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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 12, 2020

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs.

One major problem with such attacks is the substantial literature documenting the adverse health effects of worsening economic conditions. For just one example, an analysis of the 2008 economic meltdown in The Lancet estimated that it “was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD alone, between 2008–2010.” That is a massive “detail” to ignore in forming policy.

https://mises.org/wire/why-central-planning-medical-experts-will-lead-disaster?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=439656abdd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-439656abdd-228343965

A great deal of the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis has been apocalyptic. That is partly because “if it bleeds, it leads.” But it is also because some of the medical experts with media megaphones have put forward potentially catastrophic scenarios and drastic plans to deal with them, reinforced by assertions that the rest of us should “listen to the experts,” because only they know enough to determine policy. Unfortunately, those experts don’t know enough to determine appropriate policies.

Doctors, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, etc. know more things about diseases, their courses, what increases or decreases their rate of spread, and so on than most. But the most crucial of that information has been browbeaten into the rest of us by now. Limited and imperfect testing also means that the available statistics may be very misleading (e.g., is an uptick in reported cases real or the result of an increasing rate of, or more accuracy in, testing, which is crucial to determining the likely future course COVID-19?). Further, to the extent that the virus’s characteristics are unique, no one knows exactly what will happen. All of that makes “shut up and listen” advice less compelling.

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs. In particular, because of their relative unawareness of the many margins at which effects will be felt, the medical experts we are being told to follow will likely underestimate those costs. When combined with their natural desire to solve the medical problem, however severe it might get, this can lead to overly draconian proposals.

This issue has been brought to the fore by the increasing number of people who have begun questioning the likelihood of the apocalyptic scenarios driving the “OMG! We need to do everything that might help” tweetstorms, on the one hand, and those who are emphasizing that “shutting down the economy” is far more costly than planners recognized, on the other.

Those who have brought up such issues (how long before they are called “COVID deniers”?) have been pilloried for it. Exhibit A is the vilification of President Trump for “ignoring the scientists,” such as the New York Times‘s claim that “Trump thinks he knows better than the doctors” after he tweeted that “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

One major problem with such attacks is the substantial literature documenting the adverse health effects of worsening economic conditions. For just one example, an analysis of the 2008 economic meltdown in The Lancet estimated that it “was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD alone, between 2008–2010.” That is a massive “detail” to ignore in forming policy.

In other words, the tradeoff is not just a matter of lives lost versus money, as it is often portrayed as being (e.g., New York governor Cuomo’s assertion that “we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life”). It is a tradeoff between lives lost due to COVID and lives that will be lost due to the policies adopted to reduce COVID deaths.

Larry O’Connor put this well at Townhall when he wrote:

Why should the scientific analysis of doctors solely focusing on the spread of the coronavirus carry more weight than the very real scientific analysis of the deadly health ramifications of shutting down our economy? Doesn’t the totality of the data make the argument for a balanced approach to this crisis?

This issue reminds me of a classic discussion of specialists and planning in chapter 4 of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. “The Inevitability of Planning” is well worth noting today:

Almost every one of the technical ideals of our experts could be realized…if to achieve them were made the sole aim of humanity.

We all find it difficult to bear to see things left undone which everybody must admit are both desirable and possible. That these things cannot all be done at the same time, that any one of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others, can be seen only by taking into account factors which fall outside any specialism…[which] forces us to see against a wider background the objects to which most of our labors are directed.

Every one of the many things which, considered in isolation, it would be possible to achieve…creates enthusiasts for planning who feel confident…[of] the value of the particular objective…But it is…foolish to quote such instances of technical excellence in particular fields as evidence of the general superiority of planning.

The hopes they place in planning…are the result not of a comprehensive view of society but rather of a very limited view and often the result of a great exaggeration of the importance of the ends they place foremost…it would make the very men who are most anxious to plan society the most dangerous if they were allowed to do so—and the most intolerant of the planning of others…there could hardly be a more unbearable—and much more irrational—world than one in which the most eminent specialists in each field were allowed to proceed unchecked with the realization of their ideals.

Panic has seldom improved the rationality of decision-making (beyond the “fight or flight” reaction to facing a “man-eater,” when to stop and think means certain death). However, much of media coverage has fed panic. But the illogical and intemperate media attacks against those questioning the rationality of draconian “solutions” drown out, rather than enable, objective discussion of real tradeoffs. And if “Democracy dies in darkness,” as the Washington Post proclaims, we should remember that it does not require total darkness. The same conclusion follows when people are kept in the dark about major aspects of the reality they face.

 

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Trump and Pelosi Ready to Spend Another $2 Trillion on Infrastructure

Posted by M. C. on April 7, 2020

Sadly, a large quantity of Americans seem eager to take the fast lane on this road to serfdom, even as the economic and civil liberties restrictions pile up under the guise of a public health emergency.

https://www.theadvocates.org/2020/04/trump-and-pelosi-ready-to-spend-another-2-trillion-on-infrastructure/

Who says there’s not enough bipartisanship in Washington? President Donald Trump is praising House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and urging Congress to follow her lead by passing yet another $2 trillion coronavirus bill that would “invest” in infrastructure.

privacy coronavirus south korea 

What a sight to behold, a country in crisis inspires its leaders to come together for the common good. Even better, by forcing more debt and inflation on Americans, the economy can finally get roaring again!

That demented logic prevails in Washington, D.C., and the swamp-drainer-in-chief is no exception.

Fresh off signing the most expensive bill in American history, more than twice the cost of FDR’s New Deal, Trump is ready for whatever Pelosi throws at him next, as long as it also costs at least $2 trillion.

On Monday, Pelosi unveiled her wishlist for what she called “Phase 4” of Congress’s response to COVID-19. This fourth bill could very well be bigger than the previous three, setting a new price tag record.

The San Francisco Democrat listed “more direct payments,” “more opportunity for family and medical leave,” and an infrastructure megaproject.

“She wasn’t bad,” Trump tweeted after watching Pelosi’s press conference.

“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4,” Trump wrote, adopting Pelosi’s term for the forthcoming proposal.

Sadly, a large quantity of Americans seem eager to take the fast lane on this road to serfdom, even as the economic and civil liberties restrictions pile up under the guise of a public health emergency.

Economist Peter Schiff, who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, has been sounding the alarm that another crash is imminent since the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to zero, promising to monetize debt without restraint or limit.

“President @realDonaldTrump thinks it’s the perfect time for the government to borrow trillions more to improve our infrastructure. That’s like a guy who just lost his job deciding it’s the perfect time to take out a second mortgage to put in the swimming pool he’s always wanted,” Schiff tweeted.

To extend the analogy, Trump is gaining support for the project by promising the biggest pool party ever. All politicians and special interests are invited.

There is no opposition to this profligate spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just wants to wait “a few weeks” to see how the other $2.2 trillion stimulus bill plays out first.

It doesn’t actually matter what happens in a few weeks though. When government policies go horribly wrong, a bureaucrat knows that just means the policy wasn’t enacted with enough gusto.

The coronavirus pandemic remains the sole focus of the country to the detriment of the people. Worse than the disease is the government’s cure.

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‘The alleged cure is immensely worse than the disease’ – spiked

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2020

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/04/03/the-alleged-cure-is-immensely-worse-than-the-disease/

Peter Hitchens on the dangerous folly of the Covid-19 shutdown.

In the past few weeks, society has been shut down, the economy has been put on hold, and civil liberties have been curtailed in the name of fighting against coronavirus. There has been hardly any scrutiny of or opposition against these ever-stricter measures. Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has been one of the few dissenting voices in the media. He joined spiked editor Brendan O’Neill for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. What follows is an edited extract. Listen to the full conversation here.

Brendan O’Neill: We live in a country where parliament has been suspended, our most basic freedoms have been eroded, we are all virtually under house arrest, and there are a whole bunch of new rituals we all have to observe when we encounter other people, which is increasingly rare. Like me, are you a bit terrified by the speed and the ease with which Britain became this country?

Peter Hitchens: I wouldn’t say terrified – distressed and grieved, but not terrified. I am actually not shocked because in several controversies in recent years, where I have thought that the people of this country would stand against the way in which they were being bullied and messed around, I have noticed that there hasn’t been all that much spirit of liberty. I think there is an awful lot of conformism now in this country and people have accepted being pushed around.

I’m not sure parliament has been suspended exactly. It has just folded up or dissolved into a pool of blancmange. If it had any kind of leadership, it could insist on continuing to sit, just as it could have opposed the action or subjected it to anything remotely resembling scrutiny. But it just folded up and stole away in the night. All the institutions of civil society which are supposed to protect us did the same thing. The judiciary, the human-rights lot, the civil service, the media, parliament, Her Majesty’s Opposition and public opinion in general have simply failed to do their jobs. It has demonstrated that we don’t really have a civil society any longer.

In the Soviet Union, where I spent a lot of time, it was clear that there was only one official point of view and that people were being pushed around. I don’t recall ever being compelled to stay at home, and there was at least a pretence made of having a legislative body as well. But the point that strikes me here is that – particularly in the Eastern European countries, but also largely in Russia – most people regarded the Soviets’ rule with a certain amount of contempt and made jokes about it and realised they were being mocked and fooled. In this case, the population accepts what they are being told, without any question. It’s extraordinary. The old USSR would have loved to have had a population like that in the Western world and in the United Kingdom, which genuinely believes the propaganda and does what it is told. You could say, ‘The chocolate ration has gone up’, when in fact it has gone down and people will believe it.

‘In this lockdown, dissent is a moral duty’

Podcast

‘In this lockdown, dissent is a moral duty’

spiked

O’Neill: You have written some very solid pieces, questioning the need for this kind of shutdown. Let’s just talk for a moment about the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in. There is this novel virus, which undoubtedly causes great harm, especially to older people and to medically vulnerable people, and in response to it – which is unprecedented in human history – we have closed down virtually the whole of society and most of the economy, and in the process we have stored up immeasurable problems for the future. I think you have found it a bit of a struggle to convince people that this might not be the best way to tackle a virus?

Hitchens: It’s extraordinary. Again, the willingness of people to accept that ‘something must be done, and this is something, so we will do this’. The argument goes, ‘We have a problem, the way of solving it is to shut down the country and strangle civil liberties. Therefore, let’s do that.’

What I have been surprised by is how little examination there has been to whether there is any logic to this. It is as if you went to the doctor with measles and the doctor said that this was serious measles and the only treatment for it is to cut off your left leg. And he cuts off your left leg and then later on, you recover from the measles and he says, ‘This is fantastic. I’ve cured you of the measles, sorry about your leg.’ That is more or less what is going on now. We are being offered a supposed treatment which has nothing whatever to do with the problem.

Other countries have not resorted to these measures. We have modelled ourselves, bizarrely, on the most despotic country in the world, the People’s Republic of China, whose statistics are wholly unreliable and whose media are totally supine, so we can’t really know what is going on there. And in fact, all the countries which have had serious outbreaks of Covid-19, they have almost all reacted differently. Even Singapore and Hong Kong, which are widely praised for what they did, did different things. And yet, oddly enough, the results in Singapore and Hong Kong were quite similar. Japan has done something different. South Korea did something different. And again, the virus actually did not continue to grow at the rates which Imperial College apparently think are inevitable if we don’t shut down our society.

After the pandemic: whither capitalism?

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After the pandemic: whither capitalism?

Phil Mullan

Even if you went for the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that because A happened, and B happened after it, B happened because of A, there isn’t even a basis for that – let alone anything remotely resembling research showing a causal relationship between a Chinese-type shutdown and the defeat of the disease. There are rational responses to this. And of course it seems to me, the crucial test of any policy, and indeed almost any human action, is not absolute right or absolute wrong – which very rarely arises in practical life – it is proportionality. Is the action in proportion to the problem?

If you look at the past and the problems which this country and its medical system have almost every winter, for instance with influenza, the complications of it are considerable. In one year recently, 28,000 people died of influenza because the vaccines didn’t work and it was a particularly virulent strain. The average number who die of influenza every year is 17,000 in England alone, and this does not cause the country to be shut down. It is doubtless tragic for all those involved, but you can’t use emotionalism to justify policy.

I have a quote here from Jonathan Sumption’s interview on The World At One on Monday because it simply hasn’t been stressed enough in the coverage of what he said. They have gone on about what he said about the police, which was a marginal part of what he said. His key point was this:

‘The real question is, is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable, and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all?’

Actually, that’s exactly what I think. But I’m not a former Supreme Court judge. I’m not one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers. And I’m not one of Britain’s most distinguished historians. I’m not the deliverer of last year’s Reith Lectures. This is a perfectly valid sentiment expressed by somebody with considerable authority and wisdom. And it isn’t even reported by the media when he says it. They leave it out of the reports of what he says because no one is prepared to confront this.

There is an omertà – a total, supine, consensus over this matter. The complete failure to debate it is astonishing to me. And it’s the lack of proportion that Sumption is stressing there. Even if this were an effective policy, could it possibly be justified, given the disastrous results?

As I say, if you had a disease from which you might or might not recover, and you were offered the amputation of all four of your limbs, and perhaps your head, and were asked to sign a consent form, you would probably say no, even if it would kill you, because you would recognise that the cure was worse than the disease – a phrase which repeatedly occurs to me, even though Donald Trump has used it, which always puts people off. But it is the case.

The alleged cure – and it is only alleged in this case – is immensely worse than the disease, because what happens to a society which trashes its economy? I will tell you what happens. It is unable to afford proper health provision, all of its standards decline, its food gets worse, its air quality gets worse, its housing gets worse, its water quality gets worse, and everybody gets iller.

The other point is one made by the extraordinary Professor Sucharit Bhakdi of Mainz University in Germany, an absolute genius in the microbiological method, who is utterly against these measures. He has said, what about the healthy old now they have been deprived of all the things that make life worth living? He reckons that this shutting down of their lives will be catastrophic, and almost certainly cause large numbers of deaths. So you can’t just say, ‘Oh, you don’t care about people dying’. That’s not what the argument is about. I care about people dying unnecessarily as much as anybody else, and my motives are as good as anybody else’s. It is just that my emotions are also driven by more intelligent thought, more reason and a better grasp of the facts.

O’Neill: I think Sumption’s intervention was very useful for a number of reasons. But one of them is what you have just touched upon, which is this really poisonous accusation that has been made against anyone who criticises the shutdown of society, which is, ‘You don’t care about old people,’ or even, ‘You want old people to die.’

Hitchens: Well, during the Iraq War, if you said, ‘Actually this war is wrong’, people said, ‘Oh, so you support Saddam Hussein’s fascist regime, do you? You believe that Saddam should be allowed to torture people, do you? That’s the sort of person you are, are you?’. And because of that shutting down of serious debate on a major matter, I think this should probably be called VMD – the virus of mass destruction. It is so very similar in the attempts to crush dissent.

O’Neill: They make this completely false distinction. They say this is a question of lives versus the economy. They talk about the economy as if it’s just some kind of abstract machine, just numbers and money and profits, when in fact the economy is people’s lives and their livelihoods. It’s how we create things, it’s how we produce things. Dr John Lee made a very good point in the Spectator, which is that this is lives versus lives. And that’s the kind of debate we need to be having.

Hitchens: That’s assuming, again, that the fundamental premise that shutting down the country will do any good is true, which I believe, is seriously in doubt. I’m a Christian, and there’s this wonderful part of the scriptures in which we are said to live and move and have our being in God. But in a material way, we live and move and have our being in the economy. If nobody is buying, if nobody is selling, if nobody is working, if nobody is serving, if nobody is being served, then there is nowhere for people to live, how do we pay for our houses and our meals? How do we raise our children? How do we support an education system? How do we pay doctors or build hospitals? If we have no economy at the moment, I would reckon, if we could only know the sums, we are probably throwing three or four district general hospitals into the sea or their equivalents in money every week.

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Don’t Give Politicians Credit for a Growing Economy | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2019

“It is hardly possible to misrepresent in a more thorough way the fundamental facts of economics. The average standard of living is in this country higher than in any other country of the world, not because the American statesmen and politicians are superior to the foreign statesmen and politicians, but because the per-head quota of capital invested is in America higher than in other countries. Average output per man-hour is in this country higher than in other countries…… because the American plants are equipped with more efficient tools and machines.”

https://mises.org/wire/dont-give-politicians-credit-growing-economy

“One of the amazing phenomena of the present election campaign is the way in which speakers and writers refer to the state of business and to the economic condition of the nation. They praise the administration for the prosperity and for the high standard of living of the average citizen ‘You never had it so good,’ they say, and, ‘Don’t let them take it away.’”

The above statement sounds like something Republicans say in supporting Donald Trump for reelection. The White House proclaims the successes of the Trump economy while those who side with the Democrats say that Obama should also be given credit for any current economic successes. Both sides give presidents too much credit for our standard of living.

However, the quote above comes from a speech that Ludwig von Mises gave in October 1952. As with so much of Mises’ work, this speech is timeless. Much of this talk, “Capital Supply and American Prosperity,” applies to current events.

It’s true that government policy affects the economy. And Trump should get credit if any of his policies have reduced the governmental burden on our businesses. But the fundamental reason wages in the U.S. are higher than in most countries is not because of marginal policy changes. Our economic well-being is largely due to our capital accumulation, not the benevolence of our elected officials.

In this speech, Mises hammers away at this point, “It is implied that the increase in the quantity and the improvement in the quality of products available for consumption are achievements of a paternal government. The incomes of the individual citizens are viewed as handouts graciously bestowed upon them by a benevolent bureaucracy.”

This statement reminds me of the recent Democratic debates where the candidates were each trying to outdo one another with promises of new programs of federal largesse. They seem to believe that all of our economic problems are due to ungenerous government officials. The current federal budget deficits demonstrate the fallacy of this position.

Mises continues,

“It is hardly possible to misrepresent in a more thorough way the fundamental facts of economics. The average standard of living is in this country higher than in any other country of the world, not because the American statesmen and politicians are superior to the foreign statesmen and politicians, but because the per-head quota of capital invested is in America higher than in other countries. Average output per man-hour is in this country higher than in other countries…… because the American plants are equipped with more efficient tools and machines.”

That’s right. Our economic prosperity is due to our capital accumulation. And why do American businesses have so much capital? “Capital is more plentiful in America than it is in other countries because up to now the institutions and laws of the United States put fewer obstacles in the way of big-scale capital accumulation than did those foreign countries.”

But why did this happen in the U.S.? How do we account for our economic prosperity? The answer: capitalism.

“What begot modern industrialization and the unprecedented improvement in material conditions that it brought about was neither capital previously accumulated nor previously assembled technological knowledge…. the early pioneers of capitalism started with scanty capital and scanty technological experience. At the outset of industrialization was the philosophy of private enterprise and initiative, and the practical application of this ideology made the capital swell and the technological know-how advance and ripen.

“One must stress this point because its neglect misleads the statesmen of all backward nations in their plans for economic improvement. They think that industrialization means machines and textbooks of technology. In fact, it means economic freedom that creates both capital and technological knowledge.” (Italics added for emphasis.)

Mises also provides us with a stern warning that we face dire consequences if we destroy the engine of capital accumulation:

“The main problem for this country is: will the United States follow the course of the economic policies adopted by almost all foreign nations, even by many of those which had been foremost in the evolution of capitalism. Up to now in this country the amount of savings and formation of new capital still exceeds the amount of dissaving and decumulation of capital. Will this last?”

Mises provides us with the answer: “One must substitute sound economic ideas for fables and illusions.” We must influence public opinion. We must promote capitalism. We must explain the necessity of having economic freedom and free enterprise. In short, we must popularize Misesian ideas.

But what about income inequality? Won’t some people suffer under capitalism? Again, Mises provides us with an answer to this question.

“There are, of course, also Americans whose material conditions appear unsatisfactory when compared with those of the great majority of the nation. Some authors of novels and plays would have us believe that their gloomy descriptions of the lot of this unfortunate minority is representative of the fate of the common man under capitalism. They are mistaken. The plight of these wretched Americans is rather representative of conditions as they prevailed everywhere in the pre-capitalistic ages and still prevail in the countries which were either not at all or only superficially touched by capitalism. What is wrong with these people is that they have not yet been integrated into the frame of capitalist production. Their penury is a remnant of the past. The progressive accumulation of new capital and the expansion of big-scale production will eradicate it by the same methods by means of which it has already improved the standard of living of the immense majority, viz., by raising the per-head quota of capital invested and thereby the marginal productivity of labor.”

Yes, a capitalist society will have income inequality. In order to help the poor we must build and maintain institutions that promote capital formation. Redistributionist solutions to reduce income inequality will continue to destroy capital formation trapping more people in poverty.

This wonderful essay, “Capital Supply and American Prosperity,” can be found in one of my favorite short books, Mises’ Planning for Freedom: Let the Market System Work . If you haven’t read this compilation of essays, I recommend that you add it to your reading list.

 

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Agriculture Is Only a Tiny Part of America’s Economy — And That’s a Good Thing | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2019

A century later, 3 million were employed on farms, while the USDA employed 105,000 workers. This increase in agency size represents the Federal government’s increasingly regulatory stance in the US economy.

https://mises.org/wire/agriculture-only-tiny-part-americas-economy-%E2%80%94-and-thats-good-thing

For decades, politicians and pundits in political media alike have said that the American farming and ranching industries are vital to our nation and must be protected from “unfair” competition and the threat of going out of business. This belief often materializes in the form of legislative or executive action undertaken by the government.

The federal government has long sought to promote the health of these industries, employing pro-farming policies since the days of FDR’s New Deal. These programs survive to this day, being expanded from their initial scope or their original sentiments reimposed through new acts of Congress. Strangely enough, this bureaucratic expansion occurs despite American agriculture output declining over the course of America’s existence.

Output Declines, Government Grows

Since 1900, the number of American farms in operation has fallen 63 percent. In 1930, agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP sat at a sizeable 7.7 percent — by 2002, agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP was a mere 0.7 percent. This 7 percent decrease signals the adoption of a new role in the world economy by the US.

The US now imports a large percentage of the fresh vegetables and produce it sells — while in 1975 the proportion of fresh fruit sold in the United States that was imported was 23 percent, it reached 51.3 percent in 2016.

ndri1.png

Source: New York Times

Domestic vegetable and fruit producers are being supplanted in the market by producers from countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. The City University of New York’s Urban Food Policy Institute reports: “…since the NAFTA Trade Agreement in 1994, U.S. consumption of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, limes, berries, avocados and mangos imported from Mexico is way up and still rising.”

Clearly, increased trade is impacting America’s agriculture sector. Surely then, the government’s relationship with the industry must be changing as well. Logic would suggest that the USDA and its subordinate agencies are laying off employees and reducing their size and scope in response to the decline of America’s beloved industry.

In reality, this is not the case. In 1900, 11 million Americans were employed on farms and 2,900 employed by the USDA. A century later, 3 million were employed on farms, while the USDA employed 105,000 workers. This increase in agency size represents the Federal government’s increasingly regulatory stance in the US economy.

Agriculture’s Death is Good News

How could an industry’s death spell prosperity for a nation? While the number of people employed in farming and similar occupations dwindled from 11 million in 1900 to 2.6 million in 2017, employment in STEM (science, technology, engineer, and math) occupations has grown 79 percent between 1990 and 2016 — increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million. The US economy is transitioning away from producing in primary and secondary level industries like agriculture and related enterprises such as food processing and packaging.

The reduction in the number of people employed in agriculture and related jobs shows that America is actually abandoning low paying jobs. Compared to STEM jobs, occupations in the primary or secondary sectors of the economy tend to pay a very low wage. Farm hands and field laborers, who are often poor immigrants, are paid below minimum wage to perform tasks that take a significant toll on their bodies. Difficult manual labor poses both short-term and long-term risks to workers’ health, compared to the almost complete lack of health detriments presented by jobs in STEM fields. These agricultural jobs tend also to be seasonal. Workers will only have a secure source of income for between 3 and 6 months per year, depending on where they work, due to the fact that crops cannot be grown year round.

As the economy sheds the last remnants of its agricultural-centric past, new jobs are being created in new industries at a rapid pace. Occupations in the tertiary and quaternary sectors are far more beneficial to society and individuals, as they provide higher wages, a more stable source of income, and employment year round. In a bid to attract workers to fill positions, companies often offer benefits such as childcare and healthcare plans as part of an offer of employment. It is very obvious that we should seek to employ as many people as possible in tertiary and quaternary sector industries.

Primary and secondary products will never lose value. Humans will always have a need to consume agricultural products and build devices and structures from raw materials that are finished through secondary sector activities. As the US economy begins to be largely constructed of tertiary and quaternary economic activities, these lower-level processes will simply be outsourced to less developed countries.

Outsourcing: Oppression or Opportunity?

Since their ideology became a force in the mainstream a decade ago, the rallying cry of political leftists has been to stand for those being oppressed, exploited, or victimized by the status quo. The advancement of technology has meant that industrialization, combined with other factors, has left certain nations behind. Third world economies are not nearly as developed as their first world counterparts, with a bulk of their economic activity taking place in the primary and secondary sectors. These leftists take an anti-trade stance, positing that the outsourcing of production to less developed nations is capitalistic exploitation.

“Exploitation” Actually Benefits All Parties Involved

While it is true that a business owner may outsource simple manufacturing processes to countries where they may hire workers at cheaper wages, it is also true that the workers hired benefit from this self-interested move. The reason workers choose to work in these plants and industries is that they provide the best possible way to make money to the worker. If a corporation goes to a less developed nation and is able to hire 5,000 workers to work for them, it means that the firm is now offering the best employment opportunity in the country to 5,000 workers. Prior to the company’s arrival, laborers were likely making less money than they now do and working in worse conditions. Otherwise, why would they choose to work for the new company? Their condition has obviously been improved by the opening of a plant by a foreign capitalist…

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To Save Humanity, Stop Caring About So Many Problems | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on October 14, 2018

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/to-save-humanity-stop-caring-about-so-many-problems/

Why does it suck to be around someone who is always complaining?

Because they are “centralizing” their problems to the group.

We all get annoyed by things. But when people broadcast what annoys them, they force everyone around them to share in their annoyance.

So then, not only do we feel annoyed by whatever naturally irks us, but we also are forced to feel annoyed by the other person’s complaints.

By sharing their complaint with others, they have increased the overall annoyance of the group.

Instead of being annoyed for five minutes by my own problems, I am annoyed for ten minutes. Five minutes by the complaints I keep in my head, and five minutes by their complaints they force into my ears.

There are a lot of problems in the world. You can’t care about all of them.

And if you try, you will probably feel overwhelmed, depressed, and powerless.

Yet we rely on big centralized institutions like national media, national politics, and national monetary policy.

This produces the same result as our complaining acquaintances.

They force problems on all of us that really shouldn’t affect 320 million Americans from coast to coast. Read the rest of this entry »

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America’s Share of the World Economy

Posted by M. C. on March 1, 2017

http://www.garynorth.com/public/16285.cfm

Things aren’t so bad. 

Big bad Russia’s economy is the size of S Korea, smaller than Italy.

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