Memorials and Idols

Memorials and Idols.

In the spirit of last weekend’s observances, I want to announce (again) my upcoming series on the standing army in the United States. It bothers me somewhat that I haven’t finished this project yet, but I would rather it be good and take forever to complete than mediocre because it was on time. The stakes are too high for anything other than that to be the case. If I’m going to risk alienating people, I better give them the full treatment and hopefully leave them no good reason, save for their emotions and irrational fears, to feel obligated to defend the status quo. Perhaps that is too bold of a goal to set, but I think it is worthwhile. If we are going to debate the role on the United States military, not just in today’s messed-up world, but across history, throughout the supposedly simpler, more black-and-white eras that have preceded the present one, then let us really have it out. It would be nice to have the series done by the Fourth of July, another patriotic holiday (that I enjoy very much, by the way, in spite of the idolatrous pageantry that sometimes takes place), but if I am delayed again, perhaps Veteran’s Day (AKA Armistice Day) or the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor would be more realistic (if unfortunate).

In the meantime, I will tantalize you with the promise of a piece that will rip into the memory of that last, great bastion of hubristic faux-conservatism, by whom I mean Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. A “great man” to be sure. But then so were, for example, Nebuchadnezzar, Attila, and Tamerlane.

I’ve done some preliminary fact-checking already and hope to get it up some time within the next week. Hopefully it won’t be anything too fancy, just the basics. I promise not to lay the vitriol on too thick.

Somehow, I Feel Vindicated

Somehow, I Feel Vindicated.

Back in November, just before the election, I wrote about who I was not going to vote for. With rare exception the Republicans got the knife as frequently as the Democrats. On my list of those not worthy of my consideration, I included one, Steve Daines, running for the lone Montana Congressional seat to replace Denny Rehberg (who I didn’t vote for in the Senate race even though I couldn’t stand his opponent). My reasoning was this: Continue reading

Pearl Harbor! Why?

Pearl Harbor! Why?.

World War Two, the last war in which the United States declared its entry in accordance to the Constitution (as in Congress says there is a war and prescribes specifically who against and why, not the UN, not NATO, not the international community, not the president on his own, not the president with Congress making a law giving itself the authority to turn a blind eye ). The Second World War. Not a just war, at least as it pertains to United States entry, but at least a technically “legal” one.

What were the reasons for going to war? There are likely several theories (one of which I formulated myself, but make no claims to being the first). One of them listed here is generally accepted but rests on very shaky ground. Another (also listed) is conventional wisdom, is true even, but relies on circular logic, and the next three I have listed are more plausible but get less play in mainstream circles. They might even be considered conspiratorial. Even more so for the last theory. Until, that is, they are compared to theories that blame the Illuminati or the Jews or the Reptilians among us, which, sorry to tell you, are not listed here.

1. Adolf Hitler was a madman and the Roosevelt Administration and Congress were far sighted enough to realize that if the United States did not go to war (using Germany’s ally, Japan as a pretext), there would be no stopping der Führer from his designs of world conquest. You mainly read this one or very similar ones in the comments section on websites.

This is all so very sensational, and equally absurd. Hitler still had to face down the mighty Soviets (it is true the Soviets suffered the worst losses of the war but they had not yet begun to fight), and his empire was far from a stable one. It remains possible that FDR and company thought Hitler was going to subjugate the entire world, but those arguing this case are likely just projecting pure motives on a man who is their hero for reasons other than his foreign policy. Let me be blunt: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was no hero. He was an effective leader, and by that I mean a tyrant, but not a hero. His administration was probably one of the least transparent, most dishonest, administrations in history, and while some think that his ends were good and therefore all of this is justified, my opinion is that neither his means nor his ends were all that noble.

2. The United States went to war with Japan because Japan provoked the United States. Another mainstream (but less exaggerated) explanation.

This is true on the surface because the declaration of war, in point of fact, did indeed come after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But it is far more accurate to say that Japan went to war with the United States because the United States provoked Japan. Japan made war first by attacking Pearl Harbor (this day 71 years ago), and the United States had little choice but to either lose face and back off from its provocations of Japan or double down and go to war. The same choice that the Japanese faced as a result of the embargoes and sanctions placed on them by the United States and other Western powers. Needless to say, rather than dishonor themselves by relinquishing their conquests Japan chose instead to attack United States soil, shifting the pressure to someone else. Predictably enough, the United States followed suit. This theory still begs the original question. Why?

3. The United States was doing the bidding of other Western Powers, specifically Anglo-Dutch economic interests, and deliberately provoked Japan to war in order to help the governments, economic interests, and allies of Great Britain and Holland (and the Dutch government in exile) to maintain their colonial and petroleum holdings in Southeast Asia. I like to think of this theory as my own, but it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard for anyone to see the connections.

This sounds awfully conspiratorial, but it follows the same trend of many later US interventions (at least three with Iran, four with Iraq, and two with Libya). The events leading up to Pearl Harbor are compatible with this theory, but don’t necessarily prove it.

4. The United States was doing the bidding of Great Britain, just as it had clearly done it World War One, and was brought in as an ally against Germany, but because Germany had no clear quarrel (at least not one worth it for them to declare war over) with us, needed a pretext and used Japan’s attacks (which were provoked, perhaps deliberately) for one. This is LaRouche type of stuff, but again, it is not hard to see the connections. In my humble opinion, the assertion that World War One was entered by the United States as a favor to Great Britain is beyond reproach (not to mention that it dovetails rather nicely with the passing of the Federal Reserve and Liberty Bond acts, which greatly aided the attempts by the United States to bail out Great Britain after the war, but those might just be convenient coincidences).

Another one with questionable merit at first glance, but again borne out by the US foreign policy trends. United States involvement in World War One was largely the result of the pleading of Great Britain. It is also consistent with Germany’s response to US declaration of War on Japan. In World War Two, Germany avoided declaring war on the United States until after the United States declared war on Japan. But they did declare war first (between Germany and the US). Why would Germany do something so ill-advised? One possible answer is hubris. There is probably some truth to that but it still seems to be missing something. Another possibility is that Germany knew that the United States going to war with Japan was little more than a pretext for war with Germany. According to this line of thinking, war with the United States was inevitable. Why delay it any further? By the same token, if the United States had never gone to war with Japan, it may be that the Germans would never had declared war on the United States.

5. The United States was doing the bidding of the USSR, and drew Japan into war with itself so the Soviets would only have to fight on one front, that of Germany. This theory seems to come originally from Waldo Heinrichs (died 1959), from which work I do not know.

Again I will point to trends. The Yalta Conference (which destroyed the entire British excuse for declaring war on Germany, the liberation of Eastern Europe), the events resulting from Japanese surrender and Allied Occupation of Japan (more communist footholds in Kuomintang/nationalist China resulting in Mao’s Peoples’ Republic of China and the death of 70 million people, diplomatic tensions between mainland China and the US over the Republic of China/Taiwan even in the present day, the Korean War as well as the North’s current criminally insane dictatorship, the Viet Nam War, the Cambodian-Vietnamese War, and the Khmer Rouge’s murder of  2 million in Cambodia, but who’s counting?), and the disgustingly warm Anglo-American-Soviet relations at almost all levels (civil government, military, academia, labor , and even big business) prior to, and at times even during, the Cold War, are consistent with this theory.

6. Japan was the pretext for US involvement in World War Two, but the reason for entering the war at all was to provide a form of public works based economic stimulus, the intention either being recovery from the Great Depression (which was rooted in World War One involvement) or distraction from it (and the domestic policies that deepened and broadened it). Regardless of what was intended by this Keynesian experiment, it seems only to have succeeded in the latter. This argument is usually, but not always made in a retroactive way. As though the “fact” that World War Two led to economic recovery is another reason to justify involvement.

I do not know how strong of a theory this is in terms of the thoughts going through the heads of the Roosevelt Administration and the Democratic Congress. Surely military Keynesianism, whether espoused by Keynes himself or not, was a predictable outcome of a world war even prior to the war. There is no reason that peaceful and wartime spending should have different effects, or that world leaders wouldn’t be aware of that fact. And as Keynes was advocating the former since the 1920s and was taken seriously by the British and American governments in the 1930s, it is not a stretch to think that any stimulative spending, including war, could be motivated by or rationalized on Keynesian ideas.

If someone has alternative theories that they have heard or discovered, or reasons why any of the ones listed above are complete  nonsense, I would love to hear from them. I am temporarily revoking Godwin’s law (actually it is a “law” modeled after the immutable laws of physics, but for the sake of having fun I’ll treat it as a prohibition that has been lifted) for just this post, so fire away.

I have consulted Wikipedia, and yes, my memory of events, for the material facts, and beyond that only this piece.

I have written about some of these things and related matters herehere, and here as well. There will be more to come, including a post on energy independence, which is finished and just needs an opportune moment in which to be showcased.

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?)

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?).

Also syndicated here.

Patriotism to me can be a love for the place where one lives, which need not necessarily exhibit irrational feelings of superiority or inherent exceptionalism. It also can mean a love for the exceptionalism (which may be incidental or dependent on factors other than race and geography) of a culture, often within geographical confines. It can extend to a willingness to die to preserve the place or the ideas in question. Patriotism can manifest itself in both agreement and dissent.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is blind love for a specific geographical or racial entity for irrational reasons, such as perceived inherent superiority or traditional feuding. Most often it is manifested in a subtle form of groupthink, the consequences of not conforming to include: ostracism, ridicule, bigotry, prohibitions of expressions of culture or language, and even confiscation of property. In extreme forms, and much less subtle, overt violence and genocide. It is often mixed with or perhaps intentionally covered by higher ideals. Democracy. Social justice. Equality. Brotherhood. Humanity. Liberty. To this extent is has an appeal with both the base and the virtuous, and is thus pervasive and not even all those who hold some of the views (for very few hold all of them) realize where they originate, or what their intended purposes are in the form they are presented.

Both ideas rest on that of taste. One acknowledges it as a personal preference and in relations with others it either defends from attacks (ideally not overreacting) or promotes its underlying ideas through persuasion and not force, and the other (according to its own idealism, though not always according to the practice of its leaders) seeks to foist it equally upon all (assuming, of course, you are one of the ones it suffers to live), the consequences and human rights be damned.

According to these definitions, which are my own but not too far distant from how they are defined by others, individual persons and conventions of persons, experts in fields and students of ideas, nationalism is very much the more problematic of the two.

And if you break it down further this is true for two reasons. One is the way it treats outsiders (geographical foreigners, ethnic inferiors, and so on). The other is the way it treats its own. Eliminating nationalism and replacing it with a generic internationalism (some would call this world government) only eradicates the first problem in the best case scenario. A highly decentralized internationalism (some would call this globalization) would go a long way towards reducing, and in some cases eliminating, both problems.

Amongst those that agree that globalization (even those afraid to use the word for fear of being associated with, or who recognize that the word has been misused by; those who either openly embrace, or whose proposals and ideas in some way perpetuate; world government) is a good idea, there is some disagreement about the way to go about it. I won’t go into arguments for or against (uni/bi/multi)lateral/free/managed trade or international law as it pertains to evident violations of human rights or other controversial subjects with well meaning and intelligent individuals on either side of the argument. I would instead like to delineate between potent attempts at world government and relatively impotent (but still menacing in their own right) attempts.

In the first category (potent) I would put imperialism, where it should be obvious that internationalism is in fact just nationalism applied to the world stage. Attempts such as this never fully succeed (partly because they may not really be conscious of what they are doing, or if they are, may have different goals in mind than that of tyrannizing the globe) in subjugating the entire world, but are potent in the sense that they cause much suffering and disorder and do so under a gradually increasing authority (in terms of both power and geography).

Also there is mercantilism. This often goes hand in hand with imperialism. Sometimes they have the same origin. Other times they just “benefit” from each other. And still there may be some combination thereof. In a sense, aspects of it have been practiced by every “traditional” empire going back to the Sumerians, but not until the rise of the modern, benevolent, humanitarian nations did it come into its own. France, Britain, the United States. And though not “true” mercantlism in the sense of application to one nation, several aspects of it have been incorporated into the cooperative efforts of the civilized nations (treaties and alliances; NATO being a prime example, the IMF another).

I wouldn’t even rule transnational corporations (in some instances being creations of, though not always faithful servants to, the state) and Non-Government Organizations out of having at least a small part in this category (potent attempts at world government), but at the present I would like to refrain from theorizing about possible conspiracies.

In the second category (impotent) I would put such things as failed attempts at international cooperation. Take the League of Nations or the United Nations. I do not deny that they were/are to be feared. But the reason has more to do with the stupidity and inefficiency of bureaucracy than it does the greed or violence of imperialism. But more than that it is not so much the bodies themselves that should be of concern, but rather the ways they may be used by the member nations in their imperialistic and mercantilistic endeavors. 

Things such as the World Trade Organization I would have a hard time categorizing. Besides, as I said, I do not wish to formulate arguments on the issue of trade nor delve into conspiracy theories.

New Discovery: Jacques Delacroix (I had not read his piece in its entirety until moments ago, so I hope no one thinks I wrote this as some sort of response to it) goes into all of this as well (I had no idea until, for the purpose of seeing what others had to say on the subject I did a search for “WTO” on my friend Brandon Christensen’s blog), but is far less charitable to these types than I am (I think mirroring his overall more establishmentarian variant of libertarianism).

Anyways, at this stage I am not a flag burner. But neither am I a flag worshipper. At the present, this one will do:

File:Flag of Montana 1905.svg

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

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

The following is the seventh 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: The Pauls’ default stance of misrepresenting the historical record also helps them peddle the absurd Austrian School idea to deregulate all private businesses and subsequently create a utopian free market.

HENRY MOORE: We have already dealt with the historical record, which you have ignored, but must you now ignore the point of science (economics is a social science, one for which there are many competing theories)? You are here misrepresenting the Austrian School of Economics. To quote Walter BlockNo, Austrian economists can’t oppose or favor anything. To say that they do is to violate the normative positive distinction. Austrians are limited to saying that a given policy will have thus and thus effects; they logically cannot say, qua Austrians, that a policy is good or bad, nor may they favor or oppose it, again qua Austrian economists. Certainly, they can do so as citizens, as ethicists, as philosophers, but economics per se is and must be value free, despite the fact that this stricture is all too often violated, as in the present case.”

So Austrians do not oppose or favor any policy, such as deregulation, privatization, “utopian” free markets, as Austrians. They may do so as libertarians, which many Austrian economists are in varying degrees, but not as members of the economics profession, regardless of the school they find the most useful. Why is adherence to the Austrian school or other free market theories, and to libertarianism often found in the same people? Emphasis on such things as individual choice and individual action, as well as the fact that utility (relative to societal norms) applied to knowledge gleaned from the scientific theory, and the morality of the philosophical/political theory often lead to compatible conclusions.

A general example would be where policy a leads to unintended result b, an Austrian neither favors nor opposes policy a in and of itself, rather its merit depends on whether result b is in line with the original intent of policy a and/or the societal norms that the policy derives from or is in reaction to. To the scientist, the policy and its result have no moral value relative to science, only relative to the purported intentions of the policy in question. To the philosopher, especially one coming from a framework that values liberty highly, the Austrian (though not as an Austrian) may oppose the policy (and favor alternatives) on those grounds, regardless of whether or not he favors or opposes them (or remains objective, in the case of science) on other grounds.

A specific example following these same lines would be economically interventionist policies that intend to increase homeownership rates because the societal norm is that home ownership is a worthy and valuable goal, which then have the result of decreasing homeownership or stopping the growth of home ownership in the long run, or that have myriad other unwelcome (by society, not necessarily the scientist, who is mostly an observer) effects that outweigh those results considered more positive. The Austrian that is also a libertarian might oppose these policies on the grounds that public policies favoring one group (generally socio-ecnomic, ethno-cultural, political, or regional) at the expense of others necessarily violates the rights of the those in other groups. I just described to you the Housing Bubble and ensuing economic crisis.

[It is sometimes observed that Austrian school luminary Ludwig von Mises, though libertarian in his conclusions, was very much a utilitarian/consequentialist, and when coming to conclusions about the moral worth of a policy, applied this to his scientific knowledge, rather than a deontological libertarianism apart from his scientific knowledge. This is somewhat true, taking into account semantics, but upon further study, when all is put into context, the label is somewhat of an oversimplification.]

Furthermore, your idea of regulation is arbitrary. Because there is a public policy and it is called a “regulation,” that automatically means it regulates? No. Often so called “regulations” create irregularities, and occasionally the blame for economic crises rests on their shoulders. The free market, on the other hand, is capable of regulating without the aid of government so-called experts. Markets can regulate themselves because each person only needs knowledge about a small portion of that which affects him, whereas central planners can not regulate markets because there are far fewer of them and by comparison the knowledge required is too vast for them to master, in a given point in time, let only keep tabs on throughout a large span of time. This is an overly simplistic way of looking at it, of course, but when one clearly can not even grasp this concept, up till now I hope, it is pointless to delve much further. Though I have attempted to do so hereherehereherehereherehere, and here.

BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls refuse to believe that deregulation caused the Great Depression and the 2008 recession, despite vast quantities of evidence to the contrary.

HENRY MOORE: There is hardly any evidence (it is certainly not vast) that deregulation caused the Great Depression or the 2008 Recession, unless of course we see deregulation (which is often cleverly misused to refer to not only deregulation, but regulation, reform, and combinations of all the aforementioned) as a mitigating factor (e.g., rapid deregulation of a sector accustomed to regulation can indeed cause “problems,”; a separate issue entirely is the fact that these “problems,” though painful for some, are necessary to liquidate malinvestments and to shift misallocations, and that without these temporary wounds reopening, worse infections would fester).

In fact, it is more accurate to blame regulations. I use the term loosely (but nowhere near as loosely as some use the term “deregulation”) to refer to such things (during the 2008 Recession) as the Federal Reserve’s Dual Mandate of price stability and low unemployment, manipulation of interest and exchange and tax rates, price controls, implicit bailouts (this is the  type of regulation most commonly ignored by progressive-types griping about the so-called “repeal” of the Glass-Steagall Act, which often bears the brunt of the blame for the 2008 Recession), the Community Reinvestment Act and related or similar laws, the financial actions of certain Government Sponsored Entities, and the exacerbation of the ensuing problems with things like explicit bailouts, stimulus, and Quantitative Easing.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Following the Great Depression, when FDR introduced strict, compartmentalized regulation of the marketplace, the United States enjoyed a forty-year period of virtually uninterrupted growth, transforming the country into a superpower.

HENRY MOORE: The growth was not the result of any regulations, it was the result of a reinvigorated post-world war private sector, which had been stifled by the Hoover and Roosevelt economic and foreign policies in the 1930s and early 1940s. Without these policies the boom would have been that much sooner and by the time in question that much bigger. This is part of the reason the US became a superpower (it already was prior to the Great Depression, but after World War Two, increasingly so), but just as significant was what occurred with World War Two. The United States was comparatively insulated from the world wars in terms of structural damage. So it recovered from them more readily than the other superpowers, those in Europe and Asia. The competition, even that from the other supposed superpower, the Soviet Union, simply did not compare.

BARRY GERMANSKY: Then, when Reagan took office in the 1980s, he was aided by Alan Greenspan and company to remove the historically-proven regulations.

HENRY MOORE: The regulations were not historically proven. They led to the end of Bretton Woods in 1971, and the regulations imposed because of that (which were diminished some by Carter, Reagan, and Volcker), including wage and price controls, and the slow unravelling of the currency, both of which were major factors in 1970s Stagflation.

A lot of the regulations that Reagan got rid of were not just FDR’s. Some of them were also Nixon’s. Paul Volcker (under Carter and Reagan) actually did more to deregulate than Greenspan (only briefly under Reagan, more closely associated with Bush Senior, Clinton, and Bush Junior) ever did. A lot of Reagan’s policies, including deficit spending were the opposite you make them out to be. Supply-side economics is not the same thing as free market economics. Any “economics” that puts too much (i.e., artificial) emphasis on either the supply side or the demand side (or on both as they are not mutually exclusive) is liable to create distortions. It is true that supply drives demand, but this does not mean supply should be propped up in any way by government. For the record, supply-side economics is subtle corporate welfare (as opposed to that which artificially prop up demand which is things like wage and price controls and welfare for the poor) and has been practiced by every administration and Congress going back for decades, including FDR, often in combination with more policies aimed at propping up demand.

Greenspan’s policies were far from free market reforms. For a former proponent of the gold standard and follower of Ayn Rand, he had comparatively little to show for it in his actual policies, often moving in the opposite direction.

BARRY GERMANSKY: This helped big businesses make more profits while sending the rest of America into the gutter. This culminated in the 2008 recession.

HENRY MOORE: So is it deregulation or profit that causes recessions? Which is it? Didn’t small businesses get profits too? And didn’t some wages go up in real terms? And weren’t the wages that didn’t go up start on that trend before Reagan and Greenspan? What is it about profit (or deregulation) that sends “the rest of America” to the gutter? Is it that some of these new profits are not in fact new, but simply the same profits but less of them stolen through taxation? In other words, is the reason that some of these Americans were no longer permitted to live off of someone else? If you want a policy to blame for making the middle class poor and the poor desperate, look at things like minimum wage laws, which take the bottom rungs off the employment ladder; unsustainable lines of production encouraged by an elastic currency and cheap credit; dependence on high priced foreign cartel energy sources because the Executive Office, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and public rent seeking special interests don’t want the United States to access her own abundant natural resources; and outsourcing caused by high tax rates, onerous regulations and managed trade. Those are your culprits.

BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls are able to ignore all of these historical events because they treat their personal ideology as more credible than primary evidence. This is a big no-no for any serious historian.

HENRY MOORE: You mention few, if any, actual historical events, and virtually no reliable evidence. Mostly personal ideology and vague platitudes.  And hardly any context to accompany them. You are not a serious historian. Neither are most of the people you have been reading or listening to. You are all certifiable laughing stocks. You and your arguments have no credibility whatsoever.

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.