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.)

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16 thoughts on “Getting Closer!

  1. I vehemently disagree with one of your critiques. After reading Onabajo’s and your essays, it is clear to me that he is of higher class and possesses a far greater intellect than you ever will. Your comments above prove my point. Your ignorance is blinding. We HAVE to go through major highs and lows in our economy because government hasn’t been given the proper reign to drive it in the right direction. The fact is, government MUST get involved or we as a people will come to a hasty and headlong ruin. Until you can prove to me otherwise I simply cannot respect anything you write.

    • One more thing – you’ll probably delete or ignore my comment. Your backbone is likely lacking and you know that you’ll make a fool of yourself in front of all your followers if you try to refute my position. There are many birds of your feather.

      • Billy, get your panties out of a twist! I always respond to comments, even ones as pathetic as yours. You show your true colors by getting me all wrong right off the bat. And possibly Onabajo as well, who you assume is the same calibre of economic ignoramus as yourself, which I can tell is not the case. His intellect very well could be far greater than mine. But you are not one to judge as it is arguable you don’t even have one.

        Case in point: if you weren’t such a brain dead, spineless coward yourself you would do more than make assertions that you can’t back up (and yet you want me to give you proof, nice double-standard there, Billy!) and commence with the name-calling (I am more than happy to return fire, by the way).

        Refutation of your “position” is all around you my friend. If you are too stubborn to accept the proof, that is your problem. I bet I could offer you every scrap of evidence there is and it wouldn’t matter because you are clearly stuck on stupid. When you say things like, “Until you can prove to me otherwise I simply cannot respect anything you write,” you are just blowing smoke.

        Even so I will give you a cursory schooling on this matter and leave it at that for now. If you choose to come back, that is fine, but please refrain from being such a prick. It really does get in the way of actually discussing the actual matter. (On second thought, maybe that was your plan, how clever of you!)

        Every boom prior to a severe downturn has had at least one thing in common: Moral hazard created by reckless monetary policies and financial regulations. These come either from central banks with their monopoly on money issuance, or from governments with their monopoly on force. The government already has the powers you wish it had. They have used them, and have always made matters worse. Prior to their use of these powers, downturns were far less severe. On the rare occasions where they had these powers and chose not to exercise to their fullest extent, depressions were over in a matter of months. Only with the increase of these powers, and the increase of the exercise of them have…(edit here, did not finish this sentence)…the ups and downs become more severe.

        Having said all of this, the burden of proof is actually on you. You are the one who wants to do more of that which has already been tried and has always failed. Surely you acknowledge that there has been government intervention and that it has failed to solve the problem? (If you deny this you are essentially saying there has been no government intervention which even those who agree with you would use as an opportunity to distance themselves from you). But instead of even considering the possibility that government intervention exacerbates the problem you take a giant leap of faith and say it should do more! Amazing! Well, what else would you have it do, Billy? Spend more money it does not have? Print more paper? It is already doing those things! Provoke a war with an alien race? Lower interest rates to the negatives? Pretty soon, those will be among the only options it has left in the direction you want to take it.

        • Just what I expected. You’re undoubtedly a homophobic, racist bigot, on top of being one of the biggest ignoramuses when it comes to our economy and the proper role of government. You’ll justify being so by claiming that you stand for “liberty” and “freedom”.

          The only thing I can feasibly give you a tiny bit of props for is your grammar, but that can only be attributed to your perpetual blogging and spewing of lies and skewed perspectives, damning all that dare to read and believe it.

          You, my uninformed friend, are just the kind of guy that would retract all government assistance to those in need. You would remove their food stipends and thus invoke mass genocide, seeing as much of the less fortunate are minorities. And you would justify the killing in the name of “liberty” and “personal responsibility”, even though they have nothing at all to do with it.

          You have the rhetoric and online presence like that of a bold lion, but if we were to meet in a dark alley you would run for cover. Oh wait, maybe you would trip over your skirt before you reached running speed (I know that was irrelevant, but I could not resist!).

          If only our economy was handled once again by the likes of America’s greatest president, Franklin Roosevelt, we would have been out of this mess years ago. Obama can only do so much with the mess he inherited from your Republican, George Bush. Heaven only knows where we would be now if somehow that crazy Ron Paul (whom you have the idiocy to support – shows once again your blithering stupidity and lack of mental stability) got in and wrecked things like he talked about doing.

          You have no feet to stand on and you know it. Obama has made all the right moves. Being the pea brained coward that you are, I expect I won’t be hearing from you again (although I certainly look forward to another pitiful and incoherent response!).

        • Hey Billy, you speak as though you revel in these things yourself. Racism, homophobia. That’s the best you can throw at me? That is far less than what I have come to expect from squeamish “liberals” like yourself when your ability to think for yourself has run its course. You have simply dug yourself a bigger hole by proving how much of a child you really are. I would rather not have to go insult for insult with you again, which simply appeals to your penchant for throwing tantrums, but if that’s what is required to keep you coming back, that’s what I will do. I can always use a good punching bag, and let me tell you, Billy, you are one of the best I have ever had. You wish to speak of bold lions and rhetoric and dark alley ways? Well let me remind you just who started with the attacks here. And what is with recruiting your little sycophant, Dylan? What’s the matter, can’t handle this by your lonesome? Or maybe that name is one of your aliases and you wish to give the impression that I am somehow outnumbered.

          Why must people with such supposedly brilliant and wonderful ideas resort to pissing contests entirely outside of the issues being discussed to get their point across? It is because they have no substance. Only demonization and hero worship. It’s the same empty crap I’ve been hearing from brainwashed party hacks for more than a decade. Your guys FDR and Obama are/were both tools. You are as well. You have given absolutely no reason why anyone should think otherwise. And FYI I have never been a member of the Republican party, did not vote for Bush, and I’ll bet you that I have less in common with him than you do. If you think there is a difference between Bush and Obama maybe you are the one paying too close of attention to race.

  2. Anyone can clearly see that Billyboy here has a valid point, and that you are simply a hater. Perhaps I can shed some light on the issue of your stupidity and bad economics.

    Oh, and forgive the name calling, but as you have resorted to it, I feel it necessary to prove my point:

    Clearly half-wits like you have a shockingly naive grasp of how our Welfare Capitalist system actually works. Ideally, there would be no “Capitalism” in Welfare Capitalism, but for now, we have to make due until were have eliminated all “classes” of otherwise equal individuals. Any average Joe with his head screwed on straight knows that the painful “ups and downs” of our economy are THE result of Capitalism. The market isn’t perfect because people, when left to their own devices, will make themselves miserable. The Fed is the only thing that is holding this nation together!

    Do you really think that if our big brother stopped regulating the money supply and economy, everything would be fine and dandy? Just think of about the significance of Bonds, the Bank Rate, and the catastrophes that would have inevitably ensued without them. The stability we have enjoyed for the past century would have been quite different if it weren’t for the regulation of the government. (Of course you’ll say that the past century has been unstable, but you have NO idea of what it would have been like had the government not stepped in and saved the day) Believe me, I’ve worked in government finances for 20+ years. If the Fed didn’t have control, our Abe Lincolns would be worthless Greenbacks. Ever since the Nixon Shock of 71, everything has been going unprecedentedly well. The American dollar is the most widely held currency in the Allocated Reserves today. We’re stable.

    As for your second critique:

    If everyone was equal, if everyone of every race and socioeconomic status had the same opportunities, the same benefits, it would virtually eliminate the need for charity. The Free Market increases inequality and the need for systems of charity for those whom nature has deemed less fortunate. The real System, Socialism, is what actually fixes this problem. Under the Free Market, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And when the rich should give to charity of their own free will, the less fortunate will suffer for it. With no opportunity to improve their condition, and no help from the Free Market, they flounder hopelessly downhill. State intervention saves lives!

    Get your head out of the clouds, my pathetic Henry. One day your world will come crashing down, and the rest of us will be free from the oppression of chowder-headed-nincompoops like you. Everyone will be equal. Your socioeconomic status won’t matter any more. We will be the United Utopia of Equality.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m actually trying to make a difference before the world becomes so hot that human life as we know it is snuffed out. If you want to keep up the oppression of the poor, go ahead! But don’t say that I didn’t try to stop you.

    DJ

    • First of all, I didn’t initiate the name calling. I may have escalated it, but considering that it was uncalled for in the first place I would say I was well within my rights to do so. If you want to make something more of it than it actually is because you think it adds flavor to your comment (to which I have many objections, read on), that is your choice. I do not think it reflects very well on you, especially your choice words of abuse (I mean, chowder-headed, seriously?), but as long as you can live with that, I can too.

      Second, I like honest (and yet so painfully confused) socialists like yourself far better than I do party-hacks like Billy, so you, Dyllan, won’t have to worry about any verbal attacks on your person from me, even though you more than deserve it. The one exception I might make to this is that you worked in government finance for 20+ years, which in my book makes you not only a parasite, but also of no credible opinion on any matter being discussed here. So not only have you been thoroughly brainwashed, but you could very well have a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo. If, perchance, you think you are above this, I maintain that you have too high of an opinion of your own intellect, and as such, are an elitist class-snob, the exact thing you hate. But for the sake of politeness, I will not make that exception. I will only mention to you that I could have made it, but chose not to, so as not to offend.

      No, instead I will focus on the actual substance of what you wrote, for which I am grateful, especially after having dealt with a child like Billy, who, according to you had a point. You never said what that point was exactly, and I suspect it is because there really wasn’t one, but that is neither here nor there. We are here to talk about you. Not the fact that you have made your living off of other people’s hard work for a good portion of your life, nor the fact that you feel no shame about this. Just your ideas.

      You say I have no idea how Welfare Capitalism works. And then you forget to explain how it works and shift the focus to something else. Is this because you also don’t know how it works or is it because you didn’t know what you were saying when you said I don’t know how it works?

      You admit that you want to eliminate class distinction. I would expect no less from a socialist. It is an admirable but frankly stupid goal. It is nothing but utopian dreaming. Not only can it never be achieved (because it assumes something about human nature that experience and common sense show to be false, that is, that mankind is perfectible), but attempts to achieve it would lead to all kinds of misery. Without the division of labor, which would be seriously undermined by any meaningful push for equality of outcome, you necessarily negate the entire progress of the Industrial Revolution. An economy with these policies would either cease to grow (and the population would starve) or be forced underground.

      You say that when people are left to their own devices, they make themselves miserable. So you are arguing that someone must save them? Who? More people left to their own devices? More men of misery? This is absurd! Again, your Hobbesian understanding of human nature shines through. Human beings are far more capable than you give them credit for. It is only when they are stifled by unnecessary, costly, deleterious, ineffective, inefficient, impractical, immoral, cumbersome, burdensome policies, like the ones you advocate, that they become miserable. If certain average Joes can’t figure out why this is I wonder if it isn’t them who don’t have their heads screwed on tight.

      All this talk about stability and instability is misleading. You speak as though there is some monolithic body of policies that has lead to a monolithic result of stability. This is truly naive. I don’t deny that there has been stability. In has been interrupted by many bad things. Depressions, wars, etc. But you assume too much when you attribute it all to the government stepping in and saving the day, as some selfless, benevolent class of philosopher kings (seemingly contradicting your egalitarianism and pessimism about human nature). Some of it is indeed the result of the government stepping in! But uttering the words “and saving the day” is too hasty on your part. If anything they have ruined a great many people’s lives to acquire this stability. They had to confiscate real wealth from hard working Americans, and they must continue to do so. They had to murder and plunder and defraud and threaten and many nations, and they must continue to do so. And some of the stability has actually been in spite of government intervention. The productive capacity of American industry and American labor is what has truly saved the day. The Gross Domestic Product, as nebulous a concept and as immeasurable a number as that truly is, has as much to do with the survival of the American dollar as anything the government has done.

      But at the end of the day, this is all talk of the short term effect of policies that will have reverberations many decades into the future, some of which we have already begun to see, some of which are just history repeating itself.

      Why do you assume that government-induced booms (like the portion of the stability they are responsible for) are impervious to the consequences you attribute to market-induced booms? This is analogous to your assumption that men, when left to their own devices cause misery, unless they happen to be the government.

      I agree with you that if the Fed just walked away the dollar would tank. I have no idea why you would assume I wouldn’t, and that therefore its presence and actions have had a somewhat stabilizing effect. But tell me what happens when nations and people decide to repudiate the dollar, as they have begun to do, either because it does not store their wealth or they associate it with being subservient to the United States? What can the Fed do about this? What can the government do about this? There is nothing. They will be out of options. Once the floodgates have open, there is no closing them until all has passed through.

      You say things have been going unprecedentedly well. I would dispute this by saying that the periods just after World War Two and at the end of the 19th century saw far better periods of growth, but for the sake of argument I will concede your point. Let us say we are doing “well”! This is irrelevant, because the very definition of a boom (an artificial period of growth that must inevitably lead to a bust) is a period of doing well. To use this fact as an argument against Austrian Business Cycle Theory is absurd. If anything, it supports it.

      The way you deal with my second critique sounds more like a parody than anything else. You misuse the word charity. You say the Free Market increases the need for it. If by charity you meant something that operates outside of the market but is still voluntary, you are more narrowly defining the marketplace than most, especially those whom you would debate on the subject. And if by charity you mean the forcible redistribution of goods, your use of the word is even more fallacious, as charity can only be “love” (the very meaning of charity) if it is freely given. Forced choices bear no moral value.

      On top of this you say Free Markets lead to inequality, but it is only Free Markets that have allowed the serfs of yesteryear to become the kings of tomorrow. Even if inequality in a strictly net worth sense still exists, the means to afford the basic comforts of life, from toothbrushes to indoor plumbing to novels to cell phones are all the result of the division of labor, i.e., class distinction, i.e., inequality. In other words, equality of the type you prefer leads to poverty for all. Equal poverty, perhaps, but poverty nonetheless.

      Free Markets lead to an approximately equitable distribution of necessary goods. You are right that they do not lead to perfect, forced, equality. But this is not a bad thing.

      State intervention destroys lives. One of the chief causes of death of mankind is the state. Particularly ones with utopian socialistic visions of human nature, which, incidentally, along with many other things I have mentioned in this comment, was touched on it the post I wrote that sparked this debate, which you can read here if you haven’t already.

      Your last bit was quite entertaining. Thanks for warning me. Fallible men like me certainly need infallible men like you do teach us. And the rest of humanity needs you even more than I, Dyllan. Please go and save them! Do it for me! Do it for us!

      Note to Billy: See, that wasn’t so hard! Maybe next time along with your vicious ad homines you could put a little something for me to grapple with in your comments, besides just, “the world is a scary place, therefore government,” and “my ideas are so good everyone should either be shamed or forced into accepting them.”

      Both of you: Have a nice day and come back anytime.

      • Henry, shame on you! I’m Billy’s wife and you are unbelievable. I’ve read all of Billy’s comments and never once did he attack you, and yet you resort to insulting and attacking him on every reply, instead of refuting the positions he raised. He has suffered with asthma his whole life and thanks to you, endured the worst attack of his life last night. He was so stressed out over this whole thread it just came upon him. The insensitive evil with which you conduct yourself on here is a menace to all who lay eyes on your work. Against my bidding, Billy decided he could make it to work this morning, so I have a chance to defend him without him knowing it – he would not want me to get involved with the likes of you. “State intervention destroys lives. One of the chief causes of death of mankind is the state.” Oh please. Don’t give me that, like you actually care about people losing their lives. The very policies you would advocate would engulf the lives of thousands of innocent women and children, and colored folk alike. I’m tired of casting my pearls before swine like you. You have a nice day, sir, and do the world a favor by not attacking innocent, well-meaning people ever again.

        BTW, Dyllan, gentleman like you are a breath of fresh air.

        -Martha

        • Again with the race card? Martha you are sick in the head. If your husband got worked up about this he takes himself way too seriously! I do hope he is doing alright, and I am glad you are willing to stand by your man, even in his idiocy. I really shouldn’t even respond to your incessant whining. But then, perhaps you folks shouldn’t be whining in the first place. I was already casting my pearls before swine talking to your husband, but you really take the cake! Innocent! Of what? Well-meaning! Ever heard of the road to hell? It is paved with good intentions. And don’t you dare tell me to have a nice day on my own blog. Why don’t you go and have a nice day?!

          BTW, to date, the only person with anything worth saying on here is the utopian socialist named Dyllan. If you two, combined, can’t even top a whacknoodle like him, what the heck does that say about you and hubby there?

  3. Henry, how dare you talk to my wife like that. You have a black heart, and you should be ashamed of yourself for attacking a woman. As for the asthma attack, she exaggerated. I get them from time to time but the one the other night wasn’t any worse than others that I have had, and it was unrelated to my involvement on this absurd blog of yours. I don’t know if attacking women online bolsters your self-esteem, but it sure appears that it does. I’ve always held to the ideal that you treat women particularly respectful (yes, even when they call you out for being the soup-brained moron that you are). Obviously, you do not hold the same ideals, otherwise you wouldn’t have viciously came after my wife for simply pointing out your flagrant hypocrisy. You should be profusely thanking her for it, because now maybe you could avoid parading around in a dunce hat and straitjacket in front of all of your adoring followers. I can’t believe I’m wasting my time mentoring you – but I cannot simply sit at the wayside while some naive bloghead lambastes my wife. Far be it from me. Have a wonderful day, Henry.

    • Typical leftist mentality. Defending one’s self and one’s own is the equivalent of having a black heart to you. And you think that by displaying your own hatred I will somehow show you some kindness. Could you tell me again just how smart you are?

      So your wife “exaggerated”. What you are really telling me is that your wife is a liar. And that you think lying is just fine. Thanks, got it, glad to see you are willing to admit these things. I hate not knowing what I’m dealing with. My apologies for ever calling you an idiot or a coward. You are nothing of the sort. You are a much higher class of fiend. Now if I could only determine whether you were a sociopath or merely a compulsive internet troll long on wind and short on sight. Or maybe it’s both. Let me see if I can figure it out…

      First of all, I thought you were enlightened! I thought to were an egalitarian! I guess I was mistaken. I mean, what’s with this gender-stereotype nonsense? Is your poor wife somehow less of a person than you (and here I thought it was the other way around, but I guess it is a close call which one of you is more inferior than the other)? That’s the impression I’m getting from your last comment. Unlike you, my friend (probably the only one you have in the world besides your wife), I am an equal-opportunity rebuker, not a thick misogynist caveman who feels that women are incapable of thinking for themselves. If she can dish it out but can’t take it, perhaps she should stay the hell away from the comments section of my blog. Or any blog for that matter. If you were a decent husband you would maybe try to give her a clue. But you are not a decent husband, you are just a perfect gentleman, so you must protect her from the truth. The truth that she doesn’t really know all that much. The truth that she cannot open her mouth without vomiting forth the filthiest, most putrid bile. The truth that her husband has nothing better to do than proclaim to all who will listen how big of a loser he is, and what lengths he is prepared to go tin order to convince people of this already painfully obvious fact.

      And who attacked whom first, may I ask? Re-read the comments and you will see it was you. Like I said, all I did was up the ante (and from how long it took you to come back I figured you must’ve cut your losses already; I mean, let’s face it, you haven’t won any big hands since your second comment). But then your bitc…uh…er…wife accused me of throwing the first stone, another bald faced lie, which you perpetuate and approve of. Real shocker, there!

      Speaking of deception, would you care to explain, to everyone who is reading, why on earth you and Bob Stevendorf share 24.9.115.179 as your IP address (but not Dyllan, at least)? Maybe there is a reasonable explanation for this, but from where I am standing it makes you look like a troll with at least one alias. Maybe your wife and the asthma attack are fictional as well. There is no way for me to know this but I wouldn’t put it past a gutless weasel like you.

      And Billy the weasel, I’m done with formalities. Don’t have a nice day. And certainly don’t have a wonderful one either. Instead, please just go somewhere and fuck yourself. And when you are done maybe you could go choke on some mucus for me. Thanks bud.

  4. Henry, although I have raised some valid points, admittedly I have done so in a harsh, inappropriate manner, and for that I do apologize. You know how it goes, heat of the moment and all. While I do not approve of your hardness in your last comment, I won’t bother responding to it. I will not be part of a debate turned vulgar, which it appears is the direction you’re taking it. If you’d like to blast me one last time, that’s fine. I will not be back to defend myself.
    Regards,
    Billy

    • Billy, you have clearly misjudged me here. What possible reason could I have to blast you now? First, you have apologized. Second, you will not be back to defend yourself. It is hardly necessary, let alone fulfilling, for me to continue on in this way. So I accept your apology and ask that you in turn forgive me for maligning your character. I do not know you or Martha, I just know that you and I disagree and wish that we could have done so respectfully, as has happened with other commenters and bloggers. I should have simply responded to your first comments by turning the other cheek, as it were, but I, like you, was in the heat of the moment. So this time, really do have a nice day.

      Henry

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