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December 26, 2008

Obscure, Dead Economist Named Person of the Year in Time Magazine

Filed under: Economics — rmangum @ 5:44 pm
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Well, okay, nominated, but still, I’d never thought I’d see Ludwig von Mises even mentioned in what is probably the worst (especially when it comes to the economy) of the national magazines. They asked four “prominent” people for nominations: Ann Coulter (eww!), Ron Paul (yay!), Dana Torres (U.S. Olympic swimmer, guess Michael Phelps was busy), and Muhammad Yunus (the microcredit guy). Ceaselessly stumping for liberty, Paul said:

Amid a horrific financial crisis, all we hear are calls for more of the money-printing, spending and subsidies that created this mess. So I choose my great teacher, Ludwig von Mises, champion of the Austrian school of economics, who taught us how a central bank like the Fed causes booms and busts and how to build prosperity through sound money and economic freedom.

The other nominees: Sarah Palin (Coulter), Oprah Winfrey (Torres), and Barack Obama (Yunus).

My nominee: Ron Paul.

miseslibrary

Glorious Ludwig Von

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Dr. No

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December 23, 2008

Conservatives against the Cops/Police State Liberals

“. . . they’re not warring on drugs. . . . They’re warring on neighborhoods. They’re warring on people who can’t stand up to them.” –Ed Burns, co-creator of The Wire

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Conservatives like to see themselves as upholders of law and order, morality and decency. But they tend to focus obsessively on marginal phenomena- Hollywood or illegitimacy among the underclass. Paul Craig Roberts is a notable exception, who denounces not only our foreign empire, but the domestic one as well (otherwise known as the “criminal justice system”), as thoroughly immoral:

In the United States, the country with the largest prison population in the world, the number of wrongly convicted is very large. Hardly any felony charges are resolved with trials. The vast majority of defendants, both innocent and guilty, are coerced into plea bargains. Not only are the innocent framed, but the guilty as well. It is quicker and less expensive to frame the guilty than to convict them on the evidence.

Many Americans are wrongfully convicted, because they trust the justice system. They naively believe that police and prosecutors are moved by evidence and have a sense of justice. The trust they have in authorities makes them easy victims of a system that has no moral conscience and is untroubled by the injustice it perpetrates.

He says that “law and order conservatives” are largely to blame, for becoming so hysterical about crime and terrorism that they give the State the kind of license which generates brutality and abuse. But the sad thing is that you rarely hear about prisons or the war on drugs from the left anymore, who have abandoned themselves to narrow identity politics and postmodern nihilism, neither of which does a thing to help the underclass that makes up nearly 100 percent of the prison population.

I often watch shows like “Cops” and “Lock-Up” with my girlfriend, and we laugh at the ridiculous behavior of the hapless, intoxicated bumblers and quail at the unreformable psychopaths who end up going through the system. But something in me consistently screams that this is an insidious way to deal with crime, that nobody should ever have to live in the dark satanic mill that is the American prison.

The conservative writer Sam Francis, with whom I would have to say I disagree with about most things, came up with the concept (in a different context) of “Anarcho-Tyranny”: you get all of the tyranny associated with government and all of the chaos associated with anarchy. Perhaps we should no longer speak of “law and order” conservatives, but “anarcho-tyranny” conservatives.

Who supports which part of the national security/police state often depends on whether or not one sympathizes with the victims, which in turn depends on one’s political disposition. The war on drugs has mostly affected inner-city minorities (masterfully dramatized in the HBO series The Wire, focusing on the city of Baltimore), inducing sympathy with liberals but not conservatives. But when the victims are rural white religious nuts*, well . . .

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"The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, and his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold."

Anthony Gregory has a couple of interesting articles at Lew Rockwell.com on the incidents in Waco and Oklahoma City, and how the events and public response mirror that of 9/11. In the former, many conservatives saw the Oklahoma City bombing as a “blowback” from the criminal government attacks at Waco and Ruby Ridge, while liberals supported the government and Clinton, accusing anyone who dared bring up government atrocities as justifying terrorism. In the latter, as we all know, the situation reversed.  Gregory writes:

Waco should remind us that Democrats are no more restrained than the Republicans when it comes to being “tough on crime,” if all that entails is using the bludgeon of state power against all social elements the ruling class has deemed less than human. It should also remind us that that bludgeon is no more surgically precise or benevolent no matter who wields it, and how corrupting it is for those who do. This should really be obvious by now, as the Bush government has turned Iraq into one big Branch Davidian compound and now appears poised to give the Waco treatment to Tehran.

Any reasonable person knows that the longer a right-wing government is in power, the closer we get to fascism. But apparently many democrats wouldn’t mind living in a police state- so long as it’s a liberal police state (call it “Clintonia”).

But am I not out of order in placing blame for Ruby Ridge and Waco at the feet of the feds? I recommend skeptics check out a brilliant documentary called Waco: the Rules of Engagement, which inspired as staunch a liberal as critic Roger Ebert to write: I am more inclined to use the words “religion” than “cult,” and “church center” than “compound.” Yes, the Branch Davidians had some strange beliefs, but no weirder than those held by many other religions. And it is pretty clear, on the basis of this film, that the original raid was staged as a publicity stunt, and the final raid was a government riot–a tragedy caused by uniformed boys with toys.

First they came for the religious weirdos, but I said nothing, for I was not a religious weirdo. . .

But of course a government investigation found- surprise surprise- the government was not at fault. Scenes featuring New York senator Chuck Schumer badgering the victims of this tragedy are particularly revolting- from the evidence of this film, that man is a moral cretin. Hans Hoppe has critiqued this aspect of the State. It claims justification on the fact that there must be a final judge in disputes between any two parties, or else we have a war of all against all- but who is to be final arbiter in disputes concerning the state itself? Well, we see the results.

Mutualist Kevin Carson has an interesting post as well on an oft-ignored constituency for the liberal police state: soccer moms.

It is not my intent in this article to blast conservatives or liberals per se, only to show how commonly accepted attitudes on both the left and right contribute to the decline of liberty and allow the State to torture and murder with impunity. Of course there are good people on both sides as well.

Apparently Edmund Burke did not say “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” But it is no less true for that.

* Actually, a significant number of the Branch Davidians were black, a fact I did not know until watching the documentary. Did you? The government loves to play the race card at times like these, but it simply won’t wash in Waco. At one point during the siege, there was a banner put up by the Davidians on the side of the house (notice how different it seems when you don’t say “compound”) that read, “RODNEY KING WE UNDERSTAND”. The question is, did those outraged over the King beating understand what was happening in Waco? Similarly, while nobody would deny a presence of anti-semitism among militia types, particularly those subscribing to Christian Identity beliefs, Adam Parfrey wrote in his article “Finding Our Way Out of Oklahoma” that, “the presumption of anti-semitism in the militia movement is overstated, especially when a number of Jewish libertarians, including Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership, are movers and shakers within the militia movement.” The militias would have done well to adopt the slogan, “BLACK PANTHERS WE UNDERSTAND”.

P.S.- If you’ve never heard it, check out Bill Hicks’ great bit about Waco and Koresh.

December 22, 2008

Which secessionist dinosaur said it?

Filed under: who said it? — rmangum @ 1:38 am

Once, in the Democratic primary of 1969, I ran for mayor of New York in the hope that a Left-Right coalition could be formed and this Left-Right pincers could make a dent in the entrenched power of the center. The best to be said for that campaign is that it had its charm. I am not so certain, however, that this idea must remain eternally without wings. It may yet take an alchemy of Left and Right to confound the corporate center. Our notion was built on the premise that we did not really know the elements of a good, viable society. We all had our differing ideals, and morals, and political ethics, but rarely found a way to practice them directly. So, we called for Power to the Neighborhoods. We suggested that New York City become a state itself, the fifty-first. Its citizens would then have the power to create a variety of new neighborhoods, new townships, all built on separate concepts, core neighborhoods founded on one or another of our cherished notions from the Left or the Right. One could have egalitarian towns and privileged places, or, for those who did not wish to be bothered with living in so detailed (and demanding) a society, there would be the more familiar and old way of doing things—the City of the State of New York—a government for those who did not care—just like old times.

Who am I? Answer here.

December 21, 2008

Ford’s in his flivver and all’s right with the world.

Filed under: Economics,State,U.S.A — rmangum @ 7:03 pm
Tags: ,

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Perhaps filled with the spirit of giving, Washington has announced that it’s giving the Big Three just what it wanted for Christmas. Whether or not the bailout is a good idea was debated by Peter Schiff and Stephen Leeb recently on CNN. Schiff gives the basic Austrian argument that such a subsidy can come to no good, while Leeb insists we can’t know whether we’re going to get wet until we step out into the rain.

The case against subsidies for failing business was given succinctly by Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson:

It is obvious in the case of a subsidy that the taxpayers must lose precisely as much as the industry gains. They must pay part of the taxes that are used to support the X industry. And consumers, because they are taxed to support the X industry will have that much less income left with which to buy other things. The result must be that other industries on the average must be smaller than otherwise in order that the X industry may be larger.

So the favored industry is merely a beneficiary of a wealth transfer. But its not just that they now get a bigger piece of the pie: such transfers actually contribute to a net loss of wealth, because capital and labor are driven out of industries in which they are more efficiently employed to be devoted to an industry in which they are less efficiently employed. Less wealth is created.

Leeb and other economic know-nothings argue that we should allow the market to operate until things go wrong, at which time there is an “emergency” which demands government intervention, an inconsistent approach by so-called “free market” advocates that has been rightly scorned by Mother Jones as a “clap on/clap off” attitude toward the market. We certainly can’t “do nothing”, they say, and who knows, the industry might clean up its act in a couple years. But the only thing encouraging efficiency in the first place is the profit/loss incentive of a free market. Subsidies insulate an industry from such pressures. Subsidies create incentives not to be more efficient (which would eliminate arguments for further subsidy). Even if it were possible that management of an industry could be made more efficient by government fiat, wouldn’t this be an argument for nationalization, not subsidy?

Hazlitt asks us to consider what would have happened if we had subsidized, not the industry now in crisis, but the competitors it had previously bested through innovation.

If we had tried to keep the horse-and-buggy trade artificially alive we should have slowed down the growth of the automobile industry and all the trades dependent on it. We should have lowered the production of wealth and retarded economic and scientific progress.

Incidentally, if WWII spending pulled us out of the Great Depression, as Leeb and others argue, why not kill two birds with one stone and send unemployed auto-workers to Iraq and Afghanistan? (CEO’s first!)

Despite the claims that they are necessitated by emergency situations, government interventions tend to become institutionalized, a fact effectively satirized by this bit from the Onion:

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

But America needs the money-hole!

A more serious look at this particular money-hole is given in a recent interview with economist Joe Salerno by Lew Rockwell, The Auto Bailout and Other Crimes.

There is a debate in the libertarian blogosphere on who is the source of the auto industry’s inefficiency, its management or the excessive demands of unions. To nobody’s surprise, left-libertarians attribute it largely to the former, and right-libertarians the latter. J.H. Heubert and Walter Block write:

Unions are like a tapeworm on the economy, sucking sustenance out of businesses. The entire rust belt is a result of unions demanding wages higher than worker productivity. The present problems of the Detroit Three (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors) are mainly due to their foolishness in not withstanding the unwarranted demands of the United Auto Workers.

To which Kevin Carson retorts:

Replace “unions” and “wages” with “CEOs” and “salaries,” and you get a pretty accurate assessment of the situation. The present problems of the Detroit Three, in fact, are mainly due to the mismanagement and pathological management accounting system . . .

Now I’ll admit I’m not very familiar with the economics of the auto industry (I’m a novice in economics in general), but it seems that there’s no reason it can’t be a combination of the two. Without a real competitive situation, we have know way of knowing. But it also seems common sense to me to assume that an institution thus insulated from the market would tend to become top-heavy, and that the fat would naturally tend to accumulate in management (which could very well be union management), which has more leverage to get away with it, rather than labor, which has much less (if only because their inefficiency is much more visible).  If that is the case, then, as Roderick T. Long puts it in a recent Cato article:

In a free market, firms would be smaller and less hierarchical, more local and more numerous (and many would probably be employee-owned); prices would be lower and wages higher; and corporate power would be in shambles.

December 19, 2008

Learn philosophy on Youtube!

Filed under: Philosophy — rmangum @ 2:10 am
Tags:

kokomc2

Want to vivisect cognition with Immanuel Kant?

Hmm, that’s a bit difficult. Perhaps Chuck Heston can clear things up.

Why not just have a drink with the great thinkers of all time?

Now who says the internet aint educational?

Who is Rothbard Talking About?

Filed under: State,U.S.A — rmangum @ 1:55 am

Either he is a total cretin, a dimwit who really believes in his own lies and contradictions. Or, he is a consummate and conniving politician, the shrewdest manipulator of public opinion since his hero FDR. murray_rothbard

The man is a blithering idiot. He makes Warren Harding tower like Aristotle.

Click here for answer.


Which capitalist pig said it?

Filed under: who said it? — rmangum @ 12:33 am

libertatis_aequilibritas_gfdl1Believe me, my sole purpose is to make as much money as possible; for after good health it is the best thing to have.

Click here for the answer.

December 18, 2008

Videos you need to watch right now!

Filed under: Music — rmangum @ 7:55 am
Tags:

1. “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the MG’s, from the mid-60’s show Shindig. Can you be campy and hypnotic at the same time? Hells freakin’ yeah you can! I keep wondering when go-go dancers are coming back in style. I’m tired of watching all these fey and cloying indie bands and passive-aggressive emo idiots give lame performances on late-night talk shows. Give us some sexy chicks with swinging hips already!

2.”I Can’t Quit You Baby” by Otis Rush. Can your style be like totally cosmic yet stone cold cool? Yup. Check out that completely white audience, seated and politely clapping at the end, like, “Hmm, you know the proletariat can marvelously expressive wailings, but I wish he’d sing more about being downtrodden.” Jesus George Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, you’ve got a damn snake charmer up there! People should be climbing out of their wheelchairs and casting devils out of themselves! This clip was used in the hotel scene in “The Devil’s Rejects”, and you can see why.

3. “Caravan” by The Ventures. Not a great video, with the band goofing it up, seeing the sights and being gawked at by their Japanese fans, but what a great bloody ripping performance of the Duke Ellington classic from one of the all time great live bands (as most professionals are). Along with go-go dancers, rock instrumental music needs to come back into style. Get ahold of the Live in Japan ’66 album- it’s a keeper.

December 17, 2008

Don’t Follow Leaders

Filed under: Anarchy,Dylanalia,Music — rmangum @ 10:14 pm
Tags: , ,
"Look out kid, you're gonna get hit!"

"Look out kid, you're gonna get hit!"

I don’t think it’s cool to be an anarchist,” says Bob Dylan, right in the midst of his most anarchistic phase. Come on, Bob, methinks thou dost protest too much. Seems like they’ve got your number. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is the coolest anarchist anthem ever.

By the way, I don’t know if anyone has noted this, but I find some striking similarities between this song and Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business“. Listen to the songs back to back. The former seems like a rewrite of the latter, from a sixties rather than a fifties perspective. The message is the same: stay aloof and above the fray, away from leaders and followers, keep moving, don’t give in to the temptations of success and convenience, or give in but don’t take them seriously (it’s all “monkey business”). The free spirit of the American youth flits in and out of the institutions that seek to use him or her for their own ends.

Such is my interpretation, at least. One thing I am sure of, though, is that Chuck Berry has never been acknowledged as the enormous influence on Dylan as a songwriter (except by Dylan himself, in Chronicles), since the former is the commercial “pop” craftsman of mass-produced plastic chart-toppers, and the latter a true Artist, full of Authenticity and Importance. But listen to the songs, man! Like Oscar Wilde, Berry’s art is so perfect it seems trivial, and ends up underrated even though universally respected. chuck001

Ars Enemy, the State

Filed under: Literature,Music,State,who said it? — rmangum @ 9:14 pm
Tags: ,
The National Endowment for the Avant-Garde

The National Endowment for the Avant-Garde

Some artists fear market exchange, and feel that high culture can only be supported by government. I, however, feel that, although great art can be produced in almost any political environment, a true culture is always the expression of voluntary action and free expression, and the State, that “coldest of all cold monsters“, hates free expression.

Here is a somewhat humorous example, a budding young musician being “protected” by the State. Funny but sad at the same time. Repression of a superior talent- somewhere Ayn Rand is rolling over in her grave!

More serious, yet more inspiring, is the story of the African original, Fela Kuti. Talk about a man versus the State!

Here is English Professor Paul Cantor’s history of how commerce has aided the great art of the west.

People sometimes enquire what form of government it is most suitable for an artist to live under. To this question there is only one answer. The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all.

-Click here to find out what crazy anarchist said this.

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