What Ails You, Economy?

What Ails You, Economy?

The Keynesian is ever mistaking economic activity for economic growth, credit expansion for wealth creation, profligacy for progress. Growth, wealth, progress. He uses his own definitions of each to reinforce his definitions of the others. And they are all fallacious.

When the Austrian tells the Keynesian that the printing and spending of mere pieces of paper cannot lead to more wealth in society, the Keynesian retorts that it is undeniable that credit expansion and stimulus lead to more economic activity. In this he is technically correct. Printing more dollars and handing them out to those who would consume and invest them, does indeed lead to “activity,” even more perhaps than there otherwise would have been.

But our Keynesian assumes, or assumes that his audience will assume, that mere economic activity is growth, is wealth, is progress. Presumably this includes even that activity which our Austrian rightly considers overinvestment (more properly, malinvestment), overconsumption, and/or the proverbial breaking of windows, each of these a common side-effect of the Keynesian witchdoctor’s remedies (often intended to cure ailments caused by earlier interventions, some Keynesian, some not).

If the Keynesian’s definition of economic activity doesn’t (oh, but it does!) include these things then the burden of proof is on him to show that his prescriptions lead to more real growth than would their absence on an unhampered market. And that his incantations lead, on the whole, to economic health rather than disease. A free market is largely unencumbered by the ailments mentioned above so in order to do this it would need to be shown that the sicknesses that do affect it are somehow worse than those caused by intervention.

And to be sure, pure economic freedom isn’t perfect. It has its own share of maladies. But these are all coughs and sneezes by comparison. Cures, if they are needed at all, come from the market itself. The economic meddlers and potion peddlers only serve to make things worse.

We must admit that not even on the most unfettered of markets does all economic activity lead to growth. For human actors err, and the market punishes their errors. How much more is all this the case under a centrally-planned expansionary-monetary/stimulatory-fiscal regime?  And how much more severe will be the punishment?

Remember, Remember! and Don’t Forget: Just Who is Co-Opting the Liberty Movement?

Remember, Remember! and Don’t Forget: Just Who is Co-Opting the Liberty Movement?.

“Remember, remember

The fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

That was technically yesterday (Mountain Standard Time), though I when I started this piece I hadn’t gone to bed yet. Today is officially election day. This post is intended to bring a few things to everyone’s attention. Many people already know these things. Some don’t. Either way, as usual, I will put a little of my own spin on it.

First on the election.

On the presidential elections (I still have not voted yet today, but I think I will make it to the polls before they close), voting doesn’t really effect the election outcome unless you are in a battleground state. So I hope most people will be voting their consciences. Voting, however, does send a message, and that message for each voting block is the same REGARDLESS of the outcome. What I mean by this is, if you support someone but vote for someone else, odds are that not only will that vote have no effect on the outcome (unless, as I said, it is a tight race) in terms of who the next president is, but you are also keeping people from knowing what you truly believe. Voting to send a message therefore has much more of an impact than voting to put someone in power.

And now, the rest of the post on ongoing and attempted takeovers of the liberty movement by 1) Occupy Wall Street (this was only a minor and unintended offense on their part), 2) the rank and file of the Tea Party (originally a good thing, but now more or less synonymous with the GOP), and 3) the Kochtopus (who in my conspiratorial mind own Jesse Benton, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and a good portion of many Republican, Tea Party, and Libertarian groups, organizations, and individuals, though I do not allege that everyone employed are receiving funds from the Koch Brothers is automatically a blind tool).

407 years ago this night was the Gun Powder plot where a group of English Catholics attempted to Assassinate James I of England. All religious considerations aside (I am not a Catholic), it was an act against oppression and thus a tradition has come down to us today, mainly in England, to celebrate the anniversary. I won’t go into any details about how the Fifth of November, AKA Guy Fawkes Day is traditionally celebrated, but I do want to call attention to the man it was named after. But not the historical man because that is fairly boring. It is to the fictionalized, mythologized, romanticized, and later Hollywoodified version that I will point you. Guy Fawkes is a Robin Hood-like hero in these later accounts, and much the same he has captured many hearts and minds. Like Robin of Loxley, he stands against the existing order, the status quo, and evades the unjust authorities, but perhaps unlike him, the whole idea of tyranny. What more could I ask for?

We’ve all seen the Guy Fawkes masks, the ones that come from the movie V for Vendetta. The first people that used them as activists, perhaps to the surprise of many, were in fact Ron Paul supporters. Not the hackers group Anonymous, and not the Occupy Wall Street movement. Just like with the Tea Party movement.

Speaking of Anonymous, Guy Fawkes, and Ron Paul, check out this “leak” and the video below.

https://cdn.anonfiles.com/1351956247586.pdf

Ron Paul raised $4.3 Million on Guy Fawkes Day in 2007. Why a similar money bomb didn’t occur in 2011 is probably due to former Campaign Manager Jesse Benton’s fear and loathing of anything resembling disorder or fringe or passion.

Most Ron Paul supporters had their suspicions of Jesse Benton. Some smelled a rat early on. Other reserved judgement until it was too late.

Adam Kokesh was one in the former category. [Warning: Foul Language!]

He regarded Jesse Benton and Campaign for Liberty (under Benton’s leadership at the time) with disdain from early one, at first for what seemed to be personal reasons, but later what turned out to be a dead-on instinct.

This all reminds me of an historical episode that occurred between another Jesse Benton, and a man who might be considered Ron Paul’s role model against the Central Bank, President Andrew Jackson.

Campaign for Liberty was perhaps the first real Tea Party organization, although in a sense Dick Armey’s Freedom Works (2004), the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity (2004) Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform 1985), and the Koch Brothers’ Citizens for a Sounds Economy (1984) all deserve honorable mention.

Even Murray Rothbard can be said to have had a role, albeit a small one.

The New Boston Tea Party – Murray Rothbard

And speaking of Murray Rothbard and the Kochtopus, I suggest you read some of these links I have done many hours worth of research looking for. I have read a number of them myself. There is some really juicy stuff in there. And it should be required reading for any liberty minded person worried about the corrupting influences to be found in politics, even in the libertarian movement. I don’t know entirely what to make of it all other than that the Koch brothers have done many great deeds for which they should be praised, but all for what appear to be the wrong reasons, reasons, which have also caused them to do a great deal of  more sinister things. Perhaps enough to outshine their more praiseworthy endeavors. They are corporate fascists and elitists no less than George Soros and Warren Buffet. They just have a different strategy. Perhaps the most clever and dangerous.

1969

Libertarian Cover for the Corporate State by Murray N. Rothbard

1980

The Clark Campaign: Never Again by Murray N. Rothbard

1981

http://mises.org/journals/lf/1981/1981_01-04.pdf

Konkin on Libertarian Strategy – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily

Samuel Edward Konkin III “Reply to Rothbard”

http://mises.org/journals/lf/1981/1981_06-07.pdf

1993

WHY THE PRO-NAFTA HYSTERIA?

May 28, 2007

Conference on Austrian Economics and the Firm « Organizations and Markets

March 25, 2008

How Libertarian Is the Kochtopus? « LewRockwell.com Blog

April 22, 2008

The Kochtopus vs. Murray N. Rothbard by David Gordon

May 12, 2008

The Kochtopus vs. Murray N. Rothbard, Part II by David Gordon

October 22, 2008

The Board Game of Libertarian Public Policy

January 2, 2009

Tyler Cowen: Statist, anti-Rothbardian agent of the Kochtopus | TIME.com

March 2, 2009

The Kochtopus and Power « LewRockwell.com Blog

March 6, 2009

‘Libertarian’ Hero « LewRockwell.com Blog

August 28, 2009

Cowenian Second-Bestism Smackdown

Good for Pete Boettke « LewRockwell.com Blog

March 30, 2010

Koch Brothers Fund Trey Grayson’s Campaign « LewRockwell.com Blog

re: Koch Brothers Finance Trey Grayson’s Campaign « LewRockwell.com Blog

April 22, 2008

The Kochtopus vs. Murray N. Rothbard by David Gordon

April 16, 2008

‘Reason’-Funder To Host Cheney « LewRockwell.com Blog

August 4, 2010

Radical Roots of Libertarianism by Samuel E. Konkin III | JustLive

August 30, 2010

The Billionaire Koch Brothers’ War Against Obama : The New Yorker

In Defense of the Kochtopus by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

August 31, 2010

Austrians Again « LewRockwell.com Blog

September 3, 2010

David Koch Attacks Alan Grayson « LewRockwell.com Blog

September 15, 2010

“Who’s Funding This?!”

October 25, 2010

Good for the Cato Institute « LewRockwell.com Blog

November 24, 2010

Liberty Central: Repo’d by the Koch brothers? | Smart v. Stupid

November 26, 2010

Libertarians Against the Regime by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

January 26, 2011

Koch Brothers Feel the Heat In DC, as Broad Coalition Readies Creative Action to Quarantine the Billionaires Gathering in California Desert | Alternet

January 27, 2011

‘Koch Brothers Trot Out Ed Meese To Defend Them’ « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Koch Brothers Trot Out Ed Meese to Defend Them

Koch conference under scrutiny – Kenneth P. Vogel and Simmi Aujla – POLITICO.com

February 2, 2011

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Koch Brothers Hire Arnold Schwarzenegger’s PR Operative

February 3, 2011

More Adventures With the Kochs « LewRockwell.com Blog

February 6, 2011

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Americans for [Koch] Prosperity

February 9, 2011

Monetary Policy Hearing Today: Ron Paul Versus the Kochtopus | Next New Deal

February 24, 2011

Why the Evil Koch Brothers Must Be Stopped: They Support Drug Legalization, Gay Marriage, Reduced Defense Spending | Peace . Gold . Liberty

February 26, 2011

Wisconsin, Reason, and the National Conversation

March 2, 2011

On Koch Supported Herman Cain by Robert Wenzel

The Koch Bros. Love Herman Cain & Hate Ron Paul | Peace . Gold . Liberty

March 10, 2011

Murray Rothbard on the Kochtopus by David Gordon

April 22, 2011

Gary Johnson: Caveat Emptor by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

May 6, 2011

The Proto-Koch « LewRockwell.com Blog

May 9, 2011

Utah Court Strikes Blow for Free Speech, Dismisses Trademark and CFAA Claims Against Political Activists | Electronic Frontier Foundation

July 3, 2011

The Caravan Keeps Rolling « LewRockwell.com Blog

Their Master’s Voice | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

July 8, 2011

Koch Brothers to Democrats: Stop Asking us For Money

July 22, 2011

Koch Bros. for Higher Taxes (on Their Competitors) | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

July 25, 2011

Do the Koch Bros. Own Bachmann, Too? | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

September 6, 2011

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: HOT: Mother Jones Releases Secret Koch Brothers Tapes

September 29, 2011

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Oh Geez, Charles Koch Advised Friedrich Hayek to Sign Up for Social Security

October 3, 2011

Update: Austrian economics program denied at Loyola New Orleans

October 13, 2011

Could a Tea Party Occupy Wall Street? by Addison Wiggin

November 6, 2011

That 3rd Koch Brother | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

November 16, 2011

MF Global and the Koch Bros. « LewRockwell.com Blog

January 1, 2012

From Vienna With Love: The Kochtopus Warms Up to Ron Paul

January 31, 2012

What’s wrong with the Cato institute? | Peace . Gold . Liberty

February 16, 2012

“History of the Libertarian Movement” by Samuel Edward Konkin III | Left-Liberty.net

March 1, 2012

Kochs launch court fight over Cato – Mike Allen – POLITICO.com

Koch Brothers sue Cato Institute, president – Think Tanked – The Washington Post

Cato says Koch engaged in “a hostile takeover” of the think tank – Think Tanked – The Washington Post

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Billionaire Koch Brothers Sic Super Lawyer on Widow

Koch Bros. Sue Ed Crane, Cato Institute « LewRockwell.com Blog

The Kochs vs. Cato : The New Yorker

March 2, 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Will Lew Rockwell Show at the Next Meeting of the Cato Board?

The Volokh Conspiracy » Koch v. Cato

The Cato Putsch | The American Conservative

March 3, 2012

‘Cato Putsch’? « LewRockwell.com Blog

Brad DeLong: Ed Crane and the Cato Institute vs. the Kochtopus!

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Beltarians versus WaPoists on Koch-Cato

The Volokh Conspiracy » Koch v. Cato — A View from Cato

March 4, 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Murray Rothbard Haunts Koch-Cato from the Grave

Justin Raimondo on the Latest Cato Broadside « LewRockwell.com Blog

Bob Wenzel on the Lineage of the Cato Shares « LewRockwell.com Blog

March 5, 2012

Libertarian Ed Crane Decides to Act Like a Liberal. Will It Destroy the Cato Institute? | RedState

Koch Brothers, Worth $50 Billion, Sue Widow Over $16.00 of Nonprofit’s Stock » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

What Goes Around Comes Around by Skip Oliva

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: What It Takes to Get Big Support from the Koch Brothers

CATO: From Libertarian to Republican? | The American Conservative

March 6, 2012

Is It Charles Koch’s Moral Duty . . . « LewRockwell.com Blog

Charles Koch Makes a Good Point by Thomas DiLorenzo

Cato and the Kochs | The Moral Sciences Club | Big Think

March 7, 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Where’s LewRockwell.com?

March 8, 2012

Charles Koch: I Am Not Backing Down « LewRockwell.com Blog

Koch vs. Cato — A Guest Post by Brink Lindsey | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

The Battle for Cato « ThinkMarkets

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: MIT Prof: The Kochs Will Not Takeover the World

March 12, 2012

Cato’s Amazing Hypocrisy as It Battles the Kochtopus » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

March 19, 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: For the Neocons, It’s Crane over Koch

March 22, 2012

Robert Lawson on Koch ‘n Cato « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: David Koch Gives Ed Crane an Employment Review

March 26, 2012

Family Feud | The Weekly Standard

April 11, 2012

Judge Napolitano Visits Cato

April 16, 2012

The Libertarian Challenge to Charles Murray’s Position on Property Rights and Homesteading by Walter Block

April 20, 2012

Digging the Hole Deeper « LewRockwell.com Blog

Independent and Principled? Behind the Cato Myth | The Nation

April 24, 2012

How Not To Change America’s Politics: Set Up a Public Policy Think Tank by Gary North

April 27, 2012

The Think-Tank Mentality by Skip Oliva

July 7, 2012

» Lessons from the UVA, Cato Wars Kleptarchy

August 17, 2012

The Paul Ryan Selection: The Koch Brothers Get Their Man – Roger Stone: The Stone Zone

August 30, 2012

Plutocrat David Koch Not a Libertarian « LewRockwell.com Blog

Two Additional Links I can’t put in the chronology:

Kochtopus

Interview With Samuel Edward Konkin III

One of the most interesting things (and there were many) I garnered from reading these is the Kochtopus’ love for Central Banking, despite their roots in Austrian Economics. Evokes memories of Alan Greenspan. And why the Koch Brothers put stock in Herman Cain. And why Rick Perry was derided by so-called conservatives when he called Ben Bernanke a traitor. And why their oh so brief ally Ron Paul is so hated by them and theirs anymore.

And it reminds me further of several graphics I have seen floating around on the various End the Fed sites and blogs. A stream of consciousness post like this would be seriously remiss without tying everything together with a few related images.

Do I need to spell out the connection?

Hydra/Kraken/Squid/Octopus/Kochtopus/Leviathon/Federal Government/Federal Reserve/National Bank/Petrodollar/Koch Industries/Corporations/Military Industrial Complex/Fascism Hello?!?!

Please don’t think I’m going all occult on you or anything (I do admit that I came across some pretty dubious sites looking for some of these images). I just really like mythology and history and metaphors and analogies.

Tea Party Heroes Ron And Rand Paul Make For A Bitter Brew; Fifth Response

Tea Party Heroes Ron And Rand Paul Make For A Bitter Brew; Fifth Response.

The following is the fifth paragraph of Barry Germansky’s op-ed Tea Party Heroes Ron and Rand Paul Make for a Bitter Brew, from earlier this year, interspersed with my rebuttals from within the last few days.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Of course, nothing about the free market is “voluntary.”

HENRY MOORE: I don’t see what is so non-voluntary about a system in which, if we apply your narrow definition (though not your other arguments) of what it is, absolutely no one is forced to participate. Nor do I see it in a system in which most people, given the more accurate definition, choose to participate anyways, whether they fully recognize the fact or not.

Sure, maybe those that do not participate will starve, but that is more a proof of the free market’s necessity than it is one of its supposed despotism. Some might say, “of course they won’t starve; there is, after all, such a thing as mutual aid.” Well, it works just fine in small enough, homogenous enough, communities. And there’s nothing about a free market system that precludes their existence.

In fact, such alternative systems are merely market choices, like, get this, Coca-Cola, Staples, Barnes and Nobles, cable television, marijuana, Samsung, microwaves, Taco Bell, and going to the movies on Friday night. So you are right, in a sense, that a market system is not voluntary. But it is not because, as you suggest, anyone is forced to participate in a particular activity or within a particular set or range of activities, the exceptions being personal self-inhibition of violence and fraud. And this last point is no contradiction. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. For were violence and fraud to be permissible, that would be an even greater contradiction for a system based on voluntary choice. As would a prohibition on defense against these things.

So long as you are able to participate, you already are participating, even if you pretend you are not by going off into the middle of nowhere to play at being a collectivist/communitarian/egalitarian. Nothing short of squashing voluntary choice, within a given society or region or group, can alter this fact. The only way to not participate, then; rather than choosing not to, which is inherently impossible because it is a choice and this means participation; is for someone else, “the people” perhaps, to take choice away.

There are, of course, several layers. If someone takes away your choice in one area, you may have it still in another. But its removal from one sector will not be so clean and predictable as to not affect the other sectors. There is no amount of expertise in existence able to sanitize and predict all possible outcomes of a policy, let alone with time enough to prevent adverse consequences.

So we come to that old charge: technocracy. That is what in essence, in its worst possible form, you advocate. And No one denies that every field has its experts, or that those experts shouldn’t be the ones we look to when a solution to a problem is desired. But even experts, intelligent, credentialed, respected, are subject to the downsides of human nature, that is revealed at its worst when great power is involved

BARRY GERMANSKY: It functions by its own set of rules.

HENRY MOORE: And so, the only rules are that you can not dictate the rules to someone else. This is the Golden Rule, the non-aggression principle. This means, perhaps ironically, that you can not keep someone from allowing themselves to be dictated to if that is their choice, even if, unbeknownst to them, that choice is a detriment to themselves. Only where this detriment spills over to others, and there is no escape from it, is it in any way their concern.

BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls treat the free market as truly “free,” but are simply ignoring the fact that it is nothing more than another restrictive ideological construct.

HENRY MOORE: What are these restrictions? Restrictions against positive rights and entitlements! Be they blatant or subtle. Is this what you truly hate about a free market? That no one is entitled to what others may more properly make claim to because it is in their possession, was created by their faculties, or came to them first? The alternative is a also a restrictive ideological, where creators and earners and receivers of gifts, and even the “fortunate,” are the ones upon whom restrictions are placed.

BARRY GERMANSKY: They happen to prefer it to other theories, but that does not make the free market a universal fact of life.

HENRY MOORE: Universal as in “accepted everywhere,” or universal as in “natural?” If the former, there is no disagreement here, though I wonder why you even bring it up. No one is making such outlandish claims. And if the latter, I am tempted to say that there is something very natural about the underlying foundations of a choice-based system, though am not so presumptuous as to say everything to do with it is. And to the extent that it is not, I fail to recognize this as a automatically a problem. Is a stone preferable to a hammer when driving a nail?

BARRY GERMANSKY: But just watch how the Pauls, in their unique brand of economic collectivism, dismiss all non-economic concerns and aspects of human existence. One swipe of their wrists makes the public’s multi-faceted social concerns disappear from the political agenda.

HENRY MOORE: Again. Not true. What you are saying here is that they ignore everything that does not have something to do with economics. Elsewhere, you have made the case that the Pauls try to make every issue an economic one. This is a contradiction. You make two conflicting statements. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, neither one is entirely accurate.

The Pauls know that there is more to “the” (collectivize much?) public agenda than economics/economy how Barry Germansky narrowly, arbitrarily defines it. And they also know that the more literal definition of economics/economy is inherently broad. As I have said before, they both mean, “household customs.” Another word for economy/economics, catallaxy/catallactics, admittedly coined by self-proclaimed free marketeers, means, all at once, from the Greek, “to exchange,” “to admit in the community,” and “to make friends.”

I implore you to please tell me what human activity, the people’s multi-faceted social concerns made manifest, besides theft, murder, rape, and other violent crimes, falls outside of one of these definitions! In fact, even these, to some degree, might be considered to be contained within that definition, because “the people” as a collective entity have, at times, democratically decided these things are necessary means to noble ends, virtues even. No less so than individual tyrants or coteries of oligarchs have done much the same. Unfortunate in all cases.

No doubt that there is the issue of semantics to be resolved between the Pauls and you Barry, yet I would have thought that one such as yourself, one so concerned about abstractions and contradictions, one so highly intellectual and logical and educated, would at least learn how others define words that they use before you use your own faulty definition, apply it to their arguments, and then destroy the same. I will not even tell you what fallacy that is because its name has become so cliche.

When It Is Noticed, It Is Usually Because It Is One, When It Is Not, It Is Usually Because It Is Not One†

When It Is Noticed, It Is Usually Because It Is One, When It Is Not, It Is Usually Because It Is Not One†.

Three weeks ago, I posted an article. It was three to five days in the works before I posted it*. There were emails that needed responses (or lack thereof), sources to cite (far too many if you include all the links), thoughts to think, and of course, unrelated activities, that all delayed its posting. In spite of, or perhaps because of all this, it is a cluttered, jumbled, at times hard to follow (I would imagine, though I can understand it just fine myself), mass of words and ideas. It has been edited more than anything else I have posted to date, and I mean just since it was posted! I fixed two things within the last couple hours, in fact.

I was bored and have been contemplating publishing more articles (I actually wrote one two days ago but then all but scrapped it) for the past several days so I decided to re-read some of my most recent posts. Usually when I do this, it is a guarantee that something will need to be tweaked. Such was the case today with the article in question. It is one of the edits itself that has inspired me to write this article I lay before you. This paragraph did not contain an error, but it did contain a weakness:

Sure enough, a few days, maybe weeks later, it came time to post some rebuttals (something I promised I was going to do) to one, Barry Germansky and a comment he left on an earlier post, and one of the phrases I was using just seemed like it needed some backing up by some intellectual authority figure. The phrase was “near-rational”, and again, “quasi-rational”. I wasn’t able to find the quotation at that time, which is why I feel compelled to write about it now.

Let me just say that every single word, punctuation, and idea is EXACTLY how it was before the edit. How can it possibly be called an edit then? Where was this weakness? The truth is that upon reading the paragraph, I was reminded of a logical fallacy (elsewhere in the piece I point out a few straw men), argument from authority (or if you want to be all fancy, argumentum ad verecundiam). So what I did was add a link to the word “authority.”

But understand that this is no mea culpa, but a disclaimer! I am not acknowledging that I engaged in a logical fallacy, because frankly, I hadn’t. But I realized that it looked like I might have, so better to link to the wikipedia page on aforementioned fallacy before someone else (not that anyone would read such an ugly mess) points out what they perceive to be one, thereby attempting to discredit one or all of my points, forcing me to do damage control. It is probably not the sort of thing anyone would notice, whether I have 2 readers or 2 million, whether before or after the edit, but I think it behooves me, as a writer-albeit-amateur, to act on it.

Now, how can I say that I did not engage in this fallacy? Did I not do exactly as the fallacy describes, appeal to authority? Before I answer the second, let me answer the first. I can say it for two reasons, the first being that argumentum ad verecundiam is not technically always a fallacy. Rather, when it is pointed out, it is usually because the specific case is a fallacy, as when the authority in question is not really an authority, or when there is hardly any consensus and you use it as your chief argument. So there is an inherent bias in pointing out the type of argument that makes one automatically assume it is one (a fallacy), rightly so in most cases. The second reason is that the whole point of appealing to the authority was not to win an argument, but more to provide an anecdote on why I phrased an idea in another argument a certain way; as well as to introduce other concepts, for not only did I say that authority figure A said statement B, therefore B must be true, but I dissected some of the ideas behind B, independently of who just happened to have said it. So, to answer the second question, yes, I did appeal to authority, but not really as part of any argument.

Perhaps there is something wrong with me. That is, being so messy on the one hand and so meticulous on the other. I’ll just blame it on my rugged individualism and that spontaneous order malarkey.

*I am proud to say that some of the things I write (including the piece before you) are more spontaneous. I get a blank slate, start typing, and post (unless of course it was originally an email or comment, but the same basic scenario plays out), just like that, no prior preparation whatsoever.

†What is with that seeming paradox for a title? The antecedent to the first, third, fourth, and sixth “it” is “argument.” The antecedent to the second and fifth “it” is “the reason.” The antecedent to each “one” is “fallacy.”

Joseph Schumpeter’s Anti-Utopian Quotation

Joseph Schumpeter’s Anti-Utopian Quotation.

[Disclaimer: The objective of this piece is to get things off my chest, to engage the three people I mention herein, possibly at the risk of weirding out others who do not know the background of the piece, and to show that a voluntary society is both moral and workable.]

A few weeks or maybe more than a month ago, I came across a quotation from Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) that I thought made a lot of sense.

Schumpeter is one of those long-dead Austrian economists that you read about every so often. He was a pupil, along with Ludwig von Mises, of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, the Austrian Finance Minister. Though he was influenced to a great extent by the Austrian school of economics, he is generally considered to be a member of the Historical school of economics. In reality, he was a little of both (in addition to being enamored of the Lausanne school of economics and influenced by Weberian sociology), as he attempted to solve the two schools’ differences in methodology.

I haven’t read any of his books, and I don’t plan on doing so any time soon, but I recommend to anyone interested in economics or political philosophy from either a classical liberal or heterodox perspective, that they consider at least perusing some of them. I had to do this myself just the other day trying to find his quotation again. I couldn’t find it in any of the books I scanned through.

All the while I was looking myself, I asked some others to help me out. I emailed no less personages than Walter Block (got back to me), Gary North (got back to me), Roderick LongMark Thornton (got back to me), Thomas DiLorenzoDavid GordonRobert HiggsHans HoppeRobert Murphy (got back to me), Ralph RaicoJoseph SalernoP.J. Hill, and Thomas Woods (got back to me), with the message:

I read a quote from Joseph Schumpeter just the other day that I thought was pretty good. But for the life of me I can’t recall where exactly I read it, and am unable to find it using google or the lists of Schumpeter quotes I found. It basically states that consumers aren’t really rational, but instead their decisions approach the rational, and it maybe also had something to do with price system or the allocation of resources. I am working on something right now and feel that this quote would be a perfect fit for the point I am trying to get across. I would greatly appreciate your help if you can point me in the right direction, perhaps if you know the exact quotation or the work it is found in. I am emailing a few other knowledgeable people about this quote, so if you are unable to help, that is fine too.

Thank you very much,

Henry Moore

For the record, I do not put Schumpeter on as high a pedestal as I would a Mises or a Hayek or a Rothbard. I find some of the things he wrote to be questionable and some of the things he said to be reprehensible. But he was a very intelligent, well-informed man who has contributed much insight to the fields of economics, sociology, political science, and philosophy, and so there is still wisdom to be extracted from his voluminous body of work. Hence my fixation with just one measly quotation.

I must have originally read it here, though this is not where I eventually found it again. I thought it was worth keeping, so I copied and pasted it to one of my files, just in case I needed it for something.

Sure enough, a few days, maybe weeks later, it came time to post some rebuttals (something I promised I was going to do) to one, Barry Germansky and a comment he left on an earlier post, and one of the phrases I was using just seemed like it needed some backing up by some intellectual authority figure. The phrase was “near-rational”, and again, “quasi-rational”. I wasn’t able to find the quotation at that time, which is why I feel compelled to write about it now.

The reason the particular phrase needed some additional fire power (while certain other phrases and ideas did not) has to do with the its relation to the central issue in my “discussion” with Germansky. Germansky’s op-ed makes several statements and draws several conclusions that I fundamentally disagree with, but I felt it absolutely necessary to convey (though unfortunately not emphasize, as I couldn’t find the quotation), that I did accept at least some of his premises. It is very hard to argue with someone without agreeing with them on a few basics. In spite of Germansky’s straw man arguments to the contrary, advocates of the free market (I speak mainly for libertarians of Austrian persuasion, albeit as a layman) do not have Utopian ideals, and reject the idea of mankind’s and society’s perfectability.

The premise that we all agree on is that of man’s imperfectability, more or less the same as his fallibility. He is unable to create Utopia (Greek for “No Place,” though true Utopians think it is Greek for “Good Place”). There are, of course, different ways of putting this idea to words. The Christians have their Doctrine of Original Sin. A number of other religions also acknowledge that man, while confined to earth, cannot create his own heaven. The secular humanist might think more in terms of man being a superior being, but an evolved (perhaps still evolving) animal nonetheless, and that when push comes to shove, survival, at least in the subconscious of the individual, trumps any notion of moral duty or value.

[Let me briefly pause here, before going on to show how Germansky and Schumpeter each have their own version of the above premise, to say that this piece, came largely out of the blue as several things came together right before me. I have already explained some of this, but while the iron is still hot, I would like to strike it again. That’s why I am giving a shout out to Rick Searle and Giulio Caperchi, two fellow bloggers with whom I have had similar (but less one-sided) discourses, more on which is hopefully to come in September. Searle has gotten me interested in the topic of Utopia of late, and Caperchi has some similarities to Germansky, in that they both argue for a separation of the political sphere from the economic, though the latter is much more rigid.]

Barry Germansky has his own philosophy, which he dubs Pseudo-Practicality (though what little I know of it would better be described as Quasi-Practicality) states that all human thoughts are mere abstractions, that all abstractions are inherently contradictory, but that some (perhaps to be determined through trial and error, or just logical deduction) are less contradictory than others. He also maintains (quite rightly) that societies based on the least contradictory abstract concepts, though still imperfect, are preferable to more contradictory forms of societal conduct or structure.

Clearly, at least in his philosophy, Barry Germansky rejects Utopianism. But then comes the rub. What he advocates in terms of societal behavior and hierarchy violates his own philosophy. Hyperdemocracy and legal positivism, and their products (ranging from the socialist dictatorship to the special-interest oligarchy to the “benign” welfare state) are among the most highly contradictory (and therefore Utopian relative to the claims made for them by their apologists) societal configurations imaginable. I feel that I (will) have shown this (in due time), hopefully within the scope of my discussion(s) with Germansky.

Not to be outdone, Schumpeter also had something to say on this, the imperfectability of man and society. Which brings me at long last to the quotation (Which I did eventually find, buried deep in my files, as it was in a format that made it impossible for my internal search application to find it using any keywords. I basically just happened upon it after becoming demoralized and giving up entirely.) itself, which was first published in 1911:

The assumption that conduct is prompt and rational is in all cases a fiction. But it proves to be sufficiently near to reality, if things have had time to hammer logic into men. Where this has happened, and within the limits in which it has happened, one may rest content with this fiction and build theories upon it.

The implication is that people are not perfectly rational, though they are capable of rational thought and action. The take-away from this is that even though mankind can come apparently close to perfection in so many of his decisions and endeavors, he still can not know and consider every possible facet of every possible detail of his actions and their possible consequences, long enough or hard enough for them to truly be considered infallible. There is a constant falling short, even if in practice this is of little concern.

For those that accept them (what I suspect is the majority of informed free market advocates) these notions preclude all Utopian aspirations on their part. For even if the free market were Utopian on the same grounds (their unworkability) that hyperdemocracy and legal positivism are, it still wouldn’t be Utopian in its ideals or goals, outside of perhaps a few ideological circles. So, a free market might still be Utopian to the extent that it is not all that it is claimed to be. But a great deal of the claims as to what those claims are, are exaggerations. More straw men.

The free market’s advocates do not claim for it the same types of things that other Utopian ideas (including those masquerading as non-Utopian) claim. Take social justice and equality. For even those Market Anarchists who emphasize the value of these two things recognize that even within their preferred system, perfect social justice and perfect equality are just as unattainable as perfect rationality. This is because the benefits of a free society and free economy are still conferred on merits (how valuable a producer, and not just in the sense of a manufacturer or other entrepreneur, each person is to society, to consumers). Discrimination still exists, but it is not, at root, irrational. So there is social justice.

Because what discrimination that manifests itself is rooted in the choices of individuals and their responsibility for themselves, it creates alignments rather than distortions. That is, those with a low time preference and high motivation get what they desire, and those with a high time preference and low motivation get what they desire. Both groups would contain free riders (those with low time preference wait to do things at lower cost than those with a higher time preference, and those who are less motivated do not have as much at risk in relation to the benefit they reap in the form of increased capacity or standard of living brought on by the more highly motivated) on the others, but none of them is complicit in fraud or coercion in so doing. So there is equality (in addition to equality before the law).

The imperfections of society do not reflect the structure of that society, in a free, voluntary, or unanimous consent society, so much as they reflect each individual’s responsibility for himself. Bad choices are the responsibility of the chooser.

This does not mean that there is no spill-over effect. But the negative impact can be lessened if distortions are not present. And where others are wrongly affected, there is room for reparation, compensation, justice to be meted out.

Nor does it mean that others are prohibited from protecting the bad decision maker from some of the consequences of his actions, or helping him to deal with them. For these acts (of protecting or helping) are themselves choices which may be bad or good and come with their own sets of consequences.

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New Ron Paul Article!

Need help convincing reasonable people that Ron Paul is the only candidate running that will Restore America Now?

Read and share the following articles, more of which are to come:

The Federal Reserve Will Preside Over The Coming Crisis Feb. 20

Ron Paul: The Big Picture Feb. 15

Secret Meetings At The Federal Reserve Feb. 10

Ron Paul Pro-Abortion? Feb. 8

Ron Paul’s Non-Interventionism Feb. 3

Ron Paul Does Not Blame America First Feb. 1

The Failed Drug War Jan. 31

Here is a small taste, though a personal anecdote, originally from February 1st, 2012:

I Am A Ron Paul Supporter

I am a Ron Paul supporter here in Yellowstone County, Montana and an adherent to the Austrian School of Economics. The purpose of this blog is the propagation of the aforementioned.

I have been chiefly influenced, thus far, by…

Ron Paul’s The RevolutionEnd the FedLiberty Defined;

Thomas Woods’ 33 Questions About American HistoryNullificationMeltdownRollbackWho Killed the Constitution (with Kevin Gutzman);

Howard Kershner’s Dividing the Wealth;

Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson;

Frederic Bastiat’s The Law;

Just started Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s Lincoln Unmasked