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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Fedcoin: A New Scheme for Tyranny and Poverty

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2020

Fedcoin poses a great threat to privacy. The Federal Reserve could know when fedcoin is used, who is using it, and what they use it for. This information could be shared with government agencies, such as the FBI or IRS.

Is it so hard to believe that the ability to track purchases would be used in the future to “discourage” individuals from buying guns, fatty foods, or tobacco, or from being customers of corporations whose CEOs are not considered “woke” by the thought police? Fedcoin could also be used to “encourage” individuals to patronize “green” business, thus fulfilling Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s goal of involving the Fed in the fight against climate change.

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/july/27/fedcoin-a-new-scheme-for-tyranny-and-poverty/

Written by Ron Paul

If some Congress members get their way, the Federal Reserve may soon be able to track many of your purchases in real time and share that information with government agencies. This is just one of the problems with the proposed “digital dollar” or “fedcoin.”

Fedcoin was initially included in the first coronavirus spending bill. While the proposal was dropped from the final version of the bill, there is still great interest in fedcoin on Capitol Hill. Some progressives have embraced fedcoin as a way to provide Americans with a “universal basic income.”

Both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on fedcoin in June. This is the first step toward making fedcoin a reality.

Fedcoin would not be an actual coin. Instead, it would be a special account created and maintained for each American by the Federal Reserve. Each month, Fed employees could tap a few keys on a computer and — bingo — each American would have dollars added to his Federal Reserve account. This is the 21st century equivalent of throwing money from helicopters.

Fedcoin could effect private cryptocurrencies. Also, it would limit the ability of private citizens to protect themselves from the Federal Reserve-caused decline in the dollar’s value.

Fedcoin would not magically increase the number of available goods and services. What it would do is drive up prices. The damage this would do to middle- and lower-income Americans would dwarf any benefit they receive from their monthly “gift” from the Fed. The rise in prices could lead to Congress regularly increasing fedcoin payments to Americans. These increases would cause prices to keep rising even more until we face hyperinflation and a dollar crisis. Of course, we are already on the path to an economic crisis thanks to the Fed. Fedcoin will hasten and worsen the crisis.

Fedcoin poses a great threat to privacy. The Federal Reserve could know when fedcoin is used, who is using it, and what they use it for. This information could be shared with government agencies, such as the FBI or IRS.

The government could use the ability to know how Americans are spending fedcoin to limit our ability to purchase goods and services disfavored by politicians and bureaucrats. Anyone who doubts this should recall the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point involved financial regulators “alerting” banks that dealing with certain businesses, such as gun stores, would put the banks at “reputational risk” and could subject them to greater regulation.

Is it so hard to believe that the ability to track purchases would be used in the future to “discourage” individuals from buying guns, fatty foods, or tobacco, or from being customers of corporations whose CEOs are not considered “woke” by the thought police? Fedcoin could also be used to “encourage” individuals to patronize “green” business, thus fulfilling Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s goal of involving the Fed in the fight against climate change.

Fedcoin could threaten private cryptocurrencies, increase inflation, and give government new powers over our financial transactions. Fedcoin will also speed up destruction of the fiat money system. Whatever gain fedcoin may bring to average Americans will come at terrible cost to liberty and prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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Some Facts Worth Knowing – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 3, 2020

A recent study by Just Facts, an excellent source of factual information, shows that after accounting for income, charity and noncash welfare benefits such as subsidized health care, housing, food stamps and other assistance programs, “the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in the world’s most affluent countries.”

Scientific surveys of U.S. residents have found that the mental health of about one-third to one-half of all adults has been substantially compromised by government reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are deaths from non-psychological causes, such as government-mandated and personal decisions to delay medical care,…

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/06/walter-e-williams/some-facts-worth-knowing/

By

Imagine that you are an unborn spirit in heaven. God condemns you to a life of poverty but will permit you to choose the country in which you will spend your life. Which country would you choose? I would choose the United States of America.

A recent study by Just Facts, an excellent source of factual information, shows that after accounting for income, charity and noncash welfare benefits such as subsidized health care, housing, food stamps and other assistance programs, “the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in the world’s most affluent countries.” This includes the majority of countries that are members of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, including its European members. The Just Facts study concludes that if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, then it would be one of the world’s richest.

As early as 2010, 43% of all poor households owned their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio. Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. The typical poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. Ninety-seven percent of poor households have one or more color televisions — half of which are connected to cable, satellite or a streaming service. Some 82% of poor families have one or more smartphones. Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher. Most poor families have a car or truck and 43% own two or more vehicles.

Most surveys on U.S. poverty are deeply flawed because poor households greatly underreport both their income and noncash benefits such as health care benefits provided by Medicaid, free clinics and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, nourishment provided by food stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, the Women, Infants & Children Program and homeless shelters.

We hear and read stories such as “Real Wage Growth Is Actually Falling” and “Since 2000 Wage Growth Has Barely Grown.” But we should not believe it. Ask yourself, “What is the total compensation that I receive from my employer?” If you included only your money wages, you would be off the mark anywhere between 30% and 38%. Total employee compensation includes mandated employer expenses such as Social Security and Medicare. Other employee benefits include retirement and health care benefits as well as life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, vacation leave, tuition reimbursement and bonuses. There is incentive for people to want more of their compensation in a noncash form simply because of the different tax treatment. The bottom line is that prior to the government shutdown of our economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans were becoming richer and richer. The question before us now is how to get back on that path.

Speaking of the COVID-19 pandemic, Just Facts has a couple of interesting takes in an article by its co-founder James D. Agresti and Dr. Andrew Glen titled “Anxiety From Reactions to Covid-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns.”

Scientific surveys of U.S. residents have found that the mental health of about one-third to one-half of all adults has been substantially compromised by government reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are deaths from non-psychological causes, such as government-mandated and personal decisions to delay medical care, which has postponed tumor removals, cancer screenings, heart surgeries and treatments for other ailments that could lead to early death if not addressed in a timely manner. Interesting and sadly enough, New York state enacted one of the strictest lockdowns in the U.S. but has 22 times the death rate of Florida, which had one of the mildest lockdowns.

As I pointed out in a recent column, intelligent decision-making requires one to not only pay attention to the benefits of an action but to its costs as well.

 

 

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New York vs. Texas: NY Has Nearly 50 Times More COVID-19 Deaths Per Capita | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 29, 2020

Many states now report total deaths per 100,000 that are
one-thirtieth the size of New York’s toll. Texas, for instance, reports
total deaths numbering 2.3 per 100,000. The total in South Dakota, which
has been much maligned for not imposing any statewide lockdowns, is 1.2
deaths per 100,000.

Were New York a foreign country, the US’s total death rate from COVID-19 would be cut by 36 percent:

The truth, of course, is that these statements by politicians and government “experts” were attempts to justify extreme government edicts that have created widespread unemployment, poverty, child abuse, and illness. They are irresponsible scare tactics employed for political purposes, and were never based on any actual evidence or knowledge about the situation. After all, these officials don’t even know the fatality rate of COVID-19.

https://mises.org/wire/new-york-vs-texas-ny-has-nearly-50-times-more-covid-19-deaths-capita?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=da4fb45608-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-da4fb45608-228343965

As of April 26, there were nearly 55,000 COVID-19 deaths reported in the United States. Of those, more than 22,000 (or about 40 percent) were in the state of New York alone. New Jersey was in second place, with nearly 5,900 COVID-19 deaths reported.

If we combine these two states, we find that a majority of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have come from them alone. Combined, these two states accounted for more than 51 percent (28,213) of all deaths, while all other states combined made up less than 48.5 percent (or 26,567) of deaths.

ny

Measured in terms of deaths per 100,000, New York (114 per 100,000) and New Jersey (66 per 100,000) also had the highest rates. But New York had the worst rate by far.

New York’s number of deaths per 100,000 soars above those of all other states, is double that of Massachusetts, and is more than seven times those of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The difference becomes even more stark as we move west and south. New York’s death rate is now 22 times as large as Florida’s and 25 times that of Alabama.

compared

Many states now report total deaths per 100,000 that are one-thirtieth the size of New York’s toll. Texas, for instance, reports total deaths numbering 2.3 per 100,000. The total in South Dakota, which has been much maligned for not imposing any statewide lockdowns, is 1.2 deaths per 100,000.

Were New York a foreign country, the US’s total death rate from COVID-19 would be cut by 36 percent:

ny

Whenever comparisons of this sort are made, however, many claim that all areas of the country will closely follow in New York’s footsteps unless ever more strict lockdown measures are taken immediately.

Indeed, we’ve been hearing for weeks that various states and regions are just “two weeks behind New York” in terms of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

For example, more than a month ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 27 quoted one medical expert claiming: “We anticipate we are no more than two weeks behind New York City….Cases are doubling every two to three days. We had 46 confirmed cases last night. You do the math.”

Also in Pennsylvania, a medical expert from Lehigh Valley on March 22 insisted that “we are two weeks behind Manhattan in terms of spread and seriousness.”

On April 3, Maryland governor Larry Hogan proclaimed that his state was “about two weeks behind New York.”

Meanwhile, on April 1 WBHM reported that an Alabama health official had claimed: “Birmingham is about two weeks behind New York City.” Nearly a month later, Jefferson County, Alabama, where Birmingham sits, reports a death rate of 5 per 100,000, or 4 percent the size of New York’s death rate.

When we note outlandishly incorrect predictions such as these, a common response from lockdown boosters is “Well, social distancing prevented that!”

But did it?

So far, there’s no empirical evidence even showing that social distancing works. As T.J. Rodgers wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, there is no correlation between government-forced “shutdowns” and a muted number of deaths from COVID-19:

No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly, because their death rates ran the full gamut, from 20 per million in Oregon to 360 in New York. This wide variation means that other variables—like population density or subway use—were more important. Our correlation coefficient for per-capita death rates vs. the population density was 44%. That suggests New York City might have benefited from its shutdown—but blindly copying New York’s policies in places with low Covid-19 death rates, such as my native Wisconsin, doesn’t make sense.

Similarly, political scientist Wilfred Reilly ran the numbers, taking into account factors such as population and population density. He found no evidence “that lockdowns are a more effective way of handling coronavirus than well-done social-distancing measures” and concluded:

The question the model set out to ask was whether lockdown states experience fewer Covid-19 cases and deaths than social-distancing states, adjusted for all of the above variables. The answer? No. The impact of state-response strategy on both my cases and deaths measures was utterly insignificant.

Moreover, the timing is less than convincing for the “lockdowns worked!” claims. For example, in the case of Maryland, the governor claimed, “we’re two weeks behind New York,” even after a stay-at-home order was in place. That is, his prediction assumed social distancing. Nearly a month later, Hogan was clearly very wrong.

In Alabama, on the other hand, a statewide stay-at-home order did not come down until thirteen days (i.e., nearly two weeks) after the New York lockdown. Had Alabama truly been “two weeks behind,” it would have already been nearly comparable to New York in its death rate by the time the order was implemented. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

The truth, of course, is that these statements by politicians and government “experts” were attempts to justify extreme government edicts that have created widespread unemployment, poverty, child abuse, and illness. They are irresponsible scare tactics employed for political purposes, and were never based on any actual evidence or knowledge about the situation. After all, these officials don’t even know the fatality rate of COVID-19.

Now, it’s entirely possible that as time progresses later waves of illness could increase total deaths, and there may be some “hot spots” where there are serious strains on the medical infrastructure. However, given the track record of the experts in predicting who is two weeks behind New York, it looks like it will only be a coincidence if these predictions of New York–like death rates prove correct at some point. Just as financial permabears often “predict ten of the last two recessions,” I have no doubt that many government-employed experts will predict twelve of the next three hot spots. Meanwhile, thanks to these experts’ recommendations, important medical procedures will be banned, people in need of medical care will be frightened into staying home, and food shortages may become a reality.

The real question we should be asking ourselves is why is New York is such a mess in terms of COVID-19? New York’s deaths aren’t just high by US standards. The state’s total deaths per 100,000 are higher than both Spain’s and Italy’s, both of which are considered to be among the most hard-hit countries on earth. New York has reported nearly as many COVID-19 deaths as Spain (23,500), even though Spain has a much larger population of 46 million. New York is also only about 5,000 deaths behind Italy, even though Italy has a population three times the size of New York State.

Indeed, these numbers are so high that one wonders if deaths are even being counted properly, or if there is something about New York’s medical infrastructure that is especially inferior. Perhaps New York is home to a particularly virulent strain of the disease. Perhaps the disease was in circulation for far longer than the experts insist is the case. The experts don’t know the answers to these questions.

Nor should we expect answers to these questions any time soon. But what we do know is that it strains the bounds of credibility to insist that South Dakota will soon be New York if it doesn’t impose similar lockdown measures. This doesn’t mean that no caution is warranted, or that high-risk populations should neglect social-distancing measures. But the claims that we’re all “two weeks behind New York” are neither accurate nor helpful.

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Lived 30 miles from NYC for a year. Manhattan, with its persistent aroma of sewage, packs and stacks 70,000 people per square mile.

After a year near Cesspool City, I was so ready to return to a West Coast county with fresh air and two people per square mile.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Three Big Problems with How Most Look at Inequality

Posted by M. C. on November 24, 2019

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2018/10/three-big-problems-with-how-most-look.html

By Arkadiusz Sieroń

The issue of income and wealth inequality has gained public awareness recently, becoming an important economic problem in our time. Unfortunately, the quality of the public debate about this topic remains very poor. In this piece, I would like to point out three main shortcomings of the problem at hand.

Good and Bad Inequality

First, people do not differentiate between good and bad inequality. There is nothing inherently bad about inequality, since it’s, after all, only a formal characteristic of the relationship between certain values, like incomes of different people. What really matters is the reason of the inequality. Inequality that results from “rent seeking” and lobbying the government to implement beneficial regulations for the influential and already wealthy interest groups (you may think of banks “too big to fail”, farmers demanding subsidies or domestic industries supporting import tariffs) is obviously bad. Inequality caused by the quantitative easing programs, which increased prices of financial assets held by a relatively small number of wealthy individuals, is also not worthy of praise.
However, inequality resulting from economic progress does not deserve to be condemned, does it? During the Industrial Revolution, workers moved gradually from agriculture to manufacturing, which initially widened the inequality. But this is how the progress happens – it never occurs smoothly, as not all people take advantage of new market opportunities to increase their productivity at the same time. The current upswing in inequality also seems to be driven by technological progress, inter-sectoral reallocation of labour (from manufacturing to services), and globalization. The question whether we should oppose it equals to question whether we should be against progress itself. I hope it’s clear now that inequality may be either positive or negative, depending on its causes, and that the bad ones are not necessarily driven by the free-market capitalism, the favorite whipping boy for all the misery of the world. Instead, it’s crucial to understand that the rise in inequality observed recently in some western countries may result from many causes, including the global economic growth lifting people out of poverty all over the world.

Are People Sinophobic?

This leads us to the second weakness of the public debate about the inequality: many people adopt too narrow, Western-oriented perspective. Just look at the chart below.
Chart 1: Change in real income from 1988 to 2008 among percentiles of global income distribution
sieron1.png
As one can see, almost the entire bottom 75 percent has seen its real income rise between 1988 and 2008 – and some percentiles made really significant gains. Although it clearly shows that globalization benefited enormous number of people, intellectuals and the press are focusing on the working class in the West, whose real income relatively stagnated. It’s an unpleasant fact for these people, for sure. However, the funny thing is that they are between the 75th and the 90th percentile of the global income distribution, which mean that they belong to a global upper-middle class. From the global perspective, the current buzz about rising inequality is not a sign of concern about the poor at all – it is a worry about the income of an elite disturbed by the increased supply of low-skilled workers from developing countries. Surely, one can criticize the rise in inequality due to globalization – but it implies an assumption that the relative economic situation of the working class in developed countries is more important that the absolute increase in real incomes of Chinese or Indians. It turns out that the authors of Oxfam’s reports and other people who supposedly take care of human misery actually suffer from sinophobia.

Inequality or Poverty?

This is connected to the third cardinal sin of the contemporary debate about the income inequality, perhaps the most important one. People often confuse inequality with poverty, although these terms mean something different. The former occurs when people have different incomes, while the latter is when people do not receive enough money. Many people criticize the inequality, but what is really disturbing is not the fact that some have lower income than others, but rather that some has very little.
Fortunately, this is where capitalism enters the scene. Let’s see the chart below, which paints the spectacular reduction in the global extreme poverty over the last few decades.
Chart 2: The percentage share of the world population living in extreme poverty, from 1820 to 2015.
sieron2.png
As one can see, in 1820 almost all people in the world struggled for less than $1.90 per day. One hundred and fifty years later, still 60 percent of the global population lived in extreme poverty. Since then, the ratio declined to 9.6 percent. It means that billions of people have been taken out of extreme poverty. This progress is mind-blowing, especially for people who blame capitalism and ‘neoliberalism’ for the rise in inequality, although it is hardly surprising for economists who know that free markets enable economies to grow. Indeed, poverty was the default state of the humanity. What enabled for its reduction was simply to let poor people get richer by protecting property rights, liberalizing markets, and freeing trade.
This is how capitalism works: it generates wealth through free exchanges and accumulation of capital which increases the labour productivity. Therefore, the call for the greater economic equality for its own sake not only diverts us from the issue of poverty, which is the real problem, but it may be even counterproductive and hamper the economic growth — the only genuine means of eradicating poverty.
Arkadiusz Sieroń (sieron.arkadiusz@gmail.com) is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Wrocław, Poland. He is a 2018 Research Fellow at the Mises Institute, and winner of the 2018 Lawrence W. Fertig Prize.
The above originally appeared at Mises.org.

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Capitalism Didn’t Invent “Keeping Up with the Joneses” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 29, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/capitalism-didnt-invent-keeping-joneses

Anti-capitalists long ago lost the argument about whether or not capitalism is the most effective way to increase living standards. Thanks to the spread of a largely-capitalistic marketplace, global poverty rates have fallen precipitously, life expectancy has risen, and standards of living continue to rise. The greatest gains have been in the so-called “developing world.”

But this hasn’t stopped anti-capitalists from coming up with new reasons — reasons unrelated to overcoming poverty — as to why capitalism ought to be abandoned.

One common complaint along these lines is that the capitalist system — mostly through advertising — makes us miserable by convincing us we must continually compete with others to raise our economic and social status within society.

Perhaps the most famous and still-talked-about example of this capitalism-makes-you-miserable narrative is found in 1999’s film Fight Club. The film centers around characters who attempt to escape their dull, depressing lives otherwise ruined by a desire for capitalist excess. At one point, the character named Tyler Durden delivers a monologue concluding that consumers in the capitalist society are

slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. Working jobs we hate so that we can buy sh-t we don’t need.

At the root of this contention is the idea that capitalism causes consumerism, and consumerism drives us to strive ever harder to attain higher levels of material comfort and social status. Rather than enjoying a simple care-free lifestyle, the argument goes, we sacrifice our free time and happiness to working long hours in pursuit of needless consumption and competition.

[RELATED: “Capitalism Doesn’t Cause Consumerism — Governments Do” by Ryan McMaken]

But is capitalism really to blame for this sort of thinking? Is the insatiable quest for higher social status something newly invented by modern market economies?

Hardly.

Unfortunately, the desire to be popular, desirable, and possessing of high levels of social status is not tied to any particular economic system. It is found in all societies, and was certainly not something that suddenly appeared as economies began to industrialize.

What capitalism and industrialization did do was create more options available to people seeking to improve their positions within the social hierarchy. In ages past, status was closely tied to one’s family lineage or to how much favor one enjoyed with the imperial court. In capitalist times, these old criteria have not vanished, but a new  pathway to status was opened up: wealth obtained through success in the marketplace.

Social Status and Wealth Attainment in Pre-Capitalist Times

Prior to indistrialization, social mobility was — with only rare exceptions — open only to people who were already born into a relatively high social strata. Those who were born into the nobility or high-ranking levels of government bureaucracy could perhaps aspire to reach even higher levels of rank within the ruling classes.

The average peasant had no such hopes. For an average person in the pre-capitalist world, the methods of raising one’s status in society were few and exceedingly difficult.

In the ancient world, competition for social status was high-stakes and ever-present. Given the absence of a middle class and the grinding poverty experienced by the overwhelming majority of human beings in these times, those who had managed to rise above the peasantry fought hard to stay there.

The methods of maintaining and increasing status included:

  • Successful military service.
  • Winning favor with government officials through displays of personal loyalty.
  • Marriage into a family of higher social status.
  • Excellence in athletic competitions (most notably in Greece).

Military service was an especially fruitful means of increasing one’s social status. In the Neo-Assyrian empire, to list just one example,

To kill a prominent enemy was a conspicuous way for a soldier to distinguish himself and prove his loyalty to the king … [and this method was] explicitly highlighted as a method of raising a warrior’s profile.1

Material rewards were meted out by rulers to “those who brought in the heads of high-ranking enemy leaders.”2

Military service was a key factor in improving one’s fortunes throughout the ancient world, which is to be expected since warfare — and not commerce — was among the most easily available means to increase one’s wealth in a pre-capitalist world.

Social Status in Socialist Systems

Read the rest of this entry »

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Escaping Poverty — Not Inequality — Is What Matters | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 29, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/escaping-poverty-%E2%80%94-not-inequality-%E2%80%94-what-matters

Egalitarian ethics are pervasive in our society, despite a multitude of logical problems. So popular is the idea that an inequality of wealth is a problem, that politicians such as Bernie Sanders have — ironically and hypocritically — become millionaires by appealing to these ideas. The phrases “income gap” and “wealth distribution” have gained wide currency in political parlance.

The notion that differences in wealth are inherently problematic is laughably easy to refute. If one person earns $20,000 a year, and another person earns $50,000 a year, they have an “income gap” of $30,000. Should both of their incomes double, their new income gap would be $60,000. Instead of celebrating the fact that both people are economically better off, the media will run headlines about the “growing income gap.”

Even John Rawls, the egalitarian par excellence added his famous proviso (which is to say, in this case, a philosophical inconsistency) that allowed non-egalitarian outcomes in cases where the poor are made better off, but his ethics still suggest that making the rich less wealthy would be a moral good even if nobody is made better off in the process. Most egalitarians (including Rawls, in another proviso) are inherently nationalistic as well, concerning themselves only with the “poor” in the United States — despite their being among the richest people globally. Even Bernie Sanders rejected policies that might lift the world’s poor out of poverty at the expense of the far-less-poor in the United States…

Even for those egalitarians who do care about the global poor, many objections to market reforms — if you can believe the absurdity of the argument — is that they would help the “most able” poor more than the “less able” poor. This is the objection to the efforts by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto to help the poor gain legal titles to the land they have occupied for generations. Similar criticisms have been levied against Muhammad Yunus’s strategy of providing microloans to the working poor in Third World countries. Yunus started by providing small loans out of his own pocket to Bangladeshi women who made bamboo furniture for a living. His critics have complained that only the “more talented” women have the ability to run their own business and become financially independent.1

In the toxic philosophy of egalitarianism, it is literally considered better for all of the poor to remain destitute than for only some of the poor to become better off. The dangers of such a philosophy were demonstrated with Vladimir’s Lenin’s introduction of the kulaki — a term to describe the “bourgeois” peasants who were mildly better off than the rest of Russia’s poor. This division between the extremely poor and slightly less poor was the basis for the Soviet war against the peasantry, in which millions of rural Russians were murdered or shipped off to forced-labor camps…

As England industrialized, steam power made cotton textiles more affordable (and comfortable) than previous materials, such as wool. This raised demand for dyes, which led to further innovations from entrepreneurs seeking to profit from the textile boom. The cochineal, an insect found on Mexican cacti, was used to produce a red dye. Meanwhile, a woman in South Carolina, Eliza Pinckney, developed a way to grow indigo in the colony, which produced a blue dye. Manufactures mixed the dyes together, and the British aristocracy suddenly found themselves surrounding by working class people wearing the “color of kings.”

Clothing dye may seem like an odd example of something that lifts the poor closer to the status of the wealthy, but in the aristocratic culture of seventeenth-century England, the change was tremendous. The poor not only had cheaper access to more comfortable clothing, but they could buy it in such a variety of colors that clothing largely ceased to be a demarcation of status.

The reason this insight is easy for people to overlook is because it usually involves items that seem rather banal. But the banality is precisely the point. What once was a luxury became an everyday item, consumed by the rich and poor alike. Most people give little thought to a photo of Warren Buffet drinking a Coca-Cola, but the idea that one of the richest men in the world would drink the same beverage consumed by the average person (and even the global poor) is an entirely modern phenomenon.

The same can be said for items that have a more undeniable impact on the improvement of conditions. We all know that Henry Ford is not famous for inventing the automobile. He gained his wealth by finding a way to make cars affordable for working class people. Even today, while there are still “luxury cars” that only the rich own, the qualities that make them “luxury” have become increasingly narrow. It is not only the rich who have once-luxury features such as air conditioning, stereos, power windows, and seat warmers.

Cell phones, of course, are another go-to example of commonplace luxuries. It was not that many years ago when cell phones — which were bulky and only had a single function — were little more than pricey status symbols for corporate executives and the political elite. Today, it is not enough to say that the average person has a cell phone that is wildly superior to the earlier models; we should also recognize how significant it is that they have the same cell phone as the wealthiest people in the country.

It is easy to find any number of items that follow the pattern of purple dyes, soft drinks, cars, and cell phones. If we measure wealth disparities in dollar terms, it does seem like inequality increases under capitalism. Although advocates of free trade are correct to identify the logical problems of egalitarian ethics, we often miss the opportunity to point out that when we consider the increasing material similarities between the rich and poor that accompany economic progress, it is really quite absurd to say that capitalism increases the inequality of wealth at all.

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Black Vintage Telephone Retro Rotary Plate Old Phone Cord ...

 

 

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Climate Change Activist Admits: Being Green “Requires the End of Capitalism” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/climate-change-activist-admits-being-green-requires-end-capitalism

Well, at least they’re now being honest about it. A headline this week in The Guardian reads: “Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism. Have we got the stomach for it?”

The article, by Phil McDuff, goes on the discuss the “Green New Deal” currently being peddled in the US Congress, and declares a radical turn toward socialism is really at the heart of saving the planet from climate change:

The radical economics isn’t a hidden clause, but a headline feature. Climate change is the result of our current economic and industrial system. GND-style proposals marry sweeping environmental policy changes with broader socialist reforms because the level of disruption required to keep us at a temperature anywhere below “absolutely catastrophic” is fundamentally, on a deep structural level, incompatible with the status quo.

The “status quo,” we have now is a form of capitalism that is highly regulated by states, manipulated by immensely powerful central banks, and distorted by global NGOs like the World Bank. Nevertheless, this system contains enough of a semblance of market-based freedom that many leftwing ideologues regard it as a type of radical laissez-faire capitalism marked by unrestrained and fossil-fuel powered consumption.

Not surprisingly, they think this system must be abolished.

Unfortunately for the billions of human beings who have benefited from what market freedom exists, the new green-socialist global state imagined by McDuff will undo decades of gains against grinding poverty — gains enjoyed by the world’s most at-risk and poorest populations.

The Decline of Poverty — and Its Effects — In the Developing World

Quality of life indicators have been consistently moving upward in recent decades…

But, pointing to a photo of a low-income women slaving over a wash basin, Rosling asks: “How can we tell this woman that she isn’t going to have a washing machine?”

It’s a good question, and it’s also a reminder that much of the talk over carbon taxes and climate regulations smack of first-world chauvinism. The rich world already has its cars and its washing machines. Sure, a global climate scheme would reduce the wealth of people in the rich world, but the impact in China, India, Africa, and South America — where most live closer to subsistence levels —would be far more devastating.

For many environmentally-minded suburban upper-middle class people in North America and Europe, this is just tough luck and bad timing for everyone else.

Be seeing you

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Poverty Is No Mystery – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2018

One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism.

Any earthly system, when compared with a utopia, will not fare well. Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/08/walter-e-williams/some-ideas-to-think-about/

By 

Poverty is no mystery, and it’s easily avoidable. The poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year. For a two-person household, it was $16,072, and for a four-person household, it was $24,755. To beat those poverty thresholds is fairly simple. Here’s the road map: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen… Read the rest of this entry »

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Watch “Left Coast Dilemma: Why California Ranks #1 In Poverty” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on January 20, 2018

Big (state) government, the Fed, currency corruption

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