Getting Closer!

Getting Closer!

Getting Closer to the Prize!

Last month I gave myself a week and a half to write a blog post for Notes on Liberty building off of Ross Emmett’s FEE article “What’s Right with Malthus” for the Thorpe-Freeman blog contest.

Yesterday, the contest judges posted their findings.

Congratulations to contest winner Adam Millsap on his piece on the gradual reemergence of the ordered chaos of city life.

And I am happy to announce that my post was mentioned as a runner-up! Not bad, if I do say so myself. With Brandon’s victory for the May contest, that makes for two recent mentions of Notes on Liberty by The Freeman‘s website.

Also mentioned was Babatunde Onabajo’s essay, also on Malthus, which I do recommend. In it, he describes why the business cycle, that is, prosperity interrupted by recession, could be considered a good thing. Endless wealth and growth might keep those driving it in good shape, but it can erode their character and leave those few who are unable to be a part of it to fend entirely for themselves. If those with the most to share (freely, not stolen from them through fraud or force, of course) are unable to sympathize with the less fortunate, what reason would they ever have to help them?

Getting Closer to Utopia!

I found Onabajo’s arguments compelling, but I would like to offer two critiques. One slight, and one very slight. To be fair, the author was only permitted 1,000 words for his essay, so he could not have really gone into these points, even if he wanted to.

The first is that the business cycle needn’t always include what we think of as painful recessions and depressions. Ups and downs, sure; the market isn’t perfect. But nothing along the lines of 1907, 1920, 1929, 1973, 2000, or 2007. These were all the result of central banking and/or state interventionism. In a free market, gone global and unhindered by trade barriers, recessions (if you could even call them that) would tend to be far less severe. Depressions would probably be nonexistent. Using Onabajo’s arguments, this could eventually lead to moral decline. Endless prosperity for which fewer and fewer have any skin in the game (indirectly proportionate to the increase of the rate of growth) destroys character. From the ensuing ethical and intellectual decay, I would imagine that the result would be more calls for state-intervention, leading, in time, to more severe recessions. (Interestingly, there is a cycle even in what I just described. But it may be more akin to a modern-day anacyclosis than it is to the business cycle. I am not well versed in Public Choice Theory, but I would be surprised if it didn’t have some good insights into this matter.)

The other critique I have is that under ideal free market circumstances, the need for charity for those simply down on their luck (as opposed to the defenseless and the handicapped) would decrease due to an approximately equitable distribution of not just the bare necessities, but of basic comforts and common frivolities. Coupled with milder and milder recessions, this would mean that not only would there be fewer to sympathize and fewer to be sympathized with, but also far less need to sympathize. (That is, until moral degradation sets in, giving special interests the opportunity to call for state-intervention, leading to severe recessions and depressions.)

One Year Later at PTPOL

One Year Later at PTPOL.

Well, this blog has been registered at WordPress.com for one year now. It took a while to get it off the ground, but it hit the ground running. (How’s that for a mixed – and contradictory – metaphor, by the way?) Click here to learn more about the blog, and here to learn a little bit about it’s author.

140 posts, 6,602 views, 482 comments, 200 WordPress likes, 192 Facebook likes, 54 followers on WordPress, 1150 followers on Twitter.

Not bad for an amateur one-man team, right? Well, its the readers that are more to thank. Without them there really is no point in writing.

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

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

The following is the sixth 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: Naturally, the Pauls’ preference for putting economic values first – by believing in free market libertarianism, which uses economics in totalitarian fashion to run society – caters to big businesses far more than the average citizen.

HENRY MOORE: Free Market Libertarianism no more uses “economics,” regardless of how that word is defined, to run society, than any other system does. In fact, as I have argued and will continue to argue elsewhere, it is less likely to do so. Is free market libertarianism the only system that seeks to apply its economic principles to society? Or do other ideologies also seek to apply aspects of their ideology, for good or bad, to society? It is clearly the latter. Or at least it would be to someone who didn’t confuse the term “free market” with the term “economics,” which is at the root of your mistake in the above sentence. And there is nothing inherently totalitarian about it either. That goes for any system, let alone one whose actual principles are the definition of totalitarianism’s opposite! Not unless actual force is involved, which you have yet to reliably point to in any manner. So now you are stretching the term “totalitarian” to mean “anything Barry Germanksy doesn’t like.”

However, a system that throws you in jail for not letting the government steal from you (through taxation, inflation, and regulatory costs) necessarily involves force. And that is just its economic side. Just imagine what this same society does in other sectors! Have you heard of wars of aggression and victimless crimes, for example? What is it about the type of system you advocate, where all is arbitrary, all is tailored to the lowest common denominator, that prevents these other totalitarian (by definition) measures from taking place? I put it to you that the system you advocate is no different than the one already in place (and opposed by the Pauls), where the totalitarian crimes I mentioned are widely practiced and sanctified through the supposedly democratic means by which they are implemented, save only by degree.

Government shouldn’t “cater” to anyone. Not big business. Not small business. And not special interest groups masquerading as advocates of the average citizen.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Perhaps this is best demonstrated by Ron and Rand’s constant support for the abolition of government-issued money in favor of currency minted by private banks. As is commonplace with the Pauls, they choose to ignore history or simply distort it.

HENRY MOORE: The government does not issue the money. This is false. If government issued the money the monetary system would have collapsed a long time ago, because a bureaucracy does not have, and therefore cannot respond to, the various incentives and disincentives, associated with actually seeking a profit.  The current monetary system is a hybrid of both the public and the private sectors. They remain private in the sense that they are not democratically elected nor accountable to the people they purport to serve, and public in the sense that they are protected and artificially propped up, primarily through various types of fraud and force.

This is fascism. And here you are, a leftist of sorts, defending it as though a monetary cartel was somehow a friend to the common folk. With inflation, anyone living on a fixed income is negatively impacted. It is true, at least in the short term, that an inflationary currency regime helps debtors, but it is equally true and equally important that not all debtors are the poor and downtrodden, and that not all the poor and downtrodden are debtors. In fact, the less “fair lending” regulations there are, the less likely lenders are to “take advantage” of people who cannot repay loans, because there is simply no incentive to do so. Loan sharks who do see incentives are far more common in systems that regulate legitimate lending practices to the point of making it overly costly for most people to operate with them.

So, the Federal Reserve Bank, is a private system reorganized by the state into a quasi-private monopoly. By way of illustration, consider two competing car lots whose salesmen decide they can get more profits by cooperating than they can by competing. So they both agree to raise the price of a vehicle on their lot to the same exorbitant price. Assuming there are no other car lots around within a distance that would make it cost effective to just buy a car out of town, anybody in the area who needs a new vehicle will have no choice but to buy a car from one of the two lots at the exorbitant price. Sure, this is price-gouging, but unless they figure out a way to ban new competitors, it is not yet a cartel. So say there is another salesman who sees the need for, as well as profit in, setting up his own lot and charging significantly less for his vehicles. Free Market. Problem solved. But before he can even get his inventory in, the local sheriff (one of the two cooperating salesmen’s cousin perhaps) comes up with some excuse to shut him down and run him out of town (through threats or bribery or blackmail, etc.). Well, this is exactly how the Federal Reserve, and in fact the entire financial system operates. Only the two price-gouging salesmen are the private banks and institutions who already have connections to government (and no, the root of the problem is not private banking, but a government susceptible to nepotism and corruption), the local sheriff is the government, and the competing salesmen are smaller, less favored banks, who may be even more capable and efficient than the major banks, but are starting at a distinct disadvantage. And yet you defend this system and would seek to create microcosms of it in every sector?

As for history, competing banks and commodity standards have been more efficient and less predisposed to severe downturns than national/central banks have. Unfortunately, even with a great many private banks there has been government manipulation and fraud, or government aiding in or covering up private sector fraud. This is not dissimilar to the more institutionalized manipulation and fraud now an accepted (but not well understood by the average person, nor fully transparent as to the specifics) part of the financial sector thanks to the Federal Reserve and various government regulatory agencies.

Such interference (sometimes initiated by government out of hysteria or motive, sometimes by the private banks themselves to increase their own gain, but remember, government is still the problem here because it made itself responsive to corrupting influences), has at times resulted in panics and runs and recessions and Depressions that have later been blamed on private banking, in general, rather than on the specific administration and the specific banks. But none of these downturns were anywhere near as severe or long lasting (save one, the Long Depression, which was only a depression in terms of decreasing prices, not in terms of a weak, anemic, struggling economy) as those that occurred in the era of, and as a result of, the Federal Reserve System.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Their plan to abolish the Federal Reserve has already been tried to varying degrees, and does not lead to utopian freedom. Instead, it creates an influx of fraud and currency debasement, followed by the concentration of financial power in the few banks that survive the ensuing “big fish versus little fish gladiatorial match”.

HENRY MOORE: The Federal Reserve System has been around for almost 100 years. Not once in that period of time has there ever been an attempt to abolish it. At least not an attempt that had any economic impact. Again your ignorance of history, which you project onto others, I am forced to deal with.

There were two national banks, neither of which were ever referred to as “the Federal Reserve” that had each been abolished. Perhaps that is what you are alluding to. But how could that be? Fully abolishing two banks are not “various degrees” of abolishing a bank. Abolishment is abolishment. Furthermore, the periods of these banks were replete with the problems you mention, though when the government does it they are not referred to as “fraud and debasement” because they are “legal,” while the periods where there was no central bank had less of these things. All of these periods had their fair share of panics, but panics are almost always overreactions to minor inconsistencies. If they are blown too far out of proportion the government steps in to “save the day.” What this usually means is they bail out their cronies (some of whom were just on the wrong end of a risk, others which were defrauding depositors), or where there is a genuine instance of good intentions on its part, wide scale distortions, leading to another round of blame, intervention, and yes, more reason to panic.

Now, there have been attempts to limit its policies, but the one time (1920/1921) where this had any meaningful impact it, a) had a good impact, and b) merely limited it to its original duties, those which it had just three short years prior (1917). Hardly an attempt to abolish it. And if you are referring to more recent history, something under FDR (confiscation of gold) or Kennedy (elimination of silver certificates) or Johnson (profligate spending) or Nixon (ending Bretton Woods) or Reagan (appointing supposed goldbug Greenspan) or whatever you are must be willfully ignorant, because the changes these men made were either attempts to strengthen the Federal Reserve or the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Concentration of power in already exists. Indeed, it flourishes under central banking. And not just in the finance industry. Central banks are already privately owned cartels. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they don’t always (if ever) use this power for the public benefit. Crony capitalism (I’ll wager you’d hate that even more than you do free market capitalism, if you knew the difference, that is) is what ensues. Favorites and those owed a favor get bailed out and subsidized. Those to whom this money “trickles down” eventually, as the economy reacts, lose the value that it initially had. This loss of value is always faster than the value gained in interest by saving money in a bank taking its orders from the Fed.

By the way, your metaphor really sucks. It conveys a false message and it is mixed.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Without government regulation to protect the country, individual autonomy among the masses becomes victimized by those with greater influence. The rich and powerful, who account for a small percentage of the country’s total population, have more wealth than the majority.

So now you are a nationalist? Protect the country? From what? The free society that made it great in the first place? The audacity!

What part of individual autonomy don’t you understand? Do I take it the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” has no value to you? Because if I took your word for it “autonomy” is the right to steal and to kidnap or kill those who resist the theft.

And if you are worried about oppression by the rich and powerful, turn your eyes first to the policies you yourself advocate (or at least defend) that actually facilitate the oppression by the rich and the powerful. And who is this “majority?” Do you mean just anybody who you don’t arbitrarily classify as rich and powerful? Or like a true democrat do you mean 50.1% or more of the people with a minority of 49.9% or less? Or will either one do, depending on the situation? What about those that don’t care that some people have more money and more power? Shouldn’t you subtract them from your “majority?” And if you do, who then will be the majority? If it is the rich and the powerful and their less rich, less powerful allies, will their right to oppress become all of the sudden sacred because at least they are going about it democratically?

BARRY GERMANSKY: In a free market, some unfortunate people – for example, those who are physically disabled or grew up in poverty – will automatically be disadvantaged and have no assistance from society to overcome these factors (which the current system tries its best to accommodate).

HENRY MOORE: Yes, there are such people. But haven’t you heard of “community” or “family” or “charity”? Don’t you have any faith in humanity? None of these things are absent in a free market system. They and their proper functioning are all subject to risk in the free market’s absence, however.

Poverty exists, but like most other things it is exaggerated. For every genuinely distraught person there may be a handful of people who, for lack of better words, are just lazy bums. The average American household under the “poverty line” is in better shape today than all but the richest of the rich were 100 years ago. A rising tide lifts all boats. Poor people today have cable TV, multiple vehicles, washing machines, cell phones, computers, etc. That doesn’t mean we should let people who don’t fit this description fall through the cracks, but there are better ways than bankrupting the country and debasing the currency.

And what is to blame for a lot of this poverty? Minimum wage laws, welfare for the able-bodied, taxation, inflation, regulations, takings, prisons filled with nonviolent criminals, public schools (but then I already listed prisons). In a word, the state.

BARRY GERMANSKY: For these simple reasons, corporate monopolies would be even more widespread without government intervention. The little fish would have no chance.

HENRY MOORE: To recap: big government and big business go hand in hand. They are not foes. They are the best of friends. We are not talking about a little fish fleeing a big fish or a little fish competing for food against the big fish. No, we are talking about two enormous fish surrounding an unsuspecting little fish and tearing him to shreds before he even has a chance to realize what is going on.

Funding for AXED: the End of Green Starting to Get on Pace

Funding for AXED: the End of Green Starting to Get on Pace.

AXED -- Kicktraq Mini

The project raised $7,492 on Wednesday, moving our average amount needed per day till the end of the project from about $2,500 to about $1,500. We are confident we can raise the $13,599 needed to reach our goal in the next week. If you are reading this on Thanksgiving, and/or plan on shopping till you drop on Black Friday, please save this link to the project somewhere you will see it over the weekend and donate $1, $5, $100, or whatever you can afford. This is an independent, grassroots effort and I can attest to the abilities of all of the individuals involved.

If you have a problem with the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, malaria in Africa, bed bugs in major cities, US dependence on foreign oil, United Nations treaties and initiatives, takings of private property, restrictions on your ranching/agricultural and hunting rights, your tax dollars going to waste on the pet projects of special interest groups with an often anti-industrial, anti-economic, anti-autonomy, anti-liberty, and/or anti-human bent, then get involved; this film will not disappoint.

FREE GIVEAWAY PROMOTIONAL, PHASE SIX

Anyone who reblogs this (or related posts) on any blog platform will receive a free copy of the finished product when it arrives (slated for Earth Day 2013). Those using a platform other than WordPress will need to contact me and let me know at hank@axedthemovie.com. I have 20 DVDs to give away and 2 of them have already been claimed. Those that pledge have the chance at additional rewards.

Press Release for AXED: the End of Green

Press Release for AXED: the End of Green.

For Immediate Release

Three Weeks Left in Kickstarter Campaign to Fund AXED: the End of Green, a Film About Counteracting the Effects of Green Radicalism

The Film

Billings, MT – November 8, 2012 – AXED: The End of Green is an innovative new documentary from award-winning independent filmmaker Jeffrey D. King. It is currently in the fundraising stage and has been pledged some $17,282 from 153 backers so far. The team is ramping up their efforts for the final push and Mr. King is enthusiastic that he can reach his $50,000 goal by his November 30th, 1:59 AM EST deadline, especially now that the election is behind us. But not without more help from backers. He will not receive a dime unless the project is fully funded, to $50,000, the minimum needed to produce this film.

The subject has been touched on before, but Jeffrey and his crew maintain that their claim that this film will help effect the end of the green movement should not come as a surprise. While people like Al Gore and Lisa Jackson and things like Solyndra and Climategate have been conservative fodder many times over, these are seen by the makers of AXED as mere branches and blossoms on the tree that is the modern environmental movement. They instead seek to hack deep down to the roots and expose and cut off things at their source. Hence AXED. Not all by themselves, as they hope their film “will serve as a catalyst, a rallying point, for people concerned about abuses by the green movement in both government and the media, as well as to educate those not yet fully aware of what is going on around them. All that is really needed to bring this dangerous movement to its knee’s is a well timed, well placed, and well delivered blow. What better time than now? What better place than here? What better medium than film?” to quote J. D.

The Message

Rather than slosh together a few nature scenes, economic statistics, and interviews, the film will pay attention to quality and detail, which are key to keeping the audience engaged. To this they need the right team, sufficient funding, and a plan both cohesive and comprehensive. But this is just the technical side of things. What are the actual points the film is trying to make? We have asked one member of his marketing team to give us a few of them. Here’s what he has to say:

“The green movement has failed at it’s stated and/or publicly acknowledged objectives. What many of the more sincere ones, who are the bulk of the movement but tend to be low in the ranks – this is a fairly standard arrangement in top-down movements – neglect is that economic growth, private property rights, and bottom-up, decentralized modes of organization and governance are actually all conducive to a healthy, clean environment, and not the other way around as maintained by many on the left. This is even more the case when these things are in combination. The benefits are multiplied. So when their goals are to save the environment and yet they fail exceedingly to do so, in many cases making things worse or creating new problems, no amount of political power they have accrued and policies they have implemented can be cited as evidence in their favor.”

“The green movement has succeeded in co-opting the coercive power of government to achieve specific policies. But these policies do not help the environment, per se. What they accomplish in the main is to tie up resources, tie up jobs, tie up growth, and tie up our liberties. These things are not conducive to helping the environment and so can and often do cancel out the supposed benefits of the policies, if there even were any. Most rank-and-file greens don’t seem to know this. They are well-meaning but easily manipulated. But I honestly think that the higher-ups do know it, yet it remains of little concern to them because their real intentions inevitably have little to do with clean air, clean water, or clean energy. Raw power is their motive. It is a hard thing for those who make it to the top to remain pure, to enact policies that some how don’t increase their power. It is a rare person in such a position that does not seek to use corrupt means to magnify it. I take a few pages from Hayek on this: the worst rise to the top, but also Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But there is an upside:

“Free Markets work! They are essentially an amalgamation of voluntary exchanges between individuals and groups of individuals. Things that can be exchanged are goods and services, which can include anything and everything that can possibly be traded for something else. Such exchanges would not occur if they were not beneficial to all the parties involved. Not unless coercion or fraud is a factor, but these things would are to be discouraged, prohibited even. Neither of these is present in a consistent free market system, by definition. And just how is such a system conducive to preservation of the environment? Because it is not in anyone’s best interest (in a system which discourages coercion and fraud) to pollute or erode or use up because the consumer will do his business elsewhere, once he realizes how detrimental it is to him in the long run. The facts can not be hidden from him if he has the initiative and faculties to uncover them and seek out alternatives, and there are no state-sanctioned roadblocks in his way. That’s what competition is! We do not have truly free markets these days.”

“Federalism works! It is a system of interlocking voluntary compacts on various levels of jurisdiction. It does not root out all problems by itself but it keeps the powers that be jealous for the loyalty of their shared or potential individual members. Ideally, like any other form of competition, the main beneficiary is the consumer, i.e., the citizen. The more levels of federalism there are the more competition, which is why when we essentially only have two levels vying for the hearts and minds of the people, one of them is at the mercy of the other, and they are both as far away from the individual as possible, the products, these jurisdictions, are greatly diminished in quality. We have not had true federalism for close to a century, some would say more. It has been eroding since the day the Constitution was ratified.”

So instead of just decrying the problems that they see, they will offer up solutions and ways to take charge so the that same problems do not arise again.

The Perks

Backers for the project can pledge any amount of $1 or more. Backers who pledge $5 or more will be credited in the film. Backers who give an amount of $25 or greater will not only star in the credits, they will receive special thank-you gifts in the mail. What these gifts are depends on the specific amount, at intervals of $25, $42, $60, $125, $250, $500, $750, $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, and $10,000. As a sort of extra incentive,  the gifts handed out for amounts of $1,000 or more, have a limit of how many of these gifts can be claimed. First come first served on those, but there is no limit for the other rewards.

The Producer-Director

Jeffrey D. King (J. D.) is a 21 year old independent filmmaker from the Big Hole area of Montana. There he grew up in a ranching community and became familiar with many of the subjects the film will delve into. Growing up under the Big Sky gave him not just a love for the world around him, the environment, but also a love for freedom. His previous film (Crying Wolf, 2011), about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, was the 2012 winner of the SAICFF “Best Creation” Jubilee Award. He was a self-taught filmmaker from a young age. An ambitious and passionate young man with a hunger for the truth, he has a B.S.B.A. in Business Management from Thomas Edison State College and makes his living making commercials and promotional videos. He currently resides around Billings, Montana.

For more information about AXED: The End of Green, contact Jeffrey at jd@axedthemovie.comor Hank at hank@axedthemovie.com

The AXED: The End of Green Kickstarter funding campaign can be found at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jking/axed

From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution

From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution.

There is a comment on one of my posts. It is really off-subject, but since I rarely get comments that aren’t pure spam (I even suspect that the comment in question is cleverly disguised spam), and since it is something that I talk about here on the site, replying to it and bringing it to my readers’ attention seemed like a good option. I don’t do this with all of the comments, just the ones that give me a clear opportunity to get a point across. It is probably bad blogger etiquette to do it at all, but at the moment I am working on several fairly extensive projects so I need a quick and easy post.

Mercadee: We have used both monetary and fiscal policy to battle this recession, and without the Fed’s actions to limit the downturn things would have been much worse. Fiscal policy in the form of the stimulus package, though too little, too late, and too tilted towards tax cuts, also helped to limit the damage to the economy. But when it comes to promoting a faster recovery, both monetary and fiscal policymakers have failed to do enough to help the economy return to full employment.

Me: Wrong! You are suggesting that policymakers should do those things which brought about the bubbles in the first place. What caused the depressions of 1920-1921 and 1930-45, and what made the latter one so long that did not occur in the case of the former? Loose fiscal and monetary policy. Stimulus to fund World War One, stimulus to pay off debts accrued from World War One, stimulus to fund public works projects, and stimulus to fund World War Two. What caused the housing bubble and its burst? The malinvestment that arose from the stimulative monetary and fiscal policy that was supposedly necessary to soften the blow of the dot-com burst, which was itself the result of prior loose policies. And here you are arguing for the same thing again. This time the bubbles are in student loans, car loans, and sovereign debt. It would be fine if there was a never ending series of bubbles that could burst and re-inflate, but there isn’t. Sovereign debt and government bonds are the end of the line. When that bubble bursts it will destroy the dollar, as the bubble and the false confidence it gave rise to is the only thing that has been propping it up. What gave rise to this bubble? There are many factors, and I suspect that, unlike the case of the other bubbles, this one was intended. Whether it is/was the Nixon Shock and completely detaching from a commodity standard; or wars for oil (the first one arguably being World War Two, as evidenced by the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, but perhaps more notable than this being the 1953 coup in Iran); or the creation of Bretton Woods in 1945; or the creation of the Fed in 1913; or the strengthening of the Fed in 1917; or the price controls and confiscation of gold in 1933; or the social programs and public works projects that created the current high levels of National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities, leading to the need to print more unbacked dollars; that is/was the chief cause I know not. And I care not as they are all contributing factors and all were misguided policies. The effects of these policies must be diminished. And similar policies must be prevented.