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Tyrants With Pens – Taki’s Magazine – Taki’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on January 29, 2020

I find it strange that today’s writers resemble dictators of the past in their unwillingness to accept opinions contrary to their own.

https://www.takimag.com/article/tyrants-with-pens/

Taki

Did any of you know that most of the 20th-century monsters—Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Ceausescu, Duvalier, and even the Ethiopian mini-Napoleon Mengistu—were rather good writers who could form better-than-average sentences that said that power grew out of the barrel of a gun? I read this in a Big Bagel weekly that was once known for its wit but is now so blinded by hate against The Donald that it’s turned into a rag, surpassed in venom only by The New York Times and CNN. I knew that Mussolini was a scribbler of notes because he wrote the editorials of his newspaper Il Popolo before he took power. “Inequality and discipline, these are the substitutes for the cries of Equality and Liberty,” wrote Il Duce. That’s telling them, Benito—them being all those American Times hacks like the lachrymose Roger Cohen and the lugubrious Paul Krugman, who as I write are undergoing nonstop colonoscopies in order to cleanse their brains of depression following the British election. Professor Klinghoffer, who is administering the procedure in his Austrian clinic, told me that the more he studies the Cohen-Krugman gray matter, the closer he’s getting to proving his theory that only people who have shit for brains can work for The New York Times.

Mind you, one never knows why some people write well and others bludgeon sentences like those men and women at The New York Times. I suppose hate for the Orange Man clouds their noggins, but then how come a monster like Stalin could write like the proverbial dream? Hitler put down “writer” as his occupation while starving and unemployed in Vienna. The two good dictators, Franco and Salazar, kept their scribbling to a minimum, as good dictators should. But I still find it amazing that Stalin loved books and plays and befriended playwrights and offered valid criticisms to prominent writers. And, when not reading or offering advice and criticism, murdered anywhere from 30 to 100 million innocent human beings.

“I find it strange that today’s writers resemble dictators of the past in their unwillingness to accept opinions contrary to their own.”

I find it strange that today’s writers resemble dictators of the past in their unwillingness to accept opinions contrary to their own. Especially in America, where different views from those of the academe or the media are strictly verboten, and we the people have to view the world through a similar lens as they do—or else. It is probably the greatest irony ever: We fought a seventy-year battle against a totalitarian system that prohibited free speech, and having won it, we adopted the very system we defeated and imposed it on ourselves. The easiest way of shutting down free speech is by using the R-word. Call someone a racist and all doors close, and needless to say no smug progressive, no arch feminist, no super-woke riffraff has failed to use it at the slightest disagreement. It’s the easiest way to impose one’s opinion since the advent of the Colt 45.

Actually we live in an age where people want to cancel other people out, to disappear them. No one ever feared Torquemada or Savonarola as much as they fear the Twitter mob today. The ultra-woke protect their sensibilities with trigger warnings, safe spaces, and crying rooms. Freedom-loving folk like yours truly are seen as freaks and fascists, long past our sell-by date. Tarzan, too, is a goner. He just got canceled back in Westchester County, N.Y. A school was planning to perform a Disney version of the jungle classic, but it was nixed after two parents blasted the play as imperialist. A white man as the king of the jungle in Africa, that’s like singing “Springtime for Hitler” for real.

Basically it is the mainstream media in America and the BBC in the U.K. that has pushed our culture way to the left. There was a time not so long ago when a Puccini opera like Turandot did not need to mask what today is considered racist, Ping, Pang, and Pong changed to Jim, Bob, and Bill, Chinese costumes into black suits, effeminate Asian men ordered not to prance around on stage. Opera is accused of a racist, sexist past. All I can say is where is Don Giovanni to run all these crapulous woke bums who come up with such crap through and through with his sword once and for all? Some bloody Chinese woman was recently screaming her head off against poor old Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of a Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What is next, outlawing history?

Which of course brings me to Meghan and Harry Markle. Some nonentity who goes by the name of Afua wrote that Brexit was the culprit behind their leaving: “It emboldened people who advocated for a national identity and a return to the imperial past.” Now she tells us, who knew? Actually, Meghan and Harry Markle are now free to focus on abortions for men who have transitioned to be women and other such causes. Yippee! And I can focus on Reza Aslan’s nose. He’s the CNN hack who said about a young white Catholic boy who was waiting for a bus when he was attacked by a group of minority thugs, “Have you ever seen a more punchable face?” The boy was wearing a MAGA cap. Aslan has the most punchable nose ever, and I’d love to show you how punchable, if I can ever find the bum among the garbage he hangs out with.

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Still Fighting the Last War Against Socialism | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on November 16, 2019

Even in the midst of almost unimaginable material comforts made possible only by markets and entrepreneurs—both derided by socialists—we cannot manage to conclusively defeat the tired but deadly old arguments for collective ownership of capital.

https://mises.org/power-market/still-fighting-last-war-against-socialism

Jeff Deist

Why does support for socialism persist?

The short answer may be simple human nature, our natural tendency toward dissatisfaction with the present and unease about the future. Even in the midst of almost unimaginable material comforts made possible only by markets and entrepreneurs—both derided by socialists—we cannot manage to conclusively defeat the tired but deadly old arguments for collective ownership of capital. We’re so rich that socialists imagine the material wealth all around us will continue to organize itself magically, regardless of incentives.

It’s a vexing problem, and not an academic one. Millions of young people across America and the West consider socialism a viable and even noble approach to organizing society, literally unaware of the piles of bodies various socialist governments produced in the 20th century. The fast-growing Democratic Socialists of America, led by media darlings Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, now enjoy cool kid status. Open socialist Bernie Sanders very nearly won the Democratic Party’s 2016 nominee for president before being kneecapped by the Clinton machine. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio helpfully announces “there is plenty of money in this city, it’s just in the wrong hands.” He freely and enthusiastically champions confiscation and redistribution of wealth without injury to his political popularity.

Rand Paul and Thomas Massie are outliers on the Right. Ocasio-Cortez and de Blasio are not outliers on the Left.

How is this possible, even as markets and semi-capitalism lift millions out of poverty? Why does socialism keep cropping up, and why do many well-intentioned (and ill-intentioned) people keep falling for something so patently evil and unworkable? Why do some battles have to be fought over and over?

The Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin War fell decades ago. The Eastern Bloc discovered western consumerism, and liked it. Bill Clinton declared the era of Big Government over, and Francis Fukuyama absurdly pronounced that Western ideology had forever won the day. Even China and Cuba eventually succumbed to pressure for greater economic freedoms, not because of any ideological shift but because it became impossible to hide the reality of capitalist wealth abroad.

Yet economic freedom and property rights are under assault today in the very Western nations that became rich because of them.

Today’s socialists insist their model society would look like Sweden or Denmark; not the USSR or Nazi Germany or Venezuela. They merely want fairness and equality, free healthcare and schooling, an end to “hoarded” wealth, and so forth. And they don’t always advocate for or even know the textbook definition of socialism, as professors Benjamin Powell and Robert Lawson learned by attending socialist conferences (see their new book Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World). In many cases young people think socialism simply means a happy world where people are taken care of.

Never mind the Scandinavian countries in question insist they are not socialist, never mind the atrocities of Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot, and never mind the overwhelming case made by Ludwig von Mises and others against central economic planning. Without private owners, without capital at risk, without prices, and especially without profit and loss signals, economies quickly become corrupted and serve only the political class. Nicolás Maduro feasts while poor Venezuelans eat dogs, but of course this isn’t “real” socialism.

History and theory don’t matter to socialists because they imagine society can be engineered. The old arguments and historical examples simply don’t apply: even human nature is malleable, and whenever our stubborn tendencies don’t comport with socialism’s grand plans a “social construct” is to blame.

These most recent spasms of support for the deadly ideology of socialism remind us that progressives aren’t kidding. They may not fully understand what socialism means, but they fully intend to bring it about. Single-payer health care, “free” education, wealth redistribution schemes, highly progressive income taxes, wealth taxes, gun bans, and radical curbs on fossil fuels are all on the immediate agenda. They will do this quickly if possible, incrementally if they have to (see, again, the 20th century). They will do it with or without popular support, using legislatures, courts and judges, supranational agencies,university indoctrination, friendly media, or whatever political, economic, or social tools it takes (including de-platforming and hate speech laws). This is not paranoia; all of this is openly discussed. And say what you will about progressivism, it does have a central if false ethos: egalitarianism.

Conservatives, by contrast, are not serious. They have no animating spirit. They don’t much talk about liberty or property or markets or opportunity. They don’t mean what they say about the Constitution, they won’t do a thing to limit government, they won’t touch entitlements or defense spending, they won’t abolish the Department of Education or a single federal agency, they won’t touch abortion laws, and they sure won’t give up their own socialist impulses. Trumpism, though not conservative and thoroughly non-intellectual, drove a final stake through the barely beating heart of Right intellectualism, from the Weekly Standard to National Review. Conservatism today is incoherent, both ideologically and tactically incapable of countering the rising tide of socialism.

Generals always fight the last war, and politics is no different. We all tend to see the current political climate in terms of old and familiar divisions, long-faded alliances, and obsolete rhetoric. We all cling to the comfortable ideology and influences that help us make sense of a chaotic world. As one commenter recently put it, liberal Baby Boomers still think it’s 1968 and conservative Baby Boomers still think it’s 1985. Generation X and Millennials will exhibit the same blinders. It may be disheartening to keep fighting what should be a long-settled battle against socialism, but today we have no other choice.

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'Welcome to 'All Sides of the Issues.' Here's our panel of commentators -- a communist, a socialist, a liberal, and a progressive....'

 

 

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The World’s Least-Free Countries Reveal Just How Much “Socialism Sucks” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 15, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/worlds-least-free-countries-reveal-just-how-much-socialism-sucks?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=b832e6eb69-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-b832e6eb69-228343965

[Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World. By Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell.  Regnery Publishing, 2019. 192 pages.]

Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell are well-known free market economists, and they do not look with favor on a disturbing trend among American young people. “In the spring of 2016,” they tell us, “a Harvard survey found that a third of eighteen-to twenty-nine year olds supported socialism. Another survey, from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, reported that millennials supported socialism over any other economic system.” (p.8)

Unfortunately, the young people in question have little idea of the nature of socialism. Lawson and Powell would like to remedy this situation, but they confront a problem. Ordinarily, one would urge students to read Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Mises’s “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth,” and similar classic works, in order to understand the basic facts about the free market and socialism, but the millennials are unlikely to do so. One must attract their attention. What can be done?

Lawson and Powell have had the happy idea of presenting elementary economics in a humorous way that will appeal to those “turned off” by serious and sober scholarship. In the latter adjective lies the key to their approach. Both of the authors enjoy drinking beer, and they travel around the world to various socialist countries in pursuit of their beloved beverage, making incisive comments about the economy of each country as they do so. They write in a salty style that will make millennials laugh, though some readers will find it jarring.

For the young, “socialism” means no more than vague ideas about “fairness”, but, the authors note, the term has a precise meaning: “To separate the state from socialism in any large society is like trying to separate private property from capitalism. It can’t be done. I’ll say it once more for the people in the back: socialism, in practice, means that the state owns and controls the means of production.” (p.128) No country is completely socialist, but some are more socialist than others. How can the degree of socialism be evaluated? Lawson has, along with James Gwartney, produced an annual economic freedom index for the Fraser Institute, which the authors use to answer this question, sometimes with surprising results.

Many professed socialists look to Sweden for inspiration, but according to the freedom index, “Sweden gets a 7.54 rating, which is good enough for twenty-seventh place out of the 159 countries in the study. . .Bottom line: Sweden is a prosperous, mostly capitalist country.” (pp.10-11)…

If some people admire Sweden, few except fanatics have good words for the economy of Cuba. Nevertheless, must we not recognize the wonders accomplished by the Cuban socialized medicine? We must give the devil his due. Lawson and Powell are not convinced. “Official Cuban health statistics are impressive. . .Yet, we also know that the hospitals most Cubans use are so poorly equipped that people often have to bring their own sheets. What gives? The silence [on the streets} is part of the answer. The lack of automobiles means a lack of traffic fatalities. Since automobile accidents are a leading cause of death among younger people, the lack of automobiles has a disproportionate impact on life expectancy statistics for reasons that have nothing to do with health care. The low rate of infant mortality is a product of data manipulation.” (p.53)

Why has Cuban socialism, like all other centralized socialist economies, failed? The authors present with great clarity the essential point: “’[A]lmost a hundred years ago, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism, even if run by benevolent despots and populated with workers willing to work for the common good, could still not match capitalism’s performance. Socialism requires abolishing private property in the means of production. But private property is necessary to have the free exchange of labor, capital, and goods that establish proper prices. Without proper prices, socialist planners could not know which consumer goods were needed or how best to produce them. . .Socialism also gives tremendous power to government officials and bureaucrats who are the system’s planners—and with that power comes corruption, abuse, and tyranny.” (p.37)

Socialist tyrants were the greatest mass murderers in history, and the young must be apprised of this melancholy fact. “Stalin ranks just behind Mao as history’s second greatest mass murderer, with Hitler coming in third—and all three dictators were, of course, committed socialists of one sort or another.” (p.115)…

It is not only the drug war, but the war on terror as well, that ought to be condemned, and here once more, the many millennials who protested against the war are in the right. “We feel the same about the war on terror. The wars and violence associated with it in the Middle East are a major reason for Europe’s immigration wave. . .advocates for capitalism can be against war precisely because war undermine capitalist institutions and freedoms.. . .Chris Coyne wrote a book entitled After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy, in which he shows that when the U.S. engages in foreign intervention, it rarely creates the kind of lasting institutional change that supports what some might call a ‘neoliberal’ society. Economist Robert Higgs’s classic book, Crisis and Leviathan, shows how crises in the United States, especially wars, have led to expanded government at the expense of markets. Chris’s latest book, Tyranny Come Hone: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, co-authored with another friend of ours, Abby Hall, has shown how U.S. military interventions abroad ‘boomerang’ back to the United States in ways that decrease our freedoms at home. See, anti-war isn’t a uniquely leftist position. Capitalists should be anti-war too.” (pp.136-137. I regret the use of “neoliberal” as a term of praise and the solecism “advocates for.”)

I confess that I approached the authors’ project of a drinking tour of the socialist countries with skepticism. Would it be more than ajeu d’esprit? Reading the book has laid my skepticism to rest. Socialism Sucks has the potential to do great good, if it gets into the right hands, and its impressive sales suggest that it will do so.

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Sean Penn

The Dumb and Dumber of economics

 

 

 

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