Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

College students furious after they’re tricked into rejecting socialist ideal

original article: Davidson College students furious after they’re tricked into rejecting socialist ideal
May 24, 2017 by WILLIAM NARDI

Many students at Davidson College recently responded in anguish and outrage after some conservative students filmed a video asking people on campus if they would sign a petition to redistribute GPAs for the sake of “education equality.”

Many students refused to sign the petition, saying it wasn’t fair for a variety of reasons, including that people who earned their As should keep their As, and that students who are given good grades without hard work might not be inspired to improve.

But after students discovered later the petition was a hoax played on them by conservative students in an attempt to illustrate the unfairness of wealth distribution, they hastily called a teach-in at the campus union at which they denounced the effort and vented their frustration.

Some students said the fake petition made them struggle with feelings that they do not belong at Davidson, while others aggressively attacked the video, calling it “oppressive,” “illegally filmed,” and “inflammatory bullsh*t,” according to a video of the April 27 teach-in on Facebook.

Multiple students at the teach-in also made comments supporting both income redistribution and GPA redistribution, saying “life wasn’t always fair” and it’s “the right thing to do.” Others suggested that not forcibly redistributing income would give rich people the power to decide who lives and dies based off their charitable donation whims.

One student who spoke identified herself as the daughter of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, and lamented that her parents are unable to get jobs available to American citizens.

The GPA petition was distributed by students in the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the North Carolina-based Davidson College, a small liberal arts school. Young America’s Foundation had run a nationwide video contest asking its chapters to film students’ reactions when asked if they would voluntarily redistribute their good grades to a failing student in the name of “fairness.”

MORE: At Davidson College – a top-ranked elite N.C. school – only six percent of professors are Republican

“The hypocrisy is obvious. Liberals embrace socialist policies when their own property is unaffected, but when socialism affects them personally, watch them become advocates of free enterprise instantaneously,” the foundation stated on its website in announcing the contest.

In the Davidson video, members posed as “Students for Educational Equality,” and recorded themselves asking people on campus whether they would sign a petition to “redistribute the top 10 percent of GPAs at Davidson to the bottom 10 percent.”

Many did not sign, although a professor and a couple students did.

At the end of their video, the conservative students say: “Ask yourself this question: If it’s unfair to say that the people with the highest GPAs didn’t deserve it, why is it suddenly fair to say that successful people don’t deserve the money they earned.”

Despite the backlash the effort received, Young Americans for Freedom at Davidson College stood behind it, stating on Facebook it “serves as an analogy, not an equivalency.”

“It is simply an illustration of fruits of your labor and your being able to decide what happens with those fruits,” the statement continued. “Regardless of your level of income or academic achievements, what is relevant is that the fruit is yours and you should be able to decide what you do with it. Davidson Young Americans for Freedom stands for limited government and free enterprise, and we stand by our video.”

Although many students at the teach-in voiced anger, at times the conservative students’ point was made, such as when one student named Helen called out her professor who signed the fake GPA redistribution petition: “There are students like myself who learned English as a second language and have to put in extra hours of work just to do readings, looking up words, phrases, so shouldn’t you get those GPA points for putting in that work?”

The professor responded later in the forum that he disapproved of the petition’s “methodology,” saying he felt tricked as he thought it was either a commentary on the ineffectiveness of standardized testing, or simply a joke. But he added he enjoyed the robust discussion the video created, calling the discourse good and necessary.

Dozens of students turned out for the teach-in, including Haley Hamblin, co-founder of Young Americans for Freedom at Davidson, who explained how she came from a low-income family and was only able to attend Davidson College by working multiple jobs as well as through scholarships the school offered.

“I don’t see that as any kind of disadvantage or something that keeps me from being successful here at Davidson, I think it just gives me more of a drive and love for the education that I have here,” Hamblin said. “The donors [who fund the scholarships] are willing donors and it’s all voluntary. I feel very blessed that the donors allow me to be here and if I ever have the chance to give back I would. But it’s important to understand that that’s voluntary and wealth redistribution isn’t.”

In a message to The College Fix, Kenny Xu, president of Young Americans for Freedom at Davidson, said some members felt frustration over what they believe is a “misinterpretation” of their petition effort, saying they were accused of not caring about low-income students.

“They feel like the video lacked nuance and failed to consider important differences in income vs. GPA,” Xu said in a message to The Fix. “I appreciate their legitimate concerns and criticisms, and wanted this video to be the centerpiece of that discussion (of which many positive and fruitful ones happened on campus). However, some of the concerns went too far as the picture some people tried to paint of us was one of not caring, not listening, and not respecting low-income students. This is categorically false.”

The Davidson video won the nationwide contest, earning the Davidson students free trips to YAF’s national conference.

capitalism, culture, education, public policy, socialism, video

Filed under: capitalism, culture, education, public policy, socialism, video

A Closer Look At Why There Aren’t More Black Conservatives

In January of this year The American Conservative published “Why Aren’t There More Black Republicans” by Musa Al-Gharbi. I found some excellent and insightful points in Al-Gharbi’s piece. While there are also some legitimate grievances mentioned (which the GOP needs to take seriously) I believe many of these grievances are aimed in the wrong direction. I admit my perspective is not one of a political insider or policy wonk. I’m just a regular Joe trying to make a living. With that in mind, please consider the following.

Al-Gharbi makes the remarkable (and rare) point that the GOP has a positive historical record on civil rights and that Americans need to be reminded of this history. Al-Gharbi also touches on some important Democrat history of American politics and race. Can you imagine what campaigning would be like today if Americans were reminded of historical Democrat opposition to civil rights (including filibustering civil rights legislation in the 1960s)? For more eye opening info on this topic, Bruce Bartlett writes about the abysmal Democrat past on civil rights in his book Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past. Dinesh D’Sousa’s movie “Hillary’s America” is another good place to look.

But when Al-Ghardi moves off of history and into the meat of his article there is a vital distinction between Republicans and Conservatives that is not mentioned – the difference between conservatives and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). This distinction, I believe, would reshape many of his points. Another point I want to reexamine in Al-Gharbi’s article is what appears to be a left wing perspective on many issues.

Take, for instance, the argument on the supposed harm inflicted on black Americans “by advocating for voter ID laws, which disenfranchise primarily low-income and legal minority voters.” We can ask, in what way does a common sense (and internationally speaking, a very common) election security precaution disenfranchise anyone? The “widespread evidence” standard is a legitimate one, and I’d like to see widespread evidence that such abuse is inevitable in the implementation of voter id laws. For the liberal left it is standard procedure to ignore or downplay stories of various forms of election fraud, and we should not neglect the fact this fraud is so often in their favor. The numerous cases of voter fraud are often simply ignored or actively covered up by those who benefit from them (which should not be surprising). I humbly suggest the complaints of Voter ID laws should not be taken at face value.

EDITORIAL: North Carolina answers Democrats’ question ‘What vote fraud?’

N.C. proves multiple voting occurs and dead cast ballots

Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy

53,000 Dead Voters Found in Florida

If “widespread evidence” and “a single example of when such voting has actually turned an election” (criteria Al-Gharbi mentions) are the standard Voter ID proponents must measure up to, why not hold opponents of Voter ID to that same standard?

A couple examples of voter fraud come to my mind. A Philadelphia man gleefully admitted on live television he voted multiple times for Barack Obama. Imagine all the details that have to work together for this to occur. First, the only system innate in the voting process to prevent multiple voting is the poll workers. Unfortunately, the poll workers either don’t notice or don’t care that he voted more than once. And he feels so confident that nothing is wrong with this he is willing to admit on TV that he committed the crime. Some questions ought to naturally follow. Was this man charged? Did anyone in law enforcement follow up?

In another example, this woman, (who was a poll worker at the time) admits voting for Obama multiple times and yet denies committing voter fraud. When the perpetrators of voter fraud don’t recognize or even deny their crime it makes sense there would be difficulty in finding “widespread evidence” for it. As an experiment, one could show these two examples of voter fraud to people who voted for Barack Obama and ask them if these incidents qualify as voter fraud, and subsequently discover why “widespread evidence” for this crime is so difficult to find. Many people are so enamored with the idea of the first black president, election laws seem to be irrelevant.

On the other hand, there was an article a few years back on how the current election system (regardless of voter IDs) may be designed to disenfranchise black voters by default. Could it be that requiring voter ID might help liberate the black community from this and other common election shenanigans which already disenfranchise them?

I would also ask for widespread evidence that “Republican legislators court Neo-Confederates and other ethnic nationalist movements” as Al-Gharbi states. There seems to be no concern for nuance here (such as the difference between groups reaching out to politicians and politicians actively courting organizations). Do we know such groups reach out to conservatives and not to RINOs? RINOs are more likely to get government involved and appeal to special interest groups because RINOs act more like Democrats than like conservatives.

But does it matter when questionable groups have ties to politicians? It apparently didn’t matter in regard to the late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, as Bill Clinton explained Sen. Byrd was merely “trying to get elected” by being a member of the KKK. A lame excuse, sure, but it worked. Evidently it doesn’t matter that Robert Byrd spent half a century representing people for whom a “fleeting association” (full blown membership) with the KKK counted as an asset rather than a liability. As Al-Gharbi already mentioned, the liberal narrative would sugar coat and disregard this record with a racist hate group. Then, curiously, Republicans would be blamed for the evils committed by that group. Despite many theories, the reality of why Democrats and Republicans are treated so differently on matters of racism escapes me. Even the myth that the parties “switched sides” is losing its influence as more people learn the truth of the matter, yet Democrats often get a pass for overt racism. There are no more whites only water fountains, restrooms, lunch counters, etc. It is not incidental that Republicans dominate the American South during its LEAST racist era. Racism abounds throughout the country, we are constantly told, and the South is no longer the preeminent example of it.

On the matter of affirmative action, I don’t doubt there was a time for this sort of government intervention. But it has become a crutch for the black community. The left wing narrative constantly promotes the idea that black Americans cannot survive without Uncle Sam’s helping hand on a daily basis. This, of course, makes it easier to displace white people to make room for demographic quotas in various jobs (though I don’t see much effort to REDUCE counts of blacks among professional athletes (such as the NBA or NFL) to make the demographics more closely match those of the general population). This narrative is promoted largely by perpetuating the belief that there has been no progress in the battle against racism over the last half century, that racism still lurks around every corner. No one claims racism has been eliminated but it certainly sounds like Democrats infuse race into every discussion possible. Fear mongering and race hustling work for Democrats.

But what should we expect from people who, as Bob Parks put it, make money finding racism even when it isn’t there? The Duke Lacrosse scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how the ghost of racism is kept alive because the fear of racism is fuel for the fire – even if liberals have to lie about it. But let us not forget that manufactured racism and affirmative action both provide the same benefit for Democrats: a belief that the black community needs government, and that government can solve all of life’s problems.

We should question whether government can solve such problems. There is an astounding degree of blind faith in the magical powers of government. This faith is often supported by questionable data if not outright lies. The figures Al-Ghardi provides sound familiar, much like the feminist data constantly touted about the supposed wage gap. I’d like to see the data that show “Black families have, on average, 5 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts.” How do we know “blacks earn only 60 cents for every dollar that white people earn in salary and wages.”? (And if blacks did earn 60 cents for every dollar that whites earn, wouldn’t blacks have 60 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts?) Are these numbers produced in the same way the specious 77 cents wage gap figure was produced? And if the methods for producing the 77 cent or 60 cent figures are valid there are other questions we should put on the table; such as is it okay for Hillary Clinton to pay her female workers 72 cents for every dollar she pays a male?

Others have made good points in that the data show the black community was stronger and more likely to overcome the lingering effects of slavery and racism before government started trying to “help” in the 1960s. In fact, Dr. Thomas Sowell and others who have looked into this issue make a good case that the lingering effects of slavery and racism we see today are largely perpetuated by government intervention (meaning Democrats and RINOs).

In conservative thought, a nanny state government is an insatiable government. Every decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we no longer have the right to make for ourselves. Every effort for the government to “help” people grows the power and influence of the state, which diminishes the autonomy and liberty of the individual. Over time this sort of help infantilizes people, who look to government more and more to take care of them, and they eventually become slaves to their own government. Conservatives expect other conservatives to accept this viewpoint. RINOs don’t really care about the size or fiscal appetite of government.

I appreciate the viewpoint diversity Al-Ghardi speaks of. I would like for viewpoint diversity to be valued among our increasingly closed minded, intolerant, progressive culture. Progressives are astoundingly judgemental and abusive to those expressing dissent. (Just as an experiment, find a moment to say out loud to a group of progressives “marriage is between one man and one woman” as if you actually believed that statement, and tell me how tolerant they are of a view they disagree with.)

On any number of issues you can find ample viewpoint diversity among conservatives, of any race. But on the fundamental issue of liberty vs. government influence, to veer away from this premise is to veer away from conservatism. Given there are relatively few people who subscribe to this belief, conservatives gladly embrace all who agree with this view regardless of race. It is one of the building blocks of all conservative thought.

But to Democrats and liberals/progressives, to free people from a nanny state form of “help” is uncompassionate and even dangerous. Stoking racial strife is one of the most common ways for Democrats to promote their idea of benevolent government. Alan Keys, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson do not “downplay the significance of historical disadvantages or institutionalized racism” when they speak of the natural result of increasing government power, as Al-Gharbi suggests. Slavery is in fact the destination at the end of that road. Democrats, on the other hand, do downplay the significance such evils when they constantly accuse Republicans of racism, such as VP Joe Biden’s comment about putting black people back in chains.

As to alienating blacks, quite frankly it is not conservatives who do that. According to one of my favorite conservative commentators, Alfozo Rachel, it is the black community who alienates Republicans. And it is liberals who accuse black conservatives of being sell outs among other things. There is a concerted effort to marginalize black conservatives. Black conservatives often pay a huge price for coming out of the closet as conservatives.

RINOs do in fact offer the “top down” approach Al-Ghardi mentions, the same government-knows-best approach Democrats offer the American people. But RINOs and Democrats fail to understand something about economics that is common sense among conservatives: poor people don’t create jobs. On the other hand, somehow the American people have largely been convinced raising their taxes helps them.

One of the biggest lies in American politics is about taxes. So many people who claim to want “fairness” are led to believe “the rich” and “corporations” don’t pay their “fair share”. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what “fair share” actually means. One question on this issue conservatives like to ask is “how much of other people’s stuff are you entitled to”? Many Americans are in fact “looking for government handouts” and they are “demanding wealth redistribution as a corrective for historical disenfranchisement”. It is not conservatives who are doing this, it is liberals/progressives. I see it in the black community, the hispanic community, the white community, etc. American culture, with the exception of conservatives, is largely infected with an entitlement mentality – an attitude of “somebody owes me something”.

Everyone claims to desire a “fair playing field, opportunity for social mobility” but many people will likewise demand government handouts without even noticing the contradiction. In fact, from what I’ve seen, when liberals say they want a fair playing field and opportunity for social mobility, they actually mean government regulations and handouts. Thankfully conservatives are pushing back against this distortion. Black conservatives are doing a lot of this pushback but they are often marginalized and ignored, or attacked with racial epithets by those favoring government handouts.

I don’t know anyone who actually opposes a social safety net that prevents people from sinking into total despondency (though I know many who are blithely accused of opposing any social safety net at all). The biggest objection I see to the current American social safety net is that it is corrupt and inefficient, and has a tendency to trap its recipients in poverty. As Bill Whittle put it, the food, housing, education, and even cell phones offered by the government are all crap, crumbs from Uncle Sam’s table. And human beings deserve better than that.

Sadly, crumbs are the best we can expect from a massive, corrupt government. This is what “micromanaging the poor” looks like – the government-run social safety net. It is not conservative Republicans who support the inefficient social safety net, it is RINOs and Democrats who support it. That’s why conservatives preach so much about freedom. Crumbs we can get easily but if we want more than crumbs we have to work for it. This is why conservatives are constantly talking about getting government out of our way – so people can live their own lives.

But that brings us to a core difference between the way conservatives and others see life. Conservatives don’t look at life from a perspective of helping people attain minimal survival, but from one where people should be allowed to thrive. We don’t seek a social safety net as the peak of civilization, we seek prosperity so that a social safety net does not overwhelm all of us (as is inevitable given the way Democrats and RINOs constantly seek to expand that net). These things require work, a lot of work. Smart work. Making good decisions is crucial to prospering in life.

Making good decisions is a challenge faced by us all, but it seems the black community is more challenged than any other group of Americans. We can tell ourselves this is a result of slavery and discrimination, but perhaps a closer look might shed further light on the matter. Unfortunately, this closer look could lead to some socially unacceptable observations, even if they are true.

In the black community there is very common disdain for education, especially among young males. And why shouldn’t this be the case? From decades of telling the black community they can’t succeed because of racism, and then forcing the black community into what is arguably the worst sector of American education (often riddled with a political agenda), why should the black community believe success is possible for them? Why shouldn’t they expect a life of government handouts? That’s an alarmingly common attitude among the general American population, not merely in the black community. Many times I’ve witnessed people share ideas on gaming the entitlement system, with the mentality of getting as many benefits as possible from the government. And that’s one result that can be traced back to slavery but perpetuated by government: dependency on a master.

Conservative Republicans want to set people free from this kind of misery. One major effort to achieve this freedom is school vouchers. School vouchers empower parents to decide what sort of education is best for their children. But school vouchers take this power away from a bureaucratic state, which is the lifeblood of progressivism today. Thus Democrats typically oppose school vouchers, and make people fear the freedom this would grant them by making that freedom look “raysiss”.

The same is true of government entitlement programs. These programs often trap people. Promoting liberation from a minimum standard is often viewed as “draconian restrictions” on the “assistance provided” by government. And this brings us from bad government programs back to good individual decisions.

Government handouts have made headlines for buying alcohol, drugs, and other entertainment. To the people whose resources were confiscated by government and then redistributed, these sorts of purchases look like a betrayal of trust. We have been lead to believe the social safety net is intended to prevent “people from sinking into total despondency.” Buying booze, drugs, porn, etc., make it seem some of the recipients of these benefits are not as poor as we’ve been lead to believe. Like anything else in life, the people who genuinely need the social safety net have to suffer consequences of others, of those who abuse or defraud the social safety net. Republicans don’t want to make “draconian restrictions” on those who actually need assistance but they do want to stop fraud and abuse of programs which spend other people’s money. Social trust is an important element for those being forced to pay the bill. As long as abuse and fraud occur conservatives will be offended by the waste of aid intended for those who really need it, and seek to prevent such waste. Wasting this aid harms those who really need it. Shouldn’t we all be offended by that?

But rather than simply cleaning up corruption in the system, conservatives want to move beyond merely talking about setting people free and actually set people free. This requires a total change from the predominant safety net paradigm.

Which brings us back to taxes. The current government structure rests on making people think someone else should pay more taxes. The brilliance of this progressive system is that most people don’t realize they are the “someone else”. Businesses “pay” business taxes because they first raise the prices we pay – we the people actually pay all taxes. We can call it corporate tax, or employment tax, or whatever the government wants. But it is we the people who pay. Raising taxes directly impacts we the people, hitting the poor the hardest. Rather than building a massive government scheme designed to control wealth (the progressive way), conservatives prefer to reduce government involvement to the minimum required (military, police, courts, roads, etc.). With minimal government control over wealth there is also minimal government appetite, and thus less government involvement, thus minimal burden on the people. Imagine the jobs that would naturally be created if even 10% of the wealth currently confiscated by the government were instead left to the people who generated that wealth in the first place. People who create wealth naturally put it back into the economy in the form of purchases and business expansion. But we are supposed to call this greed, and consider increased jobs a bad thing when businesses are allowed to create them rather than the government.

And that leads us to another difference between conservatives and others. The ability to freely exchange among our fellow Americans is hampered by over taxation and corrupt regulation. Making life more expensive works quite well for government as it feeds the perceived need for government intervention, thus making a self fulfilling prophesy. But it does not work so well for the people, particularly the poor. Government’s strength is greatest in the act of taking and controlling, but the market’s strength is greatest in offering goods and services for voluntary exchange.

Which brings us back to politics. Conservatives want to change the “getting help” paradigm (government intervention) to a paradigm of achievement (individual liberty). Conservatives also want to redirect the new cultural obsession with “fairness” and return to an obsession with liberty. It is possible. There are prominent black Americans showing us success is possible if people were simply free from an over burdensome government. But that’s the rub; to be free to live one’s own life also entails the responsibility of doing so. A very important question conservatives should ask is “do you want to be free, or do you want to be taken care of?”. It is alarming to see how many people say they want the former but act like they want the latter.

Blind faith in the power of a benevolent government does more harm than good, especially to those it is allegedly trying to help. Democrats have an unwavering faith in the myth. RINOs share this faith. RINOs betray the Republican identity by becoming nothing more than diet Democrat. Democrats and RINOs betray the American people by making false promises resulting merely in more expensive government control of people’s lives. Obamacare is a prime example, from lies about keeping your insurance, to lies about reduced costs, to lies about improved access to health care.

Conservatives should work harder to reach the culture rather than look to politics to solve life’s problems. The “if government doesn’t help, no one will get help” myth must be confronted. So should the lies told which make people think a nanny state government taking of them and making decisions for them is “empowering”. Democrats and RINOs have a vested interest in making people look to government to solve life’s problems. The American people have a vested interest in the truth. It is conservatives who must tell it.

capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

Filed under: capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

Capitalism and Morality: Walter Williams vs. Pope Francis

original article: Capitalism and Morality: Walter Williams vs. Pope Francis
September 22, 2015 by Daniel J. Mitchell

The biggest mistake of well-meaning leftists is that they place too much value on good intentions and don’t seem to care nearly as much about good results.

Pope Francis is an example of this unfortunate tendency. His concern for the poor presumably is genuine, but he puts ideology above evidence when he argues against capitalism and in favor of coercive government.

Here are some passages from a CNN report on the Pope’s bias.

Pope Francis makes his first official visit to the United States this week. There’s a lot of angst about what he might say, especially when he addresses Congress Thursday morning. …He’ll probably discuss American capitalism’s flaws, a theme he has hit on since the 1990s. Pope Francis wrote a book in 1998 with an entire chapter focused on “the limits of capitalism.” …Francis argued that…capitalism lacks morals and promotes selfish behavior. …He has been especially critical of how capitalism has increased inequality… He’s tweeted: “inequality is the root of all evil.” …he’s a major critic of greed and excessive wealth. …”Capitalism has been the cause of many sufferings…”

Wow, I almost don’t know how to respond. So many bad ideas crammed in so few words.

If you want to know why Pope Francis is wrong about capitalism and human well-being, these videos narrated by Don Boudreaux and Deirdre McCloskey will explain how free markets have generated unimaginable prosperity for ordinary people.

But the Pope isn’t just wrong on facts. He’s also wrong on morality. This video by Walter Williams explains why voluntary exchange in a free-market system is far more ethical than a regime based on government coercion.

Very well stated. And I especially like how Walter explains that markets are a positive-sum game, whereas government-coerced redistribution is a zero-sum game (actually a negative-sum game when you include the negative economic impact of taxes and spending).

Professor Williams wasn’t specifically seeking to counter the muddled economic views of Pope Francis, but others have taken up that challenge.

Writing for the Washington Post, George Will specifically addresses the Pope’s moral preening.

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak… Francis deplores “compulsive consumerism,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire.

He specifically explains that people with genuine concern for the poor should celebrate industrialization and utilization of natural resources.

Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels. …The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981.

So why doesn’t Pope Francis understand economics?

Perhaps because he learned the wrong lesson from his nation’s disastrous experiment with an especially corrupt and cronyist version of statism.

Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.

Amen (no pun intended).

George Will is right that Argentina is not a good role model.

And he’s even more right about the dangers of “global norms” that inevitably would pressure all nations to impose equally bad levels of taxation and regulation.

Returning to the economic views of Pope Francis, the BBC asked for my thoughts back in 2013 and everything I said still applies today.

bias, capitalism, crisis, cronyism, economics, economy, ethics, ideology, nanny state, poverty, reform, video

Filed under: bias, capitalism, crisis, cronyism, economics, economy, ethics, ideology, nanny state, poverty, reform, video

Uber shows us why progressives hate choice

If there’s anything that scares government loving progressives more it isn’t what you might think. A lot of people (myself included) would think threats to the Democrat voter base would be the worst thing to progressives. Apparently that’s not the case. The biggest threat is anything that challenges their political money base.

Uber is a fine example of free enterprise at work. It uses existing untapped resources (people who already have vehicles) to provide a service better at a cheaper price than what is already offered (taxi services, in this case), and the people who do the work (individual citizens using their own vehicles) get to enjoy a little prosperity for their efforts. The process is self regulating (reputational tracking) which protects both passengers and drivers, and all this happens in real time. And drivers get to set their own schedules to work as much or as little or how they want. Is this a great country or what?

Well, for some, the answer is “or what”.

You would think offering the people more choice, improved service, at a lower price, with no increased risk to their well being would be a good thing. But you’re not an ultra leftist, are you? You don’t think government knows best and government needs to be in charge of everything and control people’s choices (except who they have sex with), do you? But some people are ultra leftists, radical progressives who think too much freedom and independence is a danger to us all.

The Washington Post’s Emily Badger recently chronicled how NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to limit Uber. The mayor essentially tried to paint Uber as a big corporate bully trying to tell government what to do. Does Uber make money in the billions? Yes. Is Uber a big corporation? Well, that depends on a few of the details. You see, the many people offering rides to people are the primary driving force of Uber. Without them Uber would never have gotten off the ground. Then there are the millions of people to use Uber to transport themselves. They are the paying customers, they are the source of Uber’s billions. Why would so many people in big cities choose Uber over taxies and public transportation? I’m sure you can figure that out on your own.

But to make choice and innovation and convenience look bad de Blasio essentially has to treat Uber like the Kulaks, a class of peasants (that’s you and me, and Uber drivers) who have the gumption to rely on ingenuity and ambition to create something other people are willing to pay for but has the unfortunate effect of challenging government cronyism. And what crony industry is being challenged by Uber – taxi cartels. Badger provides this nugget in her article:

“This lets other cities know that Uber is not going to be intimidated by municipal governments,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU, “that the days of taxi industry cartels are over, and that meddling with how people get from place to place is not easily done in an age of Internet-based mobility.”

Okay, if you’d like a less politically loaded term, instead of taxi cartel how about we just call them Medallion owners. But they are an example of cronyism none-the-less. In fact, what is a medallion in this context anyway? It’s a regulated requirement of taxi companies, companies who are highly regulated by their local governments and have to pay sometimes over $1 million to have the right to transport people around town. And the taxi industry’s multi-billion dollar bottom line is being threatened by Uber. But because of the many regulations on taxis, so is the tax revenue big city governments collect from taxi companies.

Ironically, it is taxi companies who are acting like a big corporate bully trying to tell government what to do. Taxi companies are complaining that Uber is taking business away from medallion owners and driving prices down. Oh my! And to rectify this horrible travesty taxi companies are pressuring governments to clamp down on Uber. And taxi companies have allies.

The Observer’s Ronn Torossian also seems to think Uber is a danger to the people, not merely the taxi companies. Torossian is worried that Uber drivers are unregulated and therefore dangerous. Never mind pedestrians are unregulated and people walk passed them all the time. But government regulation is not the only means of regulating Uber and similar businesses. Market self-regulation is happening via the reputation tracking feature in Uber. The reputation tracking idea is old, as far as technology goes. And it’s viability has been proven beyond doubt by giants such as Ebay.

On the more mindless end of things is infamous personality Russel Brand, complaining about profit. We all know cab companies are in the transportation business for money but Brand doesn’t seem to realize this. And he thinks Uber drivers don’t put their “profits” back into the local economy like official cab drivers do.

On the elitist, arrogant side is Mayor de Blasio himself. He was offered an opportunity to debate the issues with Uber but smugly rejected the invitation claiming he doesn’t “debate with private corporations” and labeled the open invitation as an attempt to dictate to government.

But the public isn’t buying that. While there is indeed a lot of blowback, guess who’s defending Uber – the people! Not only Uber drivers, but Uber’s customers are defending it. Uber agreed to a four month study of its impact on traffic and the environment, which also gives de Blasio room to maneuver for his cronies who don’t like Uber. While de Blasio lost this round, the battle is not over.

Opponents of Uber would have you believe they are concerned about corporate greed (but not government greed or government cronyism). You should be aware of some history about government regulation of transportation.

The progressive political class doesn’t like Uber because it threatens the flow of money into their coffers. They claim they are trying to protect people and to protect the environment, but to quote the mayor, “Let’s not kid ourselves about their motivations.”

bias, bullies, bureaucracy, capitalism, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, extortion, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, regulation, scandal, video

Filed under: bias, bullies, bureaucracy, capitalism, corruption, culture, Democrats, elitism, extortion, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, regulation, scandal, video

At The Intersection Of Capitalism And Disability

original article: At The Intersection Of Capitalism And Disability
May 1, 2015 by Elise Hilton

There is a group of workers out there who are uniquely qualified for many jobs, intensely interested in working and being as independent as possible, often joyful in attitude and thankful for the little things many of us take for granted.

They are adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

I’m not talking about “pity” jobs here. I’m talking about people with real talents who are looking to share those talents with others in a way that is mutually beneficial. Most of us call that a “career” but for the disabled, a career can be hard to come by. Chalk it up to misunderstanding, ignorance and prejudice. However, businesses are getting on board.

More and more companies out there are realizing there’s an untapped pool of talent that makes for very good workers,” [said] Peter Bell, President and CEO ofEden Autism Services, “Employers are becoming interested in hiring these people not because it’s charity, but because it’s the right business decision.”

The United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN) grew from this intersection between capitalism and disability, with a focus on helping businesses increase performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. The organization’s driving ethos is that business responds to its peers; if a company’s competitors are showing positive returns to their shareholders, that company will want to follow suit.

In Jefferson County, Alabama, an agency servicing the needs of adults with intellectual disabilities, could not find companies to hire their clients, so they took a “wildly entrepreneurial” approach: building their own businesses, including a bakery and a shredding business. In a viral video, Embassy Suites was highlighted as an employer, when a young man with Downs Syndrome enthusiastically reacted to a job offer.

Jill Houghton, Executive Director of USBLN, says none of this means businesses are lowering their expectations:

Sometimes we underestimate people’s abilities,” she said. “Sometimes in the name of helping people, we hold them back. But businesses, they’re just looking for good employees. I see powerful success stories every day. And I believe that business can help motivate the change for people with disabilities.”

As the mother of a young adult with cognitive disabilities, my hope for my child is that meaningful work is part of her future. I want her to enjoy the same pleasures I’ve derived from my work, and I know she has gifts to share.

Read “How Companies Are Finally Recognizing the Value in Employees With Intellectual Disabilities” at The Mighty.

capitalism, conservative, diversity, economy, innovation, philosophy, right wing

Filed under: capitalism, conservative, diversity, economy, innovation, philosophy, right wing

Obama To Americans: You Don’t Deserve To Be Free

December 31, 2013 by Harry Binswanger

President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.

The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.

Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)

That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?

I pick 100 years deliberately, because it was exactly 100 years ago that a gigantic anti-capitalist measure was put into effect: the Federal Reserve System. For 100 years, government, not the free market, has controlled money and banking. How’s that worked out? How’s the value of the dollar held up since 1913? Is it worth one-fiftieth of its value then or only one-one-hundredth? You be the judge. How did the dollar hold up over the 100 years before this government take-over of money and banking? It actually gained slightly in value.

Laissez-faire hasn’t existed since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. That was the first of a plethora of government crimes against the free market.

Radical capitalists are just beginning to have a slight effect on the Right wing. The overwhelming majority on the Right are eclectic. Which is a nice way of saying inconsistent.

The typical Republican would never, ever say “the market will take care of everything.” He’d say, “the market will take care of most things, and for the other things, we need the regulatory-welfare state.”

They are for individualism–except when they are against it. They are against free markets and individualism not only when they agree with the Left that we must have antitrust laws and the Federal Reserve, but also when they demand immigration controls, government schools, regulatory agencies, Medicare, laws prohibiting abortion, Social Security, “public works” projects, the “social safety net,” laws against insider trading, banking regulation, and the whole system of fiat money.

Obama blames economic woes, some real some manufactured (“inequality”) on a philosophy and policy that was abandoned a century ago. What doesn’t exist is what he says didn’t work.

Obama absurdly suggests that timid, half-hearted, compromisers, like George W. Bush, installed laissez-faire capitalism–on the grounds that they tinkered with one or two regulations (Glass-Steagall) and marginal tax rates–while blanking out the fact that under the Bush administration, government spending ballooned, growing much faster than under Clinton, and 50,000 new regulations were added to the Federal Register.

The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.

Even you, dear reader, are probably wondering how on earth anyone could challenge things like Social Security, government schools, and the FDA. But that’s not the point. The point is: these statist, anti-capitalist programs exist and have existed for about a century. The point is: Obama is pretending that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society were repealed, so that he can blame the financial crisis on capitalism. He’s pretending that George Bush was George Washington.

We radical capitalists say that it was the regulatory-welfare state that imploded in 2008. You may disagree, but let’s argue that out, rather than engaging in the Big Lie that what failed was laissez-faire and individualism.

The question is: in the messy mixture of government controls and remnants of capitalism, which element caused the Great Depression and the recent financial crisis?

By raising that question, we uncover the fundamental: the meaning of capitalism and the meaning of government controls. Capitalism means freedom. Government means force.

Suddenly, the whole issue comes into focus: Obama is saying that freedom leads to poverty and force leads to wealth. He’s saying: “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free.”

As a bit of ugly irony, this is precisely what former white slave-owners said after the Civil War: “The black man can’t handle freedom; we have to force him for his own good.” The innovation of the Left is to extend that viewpoint to all races.

Putting the issue as force vs. freedom shows how the shoe is on the other foot regarding what Obama said. Let me re-write it:

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The government will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just pile on even more regulations and raise taxes–especially on the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the losers are protected by more social programs and a higher minimum wage, if there is more Quantitative Easing by the Fed, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle up to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle up, well, that’s the price of the social safety net.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our intellectuals’ collectivism and Paul Krugman’s skepticism about freedom. That’s in Harvard’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the Soviet Union. It’s not what led to the incredible booms in India and China. And it didn’t work when Europe tried it during over the last decades. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this statist theory.

How does that sound? That’s blaming an actual, existing condition–government controls and wealth-expropriation–not a condition that ended in the late 19th century.

So which is the path to prosperity and happiness–freedom or force? Remember that force is aimed at preventing you from acting on your rational judgment.

Obama’s real antagonist is Ayn Rand, who made the case that reason is man’s basic means of survival and coercion is anti-reason. Force initiated against free, innocent men is directed at stopping them from acting on their own thinking. It makes them, under threat of fines and imprisonment, act as the government demands rather than as they think their self-interest requires. That’s the whole point of threatening force: to make people act against their own judgment.

The radical, uncompromised, laissez-faire capitalism that Obama pretends was in place in 2008 is exactly what morality demands. Because, as Ayn Rand wrote in 1961: “No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . To claim the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man–the right to compel his agreement by the threat of physical destruction–is to evict oneself automatically from the realm of rights, of morality and of the intellect.”

Obama and his fellow statists have indeed evicted themselves from that realm.

original article: Obama To Americans: You Don’t Deserve To Be Free

bullies, capitalism, economics, economy, elitism, government, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, lies, marxism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, socialism

Filed under: bullies, capitalism, economics, economy, elitism, government, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, lies, marxism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, socialism

Raising The Minimum Wage Hurts The Most Vulnerable

November 13,2014 by Elise Hilton

If you’re blessed, your job is more than just a paycheck. It’s a structure for your life, it’s a place of friendship and camaraderie, and a sense of purpose. At least, it was for Stacy Osborn.

Osborn had been working at Tastes of Life, a Hillsdale, MI restaurant that also supported a residential program, Life Challenge of Michigan. The restaurant was owned by Pastor Jack Mosley and his wife, Linda.

Mosley explained that, unlike a typical business that might fire a chef with a hot temper “who breaks dishes,” Tastes of Life managers were more long-suffering and wanted to help employees polish their life skills.

“Life has issues,” Mosley said. “This was a place to shore them up, and help them cope and get through.”

So why isn’t Osborn working there anymore? Because Tastes of Life couldn’t afford to stay open after the state of Michigan raised its minimum wage. Mosley said he figured he’d have to bring in 200 more customers a week in order to stay open.

Michigan unions threatened they’d sponsor a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. To keep the question off the ballot, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a compromise. Before September 1, 2014, the minimum wage in Michigan for regular employees was $7.40 and for tipped workers was $2.65. The new law raised the wage to $8.15 and $3.10, respectively. It will increase incrementally until 2018, when it will be $9.25 and $3.52.

“I did the math and realized I would need 200 more customers a week to stay open,” Mosley said.

That, accompanied by the fact that many of their customers go south for the winter and food prices have risen dramatically, forced Mosley to close doors. Twelve people lost their jobs.

Other businesses in the area have put a freeze on hiring and have raised prices in order to compensate for the minimum wage hike. Some, like the Mosleys, simply can’t compete. And that means those with the most to lose are left with fewer options. Some lose their jobs. Those who keep their jobs have a pay increase, but may have their hours cut. They also have to deal with the increase in the cost of consumer goods that comes along with the minimum wage hike.

Tell us again, who was the minimum wage hike supposed to help?

original article: In Michigan, Raising The Minimum Wage Hurts The Most Vulnerable

Read “Low-Income Workers: Raising The Minimum Wage Ruined Our Lives” at The Federalist.

bureaucracy, capitalism, economics, economy, government, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, poverty, progressive, public policy, regulation, socialism, tragedy, unintended consequences

Filed under: bureaucracy, capitalism, economics, economy, government, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, poverty, progressive, public policy, regulation, socialism, tragedy, unintended consequences

Christianity, Socialism, and Wealth Creation

July 30, 2014 by Brian Griffiths

Through much of the post-war period in the West, the formation of economic policy was dominated by Keynesian activism on the part of governments seeking an increasing role in providing public services, reducing material poverty, and reshaping income redistribution.

In the United States, President John F. Kennedy launched the New Frontier program and his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, soon after embarked on what came to be called the Great Society. In both cases, emphasis was placed on increasing the role of the state in order to solve problems of poverty and destitution. In intellectual terms, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith made the case for trade unions and government becoming “countervailing powers” in capitalist economies in order to check the power of large corporations. In Britain, Harold Wilson nationalized various industries, developed a national plan, a comprehensive prices and incomes policy, and extended the scope of the welfare state. Across the Channel and Rhine, the Social Democrat Willy Brandt was a major influence in extending the role of government in social policy throughout West Germany.

Throughout the years, the dominant social concern of Christian churches in the West was focused on the redistribution of income rather than the creation of wealth. Some form of socialism or social democracy was perceived as the inevitable outcome of taking seriously the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels concerning love of the poor. Thus, the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich declared that “every serious Christian must be a socialist.” Likewise, many on the British left believed that “Christianity is the religion of which socialism is the practice.” In policy terms, this translated into high taxation, an increasing government share of GDP, and the steady growth of the welfare state.

Theologian and philosopher Michael Novak’s great contribution – and he was really the first to do so – was to challenge this view, root and branch. Through articulating the idea of “democratic capitalism,” he sought the moral high ground. At a time when there was an obsession with the distribution of income, he was concerned with the moral, political, economic, and cultural preconditions for wealth creation in a market system that he believed would unleash the creative potential of the human person.

Novak set out his approach by constructing a number of building blocs. One was the uniquely Judeo-Christian view of the origins and purpose of the physical world; namely, that the physical world owes its existence to the Creator and is God’s provision and gift to mankind. The physical world has an abundance of resources, the potential of which is being extended on a daily basis through human innovation, entrepreneurship, and the technical sciences. The limits of the earth are not yet known. At the time of the Reverend Thomas Malthus (1766–1824), the earth supported 725 million persons. Today through the inventiveness of capitalism in agriculture and medicine, it supports 6.5 billion people. This view of God’s provision for humanity challenged the Club of Rome with its insistence on the finiteness of the created world and its very negative view of population growth. Today, it constitutes a strong challenge to the doomsters of global warming.

Novak was always clear, however, that the key to wealth creation is not the abundance of natural resources in itself. Many countries have enormous natural resources but remain poor. Rather, the key to wealth creation is the creativity of the human person, created as Imago Dei. Human creativity, for Novak, is the primary resource of man. The creation of wealth lies more in the human spirit and mind than it does in matter. Novak begins and ends his classic The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism with a quote from Pope John Paul II’s 1991 social encyclical Centesimus Annus.

… besides the earth, man’s principal resource is man himself. His intelligence enables him to discover the earth’s productive potential and the many different ways in which human needs can be satisfied. It is his disciplined work in close collaboration with others that makes possible the creation of ever more extensive working communities which can be relied upon to transform man’s natural and human environments. Important virtues are involved in this process such as diligence, industriousness, prudence in undertaking reasonable risks, reliability and fidelity in interpersonal relationships as well as courage in carrying out decisions which are difficult and painful, but necessary both for the overall working of a business and in meeting possible setbacks. (CA, no. 32)

The most distinctive feature of capitalism – and certainly the one that uniquely sets it apart from the worldview of socialism – is continuous innovation. The creativity, inventiveness, imagination, resourcefulness, and originality that lie behind this are the product of human intelligence. Through the growth of science, technology, and engineering, these become translated through entrepreneurs into new products and services for the home, the school, the workplace, and the wider community in areas such as health, food, education, transport, and leisure. Here Centesimus Annus – and Novak’s writings before and after this encyclical – also stress the importance of discipline in work, the social nature of wealth creation, as well as virtues such as prudence, trust, honesty, and reliability as indispensable ingredients in the process of wealth creation. In other words, wealth creation is built on moral foundations.

A further building block for wealth creation in Novak’s thesis is Bernard Lonergan’s concept of “emergent probability.” This is derived not only from an explicitly Christian perspective but also from a scientific practical one. Novak’s argument goes something like this. The world in which we live is not “logical, geometric, and perfectly predictable,” nor is it “totally mad, irrational and impervious to intelligence.” All sorts of things happen in the world. Some kinds of events reoccur. Other events are wild and highly improbable. In more recent years, the 2008 financial crisis has shown us at considerable economic cost that we do live in a world of black swans and fat tails. It follows that, on the basis of experience, people form a view of what might happen, assign probabilities to the different risks they might face and then make appropriate decisions. This belief about the way the world works is best captured by the term enterprise. Entrepreneurs know that the world is not totally random, but they also know that success is never guaranteed.

Although not expressed in this way, Adam Smith also saw that economic life was neither totally random nor blind necessity. His great insight was that because of the existence of self-love and sympathy as motives for human conduct coupled with “the way things work” in economic life, the system or the order in which economic life takes place is one of emergent probability. The key to the wealth of nations was not natural resources, political status, state planning, military power, or even the Divine Right of Kings but human creativity and intelligence that flourished under a particular system that he referred to as a “natural system of liberty.” This system was a bottom-up approach, which was based on the rationality of individuals free to choose in markets relatively uncontrolled by government. The genius of this system is that it was built up from the actions of myriads of individuals endowed with the freedom of choice to pursue their own interests in relatively free markets and that would, without being designed to do so, help promote the common good.

This article is excerpted and adapted from “Creation Theology” by Brian Griffiths in Theologian & Philosopher of Liberty – Essays of Evaluation & Criticism in Honor of Michael Novak, edited by Samuel Gregg (Acton Institute, 2014).

original article: Christianity, Socialism, and Wealth Creation

capitalism, culture, economics, ethics, freedom, ideology, innovation, religion, research, socialism, study

Filed under: capitalism, culture, economics, ethics, freedom, ideology, innovation, religion, research, socialism, study

IMF study: Government spending doesn’t make poor countries rich

August 12, 2014 by James Pethokoukis

New research from the International Monetary Fund undercuts the idea that “big push” infrastructure and other public investment projects can create accelerating economic growth and higher productivity in low-income countries:

This paper has examined whether major public investment drives in the past have served to promote or accelerate national economic growth. It is not about whether in theory public investment drives could accelerate growth, but rather whether in practice, with real governments deciding how to spend the funds and implementing investments, they have in fact accelerated growth.

The answer appears to be “probably very little”. This conclusion pertains to the drives – the big increases in public capital  spending – not necessarily to routine levels of public investment. And furthermore the evidence here  is not about whether public capital can promote growth by averting the emergence of bottlenecks. Major public investment campaigns continue to be advocated in several countries as a major trigger for economic growth, and on this issue, whether they have in fact triggered growth, the evidence for a positive effect of public capital on GDP or GDP growth is weak. … It is difficult to find a clear-cut example that fits the oft-repeated narrative of a public investment boom followed by acceleration in GDP growth. If anything the cases of clear-cut booms illustrate the opposite – major drives in the past have been followed by slumps rather than booms.

The FT’s Matthew Klein has an excellent write-up of the report. But as it so happens, the FT also features a commentary by Deirdre McCloskey outlining a different path to prosperity:

“Making men and women all equal. That I take to be the gist of our political theory.” This rejoinder to rightwingers who delight in rank and privilege is spoken by Lady Glencora Palliser, the free-spirited Liberal heroine of Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn. It encapsulates the cardinal error of much of the left.

Joshua Monk, one of the novel’s Radicals, sees through it. “Equality is an ugly word . . . and frightens,” he says. The aim of the true Liberal should not be equality but “lifting up those below him”. It is to be achieved not by redistribution but by free trade, compulsory education and women’s rights.

And so it came to pass. In the UK since 1800, or Italy since 1900, or Hong Kong since 1950, real income per head has increased by a factor of anywhere from 15 to 100, depending on how one allows for the improved quality of steel girders and plate glass, medicine and economics. …

All the foreign aid to Africa or South and Central America, for example, is dwarfed by the amount that nations in these areas would gain if the rich world abandoned tariffs and other protections for their agriculture industries. There are ways to help the poor – let the Great Enrichment proceed, as it has in China and India – but charity or expropriation are not the ways.

The Great Enrichment came from innovation, not from accumulating capital or exploiting the working classes or lording it over the colonies. Capital had little to do with it, despite the unhappy fact that we call the system “capitalism”. Capital is necessary. But so are water, labour, oxygen and pencils. The path to prosperity involves betterment, not piling brick on brick.

original article: IMF study: Government spending doesn’t make poor countries rich

bureaucracy, capitalism, charity, economics, fairness doctrine, foreign affairs, freedom, funding, government, liberalism, marxism, nanny state, philosophy, politics, poverty, public policy, socialism, spending, study, unintended consequences, welfare

Filed under: bureaucracy, capitalism, charity, economics, fairness doctrine, foreign affairs, freedom, funding, government, liberalism, marxism, nanny state, philosophy, politics, poverty, public policy, socialism, spending, study, unintended consequences, welfare

These People Are Turning Waste into a Precious Resource

2014 by Tyler Castle

In the debate over economic systems, a fundamental question exists: Is economics a zero-sum game?

Generally, proponents of socialism tend to say yes. There is a fixed pie of wealth, so we should make sure that it is split evenly.

Proponents of capitalism disagree. Rather than splitting a single pie, we ought to focus on creating more pies (a.k.a. wealth). But how realistic is that? Isn’t there a fixed amount of resources on earth? After all, no one is out there creating matter out of nothing.

Sometimes this train of thought sounds convincing, until I read something like this:

People around the world produce an estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine every year. BRL [Bristol Robotics Laboratory], a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, want to make the most of this abundant resource. […] They have developed a new technique to turn urine into electrical power—or “urine-tricity” as they call it. (from The Economist)

Forgive me if this seems crass, but how cool is that? Scientists have found a way to turn completely useless (well, not anymore) human waste into something incredibly valuable. Their experiments have found urine capable of “recharg[ing] commercially available batteries, including those in mobile phones.” We haven’t found a replacement for fossil fuels, but still…maybe it is possible to make something out of nothing?

This illustrates an important point. As Damian Von Stauffenberg states, “What creates wealth? People create wealth! The source of wealth is inside our head. It’s our creativity, something we’ve been endowed with.” Although we will never be able to create physical matter out of thin air, we have immense power to generate wealth through human ingenuity. And this changes everything.

If economics is not a zero-sum game, it means our focus should be on creating more wealth for everyone, rather than limiting what some have so that everyone can have an equal—and small—share. So, in this case, rather than limit how much energy people consume, we should invest in research that finds creative new sources.

What does this mean for public policy?

Policies that address poverty and inequality by simply dividing a pot of wealth that already exists are old hat. By the complex regulatory structures that such policies form, they inevitably crowd out potentially amazing innovations. Furthermore, a system that merely redistributes wealth to those in need ignores the potential that those same people have to create wealth themselves. Policies that instead seek to unleash the potential of human creativity in us all—i.e. by improving our education system or creating the conditions for a vibrant economy—will move us toward a brighter future.

I mean, if we can turn urine into electricity, what else might be possible?

original article: These People Are Turning Waste into a Precious Resource

capitalism, crisis, economics, energy, freedom, innovation, philosophy, science, socialism

Filed under: capitalism, crisis, economics, energy, freedom, innovation, philosophy, science, socialism

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