Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands. Cults everywhere: Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from. It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?
Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death
Conservatives need to state the obvious.
The cult of the state is the world's largest theological grouping. It is not a religion but a cult. A religion will free your mind, body and soul. The cult will enslave. Any communal project – Islam, National Socialism, Statism – enslaves its followers. The communal oppresses and coerces the individual. Free-will and rationality is replaced by blind obedience and ritual. The state as a cult, like all communal projects simply crushes the individual and imposes itself on all matters of life. The balance between an individual's obligations to himself, and to others, has been turned upside down. In modern states the relationship is uni-directional. You support the state as your main obligation. The rest is unimportant.
A simple example is the fetish for socialized health care, in which the government manages all aspects of health-care. The end result is nothing more than the management by the state of your body and health. Imagine if the state socialized the production and distribution of food. State managed health care, whether it is in the US, France or The UK, is not liberating. It is fettering. It is also quite certainly bankrupt, a system which denies price points, resource allocations, access and timely care. All such systems are bankrupt. The derivative of such mismanagement is that too many people end up dying, denied care, treatment and proper access. Or in the case of the US, government-distorted and illogically-architected health care leads to impossible prices, insurance companies avoiding pay-outs and government telling you that you cannot carry your policy across jobs or state borders.
The problem with 'Conservatives' today is that they are wimps. They never call out the 'other side' of the political debate. Too polite, genteel, afraid, mesmerized by the socialist mainstream media, fearful of public unions, bowing to the multi-cult, in denial about Islam....whatever the reasons or subject matter the 'conservative' movement, which is a varied set of ideals, is in the main very cowardly. Few if any 'conservatives' are courageous enough to look at reality and call it what it is.
Romney is an example. He is a hybrid conservative and even in lieu of his reasonably okay debate performances, which were mildly positive, but still rather meek and weak. Too many details, not enough big picture. Romney like all establishment 'Conservatives' appears terrified to call out the Obama – once a god – for what he and his friends truly are: radical Communists and Marxists who want to impose statism on all aspects of US political-economic and cultural life. The entire life story of the Obama is a long march through the madness and stupidity of extreme socialism, including membership with the terrorist May 19th Underground group, with stops at Occidental [Red Moscow], radical elements at Columbia and Harvard, Acorn, community agitation and fraud; and relationships including his marriage, with the radical, lunatic fringe of Marxism and Black power liberation/racist theology. Yet he never gets called out on the obvious imbalance in his psyche, his history, his friendships and his statist program.
For Romney the issue is not 'by what % have oil licenses declined since 2008 Mr. President'? The issue is simpler and addressed to the voters: 'do you want massive, unbridled socialism, government control, and a culture which preaches animosity to all of the ideals and virtues which built the American colossus?' this is what Obama et al. represent – a socialist takeover. It really is that simple. Romney is too weak, diplomatic or mild-mannered highlight and emphasize the obvious. But he should. The issue is not budgetary minutiae, arcane policy, or debating points; but more importantly the actual and visceral annihilation of America by a gang of hard-core socialist thugs.
Romney highlights the limp-wrist effeminacy of conservatives. Romney is a social conservative informed by his faith and good works. This is a positive, especially since he does not impose his social views on others. But he never makes the case as to why JC culture and the doctrine of spirituality build civilization. He is a foreign policy conservative which is positive and means he will support Israel, ignore the Useless Nations, take the fight to 'extremist' Islam, defend the trade routes of the world, and make sure that the geo-political balance supports the West. But he never makes the case as to why these endeavours are necessary, even though they are the basics of any intelligent-rationalist foreign policy. He is most likely a fiscal conservative who understands finance, budgets and productivity. This is extremely positive but he never makes the case why at this point in history, it is mandatory to reduce spending and government size. He does not paint the right picture. It is not about unemployment, or even the $100 billion wasted on green-nonsense each year; but the viability of the US as a state. That is the crux of the matter.
Conservatives allow the lame-brain socialist media, the leftists and hardcore Greenies and Communists set and frame the debate. This is dumb. Most conservatives allow themselves to be shoved around, called names, and mocked. Cowards. This era has to end and end soon. The socialists and Marxists are delusional, suffer from some serious psychological impairments and ignore reality and history, not to mention facts, common sense and JC cultural attributes. If those who are right will not stand up to these statist bullies the implosion of the nation state, in which real debts are 5-8 x the size of any economy will ensure bankruptcy. But long before that point is reached, the culture, the mores, the system itself will have ceased to function and civilization will long be in decline. That is always the legacy of the cult of the communal. Socialized death and destruction.
The animus and in fact ignorance about what is 'capitalism', is broad and deep. Socialized education, statist-media, pop anti-culture and platitude-mouthing politicians will have that effect on the culture at large. The hypocrisy is also clear. Most people aspire to wealth or at least comfort. Yet many will spew their Marxist drivel out of the other side of their mouth, especially as it relates to entitlements, their 'human rights', or the magic of cheques appearing from the government in the mailbox.
This book is a superb volume on debunking the myths around capitalism. Many of the contributing authors are third-world economists and politicians, who see the salvation of their societies through the application of the structures of capitalism. The system of capital formation and deployment is of course an entire program encompassing morality, laws, regulations, fairness and money. Capitalism has been the only 'fair', 'just' and 'equal' theology of the politcal-economic order devised in history.
“...As the historian Joyce Appleby noted in her recent study The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism, “Because capitalism is a cultural system and not simply an economic one, it cannot be explained by mate rial factors alone.” Capitalism is a system of cultural, spiritual, and ethical values. As the economists David Schwab and Elinor Ostrom noted in a seminal game-theoretic study of the role of norms and rules in maintaining open economies, free markets rest firmly on the norms that constrain us from stealing and that are “trust enhancing.” Far from being an amoral arena for the clash of interests, as capitalism is often portrayed by those who seek to undermine or destroy it, capitalist interaction is highly structured by ethical norms and rules.
The entire ethos of capitalism is based on fairness for value. If you are Apple, you can sell your iPad for $600 each, because the market perceives the functional quality and utility of the device to be worth that amount of money. If Apple generates hundreds of millions in profits from the production of the iPad, is that immoral ? Or is it a consequence of satiating a demand with a good product ? If 'profit' becomes immoral, why bother to build the iPad, if the government for example can go to Apple and in the name of 'social justice' plunder its profits for the benefit of vote-buying, redistribution and crony-fascism?
“Capitalism is a source of value. It’s the most amazing vehicle for social cooperation that has ever existed. And that’s the story we need to tell. We need to change the narrative. From an ethical standpoint, we need to change the narrative of capitalism, to show that it’s about creating shared value, not for the few, but for everyone.”
Capitalism is about a fair exchange based on value. The utility of a product or service is the perceived value it offers to a market. It has nothing to do with government contracts, crony-fascism, 'back room deals', ripping people off, or clubbing the poor to death with a wad of thousand dollar notes. In fact the entire welfare system would collapse over night without the jobs, charity and taxes created and paid by 'capitalists'. Capitalism is thus the only 'fair' system to exist. Socialism, Marxism, National Socialism or Fascism, or any other variant of communal-governance is a system of plunder, coercion and fraud. Only a system based on voluntary exchange is moral:
“Critics of markets often complain that capitalism encourages and rewards self-interest. In fact, people are self-interested under any political system. Markets channel their self-interest in socially beneficent directions. In a free market, people achieve their own purposes by finding out what others want and trying to offer it.”
Force is replaced with rational innovation.
Modern Marxists, resplendent in their mental deformity, accuse 'globalization' of making life 'worse' for the human, or in the case of the death cult of globaloneywarming, even destroying our earth goddess Gaia. The first complaint ignores the reality that 600 million Indians and Chinese have been lifted out of poverty thanks to trade, and that more than 20 million 'old' jobs in the 'West' have been replaced by newer industries and technologies in the past 30 years. The second objection is particularly stupid. Humans scrape an existence on top of Gaia's crust. The deepest mine is a mere ½ mile deep. The earth's crust is 3-10 miles in depth. The entire planet is massive and the human is barely scratching and scraping on the top of it. 95 % of Co2 comes from the earth goddess, 5 % or less from man. The death cult of globaloneywarming, not based on science, but force and coercion, wants to deconstruct capital, trade, and job creation, and return the world to the state of modern sub-Saharan Africa. Marxists posit that such an immoral stupidity is 'sophisticated'. It sounds neolithic and awfully irrational.
Marxism in any form, including that of globaloneywarming, or the UN desire for world governance, would impoverish and murder hundreds of millions of people. Poverty is only alleviated by capitalism. It is not solutioned by government [massive bureaucracies eat up much of the 'poor money' in any tax transfer system]. The only way to save the 'poor' is to give them skills and a job:
"According to the Institute for International Economics, more than one hundred and fifteen thousand higher-paying computer software jobs were created in 1999–2003, while seventy thousand jobs were eliminated due to outsourcing. Similarly in the service sector twelve million new jobs were being created while ten million old jobs were being replaced. This phenomenon of rapid technological change and the replacement of old jobs with new ones is what economic development is all about."
Dynamic change, market creation, jobs and opportunities only arise from a system of capital investment. In this vein, trade, globalization, and extended linkages are normal, necessary and fundamental to helping the poor [5-10 % of the population in reality], and the rest of us.
“Globalization is not new. It is a modern word describing an ancient human movement, a word for mankind’s search for betterment through exchange and the worldwide expansion of specialization. It is a peaceful word. In the wise pronouncement of the great French economist Frederic Bastiat, if goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”
Marxist revolutionries prefer violence and state power to individualism, capital and trade exchange. Socialists-Fascists and Communists hate the individual and have little time for the complications of choice, free-will and private economic development. Communal theologies from Islam to Fascism have murdered more than 400 million humans. Yet they are never blamed for this carnage. The media, educational systems and politicians will even pronounce that wars started by these communal Fascisms are usually the fault of markets, Jews, greedy industrialists, or weapons makers who have bought politicians causing the war. Human insanity knows no limits.
“In July 1794, Maximilien Robespierre, revolutionary republican, radical democrat and driving force behind the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France, during which some 40,000 French men and women died on the guillotine as “enemies of the nation,” was put to death by his political opponents. Moments before his death, he addressed the mob that used to adulate him but now was baying for his blood, with the following words: “I gave you freedom; now you want bread as well.” And with that ended the Reign of Terror. The moral we can draw from this is that while there may be a link between political freedom and economic well-being, they are not the same thing.”
Yes Robespierre, people do enjoy food, and not coercive repressive atheist-secular madness.
The rhetoric around socialist madness does not comport itself to reality. In fact, a common claim against capitalism is that those businesses close to the government 'win'. This is of course the opposite of capitalism. Capitalist systems do not deal in the buying of political preference. This is because in a capitalist system, the government, the state and its ability to squander money is limited.
“Such corrupt cronyism shouldn’t be confused with “free-market capitalism,” which refers to a system of production and exchange that is based on the rule of law, on equality of rights for all, on the freedom to choose, on the freedom to trade, on the freedom to innovate, on the guiding discipline of profits and losses, and on the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, of one’s savings, of one’s investments, without fearing confiscation or restriction from those who have invested, not in production of wealth, but in political power.”
Capitalism has nothing whatsoever to do with socialist kickbacks, graft and vote-buying. GM for example is not a product of the capitalist economy, but a bankrupted [still owing $30 billion to the state], union-gifted socialist entity.
This book is a great read on why Capitalism works, what it means, and how it will help everyone, including that obsessive concern of politicians, themselves who are mostly wealthy, named 'the poor'.
Capitalism, is from caput or rationality, or using your head. It is rational, it is moral or it would long ago have failed to produce social, economic and humanist benefits. Capital formation requires morality, premised on contracts, parameters and rules. Markets don't work in vacuums. By contrast if your culture is socialist/collectivist there are no rules, standards, parameters, energy or capital to create anything other than printed money and bankruptcy. Socialisam and communalism relies on coercion. Markets and contracts cannot. The rationality of the capital-creating project demands intelligence, proper culture and behaviour and innovation. Within a proper Judeo-Christian framework it also demands charity, social support and social welfare.
Caput-ism also clearly works best within not only a coherent and unbiased legal framework, but importantly a sound monetary framework as well. In this sense it is clear that sound money and capital creation is linked to a metallic standard and when capital markets are tethered to such standards [see the 19th c.]; we see the greatest explosion in talent, invention and jobs. This is particularly true if the culture is not a miasma of collectivist nonsense.
Today of course we don't have a 'capitalist' system, anymore than we have a communist system. What we do have is a quasi-capitalist system embedded within various shades of statism. Only 25% of the US economy is depended on exports and imports for example, and much of the rest is directly or indirectly controlled by the mandarins. Calling the US a 'free market' system, be it in Health-care, Banking, Telecoms or Transport, would be akin to calling Putin's Russia a democratic and egalitarian system. It is gibberish.
In 2 recent books, Allan H. Meltzer and Luigi Zingales, free-market supporting professors, [a rare and endangered breed], put forward coherent arguments for more enterprise and less government. These books are excellent compendiums – short, clear, precise – as to why socialism always fails.
The only flaw one can see is that neither author destroys the fiat currency scam, in which paper marked with admittedly pretty pictures, but unlinked to a metallic standard, is called 'money'. Neither Mr. Meltzer nor Mr. Zingales is a fan of the Federal Reserve—Mr. Meltzer is an especially withering critic—but neither makes a fundamental case against the pure paper dollar, the Fed's stock in trade. Mr. Meltzer declares that the principal alternative to fiat money, the gold standard, has no place in a modern economy "because democratic governments, reflecting voters' concerns, prefer now to keep unemployment rates low rather than stabilize prices via the price of gold." The alleged trade-off between stable prices and unemployment under a gold standard, however, he asserts but does not prove. Nor does he pause to note that, under the Bernanke standard, America's unemployment rate has topped 8% for 3½ years running. For no potential employer is uncertainty as to the timing of the next adventure in money printing a confidence-builder.
Fiat currency printing was of course, a 'law' for Keynes and his Marxist acolytes, giving government the 'right' to 'manage' employment and 'the demand-side' of the economy. Keynes and Churchill argued about the need to, in Churchill's words 'shackle governments to reality'. Reality for Keynes was optional. Like much academic claptrap this has passed into legend as 'the right' program. Pity that Meltzer and Zingales do not recognize that a fiat currency process, is simply the monetary side of unfettered fiscal statism.
By Luigi Zingales
Basic, 304 pages, $27.99
Mr. Zingales enumerates the ways in which Silvio Berlusconi's Italy seems to have followed him across the Atlantic. He attacks the notion that some banks are too big to fail, and he excoriates the individuals who exploit this cozy arrangement. He names, for instance, Jim Johnson, a former CEO of Fannie Mae and still a director of Goldman Sachs, and Robert Rubin, the one-time Treasury secretary and famously inattentive director of Citigroup who admitted in 2007 that he had had "no familiarity at all with CDOs," the mortgage securities that blew a hole in the bank that was paying him $17 million a year. On and off Wall Street, Mr. Zingales contends, crony capitalism is displacing fair and free competition.
What to do about it? A chaired professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, Mr. Zingales is out to rebuild the American meritocracy. He wants to shame Washington lobbyists, to empower the American health-care consumer and to make corporate directors truly accountable to the shareholders. As for business schools, they "should stand up for what they think is the individual responsibility of a good capitalist."
In regulation, Mr. Zingales demands simplicity. Let us have three focused federal regulatory agencies, not the chaos of competing bureaus that now confuse the situation. One of these entities would stand guard against inflation, another would protect the consumer and a third would keep the banks off the rocks by heading off financial crises before they come to pass (this one will hire clairvoyants).
And then, he adds, let us hold the functionaries' feet to the fire. We can grade the price-stability agency by watching inflation expectations (the Treasury's inflation-protected securities provide a handy guide). The consumer-protection agency will succeed or fail according to the level of public trust in American financial institutions (surveys will elicit that information). And we will know all we have to know about the competence of the panic-prevention board by monitoring the cost of insuring the big lumbering banks against insolvency (the market in credit-default swaps will sound the alarm).
By Allan H. Meltzer
"Why Capitalism?" asks Allan H. Meltzer, star professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and he sensibly answers: because it works. Kristol regretted the absence of a capitalist moral compass. None, really, is to be had, Mr. Meltzer says. He quotes Immanuel Kant: "Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made, nothing entirely straight can ever be carved."
For the distracted, part-time observer of our economic and financial affairs, Mr. Meltzer's slim volume may fill the bill. In less than 150 pages of text, he takes on the welfare state, bank regulators, America's fiscal mess and foreign aid. Generally speaking, the author believes that that government is best which governs least and that the price mechanism allocates resources better than the White House does. But he made a better case for the redeeming power of markets in the first fat volume of his two-volume chronicle of the Fed, "A History of the Federal Reserve" (2003). The relevant section deals with a depression that miraculously cured itself.
Between January 1920 and August 1921, the unemployment rate in the United States jumped to 14% or so from about 2% (as it was then inexactly measured); wholesale prices plunged by more than 40%; and industrial production fell by 23%. The farm economy reeled, and there were waves of business failures—in Kansas City, the firm of Truman & Jacobson, a men's-wear retailer, went bankrupt, though the first named partner would recover his courage and later win the presidency. "Ain't we got fun?" is the mordant rhetorical question posed by the title of the hit tune of 1921.
The administration of Warren G. Harding responded to this macroeconomic disaster by running a budgetary surplus. The Fed didn't lower interest rates but raised them. In response to this bitter medicine, or perhaps despite it, the economy staged the kind of bounce-back that the Obama administration can only pine for. In 1922, the first full year of recovery, industrial production leapt by 27.3%. By 1923, joblessness was back to 3%.
Mr. Meltzer, a monetarist, takes due note of the fact that, from the peak to the trough of the 1920-21 business cycle, the sum of checking accounts and currency fell by 10.9%. Such a collapse, nowadays, would call forth a gust of Federal Reserve intervention. Absent radical money printing—"QE" was not even a gleam in the central bank's eye at this point—how did the American economy right itself? How did the banking system survive?
One part of the answer, Mr. Meltzer says, was that gold rushed into the country. Because gold was money (governments acknowledged it as such), the inflow delivered a monetary pick-me-up. There was no mystery why funds moved to these shores: America was on the bargain counter. Stocks, bonds and commodities had taken a beating. Value-minded foreigners seized the opportunity to buy them. No central banker had to lead investors by the hand.
The plunge in prices meant that the dollar bills in American wallets went further, too. Mr. Meltzer calls this rise in the purchasing power of money the "real balances" effect. "The public used its increase in money balances to purchase goods and assets," he writes. "Judging from stock market prices, after July 1921 asset prices rose absolutely and relative to prices of new production, stimulating the demand for new production. The change in relative prices and real wealth more than offset the negative effect of high real interest rates on spending." As for American banking, the biggest casualty was the little First National Bank of Cleburne, Texas, with deposits of $2.8 million. No bank was designated "too big to fail" in those days—and not one big bank did.
For all the talking that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke does about the Great Depression of the 1930s, he has nothing to say about the not-great depression of the 1920s. It was ugly and sharp, but it ended 18 months after it began. And in the course of it ending, the Treasury reduced the public debt to $22.9 billion from $24.3 billion. According to 21st-century doctrine, producers and consumers are incapable of climbing out of a deflationary hole without a government-provided fiscal and monetary ladder. Nonetheless, in this particular unsung depression, individuals managed the trick, which suggests that markets work if only we let them.
"In 1920-21," relates Benjamin Anderson, a bank economist who witnessed the goings-on, "we took our losses, we readjusted our financial structure, we endured our depression, and in Aug. 1921 we started up again." At any rate, the Harding depression presents a provocative comparison to the Hoover-and-Roosevelt depression that began in 1929 and didn't end, as Robert Higgs persuasively argues in his 2006 book, "Depression, War and Cold War," until 1946.
Mr. Meltzer, a devotee of Milton Friedman, one of the 20th century's pre-eminent apologists for fiat money, is true to the monetarist faith. For Mr. Zingales, however, I have high hopes—perhaps in his next book. As he detests statism, so may he come to recoil from modern monetary methods.
What are these methods? Fixing an interest rate, manipulating the structure of interest rates and goosing the stock market in the name of "stimulating" the economy are prime examples. Many argue that these radical interventions have spared us from another Great Depression. More likely, I think, the same machinations have snuffed out whatever chance we had of dealing with our difficulties as efficiently as our forebears did in the not-great depression of the early 1920s.
Not since 1971 has anyone had the right to exchange a dollar bill at the Treasury for a fixed and statutory weight of gold or silver. Most of us have forgotten that the dollar was ever exchangeable into anything except small coins. We collectively nod in agreement at the dubious proposition that the Fed should have the power to manipulate the value of the money we spend and save, just as it suits the government's purposes.
Herbert Hoover is not often invoked as an authority on monetary economics, but the memoirs of the 31st president are full of wise words on the relationship between the citizen and his government. The gold-exchange standard of the late 1920s and 1930s, a third-rate version of the classical gold standard in place before World War I, failed as a monetary mechanism. But it did serve a constitutional purpose. Hoover wrote:
“Currency convertible into gold of the legal specifications is a vital protection against economic manipulation by the government. As long as currencies are convertible, governments cannot easily tamper with the price of goods, and therefore the wage standards of the country. They cannot easily confiscate the savings of the people by manipulation of inflation and deflation. . . . Once free of convertible standards, the executives of every "managed-currency" country had gone on a spree of government spending, and the people thereby lost control of the public purse—their first defense against tyranny.”
He was right.
In short both books are good antidotes to the current mania around government uber alles. The weather changes? Globaloneywarming, which must be managed by the UN. Don't want to work ? No problems, you have access to dozens of programs and welfare. Competition? So archaic, surely government manged oligopolies in every market including energy, transport, 'culture' and banking work best. Real money? How Roman. Paper with pretty pictures is certainly preferable to the constraints of a gold and silver metallic standard. After all, life is just one big Oprah show – all about 'me'. No standards needed.