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Posts Tagged ‘Murray Rothbard’

Rothbard on Today’s Progressive War Jingoism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 18, 2022

Today, as always, the real antiwar movement finds its traction far outside the Beltway and the commentariat. Average people, less affluent and war weary after our two decades in the Middle East, dare to worry more about gas prices and rent than Ukraine. Trump listened to those people. Will Joe Biden? Or will he succumb to the modern-day Walter Lippmanns? 

https://mises.org/wire/rothbard-todays-progressive-war-jingoism

Jeff Deist

Readers of Murray Rothbard’s articles and speeches on war collectivism will immediately recognize the progressive pietist fervor surrounding today’s progressive war jingoism: everywhere is Ukraine! The atavistic need to analogize today’s situation to 1938, with Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler and war skeptics as Neville Chamberlain at Munich, is proof of this. The lessons of 1914, where a series of tragic blunders turned a regional conflict into a conflagration across Europe, are far more apposite.

The obvious interest for the US is containment of the war as a terrible but internecine (and ongoing) fight between Russians and Ukrainians. Absent what ought to be defunct obligations to nearby NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries, absolutely no US role should be remotely contemplated.

The war chorus, however, is not to be underestimated. It sings loudest from the neoconservative Left.

Outlets like The BulwarkThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, Fox News, and MSNBC are all natural habitats for the war promoters seeking to sit on Joe Biden’s shoulder and yell in his ear. Will the president, reeling from bad poll numbers and bad economic news at home, succumb to the voices urging escalation and promising the glory to a strong commander in chief?

To date, Biden’s public statements have been reasonably reassuring. He earlier insisted no US troops would be sent into the country and has repeated this since. A proposed three-way deal—sending American F-16 fighters to the Poles, freeing up their Soviet MiGs for Ukrainian pilots—appears to have been scuttled over fears of escalation. The establishment of a no-fly zone in Ukraine, which would compel NATO (including US) pilots to intercept and destroy Russian fighters and bombers, is off the table for now.

But Biden’s disastrous trip to address NATO in Brussels last week resulted in several gaffes that raise questions as to his real thinking. Is regime change the real but unstated US policy for Russia? Did he misspeak when telling members of the Eighty-Second Airborne what they might “see” in Ukraine? Getting rid of Putin is no easy task, and an old-fashioned land war in Eastern Europe with a nuclear foe is an unbelievably daunting notion. Does he face the same kinds of active insubordination from war hawks in his own cabinet, Pentagon, Joint Chiefs, and CIA that plagued JFK and Donald Trump? Is he falling prey to the Victoria Nuland wing of the State Department?

See the rest here

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The Broken Window Fallacy Reapplied

Posted by M. C. on June 14, 2022

Both Bastiat and Hazlitt saw that the government is the great window breaker, that destroyer of wealth that drives the economy backwards. The engine of creativity, recovery, and expansion is the private sector, completely unencumbered by state intervention. Ron Paul’s newest book is called Pillars of Prosperity: Free Markets, Sound Money, and Private Property. The title nicely sums up the message of the economics of freedom.

https://mises.org/library/broken-window-fallacy-reapplied

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

The claim of the Austrian School that has scandalized members of other schools for 150 years is the following. The propositions of economics are universal. The principles apply in all times and all places, because they derive from the structure of reality and human action.

What brought about economic growth, inflation, or the business cycle in China in 300 BC are the same institutions that drive phenomena in the United States in AD 2008. The circumstances of time and place change, but the underlying economic reality is identical.

That claim has made other economists—to say nothing of sociologists, historians, and politicians—scatter like pigeons. The Historical School poured scorn on this idea, and Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School, fought them tooth and nail. The Chicago School of positivists found the claim preposterous, and Mises and Hayek and Rothbard battled them. The Keynesians have long been outraged, and the postwar Austrian generation reasserted the truth. The socialists, who posit that rearranging property titles will transform all of reality, say that the claim is absurd, capitalistic nonsense.

But there it stands. No matter where or when, the essential prerequisite for economic growth is capital accumulation in a framework of freedom and sound money. The consequence of price control is shortage and surplus. The effect of money expansion is inflation and the business cycle. The effect of every form of intervention is to make society less prosperous than it would otherwise be.

The list of universals is endless, which is why every age needs good economists to explain and articulate the truth.

Well, I would like to add that there are universal fallacies too.

Frédéric Bastiat pointed to one: the belief that the destruction of wealth fuels its creation. He explains this by means of an allegory that has come to be known as the story of the broken window. Most famously it was retold as the opening of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, which is probably the bestselling economics book of all time.

A kid throws a rock at a window and breaks it, and everyone standing around regrets the unfortunate state of affairs. But then up walks a man who purports to be wise and all knowing. He points out that this is not a bad thing after all. The man fixing the window will get money for doing so. This will then be spent on a new suit, and the tailor too will get money. The tailor will spend money on other items, and the circle of rising prosperity will expand without end.

What’s wrong with this scenario? As Bastiat put it, “It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way which this accident has prevented.”

You can see the absurdity of the position of the wise commentator when you take it to absurd extremes. If the broken window really produces wealth, why not break all windows up and down the whole city block? Indeed, why not break doors and walls? Why not tear down all houses so that they can be rebuilt? Why not bomb whole cities so construction firms can get busy rebuilding?

It is not a good thing to destroy wealth. Bastiat puts it this way: “Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed.”

It sounds like an unexceptional claim. But herein rests the core case against everything the government does. Perhaps, then, we can see why the allegory is not better known. If we took it seriously, we would dismantle the whole apparatus of American economic intervention.

See the rest here

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Rothbard vs. the Religion of Progressivism

Posted by M. C. on June 11, 2022

Despite these superficial deviations, progressives are Marxist to the core because they fervently believe in the Enlightenment myth of inevitable progress toward an ideal society. Therefore, as Rothbard points out, progressivism is “‘religion’ in the deepest sense, held on faith: the view that the inevitable goal of history is a perfect world, an egalitarian socialist world, a Kingdom of God on Earth.”

https://mises.org/wire/rothbard-vs-religion-progressivism

Joseph T. Salerno

Our main text for the Rothbard Graduate Seminar this week is Murray Rothbard’s Power and Market: Government and the Economy, which contains a systematic treatment of one area of economic theory, interventionism. This represents a departure from past seminars in an important respect. Earlier seminars focused on texts by Mises or Rothbard that addressed a much broader scope of their thought. Previous seminar texts such as Man, Economy, and State and Human Action cover the entirety of economic theory. Human Action, in addition, features a full treatment of methodology as well as discussions of epistemology, political philosophy, and economic history. Other texts used at earlier Rothbard Graduate Seminars such as The Ethics of Liberty and Economic Controversies are also broad in scope, containing, respectively, Rothbard’s systematic presentation of his political philosophy and a broad spectrum of his essays on theoretical and applied economics.

This week’s RGS deliberately focuses on the much narrower topic of interventionism, because it is the economic program of progressivism, the prevailing ideology of the twenty-first century. Progressivism attained this position after a leftist “long march” through Western educational, cultural, religious, economic, and political institutions, which began shortly after World War II, gained momentum during the 1960s, and rapidly accelerated in the 1980s. In a prescient memo written shortly after the war, Ludwig von Mises pointed out that the essence of the progressive policy agenda is interventionism. Mises called the teachings of progressives, “a garbled mixture of divers particles of heterogeneous doctrines incompatible with one another.” He included Marxism, British Fabianism, and the Prussian historical school in this doctrinal witch’s brew. Whatever the differences among them, however, all progressives were passionately united on two points. First, they believed that “contradictions and evils are . . . inherent in capitalism.” And second, they argued that the only way to root out the inequities and irrationalities of capitalism and transform it into a more humane and rational system was by imposing the program of interventionism laid out by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto. As Mises pointed out, “the Communist Manifesto is for [progressives] both manual and holy writ, the only reliable source of information about mankind’s future as well as the ultimate code of political conduct.”

To be clear, the gradualist, interventionist path to socialism laid out in The Communist Manifesto was explicitly rejected in the later writings of Marx as “petty-bourgeois nonsense.” The later Marx advocated permitting the conditions of revolution to ripen until the continuing immiseration of the workers, worsening economic crises, and concentration of capital in fewer and fewer hands caused the proletariat to rise up and destroy the capitalist system in one mighty blow. Although embracing Marx’s ultimate goal, progressives thus differ from full-blooded Marxists in choosing the nonviolent, gradualist route toward socialism via interventionism, the mixed economy, democratic socialism, or whatever you wish to call it. Some progressives view interventionism as a method of subverting capitalism and achieving full socialist central planning. Others—probably the majority today—see interventionism as the means for taming and humanizing capitalism and seek to foist it on the productive class of workers and entrepreneurs as “a permanent system of society’s economic organization.” But the difference between these two variants is beside the point. Regardless of the precise long-run goal of their proponents, interventionist policies have the same effects. They distort market prices, misallocate resources, stifle and misdirect entrepreneurship, destabilize the economy, and redistribute income from the producers to the parasitic ruling elites and their constituencies and cronies.

See the rest here

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Murray Rothbard versus the Public Choice School | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 30, 2021

What I take to be the most important disagreement between Rothbard and public choice is this: Rothbard doesn’t take a value neutral attitude toward the state: he hates it. He sees the state as predatory. As he puts it in Anatomy of the State, “The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property

https://mises.org/wire/murray-rothbard-versus-public-choice-school

David Gordon

Murray Rothbard was at one time good friends with Gordon Tullock, one of the founders of the public choice analysis of government, and he also corresponded on friendly terms with James Buchanan, another of the founders. Both Rothbard and the public choice movement look with suspicion on claims by agents of the government to be acting for the common good, and both support the free market, though Rothbard does so to a much greater degree. Despite these points of agreement, Rothbard has some fundamental criticisms of public choice, and I’d like to look at one of these in this week’s column.

What I take to be the most important disagreement between Rothbard and public choice is this: Rothbard doesn’t take a value neutral attitude toward the state: he hates it. He sees the state as predatory. As he puts it in Anatomy of the State, “The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively ‘peaceful’ the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society.” By contrast, he views people outside the state, aside from criminals, as engaged in peaceful exchange. There is, then, a dichotomy between people in the state and nonstate actors.

The public choice school denies that this dichotomy exists. The key point of their analysis of government is that people in government act to promote their private interests, in the same way as private actors. That is to say, government officials aren’t more “public spirited” than private businessmen, but neither are they worse in their motives. The basic distinction, emphasized by Rothbard, that the state’s activities are coercive, in contrast to the peaceful exchanges in the free market, is glossed over.

More than this, the distinction is denied to exist, especially in the work of Buchanan. He considers the state to be a voluntary institution. You might ask, How can he possibly think this? Does he imagine that if you refuse to pay your taxes, government agents will just let you alone?

Buchanan is well aware that the government can forcibly extract resources from you while private actors cannot, but he thinks this distinction doesn’t matter because you have agreed to allow the state do this. Of course you will deny that you have made such as an agreement, but Buchanan has an argument that, despite what you might think, you have indeed.

Suppose, contrary to Rothbard, that you believe there are certain “public goods” that people will not voluntarily produce on the free market because they are nonrivalrous and nonexcludable, but you and others think it would be desirable to produce these goods. You could then make an agreement with these people to allow an agency to take money from you to pay for the public goods, so long as it does so from everyone else who signed the agreement as well. In this way, the alleged problems posed by the nonrivalrousness and nonexcludability of the public good would be overcome.

A simpler example may make voluntary acceptance of coercion clearer. Suppose people in an anarcho-capitalist society want to join a private protection agency that enforces a law code. The agency will have a list of the actions it will take in response to violations of this code. If you agree to join the agency, you have agreed that these actions can be taken against you, if you violate the law code. It is in exactly this way that Buchanan thinks that even though the state extracts resources from you, it is noncoercive: you agreed to be taxed and to be subject to the penalties for nonpayment.

The main objection to this is obvious and well brought out by Rothbard. People haven’t made an agreement of the sort Buchanan assumes. As Rothbard points out in a memo for the Volker Fund, available now in Economic Controversies, in The Calculus of Consent, Buchanan gets around this by weakening the conditions for the agreement. If the tax agents could say to you, “You, along with everyone else, agreed to be taxed and now we have come to collect,” they might have a case against you; but if it is just the case that a substantial number of people have agreed, but you haven’t, the matter is quite otherwise. As Rothbard says,

In short, despite a lot of talk about unanimity being called for, the upshot of the discussion is that (a) unanimity is weakened by numerous qualifications and circumlocutions—and that (b) much of the existing structure of government is endorsed as being “really” unanimity! This, of course, is worse than simply adhering to majority rule, and comes perilously close to the “we owe it to ourselves,” “we are the government” position of the Left. The worst example of this, including the definite tendency to rationalize the existing situation as reflecting unanimity, is the concept of “income insurance” to justify actions of government that “redistribute” income. Now it is obvious that when government takes from A and deliberately gives to B, this can hardly be called a gesture of unanimity, or people voluntarily banding together to purchase a service from government. But Buchanan and Tullock try to say this, by asserting that the wealthy really favor being taxed more than the poor, because they are taking out “income insurance,” knowing that when they will be poor, the government, like an insurance company, will help them. And, in another place, they say that people really want to be coerced so long as they are all coerced, so that, everybody is really not being coerced. Not only do I consider all this nonsense, but it is dangerous nonsense as well, because it provides new support for the idea that anything that the State does, no matter how blatantly coercive, is “really” backed by everyone.

There is a further problem with the argument. Even if we confine ourselves to the less than fully unanimous agreement discussed in The Calculus of Consent, and consider only people who would have entered into it, it doesn’t follow that the state may coerce them to pay taxes. Even if they would have found it rational to enter the agreement, they in fact haven’t. No such agreement exists, and only explicit agreements bind. Lysander Spooner long ago made this point. Buchanan ignores it, but Rothbard affirms it. Author:

Contact David Gordon

David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Mises Review.

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This Is a Sign that Price Inflation Will Soon Get Worse | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 4, 2021

Slowly, but surely, the public began to realize: “We have been waiting for a return to the good old days and a fall of prices back to 1914. But prices have been steadily increasing. So it looks as if there will be no return to the good old days. Prices will not fall; in fact, they will probably keep going up.” As this psychology takes hold, the public’s thinking in Phase I changes into that of Phase II: “Prices will keep going up, instead of going down. Therefore, I know in my heart that prices will be higher next year.” The public’s deflationary expectations have been superseded by inflationary ones.

https://mises.org/wire/sign-price-inflation-will-soon-get-worse

Connor Mortell

Recently here on Mises Wire, Sammy Cartagena wrote a brilliant article demonstrating that Two Percent Inflation Is a Lot Worse Than You Think. In it, he demonstrates that the manageable 2 percent inflation year over year we all have gotten used to is a whole lot less manageable than we tend to think. But in it, he also cited explaining that “over 23 percent of all dollars in existence were created in 2020 alone.” From that he explains that while future inflation is important, he is focused on past inflation for the sake of his article, which is where these two articles diverge because this will be questioning future inflation. Anyone paying attention has seen that there has obviously been inflation this past year whether through price increases or more subtle ways to sneak inflation into the economy. However, when we look at the massive spending bills and the aforementioned fact that over 23% of dollars have just recently been ushered into existence, it leaves many asking why has there not been proportionally drastic inflation?

The major piece that is holding back even more inflation than we’ve already seen is a public expectation of a return to normal. The economy is exceedingly complicated and there are countless causal factors effecting this so I cannot say this is the only reason, but we can turn to The Mystery of Banking where we see Murray Rothbard go as far as claiming that “Public expectation of future price levels” is far and away the most important determinant of the demand for money. Rothbard goes on to cite his intellectual predecessor – Ludwig von Mises – to explain just how strongly expectations played a role in the German hyperinflation in 1923:

The German hyperinflation had begun during World War I, when the Germans, like most of the warring nations, inflated their money supply to pay for the war effort and found themselves forced to go off the gold standard and to make their paper currency irredeemable. The money supply in warring countries would double or triple. But in what Mises saw to be Phase I of a typical inflation, prices did not rise nearly proportionately to the money supply. If M in a country triples, why would prices go up by much less? Because of the psychology of the average of the average German, who thought to himself as follows: “I know that prices are much higher now than they were in the good old days before 1914. But that’s because of wartime, and because all goods are scarce due to diversion of resources to the war effort. When the war is over, things will get back to normal, and prices will fall back to 1914 levels.” In other words, the German public originally had strong deflationary expectations. Much of the new money was therefore added to cash balances and the Germans’ demand for money rose. In short, while M increased a great deal, the demand for money also rose and thereby offset some of the inflationary impact on prices.

As Rothbard explains, prices not rising in proportion to a radical increase in the money supply is not only understandable, it is actually to be expected. Sure, this current situation is not a wartime economy, however, as far as Rothbard’s explanation of the psychology of the average person goes, it is not all too different from the expectations during the war. Today the psychology of the average American leads to him thinking to himself “I know that prices are much higher now than they were in the good old days before 2020. But that’s because of the pandemic, and because all goods are scarce due to the unemployment from people who had to stay home during this dangerous time. When the pandemic is over, things will get back to normal, and prices will fall back to 2019 levels.” The problem with this expectation is that it cannot last forever. As Rothbard explains

Slowly, but surely, the public began to realize: “We have been waiting for a return to the good old days and a fall of prices back to 1914. But prices have been steadily increasing. So it looks as if there will be no return to the good old days. Prices will not fall; in fact, they will probably keep going up.” As this psychology takes hold, the public’s thinking in Phase I changes into that of Phase II: “Prices will keep going up, instead of going down. Therefore, I know in my heart that prices will be higher next year.” The public’s deflationary expectations have been superseded by inflationary ones.

Rothbard explains that these new expectations will intensify the inflation rather than holding it back. Rothbard also claims that there is no way of knowing when these expectations will finally shift because so many cultural, technological, geographical, and other factors affect any given population. As a result, we unfortunately can’t say when modern Americans will realize that prices are not headed back to their pre-pandemic levels and start having intensifying expectations. But however long it does take, the last point that we have to remember from Rothbard is his claim that “When expectations tip decisively over from deflationary, or steady, to inflationary, the economy enters a danger zone. The crucial question is how the government and its monetary authorities are going to react to the new situation.” While it is too late to not have created all that new money supply, when the day does come that we enter that danger zone, it is not too late for us to react appropriately and avoid that final phase III of hyperinflation but rather allow for a healthy deflationary bust allowing the economy to recover as it so desperately needs. Author:

Connor Mortell

Connor Mortell graduated from Texas Christian University with a BBA in finance, minoring in Chinese language and culture. After graduation he worked as a legislative aide in the Florida House of Representatives for just shy of two years. Currently he is an MBA student at Florida State University. As well he will be attending Mises University in summer 2021.

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The Secret Ronald Reagan Told Me about Gold and Great Nations | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 21, 2021

Ronald Reagan once told me that no nation has abandoned gold and remained great. As president, he supported the creation of the Gold Commission. However, he did not stop the establishment from stacking the commission with defenders of the monetary status quo.

https://mises.org/wire/secret-ronald-reagan-told-me-about-gold-and-great-nations

Ron Paul

Today [August 15] marks 50 years since President Richard Nixon closed the “gold window,” ending the ability of foreign governments to exchange United States dollars for gold. Nixon’s action severed the last link between the dollar and gold, giving the U.S. a fiat currency.

America’s experiment with fiat has led to an explosion of consumer, business, and—especially—government debt. It has also caused increasing economic inequality, a boom-bubble-bust business cycle, and a continued erosion of the dollar’s value.

Nixon’s closure of the gold window motivated me to run for office. Having read the works of the leading Austrian economists, such as Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, I understood the dangers of abandoning gold for a fiat currency and wanted a platform to spread these ideas.

When I first entered public life, support for restoring a gold standard, much less abolishing the Fed, was limited to so-called “gold bugs” and the then tiny libertarian movement. Even many economists who normally supported free markets believed the fiat system could be made to work if the Federal Reserve were forced to follow rules.

These rules were supposed to provide the Fed with clear guidance as to when to increase or decrease the money supply. This may sound good in theory, but a “rules-based monetary system” still allows the Federal Reserve to manipulate interest rates, which are the price of money, causing artificial booms and very real busts.

The stagflation of the Carter era did increase interest in monetary policy. The rise of the “supply-siders,” who supported a limited role for gold, helped increase interest in the issue.

Ronald Reagan once told me that no nation has abandoned gold and remained great. As president, he supported the creation of the Gold Commission. However, he did not stop the establishment from stacking the commission with defenders of the monetary status quo.

The commission’s two pro-gold members, Lewis Lehrman and myself, produced a minority report, written with the aid of Murray Rothbard, making the case for a gold standard. The report was published as The Case for GoldIt can be downloaded at Mises.org.

By the mid-1980s, any interest among the political and financial elites in questioning the Fed’s power had disappeared. This was due to acceptance of the myth that Paul Volcker tamed inflation. In the 1990s, a virtual cult of personality arose around the “Maestro” Alan Greenspan, who once told me that the Fed had learned how to “replicate” the results of a gold-backed currency.

While my warnings that the Fed was leading the American economy over the cliff were dismissed in Washington, they found a receptive audience outside the Beltway. The response to my 2008 presidential campaign led to a birth of a new liberty movement that put monetary policy front and center.

The 2008 meltdown, big bank bailouts, and the Fed’s subsequent failure to reignite the economy despite unprecedented money creation fueled the growth of the new movement. My Campaign for Liberty organization mobilized the new liberty movement to make Audit the Fed a major issue in Congress.

Fifty years after Nixon closed the gold window, prices are heading toward 1970s-era increases. Yet the Fed cannot increase interest rates as long as the politicians keep creating billions of new debts.

It is clear that America is heading toward another Federal Reserve–created economic crisis. The good news is the impending crisis gives us an opportunity to spread our message, grow our movement, and finally force Congress to audit and end the Fed.

Originally published by the New York Sun. Author:

Ron PaulDr. Ron Paul is a former member of Congress and Distinguished Counselor to the Mises Institute.

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Wisdom from Rothbard | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 17, 2021

https://mises.org/power-market/wisdom-rothbard

David Gordon

The collapse of the American-backed state in Afghanistan brings home the wisdom of Murray Rothbard’s essay “The Death of a State,” written in July 1975. The lessons that Rothbard drew from the fall of South Vietnam apply equally to the present crisis. Among these were the importance of guerilla warfare, the dependence of all states on majority support, and the blow to US imperialism with its false doctrine that “the United States has the moral duty, and the permanent power, to install, prop up, and rule governments and peoples throughout the world. We are being forced into a policy of ‘neo-isolationism,’ unfortunately not through the adoption of moral principle, but through the concrete realization that imperialism is no longer realistically viable.” We should follow Rothbard’s advice and end all American overseas military commitments.

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Paying People Not to Work Won’t Make Us Richer | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 19, 2021

I am reminded of a saying by one of my favorite economists, Murray Rothbard, “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

https://mises.org/wire/paying-people-not-work-wont-make-us-richer

Paul T. Prentice

One of the most important principles of economics is that people respond to incentives. You get more of whatever you incentivize. You get less of whatever you disincentivize. This is irrefutable. The supplemental unemployment payment does both—it incentivizes people not to work, and simultaneously disincentivizes them from working.

See the rest here

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The Beauty and Freedom That Is Anarchy – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 17, 2021

It seems that the modern understanding of the terms “anarchy “ and “state” have been intentionally twisted around so as to be opposite of reality. In essence, the state reeks of lawlessness, chaos, and disorder, while anarchy is steeped in the concepts of freedom and liberty. This could never be more obvious than it is today.

Government is never legitimate; it is always an exercise of force, it is always corrupt, it is always a murderer, it is always a thief, and it is always evil. It can only exist if the majority of people allow it to exist, and in the process give it a false legitimacy so that its stolen power over society can be protected and retained. Anarchy is still a governing system of sorts; it just relies on self-government instead of a state prison system perpetuated by force and dehumanization of all individual thought and action in order to rule.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/03/gary-d-barnett/the-beauty-and-freedom-that-is-anarchy/

By Gary D. Barnett

Will Durant once said: “As soon as liberty is complete it dies in anarchy.”  This statement is incorrect in my view; as it relies on the false assumption that anarchy means chaos. It does not. I say that once anarchy is complete, freedom lives in the individual, and therefore it lives in society. True anarchy is liberty.

From the Greek root anarkhos comes anarchy, and it simply means “without a ruler.” Those that control and worship the state have not only bastardized the honest meaning of the word, but that meaning has been literally eliminated in favor of what I describe as progressive language manipulation, which is simply a devious way to achieve control over others through confusion and deceit.

So anarchy is “society without a state,” as Murray Rothbard so clearly stated in a talk he delivered long ago. Properly accepting this true meaning of anarchy means that it is necessary to define the ‘State.’ Again, the eloquent and brilliant Rothbard defined the state as “that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area.  Once again, the great Rothbard is a gentleman, but what this means to me is that the state is full of liars, thieves, and murderers; all with the desire to rule over and control all of society.

It seems that the modern understanding of the terms “anarchy “ and “state” have been intentionally twisted around so as to be opposite of reality. In essence, the state reeks of lawlessness, chaos, and disorder, while anarchy is steeped in the concepts of freedom and liberty. This could never be more obvious than it is today. In our obnoxious postmodern world, the masses have been trained to think and act due to conceived perceptions instead of reality.  Therefore, state claimed truths are lies, and state claimed lies are truth. It does appear that all has been reversed in order to fool those are easily fooled.

As Orwell put it by the use of a slogan attributed to the English Socialist Party of Oceana in his Novel “1984”: “War is peace; Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength.” The new United States of “doublethink” has arrived, and has been fully embraced, and is being acted out by the people as ordered.

Considering our current state of affairs, and the asinine absurdity of compliance to idiotic and draconian ‘Covid’ mandates issued by state goons, any alien landing on this planet today could only describe the scene as one where the most cowardly, submissive, and pathetic species on earth were the masses of common human beings. Most would be wearing masks, walking around like zombies, staying at distance from one another, locking themselves in home prisons on orders, shaming any that refuse to submit, seeking permission slips to live normally, abandoning their families and friends, injecting toxic mind-controlling poison into their bodies on demand, and watching as state criminals destroy their property, their livelihoods, and their very way of life. They would watch as the state enforcers harassed, beat, and jailed those that resisted while the majority stood by and watched and did nothing to stop it. This is not science fiction, it is not a movie; it is reality in America.

In order for freedom to ever exist, it must come to pass and be fully understood by the people that ‘legal’ force is always and forever the enemy of liberty.  So long as the public lives and exists under the presumption that the force of government is necessary in order for society to function, then freedom can never be achieved, and slavery will be the only result. All advocates of government (the state) expect and accept the initiated force of government, whether it comes in the forms of theft by taxation, the only solution to disputes, social or otherwise, through government courts, the enforced management of all health and medicine, forced control of all ‘education,’ restrictive laws and licensing in order to function, waging aggressive war with standing armies at the expense of American lives and money, and the heavily enforced control of all commerce. In essence, what the people are really accepting is a total monopoly of force by the government that claims to be the people’s ‘representatives.’ That is and has always been a lie.

All indications are that the state and its governing bodies are nothing more than an organized crime syndicate. It is even worse than this description, because organized crime (Mafia) works within its own area and networks, and of course uses and pays off politicians in order to stay in business, but it does not wage world war, and does not seek to gain control of all humanity and the entire planet. The state and government on the other hand, are certainly organized criminal organizations, but they want to gain control of everything and everybody. The state desires to control all money, all commerce, all property, all markets, all military, all theft, all health choices, all employment, all everything.

Government is never legitimate; it is always an exercise of force, it is always corrupt, it is always a murderer, it is always a thief, and it is always evil. It can only exist if the majority of people allow it to exist, and in the process give it a false legitimacy so that its stolen power over society can be protected and retained. Anarchy is still a governing system of sorts; it just relies on self-government instead of a state prison system perpetuated by force and dehumanization of all individual thought and action in order to rule.

In any anarchist society, all power rests in the sovereign individual, and only so long as the non-aggression principle is followed. Each individual in a truly free society such as anarchy provides, can live and pursue their dreams and interests, and can choose the path that is unique to them and their family. This will allow the opportunity to live in harmony with others in a world where cooperation, passion, and love can prosper.

The beauty and freedom that is anarchy is the better way forward.

“The State is, and always has been, the great single enemy of the human race, its liberty, happiness, and progress.”

~ Murray Rothbard

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To Understand Economics, First Understand Private Property | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 10, 2021

https://mises.org/wire/understand-economics-first-understand-private-property

Chris Calton

In Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard expounds the principles of economics by reconstructing an economy from the ground up. Following the practice of classical economists, he opens the book by imagining Robinson Crusoe alone on an island. After identifying the operative laws that apply even to isolated individuals, Rothbard’s second chapter considers Crusoe on an island with one other person, introducing the concept of direct exchange, or the barter economy. In the third and fourth chapters, Rothbard considers the origins of money and prices in an economy of indirect exchange.

For a treatise on price theory, Rothbard recognizes the need to explain the origins of money prices, as Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises did before him. In The Theory of Money and Credit, Mises built on Menger’s original explanation for the origin of money by formulating the regression theorem. When considering price changes back through time, Mises theorized, we must naturally come to points of origin and departure. Paper dollars today have no commodity foundation, but we can easily identify the point at which they were disconnected from specie. Going further back, we may not be able to identify empirically the moment at which specie, or any other commodity, was first used as a medium of indirect exchange, but we can logically deduce that such a moment must have occurred as primitive economies grew increasingly complex.

Mises’s theorem offered a number of important insights for price theorists. Perhaps the chief insight is that even though modern money may have no commodity base, the origins of any money could only have been a commodity with some original value in use. No new media of exchange can undermine this history. Even cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, can be traced back to a point at which they were first exchanged for dollars. Dollar prices then trace back to a point of disconnect from a commodity foundation, and those prices trace further to a point of original indirect exchange. Another insight derived from the regression theorem is that money prices depend on exchange. This may seem like an obvious truism, but in the early twentieth-century debates over socialism, the necessity of market exchange highlighted the crucial distinction between technical calculation (What do we need to build a given item?) and economic calculation (What should we build given the resources available?).

In chapter 2 of Man, Economy, and State, before Rothbard summarizes Mises’s insights about the origins of money prices, he considers the origins of property rights. With a citation of John Locke, Rothbard asserts the principle of self-ownership and argues that the original appropriation of property comes from mixing labor with yet-unowned resources, such as clearing land for cultivation. Only after establishing a basis for property rights, does Rothbard turn to considerations of exchange and money prices.

Even friendly scholars, happy to acknowledge the value of Rothbard’s treatise, often consider this passage an unwarranted deviation from value-free economic analysis. Rothbard, they claim, is importing libertarian ethical theory into his economic analysis. John Egger, for example, accuses Rothbard of putting on his “political scientist hat,” arguing that “the ethics adopted by . . . Rothbard cannot be derived from Austrian-school principles and are not necessary to Austrian economic analysis.”1

Even sympathetic Austrians rarely pay much attention to Rothbard’s explanation for the origin of property rights except to occasionally dismiss it as a libertarian deviation from scientific analysis, but I believe Rothbard is offering underappreciated economic insights. Mises recognized that money prices depended on exchange, and he saw the need to explain the origins of monetary exchange. Rothbard took Mises’s idea a step further, recognizing that the prerequisite for market exchange is private property and the origin of property norms is therefore just as relevant to economic analysis as the origins of money and monetary exchange. “Before we examine the exchange process,” Rothbard writes in no unclear terms, “it must be considered that, in order for a person to exchange anything, he must first possess it, or own it.”2

Critical readers might object that we cannot take it for granted that property rights originate in the way that Rothbard describes. Governments, of course, can establish property rights, even if in violation of Lockean ethics, that suffice to provide the conditions for market exchange. But such considerations would be inappropriate for Rothbard’s second chapter, as he is considering an unhampered market economy—one in which governments, as yet, play no role. For markets to exist sans government, then, private property norms must emerge spontaneously.

To this last point, Rothbard never asserts that the Lockean rule of first appropriation is the proper means of establishing property rights (though he certainly believed that and made genuinely ethical arguments along those lines in other works, such as The Ethics of Liberty). In Man, Economy, and State, he simply considers the way property norms could logically emerge in an unhampered market.

Man in a “free, unhampered market … may exchange any type of factor … for any type of factor,” Rothbard writes, but “it is clear that gifts and exchanges as a source of property must eventually be resolved into: self-ownership, appropriation of unused nature-given factors, and production of capital and consumers’ goods, as the ultimate sources of acquiring property in a free economic system” (emphasis in original).3

Rothbard’s argument follows a similar logical structure to Mises’s regression theorem, and in fact even extends the continuum of exchange that Mises outlines. When constructing his theorem, Mises views the end point of his analysis as modern monetary prices, and his point of origin is that moment when a commodity was first used as a medium for indirect exchange. Rothbard has the same end point in mind, but realizing that property rights are (1) necessary for exchange and (2) not a given for any society and therefore warrant explaining, he finds the origins of money prices in the original emergence of private property norms.

Of course, people can provide alternative theories for the origin of private property, but the mere fact that Rothbard recognizes the need to explain property norms is itself a valuable contribution to economics that continues to go unappreciated. The most obvious objection people might offer to counter Rothbard’s theory is no different than the alternative explanation to Mises’s and Menger’s theories for the origins of money: the state must construct property rights and introduce money, thus creating markets.

But as historians and anthropologists learn more about prehistory (the history of man prior to documentary evidence), the statist theories for both property rights and money crumble. Yale political scientist James C. Scott, for example, notes that evidence for the domestication of plants precedes the formation of the earliest states, arguing that states could not exist without a taxable base (grain, most commonly), and the domestication of plants and primitive commerce preceded state formation. Although he doesn’t address property rights directly, Scott notes that the formation of early states “required a host of products that originated in other ecological zones: timber, firewood, leather, obsidian, copper, tin, gold and silver, and honey,” which they obtained through long-distance trade of “pottery, cloth, grain, and artisanal products.”4

Recognizing that economic exchange preceded the state, both Rothbard and Mises raised valid considerations for the origins of money, exchange, and property norms. In offering their theories, they were in fact engaging in a common exercise among classical economists known as “conjectural history.” In the absence of empirical historical evidence, classical thinkers such as Adam Smith and Turgot speculated on the origins of observable, modern institutions based on assumptions about human nature. Although speculative, this method of history was not unscientific. The test of a good theory was that it explained more of what we can observe (both in terms of present society and extant evidence) and omitted less. Historians today who deal with areas of history that have scant documentary evidence, such as Africanists, still engage in conjectural history (even if they may not be aware of its roots in classical political economy).

In this light, Rothbard’s explication for the origins of property norms is not a value-laden prescription for how societies should establish private property rights. Instead, Rothbard is recognizing that early societies must have established some system of private property rights, which individuals recognized reciprocally with respect to each other, and he provides a theory for how this system most likely emerged. It is not an uncontestable idea (no scientific theory is), but scholars dismissing it as a libertarian sidestep from proper economic analysis fail to understand the important economic contribution Rothbard was actually making.

  • 1. John B. Egger, “Comment: Efficiency Is Not a Substitute for Ethics,” in Time, Uncertainty, and Disequilibrium: Exploration of Austrian Themes (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1979), p. 119.
  • 2. Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, with Power and Market, 2d scholar’s ed. (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009), p. 91.
  • 3. Rothbard, pp. 92–93.
  • 4. James C. Scott, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), pp. 68–92, 125. Although Scott does not address the question of property rights or exchange, he does reference the role of exchange prior to the establishment of the state

Author:

Chris Calton

Chris Calton is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow and an economic historian. He is writer and host of the Historical Controversies podcast.

See also his YouTube channel here.

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