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Watch “Bill Maher: College Has Become an Outright Scam” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

The first minute contains all you need to know.

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People Who Ruined World’s Economies Gather To Discuss How To Fix World’s Economies

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

CORNWALL—According to sources, the people who ruined the world’s economies by promoting lockdowns, economic shutdowns, and printing cash have gathered in the United Kingdom this week to discuss how to fix the world’s economies.

The very people who implemented anti-science policies that simultaneously did nothing to stop COVID and ruined millions of livelihoods gathered to enjoy their triumph over the virus and talk about how to fix everything.

“We assure you — we will have a great plan to fix everything!” said the people whose plans ruined everything. “Trust us — when have we ever been wrong about anything?”

From Boris Johnson and Joe Biden to Justin Trudeau and that weird French guy, members of the summit had pushed harmful economic policies rather than just letting the people reach herd immunity and go on with their lives. But they’re now claiming they are the people you need to listen to for reopening the very economies that they destroyed.

At publishing time, the entire world was praying for a giant tidal wave to hit the beach where the attendees were gathered.

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The Case of Colonialism: Secession for Thee, But Not for Me | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

Although Western regimes like the United States like to talk a lot about self-determination for others outside the U.S. itself, the regime and its supporters steadfastly deny that the nation contains any minority groups—ideological, religious, or otherwise—that ought to be granted autonomy in the fashion of colonized populations in Africa or Asia. Even when the Left emphasizes the existence of “oppressed minorities” the answer always lies in a larger, more active regime, and in promises of more “democracy.”

by Ryan McMaken

18277179 101

The twentieth century was a century of secession. Since the end of the Second World War, the number of independent states in the world has nearly tripled as new states, through acts of secession, came into existence. This was driven largely by the wave of decolonization that occurred following the Second World War.1

From the late 1940s through the 1970s, across Africa and Asia—and even in Europe, as in the case of Malta—dozens of colonial territories declared independence through referenda and other strategies.

Throughout these processes of decolonization, much of the international community—including the United States—was supportive. Following the Second World War, the United States explicitly supported decolonization efforts, and was often quick to recognize the new countries’ sovereignty and establish diplomatic relations.

The U.S. frequently supported these acts of secession because, it was said, it was morally imperative so as to respect the rights of “self-determination” denied to the world’s colonized territories. Moreover, many of the world’s sovereign states supported this global spree of secessionist movements, from the US, to the Soviet Union and China, and within many international organizations like the United Nations.

Yet, when secession is suggested in other contexts, today’s regimes are far less enthusiastic and generally condemn the very idea of secession.

For example, the Spanish regime today opposes independence for Catalonia and for the Basque Country. The Russians fought a long and bloody war to prevent independence for Chechnya. The U.S. regime would clearly take a very dim view of any member state or region that attempted to declare independence.

Doesn’t this illustrate a glaring inconsistency in thinking? If self-determination is desirable for African or Asian colonies, why is secession verboten in other situations?

The answer is it’s easy to support secession in far-off territories of little strategic value. When secession hits “close to home,” on the other hand, regimes that have long pretended to be in favor of self-determination will quickly turn on a dime and begin to manufacture a multitude of reasons as to why secession and self-determination are not, in fact, tolerable after all.

Defining down the Meaning of “Colony”

The idea of national self-determination as an explicit political movement originates with the American Revolution. As Jefferson and his colleagues stated in the Declaration of Independence, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish” a government deemed to be abusive by the governed. Obviously—given that the Declaration of Independence was a declaration of secession—these strategies rightfully employed by “the people” included secession.

It is easy to apply the Jefferson’s notion of self-determination to any colony, whether in North America in the eighteenth century, or in Africa in the twentieth. Thus, governments looking to show off their humanitarian chops—what we might today call “virtue signaling”—will embrace secession. But only for purposes of decolonization—and regimes are very careful to limit what they mean by “colonies” and “decolonization.”

In this way of thinking, there’s a bright shiny line between a population oppressed by colonizers, and one that isn’t. Cases like Nigeria or India, for example, offer easy cases. Nigeria and India were both controlled by Britain and subject to British political domination. But, both these places are far away from Britain itself, and their populations—at least in the mid twentieth century—were easy to distinguish visually from the British population. In other words, the people in these colonies “looked like” what one expects to see in foreigners exploited by colonizers. Moreover, these populations did not have direct representation in Parliament.

Yet none of these factors are really the key issues in determining if a population is denied self-determination. Yes, the Indians and the Nigerians did not have votes in Parliament. Yes, the Indians and the Nigerians often had interests very different from those of their rulers who governed from thousands of miles away.

But colonization and the denial of self-determination is not just something that occurs in faraway lands where people look different and speak different languages.

In his 1927 book Liberalism, Mises contends that the denial of self-determination is most certainly not just for people who live in colonial territories. Indeed, self-determination is routinely denied even within polities that are democratic. Mises writes:

The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest…. To be a member of a national minority always means that one is a second-class citizen.

In other words, if a person, for whatever reason, is forced to be part of a nation-state or empire in which he does not wish to be a part—even if he can vote in elections—his situation is not fundamentally different from one who has been “colonized” via military conquest.

After all, any group or any “people”—to use Jefferson’s term—which is in a permanent voting minority will indeed find itself at an immense disadvantage. Mises illustrates this in the case of a person who is part of a linguistic minority:

See the rest here

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute

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Tony Blair Suggests Unvaccinated Brits Should Remain Under Lockdown Restrictions | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

Blair has always been pathetic US sock puppet. Who is bowing down to now? Biden is beneath him so who is LEFT? Gates, Soros, Big Pharma?

Is the point here that the US should follow the UK lead?

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair implied that those who choose not to be vaccinated should be discriminated against by remaining under lockdown restrictions if the UK’s June 21st “freedom day” is to be accomplished.

During an interview with ITV News, Blair was asked if he would delay the June 21st deadline, when all social distancing, mask mandates and other lockdown rules are supposed to come to an end.

Blair said that if the data suggested the June 21st date was at risk, the government should “look again at distinguishing between those people who are vaccinated and those people who aren’t because it really makes no sense to treat the two groups as if they’re the same.”

The former Labour leader then attempted to offer a rebuttal to those who would describe this as discrimination, but only succeeded in affirming that he is advocating for discrimination against the unvaccinated.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair tells me ahead of the June 21st deadline @BorisJohnson should start to distinguish between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t.

“It doesn’t make sense to treat them differently.” — Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) June 11, 2021

“If someone simply chooses not to get vaccinated, I mean frankly that’s their choice, you’re not discriminating against them, they’ve chosen not to do it,” said Blair.

In other words, Blair is suggesting that people who haven’t taken the vaccine should be punished by remaining under lockdown rules while the rest of the population gets their freedoms back.

Blair’s agenda in advocating discrimination against the unvaccinated isn’t surprising given that he has been aggressively pushing the use of vaccine passports for almost a year.

Back in January, Blair asserted that Britain should take the lead in presiding over a global vaccine passport system.

“It’s going to be a new world altogether,” Blair proclaimed, adding “The sooner we grasp that and start to put in place the decisions [needed for a] deep impact over the coming years the better.”

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The Hangover Arrives: Explosive Inflation Leads To Record Collapse In Home, Car Purchase Plans | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

This confirms what we noted earlier, namely a record divergence between crashing homebuyer confidence (due to record home prices) and soaring homebuilder confidence (also due to record home prices). Guess which one will matter in the end.

What the Fed printing press, “free government money” and paying people to stay home results in.

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

For the past several months we have warned about the pernicious effects soaring prices are having on both corporations (“Buckle Up! Inflation Is Here!“) and consumers (“”This Is Not Transitory”: Hyperinflation Fears Are Soaring Across America“), prompting even otherwise boring sellside research to get  (hyper) exciting, with Deutsche Bank (which warned this week that “Inflation Is About To Explode “Leaving Global Economies Sitting On A Time Bomb“”) and Bank of America (which “Just Threw Up All Over The Fed’s “Transitory” Argument“) now openly claiming that the Fed is wrong, and the US is facing an unprecedented period of far higher, non-transitory inflation, with DB going so far as to warn “policymakers will face the most challenging years since the Volcker/Reagan period in the 1980s.”

But none of this has spooked the Fed into conceding – or believing – that inflation is anything more than transitory. And maybe just this once, the Fed has a point because all else equal, by which we mean lack of rising wages, the best cure to higher prices is, well… higher prices.

Presenting Exhibit A: two weeks ago, we observed that anticipating an end to Biden’s stimmy bonanza end and that soon they will have to live again within their means, Americans’ buying intentions (6 months from today) as measured by the Conference Board, had cratered across the 3 major spending categories: homes, automobiles and major household appliances.

The drop was so massive, it amounted to the biggest one-month drop in intentions to purchase appliances…

… and homes…

This confirms what we noted earlier, namely a record divergence between crashing homebuyer confidence (due to record home prices) and soaring homebuilder confidence (also due to record home prices). Guess which one will matter in the end.

Fast forward to today when we just got Exhibit B: the June UMichigan Sentiment Survey.

While there was some good news here, in that inflation expectations for both the 1-year and 5-10 look ahead periods dropped slightly…

… what we found more concerning is what chief economist, Richard Curtin said namely that since “Rising inflation remained a top concern of consumers”, the spontaneous references to market prices for homes, vehicles, and household durables fell to their worst level since the all-time record in November 1974.

And as Curtin adds, “these unfavorable perceptions of market prices reduced overall buying attitudes for vehicles and homes to their lowest point since 1982. These declines were especially sharp among those with incomes in the top third, who account for more than half of the dollar volume of retail sales.”

This can be seen in the following chart showing records across the board for “bad buying conditions” due to high prices for houses, durable goods and autos. In other words, due to soarking prices is America is going on a buyers’ strike.

This, for better or worse, screams not only stagflation but also permanently higher prices, as Curting elaborates:

… in the emergence from the pandemic, consumers are temporarily less sensitive to prices due to pent-up demand and record savings as well as improved job and income prospects. The acceptance of price increases as due to the pandemic, makes inflationary psychology more likely to gain a foothold if the exit is lengthy.

The problem: sooner or laters the stimmies will end, but prices by then will already be fixed higher, and good luck trying to pull them down.

While expansive monetary and fiscal policies are still warranted, the accompanying rise in inflation will cause uneven distributional impacts. Those impacts have already been noticed in June among the elderly and lower income households. A shift in the Fed’s policy language could douse any incipient inflationary psychology, it would be no surprise to consumers, as two-thirds already expect higher interest rates in the year ahead.

Oh, and for those saying wage hikes may be permanent we have some bad news: employers know very well that the extended unemployment benefits bonanza ends in September at which point millions of currently unemployed workers will flood back into the labor force sending wages sharply lower, and is why instead of raising base pay, most potential employers offer one-time bonuses, which – as the name implies – are one-time. As for higher wage pressures, well… just wait until October when everything reverses, Uncle Sam is no longer a better paying competitor to the US private sector, and wages slump.

What does that mean for the economy? Well, all those producers and retailers who got used to bumper demand and pushed their prices sharply and not so sharply higher, will face a stark choice: either drag prices right back down, or sell far fewer goods and services. That, or just await the next bailout.

One thing is certain: six months from today, the US economy will be far, far uglier.

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Now the supporters of cancel culture are being cancelled – spiked

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O’Neill

‘Freeze peach!’ That has long been the mocking, infantile cry of the middle-class left whenever anyone complains about clampdowns on freedom of speech. There is no ‘free-speech crisis’, radicals insist. No Platforming right-wingers on university campuses is not censorship – it’s just students freely choosing not to associate with people who have horrible views. And alt-right types being turfed off Twitter and Facebook is not censorship, either – that’s just private companies enforcing their terms and conditions. (Who knew lefties were so supportive of private property rights?)

Will these censorship deniers change their tune now that the left itself is coming under censorious attack? Amazingly, probably not. But perhaps there will be a smidgen of self-reflection. Some of the left-wing architects and cheerleaders of contemporary censorship, including Britain’s Socialist Workers Party, which has backed the No Platform policy for decades, are now being No Platformed themselves. ‘This is a disgrace!’, they cry, which would be funny if censorship were not so serious. These people helped to build the infrastructure of modern censorship, with its determination to crush ‘hate speech’ and ‘offensive’ views, and now they’re shocked to find themselves falling victim to it? Have they not read any history books at all?

On Friday, the SWP, one of the largest left-wing organisations in the UK, was taken off Facebook. The party’s own page was removed and so were the pages of dozens of SWP activists. The SWP described FB’s actions as a ‘silencing of political activists’. They’re right. This was a unilateral act of ideological censorship carried out by the capitalist elites of Silicon Valley against a perfectly legal party based in the UK. It demonstrated the terrifying power of the Big Tech oligarchy, which clearly has no respect whatsoever for borders, territory or democratically made national laws and feels that it can reach into any nation state it chooses and switch off the oxygen of publicity to any party, group or individual it disapproves of. The attack on the SWP was indeed a disgrace, and it’s good that the SWP’s FB pages have now been restored.

But there is something spectacularly hollow about the SWP’s complaints. The SWP has played a key role in promoting No Platform policies on campus, which essentially blacklist certain groups and individuals from speaking to students, whether that’s leaders of actual racist organisations, like Nick Griffin, or decent, liberal securalists like Maryam Namazie (perversely branded ‘Islamophobic’).

What’s more, the ideological justifications that the SWP and other leftists have put forward for these acts of censorship – the idea that ‘hateful’ speech must be suppressed, the idea that offensive ideas are wounding, the nasty patrician notion that minority groups need to be protected from difficult discussion by the authorities – have helped to shape the broader, off-campus culture of censorship. Modern ‘hate speech’ laws and police interference in discussions about genderfluidity and other difficult topics, as well as Silicon Valley’s embrace of ever-tighter restrictions on ‘hate speech’ and its No Platforming of right-wing presidents or feminists who say ‘he’ when referring to someone who has a penis – all of this has been influenced by the modern left’s cultivation of a new form of therapeutic, paternalistic censorship that is designed to protect allegedly vulnerable individuals from the hurtful ideologies of right-wingers, critics of Islam, ‘transphobes’, etc etc.

See the rest here

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Is a “Climate Lockdown” on the horizon? – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

The whole article is not an argument, so much as an ultimatum. A gun held to the public’s collective head. “Obviously we don’t want to lock you up inside your homes, force you to eat processed soy cubes and take away your cars,” they’re telling us, “but we might have to, if you don’t take our advice.”

Will there be “climate lockdowns” in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised. But right now – rather than being seriously mooted – they are fulfilling a different role. A frightening hypothetical – A threat used to bully the public into accepting the hardline globalist reforms that make up the “great reset”.

Kit Knightly

If and when the powers-that-be decide to move on from their pandemic narrative, lockdowns won’t be going anywhere. Instead it looks like they’ll be rebranded as “climate lockdowns”, and either enforced or simply held threateningly over the public’s head.

At least, according to an article written by an employee of the WHO, and published by a mega-coporate think-tank.

Let’s dive right in.

The report’s author and backers

The report, titled “Avoiding a climate lockdown”, was written by Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of economics at University College London, and head of something called the Council on the Economics of Health for All, a division of the World Health Organization.

It was first published in October 2020 by Project Syndicate, a non-profit media organization that is (predictably) funded through grants from the Open society Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many, many others.

After that, it was picked up and republished by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which describes itself as “a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.”.

The WBCSD’s membership is essentially every major company in the world, including Chevron, BP, Bayer, Walmart, Google and Microsoft. Over 200 members totalling well over 8 TRILLION dollars in annual revenue.

In short: an economist who works for the WHO has written a report concerning “climate lockdowns”, which has been published by both a Gates+Soros backed NGO AND a group representing almost every bank, oil company and tech giant on the planet.

Whatever it says, it clearly has the approval of the people who run the world.

What does it say?

The text of the report itself is actually quite craftily constructed. It doesn’t outright argue for climate lockdowns, but instead discusses ways “we” can prevent them.

As COVID-19 spread […] governments introduced lockdowns in order to prevent a public-health emergency from spinning out of control. In the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again – this time to tackle a climate emergency […] To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently.

This cleverly creates a veneer of arguing against them, whilst actually pushing the a priori assumptions that any so-called “climate lockdowns” would a) be necessary and b) be effective. Neither of which has ever been established.

Another thing the report assumes is some kind of causal link between the environment and the “pandemic”:

COVID-19 is itself a consequence of environmental degradation

I wrote an article, back in April, exploring the media’s persistent attempts to link the Covid19 “pandemic” with climate change. Everybody from the Guardian to the Harvard School of Public Health is taking the same position – “The root cause of pandemics [is] the destruction of nature”:

The razing of forests and hunting of wildlife is increasingly bringing animals and the microbes they harbour into contact with people and livestock.

There is never any scientific evidence cited to support this position. Rather, it is a fact-free scare-line used to try and force a mental connection in the public, between visceral self-preservation (fear of disease) and concern for the environment. It is as transparent as it is weak.

“Climate Lockdowns”

So, what exactly is a “climate lockdown”? And what would it entail?

The author is pretty clear:

Under a “climate lockdown,” governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling.

There you have it. A “climate lockdown” means no more red meat, the government setting limits on how and when people use their private vehicles and further (unspecified) “extreme energy-saving measures”. It would likely include previously suggested bans on air travel, too.

All in all, it is potentially far more strict than the “public health policy” we’ve all endured for the last year.

As for forcing fossil fuel companies to stop drilling, that is drenched in the sort of ignorance of practicality that only exists in the academic world. Supposing we can switch to entirely rely on renewables for energy, we still wouldn’t be able to stop drilling for fossil fuels.

Oil isn’t just used as fuel, it’s also needed to lubricate engines and manufacture chemicals and plastics. Plastics used in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels, for example.

Coal isn’t just needed for power stations, but also to make steel. Steel which is vital to pretty much everything humans do in the modern world.

It reminds me of a Victoria Wood sketch from the 1980s, where an upper-middle class woman remarks, upon meeting a coal miner, “I suppose we don’t really need coal, now we’ve got electricity.”

A lot of post-fossil utopian ideas are sold this way, to people who are comfortably removed from the way the world actually works. This mirrors the supposed “recovery” the environment experienced during lockdown, a mythic creation selling a silver lining of house arrest to people who think that because they’re having their annual budget meetings over Zoom, somehow China stopped manufacturing 900 million tonnes of steel a year, and the US military doesn’t produce more pollution than 140 different countries combined.

The question, really, is why would an NGO backed by – among others – Shell, BP and Chevron, possibly want to suggest a ban on drilling for fossil fuel? But that’s a discussion for another time.

Avoiding a “Climate Lockdown”

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Two-tier societies are emerging, with dwindling rights for the unvaccinated. Why do governments consider them such a threat? — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

The jab protects one person: the jabbed. That’s it. And no one should be ostracized or inconvenienced as a result of making a different choice for whatever reason. This highly personal medical decision is being misrepresented as some kind of collective necessity and is marginalizing those wanting to make a choice that’s different from the one that governments are pushing.

By Rachel Marsden, columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at

While the authorities keep saying that Covid-19 vaccination isn’t obligatory – at least, not yet – good luck trying to live a normal life without it. It’s clear the ostracization of those who haven’t had the jab is well underway.

Last year, at this time, Covid-19 cases fell significantly without any substantial measures, as everything opened up for the summer and the powers-that-be in some countries allowed life to return to normal for a few months, all in the absence of vaccination.

This year, exactly the same phenomenon observed in 2020 is being attributed to mass inoculation. The narrative is that this is what’s saving us from Covid. And now the pressure’s on to force everyone into compliance, lest they want to live any semblance of normal life, beginning with summer travel.

Holiday options are shaping up to be quite different, depending on whether you’re vaccinated or not. France is now exempting vaccinated travelers from Europe and zero-Covid countries from quarantine and testing. But even vaccinated travelers from the US and elsewhere need to produce a negative test result before their flight, which begs the question, if the vaccine is so reliable, why do you need to test at all?

Unvaccinated travelers from outside Europe aren’t allowed to come to France for tourism. And if they must, for an imperative reason, a pre- and post-flight test and seven-day quarantine is imposed on arrival.  

Canada currently forces its own returning citizens – the only travelers for whom the border is open – to quarantine in a government-designated facility at the traveler’s prepaid expense of up to $2,000, where they await a negative test result before completing the remaining 14-day quarantine at home. The hotel quarantine could be scrapped sometime this summer, but only for fully vaccinated returning Canadians – despite the fact that a scientific expert panel advised the government to drop the hotel quarantine altogether. 

So, hassle-free travel to these countries and others is almost fully dependent on vaccination, even though these same governments have so little faith in the jab itself that they still require vaccinated travelers to be tested unless they’re coming in from a place where Covid-19 is so rare as to be virtually non-existent. Makes you wonder what the point of vaccine-based travel restrictions are if they’re viewed as so shoddy they can’t be trusted to prevent spread. 

These rules reflect what we’ve already been told: that the vaccine doesn’t prevent disease or transmission, but rather reduces the likelihood of severe illness in the relative few who may have been prone to it.

Nor is the vaccine seemingly enough to allow life to go back to pre-pandemic norms in some places, even as the annual virus season draws to an end and summer ramps up. While some countries’ swimming pools and gyms are back to relatively normal capacity and use, others are still making patrons sign up for limited time slots and swim up one lane and down another in order to maintain social distancing between length swimmers – presumably, so they don’t risk infecting someone while breathing during front crawl. 

Meanwhile, some American and Canadian universities are requiring Covid vaccination as a condition of attendance this fall. Why is all this necessary when it doesn’t stop transmission and anyone who’s worried about getting a serious form of Covid has already had the shot?

A medical advisory panel in France is also recommending that the vaccine be obligatory for certain public-facing professions and for school kids. This effectively means that any individuals who choose not to vaccinate – either because they already have natural immunity from the disease or figure that what they risk from the disease isn’t worth the potential long-term risks of taking a vaccine based on new, experimental technology – are going to find themselves with limited options.

There’s absolutely no justification for forcing anyone to vaccinate – for travel or otherwise. This mantra being bandied about that everyone has to do their part and take the shot in order to protect others is just total nonsense. The proof is in the lack of confidence that governments themselves are showing this summer by demanding that even the fully vaccinated take Covid tests.

The jab protects one person: the jabbed. That’s it. And no one should be ostracized or inconvenienced as a result of making a different choice for whatever reason. This highly personal medical decision is being misrepresented as some kind of collective necessity and is marginalizing those wanting to make a choice that’s different from the one that governments are pushing.

Since self-protection from serious forms of Covid-19 is in the hands of each individual, why exactly is the individual who chooses differently considered such a threat?

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Much Ado about Nothing in the Art Market | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

In the most recent aesthetic outrage, a Sardinian artist named Salvatore Garau managed to sell an invisible sculpture, known simply as “I am,” to an anonymous buyer, as reported by the Daily Mail on June 3, 2021.

There is thus a connection between invisible statues and the larger state of the world economy at the moment. The art market is in a boom phase, fueled by all the money that has been artificially created, supposedly to deal with the problems caused by the pandemic. The rich, who always get richer when governments start handing out money left and right, don’t know what to do with all their new money.

Paul A. Cantor

If, as we are often told, the aim of art is to shock the bourgeoisie, then the contemporary art scene has become positively electric of late. In the most recent aesthetic outrage, a Sardinian artist named Salvatore Garau managed to sell an invisible sculpture, known simply as “I am,” to an anonymous buyer, as reported by the Daily Mail on June 3, 2021.

You might think that this shy patron of the arts got shortchanged for his £13,000, but his purchase included “a certificate of authenticity to prove the art is real.” Thank heaven for small favors.

Garau seems to have made out like a bandit, but I’m wondering: In the end, who conned whom? The mysterious buyer seems to be left with just a piece of paper, a mere certificate that says the sculpture exists. But what does Garau have? Let’s say that the transaction is by now completed and Garau took payment by check in US dollars. Then he too is left holding nothing but a piece of paper, and also one with a tenuous connection to reality. He can cash that check, but that will still leave him holding mere pieces of paper. And that US currency is just another form of certificate (my older readers may remember the good old days of the “silver certificate” dollar bill). US paper currency proudly proclaims: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” But if that were not somehow in doubt, it wouldn’t need saying, or legal authority to enforce it. So in itself the dollar bill is yet another piece of paper, and someday soon it may not be worth the paper it’s printed on. In the end, Garau and his customer seem to be in the same boat; they have merely exchanged one piece of paper for another. And the underlying source of the transaction’s value remains invisible.

We would have to go back to the really good old days to find a more solid form of artistic transaction. When Botticelli, Leonardo, and Raphael took payment for their paintings, it was likely in the form of the florin (a Florentine coin containing roughly 3 ½ grams of gold). No “certificate of authenticity” was needed here; just the solid reputation of the Florentine mint. Once you bit into the coin to check that it was genuine, you could rest assured that you had actually gotten something for your painting—something you could sink your teeth into. But once paper currencies lost their convertibility into precious metals, a new level of uncertainty entered into artistic transactions, indeed into all economic transactions. Unwilling to be constrained by the gold standard, governments severed the connection between their currencies and anything real in the material world and we entered the universe of “free floating” currencies. In today’s world, awash with hemorrhaging government budgets, where trillion-dollar deficits have become the norm, it seems only appropriate that artists should be peddling invisible artworks, backed only by their own authority as artists. After all, what backs up the currency of modern nations other than the authority of the governments that issue them? We shouldn’t be surprised that artists are creating art out of nothing when, all around us, governments are creating money out of nothing—and in mindboggling quantities. It seems a fair enough exchange—paper money for paper art certificates.

Both art and money raise fascinating issues of representation. Traditionally and for centuries, art was thought to represent reality, to “hold the mirror up to nature,” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet puts it. And a dollar represented (and was convertible into) a certain amount of gold. Many have speculated about the relationship between these two forms of representation. In my essay “Hyperinflation and Hyperreality,” (see chapter 9 in Literature and the Economics of Liberty, pp. 433–68) I review some of these speculations and suggest that the decoupling of symbol from reality that characterizes the contemporary movement known as postmodernism is indeed related to the decoupling of money as a symbolic form from the reality of precious metals. Thanks to the widespread embrace of Keynesian economics, the twentieth century became the Age of Inflation, with all sorts of baleful effects in the world of the arts. As money supplies became increasingly inflated around the world—and hence the value of money attenuated—the sense of reality itself began to fray and dissolve in the arts. Art became surreal, art became unreal, art began to efface the distinction between the real and the unreal. In short, art became postmodern. In an age when people begin to question whether money itself is authentic anymore, they begin to doubt the authenticity of everything, including themselves. It’s the world of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, where the figures on the stage become aware that they are only characters in a play, and frantically seek a certificate of their own authenticity. As Estragon tells Vladimir: “We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?”

In our postmodern world, we have witnessed the thoroughgoing financialization of our economy, and investors become ever more obsessed with the symbols of economic reality and less concerned with underlying economic facts. That is why we watch in amazement as markets continue to go up, even as economic news gets worse, because the financial establishment is less concerned with what is actually happening economically and more focused on how the Federal Reserve will react to it. That’s how bad news now routinely becomes good news; a rise in unemployment presages the Fed’s unwillingness to raise interest rates and that makes investors happy. For months on end, the Dow-Jones Average may seem wholly uncoupled from the underlying state of the US economy. Even though increasing the money supply is what constitutes inflation (lowering the value of money), so-called economic experts vehemently deny that any inflation is taking place in the United States. They point to a temporarily stable Consumer Price Index, while ignoring what is really happening—a classic case of asset inflation. Yes, consumer prices may not for the moment be going up—although they are showing signs of increasing at the moment—but consumer prices are not the only prices in the economy and arguably not the most important. The new money has to enter the economy at some point, and it does not always reach the pockets of consumers first. Because of the way the Fed operates—through the banking system—the new money often enters the economy as capital loans and affects the producer side of the economy before the consumer side. That is why we can see temporarily stable consumer prices, even while the stock market and real estate prices keep going up and setting new records.

There is thus a connection between invisible statues and the larger state of the world economy at the moment. The art market is in a boom phase, fueled by all the money that has been artificially created, supposedly to deal with the problems caused by the pandemic. The rich, who always get richer when governments start handing out money left and right, don’t know what to do with all their new money. They would like to invest it, but with the Fed keeping interest rates near zero, they search desperately for higher rates of return in available assets that will appreciate in value. Because of their uniqueness, works of art offer the hope of being bid up at auctions when investors eagerly seek places to park their cash. In an age of the endless production of money or money substitutes, investors search for anything that promises that it will not be reproduced, or at least not infinitely. That’s the secret behind the success of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as the current vogue for NFTs (nonfungible tokens).

It’s in these circumstances that an invisible statue, provided it comes with a certificate of authenticity from the sculptor, starts to look attractive as an investment. You have to be impressed with markets: they can monetize even the invisible. I’m no financial advisor, but when I hear of invisible statues selling for £13,000 (“sight unseen,” of course), I would caution people that we may be approaching the peak of a financial boom in the art market, and it may be time to get out of Garaus and put your money into something more solid, like a Rembrandt. At least Rembrandts tend to increase in value when people see them; I’m not so sure about Garaus. After all, I’ve never seen one.

So in this area, I’m not an art expert, and I especially hesitate to comment on the artistic merit of a statue I HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN. So let me confine myself to a general observation. I’m seeing a lot of irrationality in economic policy around the world these days and I’m seeing a lot of irrationality in the art market, in terms of both what is selling and the inflated prices it’s selling for. I do not think that these two forms of irrationality are unrelated. In fact, inflationary economic policies are at the basis of the boom in the art market. And that makes me think that the absurdities of the current art market are merely symptoms of a deeper irrationality in our culture. I know a financial bubble when I see one and all bubbles eventually burst. For those of you familiar with Dutch economic history, I’ll just say: invisible statues are the tulips of today.

I’ve been desperately wanting to make some sort of invisible hand joke in this article, but it just won’t work. It’s not Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work in the economy that is producing these troubling results. In fact, it’s just the reverse. Left to itself—un-bailed-out and unstimulated—no market would ever generate this level of irrationality. We simply wouldn’t have all that cash to throw around recklessly. It’s only massive government intervention in the economy in the form of stimulus bills that is distorting market behavior and driving malinvestment. It’s not the invisible hand that sends people rushing to pour thousands of pounds or dollars into invisible statues. It’s only when governments mail out checks more or less randomly to people who have no reasonable way to invest the money that they start thinking of taking a flyer on invisible statues.

In the end, only governments could ruin the one fail-safe aspect of investing in art. I’ve always looked at an art investment as a surefire win. A work of art can go up or down in price, but no matter what happens, it will always look good on the mantlepiece in your living room. BUT NOT IF IT’S INVISIBLE. So take my advice: I have two rules for participating in the art market: 1) beware of inflationary bubbles, and 2) never buy art from a Sardinian. And if you won’t heed my advice, I’ve got an invisible bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. And, yes, it comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Would I lie to you?


Contact Paul A. Cantor

Paul A. Cantor is Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the author of Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies.

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