Japan was hit by a tsunami last year on March 11 .. that wave killed more than 15,000 people and injured nearly 27,000 more. What’s the upside to this natural disaster? .. There isn’t one. But some economists think there is.
To come to such an inhumane conclusion is to forget the economic discipline’s most fundamental lessons.
.. you need to know the difference between a stock and a flow. Things such as buildings and roads are stocks of wealth. GDP doesn’t measure that. It only measures the flow of wealth. Buildings and roads only add to GDP in the year in which they are built. But they remain tangible stocks of wealth for as long as they exist.
GDP measures how fast wealth is being created, and the faster the better. But the speed of that flow doesn’t measure how much wealth actually exists at a given time. Nor does it distinguish between replacing something that was there before, versus creating something new.
The tsunami destroyed a good chunk of Japan’s stock of wealth. The rush to restore it has quickened the flow of GDP, which is the cause for Krugman’s ghoulish celebration. But Japan is still poorer than it would be if the tsunami never happened.
Natural disasters are called disasters for two reasons. One is that they kill people. The other is that they destroy wealth, even if post-disaster GDP makes it look like they create it.
The rich are an interesting group. They like to define themselves with symbols of what the rest of us consider crazy luxury ..
.. People who resent the wealth of the super elite shouldn’t be condemning conspicuous consumption. They should be encouraging more of it .. This is the path to voluntary expropriation and effective redistribution of wealth, from them to the rest of us, from the 1% to the 99%.
.. Their money is siphoned off from their person straight to the hands of waitresses, pool cleaners, doormen, maid service people, cooks, groundskeepers, repair workers, bricklayers and every other kind of worker and peasant you can possibly imagine.
What’s especially nice is that their products, adopted by the rich, eventually become available for everyone else .. A cellphone in the 1980s was the ultimate luxury good. Today, they are available to all the world’s poor ..
If we want to soak the rich, we need ever more opportunities for them to blow millions and billions on things you and I would never think of buying. We need more luxury, more conspicuous consumption, more over-the-top and outrageous things and services that tempt them to part with their money.
But of course, if this is true, we also need producers to make these things to sell to the rich. That means that we should not punish investment and capital accumulation, and we certainly shouldn’t impose tax penalties when investments targeted to the rich pay off. Capital gains taxes need to be zero, and the same with income taxes and other consumption taxes. Anything that discourages the building and selling of luxury needs to be repealed, provided we want to empty the pockets of the well-to-do.
Outra ideia deste projecto é a do desenvolvimento de um sistema de formação profissional semelhante ao da Alemanha, para formação dos jovens nos países mais atingidos pelo desemprego. O modelo alemão deixa um grande espaço à formação nas empresas.
Sandel’s assertion that much more is ‘marketised’ in the modern world is just not true. One hundred years ago, much more of education, unemployment insurance, health (at least in Britain), sickness insurance, and so on was provided through the market. The market, in many senses, was a place where virtue operated. The motto of the London Stock Exchange (an entirely private body which, until 1986 regulated all securities trading) was ‘my word is my bond’. What is the FSA[Financial Services Authority]’s motto, one wonders? Perhaps it should be: ‘ticking boxes makes the world a safer place’. As the philosopher H. B. Acton has pointed out, perhaps it is the fact that markets have been pushed out of so many important areas of life and confined to the production and exchange of consumer goods that the market now looks like a process of ‘getting and spending’.
What is fundamentally wrong, however, is this dividing up of the world into silos (market, civic and so on) with each silo having distinct characteristics. As employers, consumers, sellers of products and so on we have ample opportunity to practise the virtues that Sandel admires. There is no reason whatsoever for the market to crowd out those virtues. Indeed, in many respects, the discipline of the market economy cultivates virtues. Getting out of bed on time; keeping a decent appearance; service with a smile; not answering back and getting haughty with customers...all these virtues you will find in the staff of McDonalds. All are nurtured by the market economy and the spur it provides towards improving one’s own position by serving others.
This notion of a “uniform nature” is reminiscent of the neoclassical general equilibrium concept of economics, a static conception of the world devoid of capital and entrepreneurial competition. As also with theories of market efficiency, there is a definite cachet and envy of science and mathematics within economics and finance. The profound failure of this approach—of neoclassical economics in general and Keynesianism in particular—should need no argument here. But perhaps this methodology is also the very source of perceiving stock market tails as just “bad luck.”
Despite the tremendous uncertainty in stock returns, they are most certainly not randomly-generated numbers. Tails would be tricky matters even if they were, as we know from the small sample bias, made worse by the very non-Gaussian distributions which replicate historical return distributions so well. But stock markets are so much richer, grittier, and more complex than that.
The Austrian School of economics gave and still gives us the chief counterpoint to this naïve view. This is the school of economic thought so-named for the Austrians who first created its principles3, starting with Carl Menger in the late 19th century and most fully developed by Ludwig von Mises in the early 20th century, whose students Friedrich von Hayek and Murray Rothbard continued to make great strides for the school.
“In short,” wrote Rothbard, “and this is a highly important point to grasp, the depression is the ‘recovery’ process, and the end of the depression heralds the return to normal, and to optimum efficiency. The depression, then, far from being an evil scourge, is the necessary and beneficial return of the economy to normal after the distortions imposed by the boom. The boom, then, requires a ‘bust.’”Leitura adicional:
Aggregate, correlated economic loss—the correlated entrepreneurial errors in the eyes of the Austrians—is not a random event, not bad luck, and not a tail. Rather, it is the result of distortions and imbalances in the aggregate capital structure which are untenable. When it comes to an end, by necessity, it does so ferociously due to the surprise by entrepreneurs across the economy as they discover that they have all committed investment errors. Rather than serving their homeostatic function of correcting market maladjustments back to the ERE, the market adjusts itself abruptly when they all liquidate.
The undeniable fact is that almost from one day to the next the global warming debate ceased to be fashionable. It disappeared from the headlines. It may weaken the position of the global warming fundamentalists but it makes it more difficult for us, the “deniers” or “skeptics”, as they call us, to motivate people to think about this issue and to openly and politically express their views about the irrational, human freedom curtailing, human prosperity undermining measures and policies introduced by the political establishments in most of the countries of the world in the last two decades, not to speak about the measures prepared for the future. We have to keep repeating that our planet is determined not only by anthropogenic influences but dominantly by long term exogenous and endogenous natural processes and that most of them are beyond any human control.
There is no doubt that most of the true-believers in the GWD remain undisturbed in their views. Some individuals leave the bandwagon (the most recent well-known case is James Lovelock) but those people who have vested interests (and there are many of them now) together with the men and women who innocently and naively sympathize with any idea which is against freedom, capitalism and markets are still “marching on”.
.. Their ideas are the ideas of ideologues, not of scientists or climatologists. Data and sophisticated theories will never change their views.
We have to accept that they have succeeded in establishing the religion of environmentalism as the official religion of Western society, as the religion which asks for a radical transformation of the whole Western civilization. We – at least some of us – have to play with them in the arena chosen by them.
.. we have to take part in the undergoing ideological battle. The subtitle of my five years old book was “What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?” There is no doubt that it is all about freedom. We should keep that in mind.
.. In the first place, the eurobond idea distorts the price mechanism. If you are lending to someone, the interest you get in return should reward not only your forbearance but the risk you run of not being repaid when you want your money back. Lumping risky and non-risky (well, less risky) countries together means that prices no longer reflect that risk. The risk is pooled. Specifically, the stronger countries are subsidising the risks that are being run by the weaker ones. And when you subsidise something, you generally get more of it. But who wants weak countries to live beyond their means and take a bigger risk of running out of money than they already have done? We had enough of that from the banks, thank you very much.
But the system builds in moral hazard for the over-spent, over-borrowed countries to do exactly that. Live beyond your means, and your richer cousins will underwrite your profligacy and pay people to keep lending to you. Act prudently, and you get hit for a bill from the imprudent nations.
.. The alternative is to let Greece slide out of the euro, followed probably by a number of others that just can't make the grade. That would be messy, and it would cost European banks a lot of money – urged on by regulators, the banks hold a lot of government bonds, which were always reckoned to be safe investments ... But the real concern of pretty much everyone else is a political concern: .. that the European Project would find itself on a falling tide. And that they find deeply shocking.
The euro was always a political rather than an economic venture .. "Just because you want to ignore economics does not mean that economics will ignore you." It's painfully clear what the end will be. The only question is how long it will be postponed, and at what cost.
The federal government has expanded beyond what it was in 1955, but it has done so over the last decade by means of borrowed money. That ability is going to be curtailed at some point. When that curtailment takes place, the federal government is going to be put on a diet. There will be a contraction of government control over the economy.
We attribute far too much power and far too much influence to the tenured bureaucrats who staff the agencies of the federal government. These people are not innovative, not driven by some sense of messianic mission, not communists, not socialists, not much of anything. They are what bureaucrats are around the world: timeservers. They fill out forms. Why should we expect anything different? Why should we think American bureaucrats are exceptional? Why should we think that the vast expansion of bureaucratic power has not been accompanied by a vast expansion of paralysis, incompetence, and petty tyranny?
I don't care if Obama is a socialist, if he really is. Obama does not run the country. The entrenched Civil Service-protected bureaucracies run the country. They write 83,000 pages a year of three-column, fine print regulations that run the country. The people who implement the Federal Register run the country. The President and Congress have very little say in the details of running the country. The only major piece of legislation that Obama got through, other than a Keynesian stimulus package, which was no worse than George Bush's Keynesian stimulus package, was Obamacare. The Supreme Court may throw it out next month. The man has almost nothing else to show for the first four years of his administration. He is not Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson.
When the government goes bankrupt, as it is going to do, the bailouts will cease. Then Keynesianism is going to suffer a reversal .. it is going to wind up in the ash can of history with or without prodding from inside academia.
Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1920 that socialist planning is irrational. Central planners are blind without capital markets. He was right. Socialist tyrants are blind. Their bureaucratic enforcers are blind. They can impoverish millions of people for a time. They can create terror for a time. A few have killed millions. But then their economic systems always implode. Communism is dead. Socialism is on a catheter. We are not on the road to serfdom .. there are a lot of bureaucrats around who are going to lose their jobs after the Great Default.
Contrary to much misunderstanding, Hayek never argued that the slightest deviation from laissez-faire capitalism launches a society on an unstoppable march toward tyranny. Instead, he reasoned that tyranny is the inevitable result of government policies aimed at preventing market competition from ever threatening anyone’s economic prospects. As long as voters demand that government protect them from all downsides of economic change, governments can oblige them only by shutting down, one after another, all avenues for economic change. Competition; entrepreneurship; innovation; consumer sovereignty; workers’ freedom to change or to quit their jobs; even changes in demographics. Government must obliterate these and all other sources of change if no one is to be exposed to the risk of losing a job or of having her wages or benefits cut.
Obviously, in reality governments cannot produce such a petrified paradise. But in the course of trying they will create hell on earth unless people come to accept the fact that widespread material prosperity is impossible without genuine change – and that change is impossible without some people suffering economic disappointment.
I first came to national attention back in 2008 and 2009 when the housing and credit markets imploded .. The crash that most concerned me was the one that would result from the government’s response to the initial crisis. My concern was not that our economy would succumb to the disease that I had diagnosed, but instead would be taken down by the “cure” that the government unleashed to combat it.
When looking back from a point in the future, I believe that the years immediately after the credit collapse of 2008 will stand out as a period of dangerous economic negligence. We have bought ourselves some time by sweeping enormous problems under the rug. Through a combination of political cowardice, economic ignorance, and false confidence, we are digging ourselves into a hole so deep that it may take generations to crawl out.
I felt certain before writing Crash Proof that the government would never let the economy contract far enough to restore balance and sustainability. I knew the spending and deficits would head off the charts. I thought those realities would push down the dollar and cause foreign creditors to shun American government debt. However, I did not factor in the reprieve we have gotten from the false perception that Europe is in even worse shape than we.
As the curtain eventually falls on the drama unfolding in Europe, the world will refocus its attention on the more spectacular events in the U.S. The sovereign debt crisis that is now playing out in Europe will cross the Atlantic, and when it opens here The Real Crash may indeed finally begin. The average American will have a front row seat but will hardly enjoy the show.
What is the longest-running socialist experiment? What has its success been? If someone asked you to defend the idea that socialism has failed, what would you offer as your example? Where did modern socialism begin? In America. That's right: in the land of the free and the home of the braves. On Indian reservations.
They were invented to control adult warriors. They had as a goal to keep the native population in poverty and impotent. Did the system work? You bet it did. Has the experiment been a failure? On the contrary, it has been a success.
When was the last time you heard of a successful Indian uprising? Are the people poor? The poorest in America. Are they on the dole? Of course. Last year, the U. S. Department of Agriculture allocated $21 million to provide subsidized electricity to residents on the reservations whose homes are the most distant from jobs and opportunities .. This will keep them poor. Tribal power means tribal impotence. The tribes are dependent. They will stay dependent. That was what the program was designed to achieve.
For some reason, textbooks do not offer a page or two on the corruption, the bureaucratization, and the multi-generation poverty created by tribal-run socialism. Here we have a series of government-run social laboratories. How successful have they been? Where are reservations that have systematically brought people out of poverty? The next one will be the first.
In 1991, Humpty-Dumpty fell. All the kings horses and all the king's men could not put him together again. Gorbachev presided over the final gasp in 1991. He received "Time Magazine's Man of the Decade" in 1990. In 1991, he became an employed ex-dictator. Socialism failed . . . totally. But the intelligentsia still refuses to embrace the free market social philosophy of Mises, the man who predicted the failures of socialism, and who provided arguments to support his universal condemnation.
That is why it is a good idea to predict the demise of bad economic policies, along with your analysis. "I told you so, and I told you why" beats "I told you so."
Quando os problemas do intervencionismo se manifestam na esfera macroeconômica, se torna ainda mais difícil a atribuição de responsabilidades. Na discussão das recessões, o emprego do Efeito Krugman é facilitado pela dissociação entre prazos realizada por Keynes: não se consideram os custos de uma medida de curto prazo nos prazos seguintes, o que dá credibilidade a velha mágica: o fracasso dos estímulos fiscais e monetários gera sua própria demanda – uma espécie de “lei de Say” do estatismo que fecha as portas para as reformas. Quanto mais se cura uma bolha estourada pela inflação da próxima, maior o endividamento e o acúmulo de problemas, tornando cada vez mais ameaçador e temível e portanto cada vez mais evitado a todo custo o dia do ajuste de contas.
Existe ainda outro problema relacionado às chances de uma eventual reversão de política, problema esse que conspira contra a difusão de uma explicação liberal alternativa para os fatos: a natureza positivista do discurso econômico moderno, que leva a sério apenas argumentos calcados em estatísticas. Ocorre que, na esfera macroeconômica, nos deparamos com a opacidade inerente às contas públicas, visto que esses números são gerados e publicados pelo estado, o maior interessado em esconder seus problemas de endividamento .. Na esfera microeconômica, por sua vez, a análise de falhas de governo se restringe sempre a “evidências anedóticas”, que raramente obtém status científico, já que os corruptos não passam nota fiscal ou escolhem “rent-seeker” como ocupação em seus formulários de imposto de renda ou censo.
O intervencionismo, além de criar clientes privilegiados, que defenderão entusiasticamente a ideologia estatista, bloqueia de várias maneiras o surgimento de soluções de mercado que lhe fariam concorrência. Em primeiro lugar, devido à natureza subjetiva dos custos, conforme a atuação estatal se expande, menor será a percepção da existência de alternativas, como argumentamos em outro artigo. De fato, as pessoas não conseguem conceber um mundo com instituições diferentes daquelas prevalecentes nos locais e períodos nos quais vivem. Para a maioria das pessoas, seria inconcebível um mundo sem bancos centrais, serviço postal público ou concorrência em diversos outros setores hoje monopolizados pelo estado, por mais que a história e, de vez em quando, mesmo a geografia contraria essas expectativas.
Esse fenômeno pode ser visto como um exemplo do processo mais geral do bloqueio do processo de descoberta empresarial causada pelo intervencionismo.
The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy them, and only in the short run.
Among the biggest lies of the welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic is the notion that the government can supply the people with things they want but cannot afford. Since the government gets its resources from the people, if the people as a whole cannot afford something, neither can the government.
There is, of course, the perennial fallacy that the government can simply raise taxes on "the rich" and use that additional revenue to pay for things that most people cannot afford. What is amazing is the implicit assumption that "the rich" are all such complete fools that they will do nothing to prevent their money from being taxed away. History shows otherwise.
So, if you cannot rely on "the rich" to pick up the slack, what can you rely on? Lies.
Nothing is easier for a politician than promising government benefits that cannot be delivered. Pensions such as Social Security are perfect for this role. The promises that are made are for money to be paid many years from now — and somebody else will be in power then, left with the job of figuring out what to say and do when the money runs out and the riots start.
Ser um Libertário não implica a concordância com tudo que de estúpido e imbecil as pessoas fazem a si próprias e entre si, voluntariamente. É aceitá-lo, mesmo não respeitando e admitir tais actos como consequências necessárias, ainda que por vezes desagradáveis, da existência de um mundo de homens livres, com prazeres, saberes e ambições que diferem. E ainda bem que diferem.
O mundo deve mais ao pensamento libertário do que realmente imagina. Já o libertário, este não exige nada do mundo, não deve nada ao mundo e não guarda em relação ao mundo que o rodeia nada mais que um simples e incompreendido desejo: que este o deixe em paz.
Why We’re Losing — How free market ideas suffer from being counterintuitive, um grande artigo de John Stossel:
Liberty is counterintuitive. It takes hard work to overcome the brain’s attraction to simple-sounding solutions. It’s not easy to convince people that sometimes the best way for governments to address a problem is to do less, not more. It’s easier to admire the activist or politician who talks about helping the less fortunate than it is to cheer on a hustler who wants to get rich by selling you stuff. Those of us who see expanding the private sphere as the best way to help the most people have an uphill battle in making our case.
When the default setting is to solve every problem with a new law, it’s hardly surprising that government continues to grow. What’s especially disappointing in the 21st century, however, is that fewer people in politics even talk about cutting the overall size of government. Particularly when they’re in power.
Again, the enemy here is human intuition. Amid the dazzling bounty of the marketplace, it’s easy to take the benefits of markets for granted. I can go check out the economic experiments in Chile or Hong Kong or Puerto Rico, stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesn’t even speak my language, and he’ll rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting— correct to the penny. That’s capitalism! I just take it for granted.
Government, by contrast, can’t even count votes accurately.
There is nothing that government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals—as groups of individuals, working together voluntarily, not at the point of a gun or under threat of a fine. Without big government, our possibilities are limitless..
But it’s a hard sell. Things continue to get better in a free society, but nobody is out in front of the camera saying, “Yay for the marginal improvements that come with free markets!” It’s not as compelling or newsworthy as a report on someone who goes bankrupt because he got sick. If we are to foster prosperity, we must find better ways to promote the virtues of liberty.
I want to argue that Hayek’s vision of the liberal order is built on the fundamental values of pluralism and tolerance, both of which are forwarded by important properties of market economies. As Hayek puts it in volume two of his trilogy Law, Legislation, and Liberty, “A free society is a pluralistic society without a common hierarchy of particular ends.” He means that the market, like other social institutions (such as language), is an “ends-independent” process for social coordination: No matter our particular ends, we can all use the market process to achieve them. I might like Mexican food, you might like Indian food, but we need not make one decision about what we both will eat. We each can achieve our different ends through the market.
Here’s the important thing: Once we agree on the rules, we need not agree on the ends to live peacefully with one another. The liberal society is “means-connected” and not “ends-connected.” Markets enable us to disagree peacefully while each pursues his or her own way.
But notice that to sustain this kind of society, we must be willing to tolerate differences with others. We have to recognize that our freedom to achieve our ends comes at the cost of allowing others the same, even if we find those ends distasteful. In the words of FEE’s founder, Leonard Read, we must be willing to accept “anything that’s peaceful.” This is what Hayek means when he says a free society is a “pluralistic society.
Among the accusations made against capitalism is that it is bad for women. A couple of weeks ago I discussed the gender wage gap, which is often claimed as an example of how capitalism causes discrimination against women. We hear other arguments about how it supports “patriarchy” and otherwise leads to women being treated as second-class citizens. In fact capitalism has done far more good for women than bad.
Growth had a second effect on the demand for female labor. As industrialization progressed and the scale of operations grew, the number of ancillary jobs such as secretaries and clerks grew .. The result was more job opportunities for women. By the 1940s the demand for female labor was intense enough that firms started to offer the option of part-time work to meet married women’s need for flexibility.
Capitalism also supplied the conditions that made it easier for women to supply this labor. The biggest problem married women, especially with kids, faced if they wanted to work was caring for the household. With the technology available at the turn of the last century, keeping a home clean was a fulltime job. The interwar era, however, saw the development of all kinds of new household appliances that significantly reduced the time required to clean and cook. Doing the laundry went from a three-day, multi-person job to just a matter of hours. These inventions liberated women from much of the drudgery of housework and made it at least thinkable to work outside of the home.
Women were also becoming increasingly educated, both at the high school and college level. Here too the wealth created by capitalism made it possible for families to afford to educate their children longer, including their daughters. This wealth was also sufficient to make children’s income unnecessary for survival. The more-educated and more-productive potential female workforce meant that it was more likely women would get hired.
Although it rarely gets the credit, capitalism liberated women from centuries of second-class citizenship.
To move it into the political sphere (to turn those moral obligations into political obligations), we need to add a couple of points. First, we “repay” our debt of gratitude to the state by paying taxes. Second, disobeying laws counts as harming the state, so the debt of gratitude, by this argument, means we should obey the law.
Outside of the political sphere, I can owe debts of gratitude to many people and institutions simultaneously. I have a debt to my wife for marrying me and continuing to put up with me. I have a debt to my boss for taking a chance on me and giving me a job. I have a debt to my family members, my friends, and to everyone else who’s helped me throughout my life. Institutions I feel gratitude towards might include hospitals that healed me when I was sick or the colleges that educated me. The size of each debt varies, of course, but that doesn’t impact how real each is.
.. the kinds of institutions (i.e., governments) we supposedly owe political obligations to uniformly claim monopolies on such debts over certain geographical areas. Yet such monopolies aren’t justified—or even discussed—by the argument from gratitude outlined above.
Further, it isn’t just that the state has a monopoly on providing political sorts of benefits within a given region. The state also forcibly maintains that monopoly by using violence and the threat of violence to keep competitors out ..
The modern state forces its benefits upon its citizens and prevents others from giving similar benefits, even if the others could do so more fairly and efficiently. In this, it looks less like a beneficent provider to whom we owe thanks, and more like a common protection racket. And who feels gratitude toward that?
Of all the myths that persist concerning economic history, the myth that the United States rebuilt Europe and Japan following the Second World War is among the most popular ..
Hong Kong rebuilt with minimal governmental interference .. This resulted in rapid economic development and a steadily rising standard of living for the people of Hong Kong. This progress benefited not only highly skilled upper income workers, but also low paid unskilled workers .. This success came to the people of Hong Kong because of low taxes, minimal tariffs and regulations, and without the redistribution schemes of democratic welfare states or large-scale foreign aid. The key source of foreign aid came from English authorities who provided security to Hong Kong, but left the people of this place to sort out their own personal affairs in private markets.
West Germany rebuilt itself in a similar fashion. Marshall Plan aid consisted of only a tiny percentage of German GDP. Also, the money that West Germany paid in reparations offset Marshall Plan aid. West Germany received military defense from the U.S. and England, but paid substantial fees for this service. The German Economic Miracle began with a radical program of privatization and deregulation, beginning in 1948. This ended the regulatory controls and elaborate tax system imposed by Hitler and his National Socialists.
Japan also experienced great success due to a relative lack of governmental interference .. Low taxes and high savings rates translated into strong economic growth in postwar Japan. Once again, foreign aid and intervention were too small to have accounted for this success. Japan did not need massive intervention to recover, even though it lacked the natural resources that Iraq possesses in its oil fields.
.. General principles in economics tell us that these cases are the norm, rather than exceptions to some rule .. efforts to centrally plan government do not proceed on the basis of economic rationality .. The belief in an omniscient state optimally employing scarce resources is, as Mises wrote, false.
The mess we are in is the result of policy, of the very idea – the silly idea – that the field of money and finance would work better if it were supervised, managed, guided and controlled by the state; that if we had clever, powerful and astute policymakers, consulted by economist philosopher kings, we could enjoy a smoother, better functioning economy. And if ever things were not running so smoothly, we would change the policy.
My conclusion is straightforward. There should be no policy. The existence of policy is already the problem. What we need is proper capitalism in money and finance. We do not have that now. What we have is limitless state fiat money, quantitative easing, systematic market manipulation, bailouts, regulations, the IMF, the World Bank, the FSA, FDIC, TARP and LTRO. We need proper markets, not more policy, not more manipulation, and not more bureaucracy. And not more fiat money. We need the state to exit the field of money and banking. Completely.
The main problem with monetary policy is that there is such a thing as monetary policy. The state is the problem. It will not be part of the solution. We need to get the state out of the economy completely. To achieve this we must get the state out of ALL monetary affairs. The monetary sphere of society should be a no-go area for politicians and bureaucrats. State involvement in finance is the problem. Let us get the state out. Period. That is the one goal we should have. That is the one policy I recommend.
I ask the state to do just one thing: Get the hell out of money and banking! Now!
The 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan provided another occasion for the media to celebrate the government's good works. The U.S.'s headlong plunge into global welfarism (nearly $100 billion in current dollars), they said, saved European economies after the Second World War ..
.. the countries that received the most Marshall Plan money (allies Britain, Sweden, and Greece) grew the slowest between 1947 and 1955, while those that received the least money (axis powers Germany, Austria, and Italy) grew the most. In terms of post-war prosperity, then, it eventually paid to be a political enemy of the U.S. instead of a "beneficiary" of international charity.
The result was the largest peacetime transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to corporations until that point in U.S. history.
A year after the Marshall Plan began sucking private capital out of the economy, the U.S. fell into recession, precisely the opposite of what its proponents predicted. Meanwhile, the aid did not help Europe. What reconstructed Europe was the post-Marshall freeing up of controlled prices, keeping inflation in check, and curbing union power--that is, the free market. As even Hoffman admitted in his memoir, the aid did not in fact help the economies of Europe. The primary benefit was "psychological." Expensive therapy, indeed.
The actual legacy of the Marshall Plan was a vast expansion of government at home, the beginnings of the Cold War rhetoric that would sustain the welfare-warfare state for 40 years, a permanent global troop presence, and an entire business class on the take from Washington. It also created a belief on the part of the ruling elite in D.C. that it could trick the public into backing anything, including the idea that government and its connected interest groups should run the world at taxpayer expense.
But what is social justice, then? It’s the kind of justice demanded by socialism. We might want to say that market institutions can provide it. We might want to say a lot of things about markets. We think markets are good; naturally, we want to promote them. But we should not lose sight of what markets actually are. Or of who our real audience is. This stuff isn’t going to convince socialists, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think that it will.
The type of justice demanded by socialism is neither the type favored by libertarians — that of continuous, undirected, uncoerced economic activity — nor the type favored by Rawlseans — too complex to set off neatly with dashes. Social justice appears to mean (1) an ever-greater equality of outcome through forced wealth transfer and/or state-run economies; (2) a prediction — surely falsifiable — that forced transfers enhance the dignity and autonomy of the poor, (3) state-subsidized status enhancement for members of aggrieved groups, and (4) never mind about the absolute holdings of the poor, already.
That’s also why I will never be a socialist, and why I will always be skeptical of social justice.
Adam Smith’s great insight was that in a commercial transaction both parties benefit. Before his time, it was generally believed that in an exchange of goods, one party usually gained what the other lost. The mistake was to misunderstand value: it is different to different people. A seller places greater value in the money than the product he sells for it, and the buyer places a greater value on the product than its cost, otherwise the deal would not happen.
Lovers of regulation do not seem to understand Adam Smith’s perception of enlightened self-interest. They believe unprincipled capitalists steal the widow’s mite. The prevalence of regulation, particularly in Europe, where everything must be regulated, is in this sense a complete denial of all economic progress since the days of mercantilism.
Regulation often defeats its objectives, a point which was made clear to me many years ago. I met the managing director of a spread-betting business at the time when there was a debate about whether or not spread-betting should be regulated as an investment activity. He welcomed regulation, because it would give his business added credibility, despite by definition being gambling. He was right: that is why everyone in the financial services business dealing with the public wants regulation. It enhances their credibility.
The regulators assume the public are innocents in need of protection. They have set themselves up to be gamed by all manner of businesses intent on using and adapting the rules for their own benefits at the expense of their customers. These businesses lobby to change the rules over time to their own advantage and hide behind regulatory respectability, as clients of both MF Global and Bernie Madoff have found to their cost.