Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to See the Unseen

I’m not trying to be mystical here. I was recently re-reading Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” and was inspired by his discussion of the advantage that liberals have when they recommend large spending programs.

“…there is a…factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.

In this lies the whole difference between good economics and bad. The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups.”[1]

Hazlitt accuses progressives of pointing to a problem and then recommending government spending as the solution; focusing on the problem but ignoring the “unintended consequences” of government action. He says elsewhere that you can easily point to the job or money that the government beneficiary receives but you cannot point to what was lost because it does not exist. The loss is in the products you could not buy and the job that was not created because the money went to the government.

I would like to suggest a way that you can see the unseen consequences of government action as they affect you personally.

Take a look at your latest tax filing form and identify how much money you paid through out the year on taxes. Then ask yourself what you would have bought with that money. Then take a trip to a store where that item is sold and find it on the store shelf. Now you can see with your own eyes what you have lost, what you do not have. Is it a new Recreational Vehicle, a new Home Theater, hundreds of books you could have read or even a new Jacuzzi? Look at them in the store; spend a few minutes contemplating what you would be doing if you had that item in your possession right now; how much better your life would now be with that item. Then realize that this item has been taken from you by the government.

If you want to get even more wistful, look at the latest report you received from the Social Security Administration detailing how much you have paid into that program. Depending on the number of years you’ve paid into the system, I’ll bet you could have bought a much nicer house; or perhaps several vacations over the years, maybe even a real pension that isn’t threatened by extinction. Now go to an online Real Estate website and look through some houses whose prices match that amount of money; or look at some travel agency brochures and figure out how many places you could have visited with that money. Savor the pictures of the sites you were not able to visit.

Some would say that the exercise I am recommending is a selfish way of looking at the issue and that you should instead consider the good that the government has done with your money. Rather, I would argue, read an article on government waste and identify a program that has been a boondoggle or that benefited a Congressman by setting up a phony business so he (through proxies) could pocket your money. Or learn about how much money was paid by government to friends or relatives of politicians and you’ll see the harm that has been done to you (I’d love to get your comments on what you have learned in this exercise).

Hazlitt was a classical economist who taught his generation to look at all aspects of a government program, not just the beneficiaries but the harm that is done to the people who earned the money. Classical economists were not blind to the fact that the government was violating the individual and property rights of some people in order to give benefits to their voting blocks. Their arguments were critical of socialist ideas but they missed the truth that the government did not have the moral right to take the property of citizens. Working hard in order to live a better life, educating yourself so you can earn more money, are both moral actions and anyone who decides to engage in such acts is a moral agent, a good person. It is your moral right to better yourself and it is immoral of the government to violate your right to a better life. Well, look with your own eyes at the benefits you have been denied; the very benefits that have been forbidden to you; benefits that would enable you to have a better life and also to create more jobs so other people can live better lives.

You did the work, did you not? You exerted your energy and your thinking in order to make this money, did you not? Why should anyone take it from you? Who gave Barack Obama and Congress the authority to expropriate your property? Who gave them the moral authority, the moral right, to decide what to do with your money, money that would not have been created without your effort? The answer is that there is no such authority, no such right held by any man anywhere to decide what to do with your earnings and property.

Now that you’ve seen the unseen, I hope you agree with me that the government has no authority to take your property. I hope you also agree that you need to take a stand on the issue of government spending. You need to seek out other Americans and communicate to as many people as possible your refusal to let the government take over your life. Remember the Boston Tea Party.

[1] Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt, Three Rivers Press

Friday, March 27, 2009


Thanks for viewing my blog. I created this blog in order to provide my thoughts about events that will unfold in the coming years; events that are going to affect our lives tremendously. Will we continue to be a free people, deciding for ourselves the directions of our lives or will we be herded into groups and classes to be favored or rejected by the ruling elite in the government? Will we be free to start businesses, earn profits and keep those profits or will we be enslaved in order to provide the money that will feed the government as it advances ever-growing and ever-changing social engineering schemes? Will we pay high taxes of low taxes? Will we trust our government to defend our rights or fear our government for its high handed practices, its coercion, its ever-changing decrees? Will our money be strong and purchase a large array of fine products to improve our lives or will it be stolen and put into the coffers of financial thieves in the treasury and Cayman Islands? Who are the villains today; the hard working people who want better lives and enjoyment or the government that wants us to sacrifice for the sake of those who have no desire to work hard? Hopefully, you will enjoy my perspective and my hopes for the future.

A key component of this blog is my advocacy of the Tea Party Concept. I think it is important that hard working citizens take definitive action when they think the government is stepping out of bounds. The Constitution, as it was originally written, does not allow the government to violate the rights of citizens. When pork is created without discussion and approval by the people, when government passes laws without debate, creates programs without justification or approval, spends money that does not exist except through inflating and devaluing the money that does exist, then the government must be stopped by responsible dissent.