Monday, February 22, 2010

Anti-capitalism – the Evil Idea Part 3

In a previous post entitled “Anti-capitalism is Evil” I reported on my trip to Washington DC on September 12th, 2009. In that post, I discussed the anti-capitalist views of many young people in the universities. In a companion post entitled “Anti-capitalism – the Evil Idea Part 2, I responded to a comment on my first post with general observations. In this post, I am answering the specific statements made by the commenter point-by-point.

You write:
“The anti-thesis you build in this essay is false. Anti-capitalists aren't protesting small businesses or the use-value of products and services, i.e. the Real Economy you and your family belong to.”

Apparently, you think that the correct anti-thesis in our economy is between small business people being pandered to by the Obama administration and Wall Street types who use the Obama administration to give themselves an advantage over their competitors.

This is certainly a novel approach to anti-thetical thinking. However, correct economic anti-theses don’t work that way. Logically, a set of correct anti-theses is supposed to contain two exact opposites. To say that Wall Street elites are the anti-thesis of main street small business people reveals an illogical approach. A telling aspect of this approach is that it does not exhaust all of the possibilities. For instance, where does this leave fascism, socialism, Keynesianism, free market theory, etc. Properly, you must define your anti-thetical couples as two opposites that express the principle of “A versus non-A”.

This technique of using contraries as if they were contradictories makes it possible for progressives to change positions whenever it is politically expedient. By being vague on the true divisions in thinking, they leave the door open to insert some of the most ridiculous "solutions". It helps them pander to voting blocks. They attack capitalism and then deny that they are anti-capitalists. They pretend to be, instead, practical “liberals” who really advocate capitalism but are only against the violators of capitalism; the fat cat elites. Quite a nifty little maneuver, if I say so myself. For a full explanation of their deceptive methods, see George Lakoff.

Let’s get back to the real world. In order to find the anti-thesis of capitalism, we have to compare a whole range of economic systems. For instance, let’s analyze fascism, socialism, welfare-statism, capitalism, oligarchy and monarchy. The general category that these “isms” fall under is, of course, "economic systems". The fundamental principle that enables us to find the correct set anti-theses among them is the principle of the role of force in an economy. By identifying that principle in each system, you learn that capitalism is the only system in the group that removes force from men’s economic dealings while the others require government coercion. If you reverse the principle to the role of freedom in an economy (which means the lack of force), you find that the same distinctions apply; capitalism stands against the other systems. There is no difference between capitalism for the rich and capitalism for the middle class. Also, if you outlaw force from men’s dealings under fascism or any of the other systems, you change their essence and move toward capitalism.

You can ask questions about other fundamental principles and you’ll get the same answer. Questions such as which systems rely on collectivism, or which systems are based on altruism, or which are based upon self-sacrifice or re-distribution and you’ll get the same divisions: all other systems versus capitalism. The fundamental anti-theses among these systems are capitalism/individualism versus statism/collectivism.

Your point that there is an anti-thetical relationship between Wall Street capitalism and small business capitalism, and that anti-capitalists are against one and in favor of the other is not only historically inaccurate, it is epistemologically inaccurate given the analysis I have made.

Further, if you study the history of anti-capitalism, the founders of this attitude, Marx and Engels, did not say there was a difference between small business and large corporations. They based their arguments on, among other theories, the “labor theory of value” which held that all value in capitalist production was derived from the amount of labor expended on it. They did not differentiate labor from small business versus large business. They saw all capitalist activity as theft and exploitation. In my post, I clearly argue against the labor theory of value. It is a false theory, clearly refuted by other competent economists. I have discussed these refutations in other posts. When you ask the question, did Marx, in the development of the labor theory of value, discuss only rich capitalists and exclude small business capitalists, you learn that he did not make such a distinction.

You write:
“They (the progressives) are protesting the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street, where the wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth, gamble with the livelihoods of the workers and consumers that made them rich in the first place.

In my second post, I wrote:

“Almost everything you say about "the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street" is true but you don't seem to recognize that your statement is not true of capitalism. Fake bubbles, speculation based on insider knowledge or illegal manipulation, and the resulting temporary growth are caused by government intervention into the economy, not capitalism. They are the products of fascism.”

My definition of fascism is not my own. It represents what fascism actually is; a system where private property is allowed to exist but the government dictates through laws and regulations what businesses and individuals must do. Again, this definition relates to the role of force in an economy and clearly defines the difference between the other systems and capitalism. For instance, socialism is a system where the government owns the major industries in society. In a communist system the government owns everything, all industries and all citizens, and makes all decisions in the economy including prices, supply and production goals.

Fascism was the system of Hitler and Mussolini and it is the system that we have. We are fast moving toward socialism through the efforts of the Obama administration.

To continue, consider the following facts regarding Wall Street:

1. The financial services sector is one of the most highly regulated sectors in the economy. It is virtually already managed by government. Yet, the government claims it is a virtual free market zone full of greed. Most of the poor practices done by government-favored businesses on Wall Street were mandated to them by government including the investment in derivatives that were supposedly backed by the government and, because they were backed by government, not only did Wall Street companies invest in them but AIG insured them. You can’t indict capitalism for flaws that are created by government. Whenever you mix government coercion with capitalism, you no longer have capitalism.

2. It is a leftist/progressive lie that oligarchic fascism is capitalism. For decades the progressives have said that fascism is a system of the right while socialism is a system of the left. This is a lie that removes the left from being blamed for the atrocities committed by fascism in the last decade. Any system that advocates government force or manipulation is statist in nature and can only be leftist. Notice that the government not only fosters the lie that fascism is a system of the right but it is the very demon practicing oligarchic fascism that you claim to be against.

3. We need to fight against oligarchic fascism and my post was not a defense of such a system. I advocate full, unregulated capitalism, unfettered by government interference of any type. Such a system existed most consistently during the 19th Century and is responsible for most of the wonders that we enjoy today. We do not have a “true” capitalist system today; we have a mixture of freedom and force which can only be defined as fascist.

4. Although you claim to be against corrupt business practices that use government to accomplish theft, you also advocate it in other parts of your posts…so I’m sure you don’t understand what it is you are against. Such an attack on capitalism makes you an advocate, by default, of the very system you criticize. Progressives advocate government force through programs such as the minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, etc. and these are violations of the rights of citizens because they require the expropriation of the taxpayer’s money…just as do the practices of bailing out Wall Street giants.

5. True capitalism is essentially freedom; it is economic activity without the intervention of government. It is the anti-thesis of government planning which you obviously favor. I advocate a full and complete Constitutional separation of economy and state. This would eliminate all the corruption that you falsely attribute to capitalism.

You write:
“(Please note that progressives and leftists were protesting the business practices of the World Banking system a decade before the Tea Party woke up and smelled the coffee.)”

You aren’t looking far enough into the past. The World Banking system, including the Federal Reserve System, was invented and put into place by progressives of the last century. The only reason that radicals today protest the World Banking System is because they make the same mistake as you; they consider oligarchic fascism to be capitalism. Today’s street radicals are not advocates of capitalism; judging from their signs, they are advocates of violent communist revolution or anarchism. Therefore, they accept all the Marxist lies about capitalism. They are brazenly anti-capitalist.

You write:
“I celebrate the risk you took to establish your own small business. It should be noted that progressives have always supported loans and government help to small businesses, in addition to supporting things like a minimum wage and anti-trust laws, which are, in effect, limitations placed upon the freedom of the market designed to minimize exploitation.”

Did it ever occur to you that the act of progressives supporting loans and government help to small businesses is fascism not capitalism? It is just as wrong as giving home loans, paid for by taxpayers, to people who can’t afford to pay them off. This is nothing more than re-distribution and serves no economic benefit. If I were to take a loan from government to run my business, would I not be an oligarch? Would I not be using government to gain an advantage over my competition?

To illustrate this point, let’s imagine I am a businessperson who sells a package of food that will feed you for one month. I charge $100.00 for this package. Now let’s imagine that the government taxes you $100.00 and gives it to me so I can run my business. You come to me and give me another $100.00 for the package. Is it right that you have to pay for this package twice?

Now you have $100.00 of food and I have $200.00 of your money. Next month, the government gives me another $100.00 that is taken from you and the cycle starts over. Multiply this situation hundreds of thousands of times per day and you can see that re-distribution to businesses is wrong.

An honest businessperson does not want money re-distributed from other people to himself. In fact, many people refuse to take government money because they know that other people are suffering as a result. They want people to keep their money to spend or invest as they see fit. Government loans violate the very principles of individual rights, free trade and honest work. You don’t seem to realize that you can’t create wealth through re-distribution; you only take produced wealth from one person and give to someone else.

The only way to create wealth is through production. Production is done when someone saves her own money in a bank or invests it in the stock market. This money is loaned to a business. The business takes the borrowed money and creates productive jobs where employees can make money for themselves and for the business owner. Some of the money made by the business owner goes back to the investor as interest paid. Every party is benefited. No one is abused.

When the government takes money from the productive worker, it does not invest that money. It spends it on people who merely consume it; this stops the productive use of that money. Because the taxpayer, who has had his money taken by government, does not spend that money to meet his own needs, the businessperson has fewer customers. The only thing the government does is distort the marketplace by selecting the winners who will get the money the government has stolen. The “multiplier-effect” of re-distributed money is a myth. This is why re-distribution (economic stimulus) does not increase employment in the private sector.

The minimum wage is theft that causes unemployment. It forcibly raises the price of labor so businesses cannot afford to hire the very people it claims to be helping. Once again, the progressive thinks he’s making things better but he is in fact making things worse.

You have to ask yourself; if raising the minimum wage is such a good thing, why don’t they raise it to $100 an hour? Wouldn’t that be better for low-skilled workers than a mere few pennies? Certainly, the wage earner at McDonalds would be better off making $100 an hour – and you’d be creating more purchasing power, right? In fact, you’d put people with low skills out of a job because their labor is not worth $100 an hour – and the resultant increase in labor costs for the businessperson would mean that he’d have to raise prices which might cause customers to go away. You cannot create more value by raising a person’s hourly pay.

Anti-trust laws are some of the most oppressive laws on the books. They punish companies for being successful. And it is in the area of anti-trust prosecutions that you see the most virulent hatred of success. As I wrote in Part 1:

“Yes, hatred of the good, the clean, the intelligent is at the heart of anti-capitalism. It takes great men (and women) to create great industries. It takes independence to put one’s savings on the line and bring a great new idea to market. It takes intelligence to come up with a great idea that would make the lives of people better, and it takes self-confidence to offer people a product that improves their lives. Only hatred would want to stop better living. Only hatred could move a person to scream that the capitalist is a thief, a charlatan and a deceiver. In fact, it takes a thief, a charlatan and a deceiver to be an anti-capitalist.”


“What is inside the soul of an anti-capitalist? Is it the desire to make a better world? Does the elimination of capitalism actually make a better world? What was the world like before capitalism? No, I think the anti-capitalist has a different motivation; it is the motivation of a soulless person, someone who sees the image of a thinker, an independent mind, a person striving for success and, rather than admiring that image, hating it; and more, rather than merely hating it, wanting to see it suffer and die.”

If you study the history of anti-trust prosecutions you’ll find it to be full of vague interpretations of vague laws intended to punish more productive companies for the benefit of less productive companies. If anything causes people to suffer, it is anti-trust laws and their oppressive imposition upon mostly honest businesspeople. It puts honest businesspeople in jail for providing customers with better products at lower prices.

You write:
“Anti-capitalists don't hate the real value markets create in the world. They hate the fake bubbles of speculation and temporary growth that allow the richest 1% to line their pockets, shelter that money off-shore, and run for the hills when the walls come crashing in. Anti-capitalists don't hate creativity and profit. They hate the ABUSES of capitalism.

Capitalism must be regulated in order to function properly. Enron and Madoff prove this. Capitalism is not the same thing as freedom. And, as China proves, capitalism is not inherently democratic. Capitalism is not life.”

Fake bubbles and temporary growth are created by oligarchs seeking to sell short after government has created a bubble. This selling short is theft perpetrated on productive people who have accumulated wealth. Real capitalism has never had such massive fake bubbles. You have accepted the leftist/progressive lies that blame capitalism for the damage done to the economy by government.

China is not a capitalist society; it is a corrupt oligarchy run by communist rulers. The only thing that makes it possible for China to experience growth is the presence of other free markets in the world with the ability to purchase Chinese products at low prices.

Enron was a company that used government in order to be successful. It was not a capitalist institution. It was oligarchic in nature. Madoff, on the other hand, was a crook, and had he not been able to use the SEC to fool people, he would have been exposed long before he did his damage. The SEC, which is a government regulatory body, repeatedly looked the other way while Madoff committed his crimes. Capitalism was not to blame for Madoff’s crimes; regulation was the problem. Capitalism does not benefit crooks. Only government can help them get away with their crimes. Madoff’s crimes, and the fact that he got away with his theft for so long, are actually an argument for capitalism. The free market would have put him out of business long before the government decided to investigate him.

When politicians lie that capitalism is exploitation and theft, they hide their complicity in skimming profits. Stealing wealth from producers is the goal of all oppressive governments; and this especially includes governments run by progressives. The massive controls and government picking of winners and losers create those bubbles you talk about. You complain about it but, as a progressive, you also support it.

Capitalism does not abuse people. Only government can abuse people. Government is the agency of force in society; capitalism is based on voluntary trade. That is why corrupt CEOs use government to regulate their industry; the government can help them corner a market and put their competitors out of business. The progressive movement justifies helping these corrupt businesses by claiming that it must help capitalism work.

How do progressives get away with their lies? First, they attack the principles and the abstractions that build up society. They attack the concept of “rights” by claiming that you can’t see a right in action, or that you can’t see the connection between rights and voluntary exchange, or that a right is a belief that does not exist in reality. By attacking rights as an abstract concept devoid of meaning, they give themselves the cover they need to violate the rights of real living people.

When the progressives say they are only trying to bring about “universal health care, living wages, affordable housing, peace, a healthy environment, and voting systems we can trust” they are assuming that these goals can only be accomplished by government force against some citizens (the productive) on behalf of other citizens…and they think that government force can actually accomplish these goals. They assume that everyone agrees that expropriation of income from productive citizens is moral; as if theft can accomplish benefits that will last. Look at the disasters caused by Medicare and Medicaid, government-favored unions, the Community Reinvestment Act, onerous and unnecessary environmental regulations (and the coming Cap and Trade Bill), and voter fraud on behalf of Obama engaged in by ACORN and you can see the real results of doing “good” on the backs of the “good” people who produce.

Capitalism is not a “zero-sum” game as progressives seem to think. In fact, it is not a game. Capitalism is based upon a moral principle that each individual has a right to keep the product of his labor. That labor consists, not only of the precious time a person spends to make his product or deliver his services, but also of the value that his thinking is able to bring to the purchaser. The transfer of money in a voluntary trade makes it possible for the purchaser to get value from the seller and for the seller to purchase valuable products for himself. This is not zero-sum, it is plus-plus.

One thing that I’m sure some will question is my statement in Part 2 of this post that the poor get richer and the rich get poorer in a capitalist society. This is true, though to a lesser degree, even of a mixed capitalist nation such as ours.

I had always wondered about the progressives’ charge that in capitalism the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I had considered that this was a function of how rare it is when individuals come up with the outstanding ideas that create the ultra-rich. I had always thought that this was not an indictment of capitalism but one of the reasons why we need to leave people free. In my view, this “fact” should make people want to work harder and smarter rather than have the government equalize incomes.

Yet, now I find that it isn’t true; in capitalism, the poor get richer and the rich get poorer. In his book, Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell writes:

“Perhaps the most fertile source of misunderstandings about incomes has been the wide spread practice of confusing statistical categories with flesh-and-blood human beings. Many statements have been made in the media and in academia, claiming that the rich are gaining not only larger incomes but a growing share of all incomes, widening the income gap between people at the top and those at the bottom. Almost invariably these statements are based on confusing what has been happening over time in statistical categories with what has been happing over time with actual flesh-and-blood people.”(1)

“Although such discussion have been phrased in terms of people, the actual empirical evidence cited has been about what has been happening over time to statistical categories—and that turns out to be the direct opposite of what has happened over time to flesh-and-blood human beings, most of whom move from one category to another over time. In terms of statistical categories, it is indeed true that both the amount of income and the proportion of all income received by those in the top 20 percent bracket have risen over the years, widening the gap between the top and bottom quintiles. But U.S. Treasury Department data, following specific individuals over time from their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, show that in terms of people, the incomes of those particular taxpayers who were in the bottom 20 percent in income in 1996 rose 91 percent by 2005, while incomes of those particular taxpayers who were in the top 20 percent in 1996 rose by only 10 percent in 2005—and those in the top 5 percent and top one percent actually declined.

While it might seem as if both these radically different sets of statistics cannot be true at the same time, what makes them mutually compatible is that flesh-and-blood human beings move from one statistical category to another over time. When those taxpayers who were initially in the lowest income bracket had their incomes nearly double in a decade, that moved many of them up and out of the bottom quintile-- and when those in the top one percent had their incomes cut by about one-fourth, that may well have dropped them out of the top one percent. Internal Revenue Service data can follow particular individuals over time and from their tax returns, which have individual Social Security numbers as identification, while data from the Census Bureau and most other sources follow what happens to statistical categories over time, even though it is not the same individuals in the same categories over the years.”(2)

“Behind many of those numbers and the accompanying alarmist rhetoric is the very mundane fact: Most people begin their working careers at the bottom, earning entry-level salaries. Over time, as they acquire more skills and experience, their rising productivity leads to rising pay, putting them in successively higher income brackets. These are not rare, Horatio Alger stories. These are common patterns among millions of people in the United States and in some other countries. More than three-quarters of those working Americans whose incomes were in the bottom 20 percent in 1975 were also in the top 40 percent of income earners at some point by 1991. Only 5 percent of those who were initially in the bottom quintile were still there in 1991, while 29 percent of those who were initially at the bottom quintile had risen to the top quintile.”(3)

While trying to absorb this data, I realized why it is true that the rich can get poorer and the poor can get richer. The commonly accepted idea (that the poor get poorer and the rich get richer) is based on a false premise; that wealth is a static (zero-sum) quantity and that an improvement in the wealth of one person must necessarily reflect a decrease in the wealth of someone else. Since it is assumed that the rich are better at “getting” money, it is also assumed that the rich are taking wealth from the poor who are not as good at getting money.

Wealth is created by production and new production takes nothing from the wealth of another person; it adds to the gross domestic product. For instance, I could never have invented the wireless telephone, but for a mere few dollars, I become more effective by purchasing one. My communication with my customers is improved significantly and I am able to make much more money because they can reach me at any time, I can send them brochures and other collateral materials by email attachment and I can discuss the contents of these materials while we are chatting over the phone. We can even browse my website together so I can inform them of my services while their questions are hot and their need to buy is immediate. I am getting richer through this process. I might have been poor without this device and many other inventions offered by businesses all over the country.

The facts that give rise to capitalism derive from the basic fact that man survives by means of reason. When I acknowledge this fact, I conclude that each man is an individual who must think in order to survive. If he is allowed the freedom that is inherent in his nature as a thinking being, regardless of where he starts in life, the result, most often, is better decisions that benefit the individual and those who choose to deal with him. There is nothing zero-sum about this. Further, capitalism is not philosophically justified by the results attained (this is the conservative approach); it is justified by a recognition of man’s nature as a being that uses reason. Man should be free, not because freedom works, but because his nature requires freedom.

Rights are an abstraction based on the nature of man as a thinking being. Man cannot survive without thinking; and the concept of “rights”, once recognized and honored, allows men to deal with each other honestly and morally. Rights to free speech, free thought, free association, property, self-defense, etc. set the foundation for a civil society that protects people against theft by criminals (in or out of government).

Progressives constantly violate individual rights in order to accomplish their version of the “good”. They do it by advancing such fallacies as “the will of the people”, self-sacrifice, collective joining, democracy and altruism. From these false principles, the worst atrocities in the history of man have been done.

When you attempt to morally justify the forceful imposition of government, you introduce the principle that men cannot decide for themselves what is in their self-interest; and, through government, you assume the moral authority that allows you to impose your view on people (about what you think they should do). It does not matter that the imposition is “small” such as with a tax of 1 cent to “give” to a starving boy or a tax of $50,000,000 to give to Goldman Sachs, it is not the size of the sacrifice that is the issue. The real issue is that you do not have the right to impose your view of man's nature on anyone, and you do not have the moral authority to point a (government) gun at people and make them do what you think they should.

As has been written by many free market economists, when government officials take upon themselves the power to manipulate the millions of decisions made in the free market, they necessarily create disaster. They are not able, in spite of their vaunted wisdom and “superior” knowledge, to make, on a macro level, the decisions that individuals would make more effectively on the micro level. If you leave people free to make their own decisions, by recognizing their property rights and economic freedom, you make possible correct decisions that make things better for more people. The government can never be wiser than the people. This is why our Founders decided to recognize individual rights and establish a governmental framework that prohibits forcible decision-making by government.

The mistake that progressives make, if it can be called a mistake, is to postulate a good result such as “isn’t it good to give a poor person his next meal?” and assume that the forcible extraction of that meal from another individual is right. This violates the individual rights of the second individual. What gives progressives the right to say that they have “no problem” with forcing people to give up their earnings for the sake of "social" goals? It is time to say to progressives that "I have a problem with that".

What does it mean in practice that you, the individual, have the right to pursue your happiness? It means that happiness is possible. It means that you have a right to make your own decisions and to stand or fall on the quality of those decisions. And, more importantly, it means that once you achieve your happiness, that happiness must not be taken from you by government. No progressive can rightfully state that, on the one hand, he is in favor of people pursuing their happiness…but, on the other hand, he just doesn’t want to see that pursuit victimize others.

Success in life is about flourishing, achieving more than happiness, achieving it in abundance and not having to worry about the evil eye of envy.

In my post, “Plucking out the Parasites”, I wrote:

“Capitalism is a perfect economic system because it allows the consumer to choose what he needs and then find the products to fill those needs, and in the process tipping off the capitalist about where to invest for future production. Everyone wins. Socialism is full of inefficiencies because the goal is not the satisfaction of requested needs but of "social" needs that a central authority deems proper, fulfilled by unwilling providers and presented in a “take it or leave it” way with little concern for the desires of the consumer. The only “satisfied” party in a socialist transaction is the central authority.”

In “Laissez nous Faire (Leave us Alone)”, I wrote:

“All dictatorships are re-distribution schemes in one form or another. Fascism is the redistribution of wealth from productive property owners to the government and special interests that they designate. Socialism is a more advanced form of fascism where the government controls the major industries in order to accomplish the same goals. Welfare-statism is the focus of government on re-distributing income from the wealthy to the non-working poor. Communism is the re-distribution of property once owned by a propertied “class” for the sake of the workers who are an exploited proxy for government elites.

All these schemes result in the expropriation or theft of productive power by the means of political power. All re-distribution equalizes results for all people regardless of effort. Once re-distribution takes hold, the more able people will slow their effort because they know their product will be given to others. On the other hand, the less able people will also slow their effort because they know the government will re-distribute money from the rich to them. There is no incentive to excel in a re-distribution scheme so all effort is reduced and the system becomes nothing more than finger pointing and bickering about who is working hard enough to support the group. This is why no socialist system ever works. Re-distribution is theft of property and energy and because so it reduces both the amount of property created and the effort required to produce it. It is statism that has failed, not capitalism. This is not an opinion. It is a historically proven fact.”

You write:

“You are right that capitalism was a great thing and it built this country. But you can't possibly believe that the correct destiny for capitalism in America was to bring us to a situation where 90% of wealth is controlled by 1% of the citizens! Capitalism has no intrinsic stopgaps against abuse or disaster. It functions according to Creative Destruction. Great if you're creating something. Not so great if you are being destroyed. Shouldn't government protect its citizens from being destroyed? If hundreds of people lose their jobs at Enron because of the bosses' "creative" and foolhardy and criminal behavior, did those people DESERVE to lose their jobs? Why shouldn't a civilization provide protection to those made vulnerable by disaster and criminal mischief?”

You praise capitalism but then you complain that it makes people rich. You ignore the fact that the poor also get richer under capitalism. What is it that you hate; people getting rich or poor people leading better lives? You act as if wealth already existed before it was created by hard working and intelligent people. Without those people who were free to get rich, then you’d have none of the wonderful products that capitalism makes possible. This is why I say anti-capitalists hate the intelligent and successful.

You misunderstand “creative destruction”. Creative destruction is a process where better products and services obtain investment dollars that were previously invested in less efficient products and services. Nothing is actually physically destroyed through creative destruction; especially people who are given opportunities to find better jobs when capital moves from a bad idea to a better idea.

In fact, no one is destroyed in capitalism. If you work, you will find customers or employers. If you don’t work, you will destroy yourself. Capitalism has nothing to do with it. But it is true that government can destroy you if it attempts to help a competitor through anti-trust prosecution of your boss. But you favor that, right? Government can cause unemployment through minimum wage laws that you advocate. Government can create tariffs that force companies to move to other countries in order to survive, but as a progressive, you favor those tariffs to protect jobs. Government can tax small businesses or force them to provide health care that destroys their profit margins and you favor that. Government can re-distribute your money to ACORN in order to engage in voter fraud to elect Obama, but to progressives, that is helping people. You say you are against businesses cheating and hurting people but you advocate the very policies of progressives that create the ability of dishonest businesspeople to use government to hurt people. You advocate the very things you say you are against.

Yes, government should protect citizens from being destroyed by criminals. But when the criminals are in the government, they call themselves progressives and the last thing they do is protect citizens. They violate the citizens’ rights repeatedly through high taxes, massive spending, the unemployment they create through re-distribution, and they even put honest businesspeople in jail through anti-trust. These are all things you favor. You said so.

You ask “Why shouldn’t a civilization provide protection to those made vulnerable by disaster and criminal mischief?” The answer is that you can’t protect vulnerable citizens by violating the rights of others. If your goal truly is to protect vulnerable people you would allow them the freedom to survive by their own self-reliance; not by expropriating and destroying the freedoms of all citizens. If you truly want to help people, you would advocate a return to full unregulated capitalism.

The “Robin Hood” approach to government, re-distribution, is not helping the poor. This approach is what keeps them poor. Schools run by progressives continue to fail and keep the poor from getting the education they need to advance. Welfare convinces the poor that they are entitled to other peoples’ money and reduces the amount of effort they need to lift themselves up. Likewise, entitlement programs enslave the next generation in order to take care of the older generation. Progressivism creates disaster and criminal mischief. The help you intend to give to people cannot be accomplished by the methods you advocate.

Progressives constantly bring up “problems” that they would like to fix. If they say the problem is poor education, even though they’ve been in charge of our educational system for decades, they tell us we need to spend more money for the teachers unions to get better teachers. The only thing they accomplish through this process is give more money to failing teachers…and the educational system is made worse. This is the pattern of progressives…they don’t care if the problems are really solved.

You write:
“Are you against the minimum wage? Medicare? Social Security?”

Absolutely, I am against them because they violate the rights of individuals. If you want to accomplish good in the world, you don’t do it by stealing someone’s property and giving it to someone else. This is why anti-capitalism is evil…it advocates the violation of individual rights. Not only do these policies not work, they make the pursuit of happiness impossible. It is the very progressive ideas you advocate that create the evils you blame on capitalism.

Finally, I’d like to repost the following. I’d like for you and other progressives to think of your roles in destroying our culture.

“Anti-capitalists, including these young men walking in tandem, do not realize their role in history as destroyers. Once you outlaw the bases of capitalism, individual rights and property rights, you are left with only coercion, government force. You are left with central planning which has never worked through out history. Their anti-capitalist hatred makes them dupes who ignore the most atrocious and immoral acts that happen in the name of anti-capitalism; they have put themselves in the position where they have become blind to the damage done by re-distribution, corruption, nepotism, force and plunder.

Our educational system is making ignoramuses of our young people. And because of the education they have been given, because they have been taught what to think rather than how to question, it is these young people whose futures are being washed down the proverbial drain by the spending of the Obama administration.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t explain to you the basic premise that makes progressivism wrong. Today’s educational establishment never tells you about the root ideas that have created today’s progressive movement as well as the education they have given you. The progressives get their basic premises from philosophers like Plato, Hume, Kant, Popper and Dewey to name a few. Starting with Plato, they believed that man could not learn from reality because he is incapable of connecting his sensory mechanism to the real world. This created the view that individual men could not make rational decisions. Their view that man was cognitively imperfect and immoral, led to the idea that only people in specialized fields could make decisions for him.

The result of these views was a belief that only government could solve peoples’ problems, only government could make the right decisions for men. This view led to a more virulent collectivism and eventually to the atrocities of collectivist societies like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist China where millions of people (capitalists) were killed because they did not march lock-step toward the governments’ collective goals. Today, progressives use pseudo-science to “justify” their supposed advanced knowledge that would give them the power to control peoples’ lives. They believe that only a centralized power can effectively advance society. This view wiped out the view of our Founding Fathers that man should be free, that he had unalienable rights and that government should stay out of his life.

The “mistake” made by Hume and his philosophical children is that they promised to solve the problem of man’s irrationality; to accomplish this, they looked around at irrational men and concluded that man was irrational. This was the most devastating and destructive case of “circular reasoning” in the history of the world. It gave us Hitler and Stalin to name a few. Today, our progressives are followers of this false view of man and they are moving us headlong into another disaster. They are educating our children to accept this view by teaching them that there is no alternative to altruism, collectivism and government coercion.

And while we are talking about anti-thetical thinking, let’s perform the same exercise on the philosophy of the progressives. If capitalism recognizes the importance of the mind in man’s life, anti-capitalism is a belief that the mind is ineffectual. Since capitalism releases man to be moral, anti-capitalism holds that man cannot be moral. Since capitalism recognizes individual rights, anti-capitalism holds that man has no rights. Since capitalism makes possible the freedom that leads to prosperity, anti-capitalism outlaws freedom and prosperity. Where men need freedom as a matter of right and survival; anti-capitalists tie men down to altruism, collectivism and slavery. When reality does not comply with their wishes, progressives lie about capitalism and freedom.

Because their ideas, from the very foundation, are based on a false view of man’s nature, they do not work in the real world, and in order to stay politically viable they profess a false love for mankind and a desire to help people; they indoctrinate us and our children about the value of self-sacrifice and they insist that we live with just a little bit of government force that inevitably will turn into oppression, persecution, censorship and government expropriation. What they cannot destroy outright, they destroy piecemeal. This is the history of the progressive movement.

This is why you see the Tea Party protests. We know that the progressives’ “little bit of force” is nothing more than a gun pointed at our pocket books that enables them to rule our lives by spending our money. The Tea Parties throw the tea into the harbor, so to speak, because they know that taxing that tea is not how you build a free society.

The answer to the progressives is not that capitalism works, though it does; the answer is that man is cognitively competent, that he does not need a central authority to do his thinking. We must understand that any collective authority is doomed to imperfection, while the individual, left to his own devices, with his unalienable rights recognized, can solve his own problems. This recognition of man’s ability to think leads to a peaceful, civil society based on voluntary decisions and associations. It is a society that functions on reason, peace, hope for the future and the unfettered pursuit of happiness. Freedom works; slavery kills.

To all young people, I’d like to ask you to question what you are being told by your teachers and the government. The choice for you is very clear. You must either advocate freedom and its corollary capitalism or you must advocate prejudice against talented people and their enslavement. Either we live as free men or we live as slaves. It is your choice because it is you who will have to live through the decaying future you are creating; the future of decline I’m trying to prevent. You must decide between capitalism and slavery. You can either learn from us, the older generation, or you can learn from those who seek to exploit you.

(1)Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books, Page 36
(2)Ibid, Page 37
(3)Ibid, Page 38

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anti-capitalism - the Evil Idea Part 2

In a previous post entitled “Anti-capitalism - the Evil Idea” I reported on my trip to Washington DC on September 12th, 2009 and discussed the anti-capitalist views of many young people in the universities. I discussed a group of young men who were protesting our protest by wearing business suits and chanting "Capitalism works...for us." Below is a comment that I received regarding this post.

Adriano wrote:
“The anti-thesis you build in this essay is false. Anti-capitalists aren't protesting small businesses or the use-value of products and services, i.e. the Real Economy you and your family belong to. They are protesting the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street, where the wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth, gamble with the livelihoods of the workers and consumers that made them rich in the first place. (Please note that progressives and leftists were protesting the business practices of the World Banking system a decade before the Tea Party woke up and smelled the coffee.)

I celebrate the risk you took to establish your own small business. It should be noted that progressives have always supported loans and government help to small businesses, in addition to supporting things like a minimum wage and anti-trust laws, which are, in effect, limitations placed upon the freedom of the market designed to minimize exploitation.

Anti-capitalists don't hate the real value markets create in the world. They hate the fake bubbles of speculation and temporary growth that allow the richest 1% to line their pockets, shelter that money off-shore, and run for the hills when the walls come crashing in. Anti-capitalists don't hate creativity and profit. They hate the ABUSES of capitalism.

Capitalism must be regulated in order to function properly. Enron and Madoff prove this. Capitalism is not the same thing as freedom. And, as China proves, capitalism is not inherently democratic. Capitalism is not life.

You are right that capitalism was a great thing and it built this country. But you can't possibly believe that the correct destiny for capitalism in America was to bring us to a situation where 90% of wealth is controlled by 1% of the citizens! Capitalism has no intrinsic stopgaps against abuse or disaster. It functions according to Creative Destruction. Great if you're creating something. Not so great if you are being destroyed. Shouldn't government protect its citizens from being destroyed? If hundreds of people lose their jobs at Enron because of the bosses' "creative" and foolhardy and criminal behavior, did those people DESERVE to lose their jobs? Why shouldn't a civilization provide protection to those made vulnerable by disaster and criminal mischief?

Are you against the minimum wage? Medicare? Social Security?”

I will respond to this comment in two separate blog posts. The first will contain my general observations on it. In the second, I will answer point-by-point.

Part 1:

Thank you for proving my point. As I mentioned in my original post, the enemy of freedom is the educational system that is teaching our youth that capitalism is evil. One way it does this is by calling “oligarchy” and “fascism” by the name of capitalism. This lie is intended to convince people like yourself that capitalism does not work and that it is about exploitation and theft. It also extricates progressives from being blamed for the very problems they create.

Almost everything you say about "the wild speculation and unregulated risk that takes place on Wall Street" is true but you don't seem to recognize that your statement is not true of capitalism. Fake bubbles, speculation based on insider knowledge or illegal manipulation, and the resulting temporary growth are caused by government intervention into the economy, not capitalism. They are the products of fascism.

Perhaps you don’t understand what fascism is and, like many progressives, you feel a twinge of anger when someone brings up the accusation of fascism. The term “fascism” refers to an economic system. It is more than just a feature of totalitarian systems like those of Hitler and Mussolini. Fascism is a system that allows private property to exist but expects companies to do what the government mandates.

The effort by dishonest companies to purchase protection from government is not a function of capitalism. It is a function of oligarchic fascism. The practices of capturing markets, bribing politicians, creating regulations that harm competitors are activities engaged in by oligarchs in a fascist system, not capitalists. And, though you claim to disagree with them, these practices are facilitated by the very progressives in government that you seem to admire.

You also don't seem to understand what capitalism is. Capitalism is made up of voluntary transactions ruled by the independent judgments of producers and traders. Contrary to the leftist lies, capitalism does not raise prices or exploit people. Capitalism, if it is left free, lowers prices and improves peoples’ lives. This is because capitalism is freedom.

You also neglect the fact that the young people I discussed in my original post were protesting, not only capitalism but Tea Party protesters made up, in part, of people from small business America with whom you claim to have no problem. Had the young men wanted to protest Wall Street elites with special privileges, then they were at the wrong event. There were no Wall Street elites at this event.

A major disagreement I have with the young men who were protesting our protest was with the statment they made that “Capitalism works…for us”, which means that only the rich benefit from capitalism. Progressives think there is no answer to the complaint that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer in capitalism. The truth is that in a capitalist system, the rich get poorer and the poor get richer. The stories of individual accomplishment and success even under today’s mixed capitalism show a clear advance of poor people who educate themselves, gain job experience and move up into the middle and upper classes through hard work, diligence and honesty. That is the legacy of capitalism; not the corruption you ascribe to it.

A very perceptive observation on our problems as a nation was offered by Thomas Sowell: "Chief Justice John Marshall said that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The power of arbitrary regulation is the power to extort - just as is the power to put the burden of proof (in court cases) on the accused."(1)

I think this statement speaks to the corruption to which progressives are a party. This speaks to the wisdom of the Constitution in protecting rights, limiting the government's power and establishing the burden of proof principle in court cases. If you look across the spectrum of political action today, violating the Constitution causes the various problems of our nation.

More importantly, our young people don't know that civilization cannot exist without certain principles such as property rights, the right to the pursuit of happiness and individual rights. They've been taught that these old ideas are not cool anymore; that the "new" ideas of the progressives, which are actually older than the ideas of the Constitution, are going to make things better.

Further, they've never been taught to understand another principle: cause and effect. They think you can use a gun to force people to do what is right (they call this democracy); and that this act will actually produce good results. They approve of government's goal to provide expensive benefits, neglect the fact that someone (a productive person) has to be forced to pay for those benefits, ignore the fact that re-distribution violates property rights and causes productive citizens to suffer, pretend that their parents just don't understand; and because their teachers have told them so, they think that only they are wise enough to understand what our nation needs. The real tragedy is that no one has taught them to critically analyze whether good intentions can actually be accomplished by coercive means. When they discuss corruption, they are taught that it is caused by laissez faire and free market greed rather than the very people who are educating them.

What causes our young people to be fooled by progressive intellectuals? It is the oldest trick in the book, not some new idea, not some convoluted and voluminous explanation about some ficticious superstructure, not some advanced process of thought that only university professers can understand; what causes it is the false idea that forced altruism and self-sacrifice can actually make things better. They’ve been duped by the left’s equivalent of the charlatan preacher who promises to help people but merely skims the donations for himself.

In a previous post, “The Tea Party Movement and Education”, I wrote:

“The progressives have been running our educational system for decades. In this climate, the idea of citizenship has been joined with the philosophy of self-sacrifice; with the principles and ideas of the Founders totally ignored and/or denigrated. The anti-capitalism of the writers of our textbooks, not to mention their philosophical influences from such thinkers as Hume, Kant and Dewey have served to create a citizenry that is barely able to mount an opposition to the progressive agenda. The progressives have "un-educated" our children and the door is now open for dictatorship. This situation must be corrected.”

As a progressive, you’ve put yourself in a very precarious position. You are supporting the very people on Wall Street you claim to be against. You seem to be oblivious to the fact that progressives favored the bailouts of the very “wealthiest 1%, insulated by their accumulated wealth”. The corrupt Wall Street oligarchs that were bailed out did not just coincidentally donate to Barack Obama and other progressives, they fully expected payback. The oligarchs and the government are doing these things out in the open today (in my generation, they would have been exposed and jailed for their scandalous behavior). Now few people notice the corruption and there is virtually no opposition from young people who are the future.

As happened in countries like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, once the principle of "the end justifies the means" takes full control of society, once the citizens stay silent and fear opposing the corruption; once that situation arrives, our young people of today who will then be in charge, will wonder how they lost it.

They will not know.

(1) Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell, Basic Books

Friday, February 5, 2010

Progressive Science

One issue that we often miss when arguing with progressives is the issue of science.

What does science have to do with the progressive agenda? Progressives repeatedly support their proposals with scientific studies. They are always ready to present a dizzying array of facts, figures and charts to prove that we have huge problems government needs to fix. All you have to do is bring up a subject and instantly a flood of data spews forth; enough to make your head spin.

All leftist movements throughout history have used "science" to sell their plans. Even Hitler claimed that the "purity" of Aryan blood was a scientifically proven fact. The Soviet communists considered that they were justified in their murderous revolution because they were more "scientific" and logical than their opponents. To them, logic and science were on their side; they had a right to use force.

Where did Italian dictator Mussolini get his credibility? While he was in power, he was praised, even in America, as a genius of the Italian economy. According to many, his fascist system was the most advanced and efficient government ever devised up to that time. In fact, his technocrats were so efficient they made the trains run on time.

Today, we read about the "settled" science on climate change. We are asked to drastically curtail our use of fossil fuels, create entire new industries with “green” jobs, pour trillions of dollars down the throats of oligarchs, all for the sake of saving the planet. When we learn that the studies published in the leading climate report (IPCC) are based upon faulty data, anecdotal observations, the unsupported conjectures of graduate level students, and professional witch hunts against skeptics; we have to wonder how science has failed us.

Of course, none of the “science” used by these charlatans was true. Eventually, Mussolini found himself at the end of an Italian noose; Hitler committed suicide to avoid the wrath of the "inferior" Russians, Soviet communism collapsed in spite of stolen technology, and global warming scientists find themselves under investigation. The so-called science that supported these fiascos was nothing more than carefully managed public relations accepted and propagated by American left-leaning journalists and trusted media talking heads.

Yet we are taught that science has the power to inform and illuminate. We think that careful experimentation in the physical world can yield valuable knowledge and lead to great inventions that improve peoples’ lives. What happened to science? Why doesn’t it work?

The truth is that progressives do not use real science; they use pseudo-science to support their already pre-conceived notions. They've invented their "science" in order to support coercive “solutions” to problems they’ve caused. So when President Obama says all the best economists support his spending plans, he thinks it makes his argument irrefutable. And, yes, the media tries to convince us that the President's intellect is superior to that of his political opponents - just like their counterparts in the past tried to convince us that self-hating killers like Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were men of great stature and intellect.

Am I comparing the President to these murderers? Only in the sense that they all used the fallacy of appealing to authority in order to sell their ideas; and just as this practice did not work for dictators, it will not work for our President.

True science starts with a question, a theory or a hypothesis. Its only agenda is to learn what actually happens in the real world; not what will support a Platonic ideal of the kind of world we’d like to create. Doing true science is a very precise activity, a rigid process of testing, analyzing, testing again and learning real facts. After true science is done, valid conclusions can be made about how to improve peoples' lives. Knowledge comes first, not conclusions.

A true scientist cares only about the truth. He has no other agenda but the truth. He uses the scientific method to ensure that he is on track in his studies. He has a passion for precise measurement and precise conclusions that can be reproduced by others and validated.

Pseudo-science is an effort to give the appearance of true science. It involves deception; the use of facts and figures in order to appear knowledgeable and intelligent. As was once said about the philosopher Kant: (they) muddy their waters in order to appear deep. Pseudo-science is the charlatan’s method for stealing peoples’ money. The results of pseudo-science include products that do not work and government programs that achieve the opposite of their intended goals.

If you carefully analyze the methodology used by progressives to steamroll opinion about the problems government should solve, you find that the problems are not real or they are not caused by capitalism. More than this, it does not follow that the solution for every problem is re-distribution.

In fact, the solution to human problems is so simple that it does not require an exhaustive scientific study or report. The Founding Fathers did the work for us long ago and their idea has been tested and proven in the real world many times.

The solution for human problems is freedom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Festina Lente

Years ago I was doing some research and came across this Latin phrase: “festina lente”. In English it means something like “make haste slowly.” Erasmus (1731 – 1802) has given us an interesting history of the slogan:

Speude bradeos, i.e. festina lente “Make haste slowly." This charming proverb appears at first glance a riddle, because it is made up of words which contradict each other. It is therefore to be classed with those which express their meaning through enantiosin, that is, contrariety,…. Of this genus is the saying dusdaimon eudaimonia, unfortunate good fortune. Nor does it seem a groundless conjecture that our present proverb was created from a phrase which appears in Aristophanes' Knights: speude tacheos, hasten hastily, so that the person who made the allusion, whoever he was, converted the anadiaplosin, or doubling, into contrariety, enantiosin. The apt and absolute brevity of the phrase gives a superlative grace to the rhetorical figuration and to the humor of the allusion, a gem-like grace that seems to me to be especially beautiful in proverbs, and to make them gem-like marvels of price.

If you weigh carefully the force and the sentiment of our proverb, its succinct brevity, how fertile it is, how serious, how beneficial, how applicable to every activity of life, you will easily come to the opinion that among the huge number of sayings you will find none of greater dignity. Speude bradeos (festina lente) ought to be carved on columns. It ought to be written on the archways of churches, and indeed in letters of gold. It ought to be painted on the gates of great men's palaces, engraved on the rings of cardinals and primates, and chased on the scepters of kings. To go further, it ought to be seen on all monuments everywhere, published abroad and multiplied so that everyone will know it and it will be before every mortal eye, and there will be no one who doesn't hold it of greatest use — especially princes, and to those to whom, to quote Homer.

Laoi t' epitetraphatai kai tossa memele
["The people are entrusted, and the care of much."]”

And Erasmus gives the leaders of the world this advice:

“People of private station, if they have omitted something by laziness, or committed something through rashness, face lighter consequences, for the damage that is done can be remedied by smaller means. But princes... A single instance of neglect, or one counsel too hastily put into effect, dear God! what hurricanes have they not often excited, what huge disasters have they not let loose upon humanity? But, if our speudein bradeos (festina lente) were there to help — that is, a certain ripening of action and moderation blended together from both wakefulness and gentleness — so that kings would commit nothing through rashness they would regret, nor pass over through laziness anything that would tend to the well-being of the state, I ask you, what could be more prosperous, better grounded, and more stable than this kind of rule? The happiness of such a government would hardly be contained by the boundaries of a country, but would extend far and wide to neighboring peoples, nor could the line of Hesiod be better applied than here:

Pema kakos geiton, hosson t' eus meg' oneiar.
["An evil neighbor is a curse, as much as a good one is a benefit."]”

I find it interesting that our Founding Fathers sought to install this principle into our very government. In America, gridlock is normal. The bodies of government, with their checks and balances, are designed in such a way that no one can move quickly with poorly conceived ideas. Advocates of new programs and laws must convince their fellow politicians of the wisdom of each proposal and there are protections that keep hasty decisions and laws from being put into effect. A minority can hold up a bad law almost indefinitely in committee so it cannot be voted upon. And finally, the Supreme Court, mindful of the individual rights recognized in the Constitution, can strike down a bad law and destroy the plans of those interested in corrupting our freedoms.

In fact, a valuable principle of our government is festina lente; we want our politicians to be thoughtful about what they pass so they can avoid any “hurricanes” that the laws might create. In America, politicians must put their ideas down in writing so they can be analyzed by others, so facts can be checked and the causes of problems accurately identified; and the "solutions" carefully planned; they should make the text of bills available for everyone, even the citizens, to read and understand; they should get input from their peers, lawyers, businesspeople and the citizenry before they put something out there that violates the principles of the Constitution. This is one way that the government protects our individual rights.

At least that was the intent.

Today, I smile when I hear people say that politicians should work together in a bi-partisan fashion in order to accomplish the peoples’ business. I think the reverse is true. If we make it hard for politicians to get anything done, we protect our freedoms. We don’t want these idiots ginning up the dangers of the very problems they have created in order to precipitously change something that should be left alone.

For instance, in 2008, we were told that banks weren’t lending, that credit was not flowing because of bad investments by financial institutions (a problem caused by the Community Reinvestment Act and government mandates that banks were required to lend to people with poor credit ratings). The solution offered by the government (mostly made up of former Goldman Sachs executives) was for the government to inject about 800 billion dollars into banks and financial institutions that were holding this worthless debt. Presumabley, this would enable those institutions to temporarily re-capitalize so they could resume lending. We were told this would save the economy.

Today, in February of 2010, the money has been paid back to the government and loans from banks are still essentially frozen. The TARP Bill did not work. Even now, banks are leery of lending. The only thing we “gained” is government ownership of the banks; proposed new huge new taxes on the banks and criticism of bonuses to the most productive employees. Even now there are criminal investigations of these banks so the government can prosecute and jail people who were forced against their will to take the money.

The government now wants to give some of the paid-back money to more banks that aren’t lending. One can only assume that the TARP money is really just a slush fund to be used in whatever way the government decides. The result will be that the government will own a bigger part of the banking industry and control wages and other decisions of those banks…which will not solve the problem (of banks not lending - if TARP 1 did not work, how can TARP 2 work?).

Why won’t the banks lend? My suggestion is that banks need to increase their capital bases in order to ensure that they will be able to survive any future economic decline and runs on the banks. One new government proposal, regulation or just a thoughtless statement made by President Obama or Vice-president Biden could destroy a bank today. When you have a government with a penchant for picking winners and losers, you have to ensure you can survive if you are chosen to be a loser. Better to hold on to capital reserves than to later pay a bribe.

After Obama was elected, he started attacking ‘greed’ and ‘rash’ investments made by “Fat Cats”, accusing them of not being self-sacrificial enough, ignoring the fact that policies he advocated while a lawyer in the '90s and as a Senator, were creating, and are still creating, our economic decline. Ignoring reality and making rash criticisms of business people is no way to spur economic growth.

The result is that businesses refuse to hire, refuse to make capital expenditures and they hold any capital they are able to accrue. As the negative consequences of Obama's actions cause more unemployment and economic stagnation, the President tells Wall Street that it just doesn’t get it, exhorts the banks to lend money and rails against huge bonuses that were promised to the most productive employees of these institutions(even though they’ve paid back the TARP money).

One of his first acts as President was to create a “Stimulus Bill” that had to be voted upon quickly in order to address our high unemployment. If we didn’t act immediately, the argument went, things would spiral out of control and we’d have a depression on our hands. What was our incentive for acting quickly? Obama and his Keynesian economists promised we’d stay under 8% unemployment.

The first thing we learned after passage of the bill was that much of the money was held onto so it could be spent in 2010 - they assumed the money would actually stimulate the economy so they wanted the stimulus to happen right before the mid-term elections - the Stimulus Bill was another slush fund to buy votes. So what was the hurry in 2009? What about the economic emergency? Is the suffering of people less important than winning an election?

Then as we saw unemployment rise above 10%, the administration claimed that it did not know how bad the situation was when they proposed the bill. Are we to assume that these economists are not as competent as they are pretending to be? How could they get this wrong?

Then we learned that there were few “shovel-ready projects” shovel ready, that much of the money went to increasing the coffers of leftist-oriented government programs and departments, not to create new jobs. Now we're asked to replenish the slush fund in the name of a second Stimulus Plan re-named as a jobs bill.

Many classical economists have shown that money taken from the private economy and spent by government is not stimulative. It is nothing more than re-distribution of money that has been produced in the private economy. A re-distribution program does not create new wealth. Yet, apparently, President Obama was too hasty when he studied economics in college. He swallowed the Keynesian line that government spending stimulates the economy without reading the more prescient arguments that Keynes' ideas were wrong.

The truth is that the money spent in this Stimulus Bill will not stimulate the economy. Only newly-produced money can stimulate the economy. New money can only be produced by people who think and work, not by the government printing press. The government can take money from people and spend it; but that's what the people who earned it would have done. The net benefit to the economy is a negative (the real damage is the destruction of individual and property rights). When the election comes in November, there will be little impact on the economy by this spending. You’ll have an electorate that asks the question: “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?”

A little more wisdom from Erasmus:

“I consider this proverb (festina lente) has better right to be called basilikon, i.e. royal, than any other, not so much because royalty could best use it, but because the minds of princes seem to be peculiarly prone to the two vices of sloth and hotheadedness. Fortune's favor, the abundance of wealth, the ready allurements to amusements, the ability to do whatever one pleases, and finally that most pestilent euge!, "bravo!", of yes-men, and the everlastingly ready smiles, applause, and congratulations for a king, whatever he does or says in any way — it's no wonder if all these things, and others of the same nature, persuade many princes to laziness, especially if the person exposed to these temptations is young and inexperienced. Yet on the contrary, it often happens that the natural and "lion-like" — I might call it — vigor of some princes' minds, when inflated by limitless wealth, whipped up by the prospects of great things, inflammed with anger, ambition or other desires of that type, and egged on by flattering counsels, first charges out in one wrong direction, then in another, and then carries the whole state with it into the abyss.”(3)

I couldn’t have said it better. Festina lente, Mr. President.

(1)Desiderius Erasmus : Adagia II, 1, 1: Festina Lente