Monday, June 6, 2011

Milton Friedman on Greed (1979)

This is an appearance of the influential economist Milton Friedman (1912 - 2006). Although he was wrong on monetarism, Milton Friedman was a strong voice of freedom against a predominate socialistic thinking public that existed during the 1960's and 1970's. In particular, notice Donahue's socialistic counter statements.

Milton Friedman and Walter Block had an interesting discussion about how free-market Friedrich von Hayek's famous work, The Road to Serfdom (see my earlier post) was, which can be found here. It was based on a paper by Walter Block. Friedman stressed the political climate at the time the book was wrote, whereas Block pointed out there were too many utilitarian and central planning insertions that would lead to a non free-market society. Although both make true claims, Block's claim is closer to how it is actually used in today's contexts, that is, it is regularly used to sanctify any position as a free-market position through misquotes. However, it's still an interesting read.

Friedman and Hayek were economic liberals and libertarians. They are widely read by all, especially Republicans (who want to sanctify their position). Block and Friedman's son David, who is mentioned, are Anarcho-Capitalists. It's entertaining to see these two great thinkers argue. Friedman uses a lot of ad hominem attacks, while Block uses some fallacious counters himself, like 'but your son also believes that too' type. Nevertheless, you can hear the great Milton Friedman below:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

'The Jokes that Ended the Dream'

You probably believe the commonly held position that Communism failed due to the lack of incentives. Those that are a little bit more educated would probably have heard of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk's arguments against the labor theory of value and the Marxist exploitation theory, which can not be explain with regards to the stages of production and interest rates. Later, Ludwig von Mises argued that Socialism would fail, due to not having a pricing system that serve as allocator of scare resources within the economy. Even much later, Hayek argued the central planning could not satisfy the knowledge problem individuals. However, did you ever hear of Socialism failing because popular social criticism through humor?

In fact, many individuals were imprisoned in the Communist Eastern Block countries, like Hungary, which imprisoned 1,000,000 people in a population of 10,000,000. Socialism certainly is an easy target for the butt of jokes. After all, it is a system based on economic fallacy, covered up with lies, secrecy and coercive force. Nonetheless, Western people, including Eastern Europe, seem to have a long tradition of critic directed at authority that is unconquerable. I would suggest Aesop as being one of the first. One of the latest, however, would be 'Hammer & Tickle' by Ben Lewis. I think that this type of medicine would be good for the United States, which has been inidated by leftists and neo-conservatives, who believe in this type of unworkable system.

I know one joke about Communism was told to me by my uncle. I'll try to retell it as best as possible. He told it using 'dollars' though. 'A man when down to the local grocery store and began complaining about the price of the milk. "Why is this $1.37? I can buy this down the street for only $.75!" And the store owner replied, "Yeah, you can buy it for $.75, but it all sold out at $.60!"

I haven't seen that joke anywhere yet, but it reminds me of when I was at a local store and one clerk was telling the other clerk that a guy was there earlier complaining about how expensive a drink was. And the clerk said "...then why don't you go somewhere else?" (If you didn't think that was funny, it's because you don't understand economics!)

The follow is some clips from the movie version of the book:


This one is good for remembering what the social theories were for four leaders of the Soviet Union.

The rest will be listed on  hyperlinks:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom' in Cartoons

Here are two versions of the cartoon book made by Friedrich von Hayek in a video presentation. They summarize the story about how central planning can lead to an totalitarian society. Which one do you think is better?

Version A

Version B

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Incredible Bread Machine (1975)

This short film, based on a book under the same name, was originally done in 1975. However, it is still a great introduction to Libertarianism and Austrian Economics, and it introduces the arguments against the following:
  • Anti-Trust
  • Minimum Wage
  • Central Planning
  • The Use of Force
  • Public Interest, Public Good (Today we have the nonsense term 'social responsibility')
  • Taxation
  • Egalitarianism
  • Monopolies
Note: Murray Rothbard makes an appearance in the film!

    26:27 [The Anti-trust: The Bread-Trust]

    ...Their lawyer said:

    The rule of law in complex times has ruled itself decisions...
    We must much prefer the rule of men vastly more efficient.
    Now let me state the present rules.

    The lawyer then went on

    [These very simple guide lines, you can rely upon.]
    You're gouging on your prices, if you charge more than the rest,
    But it is unfair competition, if you charge less,

    A second point that we would make, to help avoid confusion.
    Don't try to charge the same amount; for that would be collusion.

    You should compete, but not to much! For if you do, you see,
    Then the market would be yours, and that would be monopoly!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Latest Speech

    There are five or six videos; the very first minute is in Portuguese, but the rest is in English.

    Here, Hans-Hermann Hoppe asserts that there is a contradiction in two propositions held by many academics. It can not be both true that monopolies are bad and that the state is the primary producer of security (is a good). This is because the state has a monopoly of both law and taxation. He claims that most except the latter, but he except the former [all monopolies are bad] as being true. I have his same position, however, I never came across this contradiction, because I've seen the latter (it's a public good for the state to provide security) as false to begin with (as Hoppe does).

    Other important topics deal with how libertarianism and property rights can eliminate conflicts over scarcity of means, and how democracy is in own best interests in the long term.

    This is probably one of the best videos I've seen on Anarcho-Capitalism. I've only read one book by Hoppe, in addition to several articles, but I'm surprise that he mentioned some things that I thought were quite unique to my own thought, such as the 'Wild West was not wild.' ...

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    How Self-Ownership Arises Through Egoism and Rights

    Rights are not necessarily inalienable. They arise as concepts through social interactions when individuals make claims to things. It can be said that claims, rights and interests are synonymous, and to say that we are self-interested beings is the same as saying that we are rights claiming individuals. To claim a right is to establish interest for one's self.

    It is human nature to claim all one encounters as his own, but it is his self-interest that makes him look to others to recognize his rights, or better said, it is in his own self-interest to mutually accept the rights of the others so that they accept his. Nevertheless, the tests of time have prove that mutual acceptance of rights is the best way to live, since there would be little life to live if one had to protect his claims against a perpetually unlimited number of intruders. Mutual acceptance of rights also allows for exchange of the things we have rights to – property (and their marks).

    To have ownership of something is to say that you have a right to something. That is, the owner has the right to do whatever he wants with something. I claim a right to a book. It's my book. I own it. Therefore, I can take it and throw it across the room. Surely you can take it and throw it across the room, but you cannot claim the right to throw it across the room, (just as I cannot claim the right to throw it because you own it.). That is, it's because it is my right, not yours!

    Assuming that I'm not walking on your property, you cannot stop me from walking. This is because you do not have the right to stop me from walking, as I don't have the right to stop you from walking (when you are not on my property). What makes this so is that I claim the right to my own body. That is, I claim self-ownership; I own myself. Just as I cannot own you, because you own yourself. As a rights claiming being I deny you the right to control my body - myself. It is in this way that I claim self-ownership.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Power Through the Abuse of Language

    Any group within a society of individuals that has taken upon themselves the mantle of government, attempts to control people in several different ways. One way is to reward their conspirators. They make their goals the same as the goals of government. All of these types of alliances have exchanges. There's something at stake for both of them. For their loyalty and votes, they let them share in the spoils and booty from the losers. A second way, is pure and direct force. This one is so direct that we don't even need to speak about it. The third way, is to disarm the people. The first words of any tyrant is to disarm the people. And then there is education. Compulsory and free and public education is the standard of any totalitarian society. There is one more though. And that deals with the use of language.

    Through language, the tyrant seeks to make you his slave. Even a Gaddafi promises his people freedom. 'Through his will you will be free.' But it's more like you are only free in the sense that you are free of your own thoughts. The tyrant might say free education, but you know it's not free! Here socialist conspirators might cry out 'health care is a right.' But can one man's right negate the rights of another man? It certainly is not a 'right.' It a special privilege over the rights of others. The tyrant's words can no longer have their effect if you understand his language, as he will no longer be a respectful ruler, but a mere swindler of words.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Poll Taxes are Just

    Recently, I read a book by Irwin Schiff, 'How an Economy Grows and Why it Doesn't.' As the title suggests, the book is about how an economy grows and what retards that growth. Among the topics in the book was the poll tax, something that I haven't given much thought to mainly because of the popular disapproval of it. However, I believe this is an unfounded assumption, at least under libertarian conditions. Under these conditions, taxes are unjust because they misappropriate wealth and property of individuals against their consent. Also, it doesn't allow for an individual to opt out of the system. This means the taxes are not voluntary.  If you are among ten individuals and nine of them vote to distribute your possessions and you vote against them, the action made on this vote cannot be considered voluntary since it was not based on your own choice. It cannot be considered consensual neither, simply because you voted on it. Does acting in the interest of protecting your own wealth and property necessarily mean that you have consented to it being taken away from you? Poll taxes might be better thought of as donations to an elected administrator. Poll taxes themselves do not violate the rights of anyone, since under libertarian conditions decisions made by the administrator could not be used to violate people rights in the first place. In summary, poll taxes, along with charities and donations, are just forms of appropriation of wealth and property.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Aesop's Fables: Gaddafi and the Libyan

    The Wolf and the Lamb

      WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf's right to eat him.  He thus addressed him: "Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me."  "Indeed," bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born."  Then said the Wolf, "You feed in my pasture."  "No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass."  Again said the Wolf, "You drink of my well."  "No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me."  Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, "Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations."

    The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.

    Federalism vs. Federal

    Recently, it has become apparent to me that the word 'federalism' and 'federal' semantically refer to their own opposites. 'Federal,' an adjective, is used to modify words that refer to institutions of the central government. In these institutions, power is centralized and consolidated. However, 'federalism' is a theory of government that seeks to limit the power of the national government and to localize power to the states. If we replaced the word 'federal' with the word 'national,' we would fix most of our problems... Thus, when we say "I want to federalize such-and-such" we would be saying that we want to move power to the local/state (federal!) level. And when we say "we want to nationalize such-and-such" we want to move power to the national level.