Archive for economics
Actually, he didn’t say exactly that, but that would make it a heck of a lot simpler, wouldn’t it. I admit I got a little tax cut recently. Unfortunately, the tax cut I got came at the expense of other hard working people (the “wicked rich”), as well as my children and grand children, because the feds did not cut spending concurrently. In fact, I will probably see the bill in my lifetime, with interest.
We have yet to learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The government takes our money and spends it where they see fit or simply gives it to others, and tells us we will be better off for it–it will magically multiply. Unfortunately, the only thing we get is an economy of bubbles, misallocated capital, and redistributed wealth.
We ought to get rid of the income tax altogether. It is nothing less than forced labor and blatant theft.
I watched the video posted here of the Rachel Maddow show–a piece from MSNBC, and I was amazed at how apparently clueless these ladies were about the ideas behind the tea parties. They revealed a slight amount of knowlege in linking them to Ron Paul’s supporters, but other wise they appeared to have no idea what they were all about. There are two possibilites: either these ladies are too lazy to simply pull up the reteaparty.com website, or they are purposely trying to confuse people and misrepresent the movement. Their strange fixation/obsession on the word teabagging was a notable. Journalism is truly dead.
They also engaged in the standard “crazy ideas” assessment of Ron Paul and his movement. I believe it may seem crazy to them. As Carabini writes in his new book:
I have often wondered why those with strong opinions about social affairs are always attracted toward one of two opposing poles. There are those inclined to liberty—freedom of the individual to live his or her life in any peaceful way. And there are those who are inclined to mastery—permitting others to live their lives only as another sees fit.
Where have I heard that before? John McCain. He said it during the presidential campaign and was mocked by the press. Now the Obama administration is saying it, just weeks after scaring congress into approving his colossal “stimulus” plan under threat of immanent economic collapse. Again I feel like Winston Smith in Orwell’s classic.
I am thankful that this has not gone unnoticed by the press:
During the fall campaign, Obama relentlessly criticized his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for declaring, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Obama’s team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country.
But on Sunday, that optimistic message came from economic adviser . When asked during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if the fundamentals of the economy were sound, she replied: “Of course they are sound.”…
“If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we’re going to get through this,” Obama said, striking a tone that his top aides mimicked.
But he’s right. We can get through it, as soon as he and the rest of the government stop fiddling around with the markets and leave us alone. On the other hand, if they continue with their “planning” and intervention, I am afraid we are in for a long, hard time.
I only wish he would decide that, since the economy is fundamentally sound, we don’t need the stimulus any longer and we can repeal it.
The old cliche about repeating history is more than a cliche. We are plunging headlong into the same errors that led to and prolonged the Great Depression. Instead of reversing the interventionist policies that prompted the stock market crash, Hoover, and then FDR (abandoning his party’s platform, which called for reductions in government interference), piled them higher and deeper, vastly expanding government controls and programs. This is how our government is responding today: More government interference when less is what is needed. FDR’s Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Lewis W. Douglas, could have been speaking yesterday when he asked:
Will we choose to subject ourselves — this great country — to the despotism of bureaucracy, controlling our every act, destroying what equality we have attained, reducing us eventually to the condition of impoverished slaves of the state? Or will we cling to the liberties for which man has struggled for more than a thousand years? It is important to understand the magnitude of the issue before us . . . . If we do not elect to have a tyrannical, oppressive bureaucracy controlling our lives, destroying progress, depressing the standard of living . . . then should it not be the function of the Federal government under a democracy to limit its activities to those which a democracy may adequately deal, such for example as national defense, maintaining law and order, protecting life and property, preventing dishonesty, and . . . guarding the public against . . . vested special interests?
There are two ways that men can get what they need: by working for it, or taking it from others. There will always be people who prefer the latter.
In the words of Bastiat (emphasis mine):
Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.
When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.
It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.
So bastiat says that purpose of the law (government) is to stop plunder.
But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.
This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.
So the law becomes unjust, and government becomes the plunderer. So what happens then?
Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws! Until that happens, the few practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons. But then, participation in the making of law becomes universal. And then, men seek to balance their conflicting interests by universal plunder. Instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.
-Frederic Bastiat, 1850, The Law
And this is where we are at right now. The people use the law to plunder each other. This is what we do when we we vote for representatives that create “spread the wealth” schemes: programs of plunder, like welfare, government subsidies, and lopsided taxes.
“Spread the wealth” is taking rightfully earned property from one person and giving to another, who did not earn it. This is called theft.
When socialists argue that redistributing the wealth is ”the right thing to do” , they are working from a different set of moral standards. They are assuming that there is a “right” or “just” amount of property each person should have, and that they can determine that amount. The first problem with this is that there is no such thing as a “right” amount of property that a person should have, and secondly, they could not determine it if there were.
The socialist may argue that there is a “right” amount of property. Perhaps they will say that everyone should have equal property (or everyone should own all things in common, or nothing at all), but there is no basis for this in reason. Why should everyone have the same amount? Is there some natural or spiritual law that says that all people should have the same amount of property, or that they should hold it all in common?
From a naturalistic standpoint, the only reasonable motivation for doing anything is to increase one’s own sense of fulfillment. What is “right”, therefore, is what produces the highest sense of fulfillment. The only way one could argue that it is right for all people to have the same amount of property would be to argue that that is the scheme which produces the highest sense of fulfillment. This is not the case. In fact, even though one could argue that altruism produces a high level of fulfillment, socialism is not altruism. Charity by coercion is not charity. If I have no choice but to help the poor, does that produce a sense of fulfillment? No. rather, when I freely sacrifice for the poor, then I receive my fulfillment.
Even more absurd than their claim that there is a “right” amount of property is the claim that they can determine what that amount is. This is preposterous. How would they determine such a thing, except by arbitrary guidelines? Keep in mind here that all people having equal property is the same thing, in practice, as everyone holding all things in common, because access to resources is necessary in both scenarios, and access to resources must be regulated and equalized.
Of course, how will they equalize it all in the first place? And how will they maintain the equality? By plunder. By taking from the one who rightfully produced the property, and giving it to the one who did not.
Of course, most socialists do not advocate an absolute equality, and this makes their proposals much worse. They want to redistribute the property of others as they see fit, and according to standards that they determine. This is the plunder of one class by another, as Bastiat described.