The Libertarian Brand

Once upon a time from the 1600s to the 1800s there were liberals that we now have to call “classical liberals” since the modern liberals are the exact opposite of the old-time liberals. The modern fraudsters claim the label liberal even though they don’t deserve it at all. They should give the label back to real liberals.

A lot of people these days have started calling themselves “libertarian” now that the term “libertarian” is gaining as much respect around the world as the term liberal held in those long ago days. Plus a lot of non-libertarians, most often conservatives, love to hurl the label “libertarian” at others as a pejorative without knowing what the label “libertarian” really means. So what is this oft misunderstood thing called libertarianism?

Jeffery Tucker once wrote:

“I’m interested in only one thing: progressive reductions of the role of all government power in people’s lives all the way to zero if possible. Whatever brings that about, in whatever sector it happens, and whether it happens slowly by steps or all in one fell swoop, I’m for it. I really don’t care who or what makes a contribution to this end or how it comes about, so long as it is ethical and it actually achieves the aim of human liberation, the mother of all progress, order, and higher civilization.”

Jeffery Tucker’s statement leaves a lot of room for people of differing opinions to work together under the banner of libertarianism. I am a radical libertarian myself and would rather see the state tossed into the trash-bin of history all at once and soon, but I know there are those who believe we must extradite ourselves from this state-caused nightmare of evil governments slowly to overcome the damage they have done. We differ on tactics but not on the goal.

Murray Rothbard thought that we could be allies with the small-government conservatives or minarchists. Yes, we can find common cause with them at times, but they are as much the enemy as the evil, government-worshiping progressives. They are statists and their philosophy leads right back to the police state given enough time no matter how small a state they start with. After all, the early U.S. republic was the ultimate minarchist dream but started a drift towards ever more power flowing to the central state almost immediately.

Rothbard warned against any drifting to the right-wing and conservatism by libertarians. He wrote in his classic “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty” an essay that challenged the fallacy that libertarianism was a conservative doctrine and warned against rightward deviations.

Libertarians of the present day are accustomed to think of socialism as the polar opposite of the libertarian creed. But this is a grave mistake, responsible for a severe ideological disorientation of libertarians in the present world. As we have seen, Conservatism was the polar opposite of liberty; and socialism, while to the “left” of conservatism, was essentially a confused, middle-of-the road movement. It was, and still is, middle-of-the road because it tries to achieve Liberal ends by the use of Conservative means. ~Murray Rothbard (1965)

Rothbard’s “conservative means” here refers to the political devices and institutions of government such as taxation, the police, prisons, federal departments, and all the rest. He pointed out that for most of human history government has been a conservative institution and always on the side of economic privilege, theocracy, patriarchy, and militarism. As Rothbard described it:

Socialism, like Liberalism and against Conservatism, accepted the industrial system and the liberal goals of freedom, reason, mobility, progress, higher living standards for the masses, and an end to theocracy and war; but it tried to achieve these ends by the use of incompatible, Conservative means: statism, central planning, communitarianism, etc. Or rather, to be more precise, there were from the beginning two different strands within Socialism: one was the Right-wing, authoritarian strand, from Saint-Simon down, which glorified statism, hierarchy, and collectivism and which was thus a projection of Conservatism trying to accept and dominate the new industrial civilization. The other was the Left-wing, relatively libertarian strand, exemplified in their different ways by Marx and Bakunin, revolutionary and far more interested in achieving the libertarian goals of liberalism and socialism: but especially the smashing of the State apparatus to achieve the “withering away of the State” and the “end of the exploitation of man by man.”

Modern American left-liberals always favor state-socialist means which libertarians see as immoral as well as destructive of society. Even so, they often have goals that line up with libertarians especially when they are defending the common man against powerful forces. But it would be a mistake to think that the modern left is any better than the modern conservatives. Libertarians have to reject both of these ideologies as they are not in favor of liberty for all men. We will reject both conservatism and modern “liberalism” (or progressivism) as not being “libertarian” or even anything close. Among those that we can realistically call libertarian there are various distinctions: we have “left-libertarians”, “right-libertarians”, minarch libertarians, radical libertarians, and on and on. One might say there is a spectrum of beliefs held by those we might be realistically called libertarian.

I believe that the key distinction among varying kinds of libertarians should be seen as one of principle and not one of aesthetics or slogans. There are libertarians who champion freedom of association, decentralizing power, maximum individual liberty, private property rights, voluntary exchange, laissez-faire markets, and peace. They champion the non-aggression principle. These are libertarians and not those so-called “libertarians” who just want to make the government work more efficiently and who compromise on property rights and free association and favor government war.

The real issue is whether a person sees the state as a moral hazard and the enemy, or just another institution to be used to achieve a political goal. The pro-state “libertarians” might have laudable goals in mind such as some nebulous concept of freedom and justice, but if you want to use the state to achieve your goals you are not a libertarian. I think the term libertarian means that one will oppose the initiation of violence, force, or fraud against the innocent by anyone, especially by the minions of the state. This is the non-aggression principle, and it is the unifying and underlining philosophical basis for libertarianism. I don’t see how one can be called a “libertarian” without his agreeing to the non-aggression principle.

Recognizing a real libertarian can be easy. If a person wants to use the government to enforce his vision of how other people should live then he is definitely not a libertarian. If a person would let people do as they please as long as they don’t aggress against any innocent person or their property then that person is libertarian. A person shows their libertarian colors when they defend other people’s right to do as they please as long as they don’t use force, fraud, or intimidation; and all others are pretenders to the name libertarian.


Voluntary Exchange

It should be obvious to all that the modern progressives (who hate progress) are people who detest individuals acting freely without direction from some planning board. The latest round of economic woes reminded me of an essay by Rothbard.

Austrian Economist Murray Rothbard wrote the following in his great essay called “Anatomy of the State“:

Man is born naked into the world, and needing to use his mind to learn how to take the resources given him by nature, and to transform them (for example, by investment in “capital”) into shapes and forms and places where the resources can be used for the satisfaction of his wants and the advancement of his standard of living. The only way by which man can do this is by the use of his mind and energy to transform resources (“production”) and to exchange these products for products created by others. Man has found that, through the process of voluntary, mutual exchange, the productivity and hence, the living standards of all participants in exchange may increase enormously. The only “natural” course for man to survive and to attain wealth, therefore, is by using his mind and energy to engage in the production-and-exchange process. He does this, first, by finding natural resources, and then by transforming them (by “mixing his labor” with them, as Locke puts it), to make them his individual property, and then by exchanging this property for the similarly obtained property of others. The social path dictated by the requirements of man’s nature, therefore, is the path of “property rights” and the “free market” of gift or exchange of such rights. Through this path, men have learned how to avoid the “jungle” methods of fighting over scarce resources so that A can only acquire them at the expense of B and, instead, to multiply those resources enormously in peaceful and harmonious production and exchange.

This seems so simple to me that it should not even be necessary to point these things out to people past middle school age, and yet it comes as a shock to many. Few people in the general public seem to be able to understand it. A man can live by trying to be a self-sufficient hermit, taking from others by force or fraud, or a man can cooperate voluntarily with others to enrich everyone.

I believe that voluntary cooperation is in our very genes. We are programed by millions of years of evolution and experience to divide tasks up so that the division of labor allows everyone to be better off than if the task was undertaken individually. When a group of men work together to get a job done and there is division of labor, we get far more productivity than if only one man tries the same job. Just try making an old time pencil for your school child all by yourself someday. Be sure and start with absolutely no tools at all since you are going to make everything yourself.

I think that the voluntary cooperation piece of the “division of labor” is more important than most people appreciate. We can not tell in advance where the innovation and marginal improvements are going to come from, and so to attempt to dictate the billions of exchanges that happen each day from a central committee is to hamper and hinder the progress of all mankind. This has been seen in socialist experiments around the world. Central planning and control is just plain inefficient compared to a free market situation where everyone is free to voluntarily trade in goods or services with others.  And besides the inefficiency aspect of central planning, we have the fact that people are meant to live free and not as slaves to faceless bureaucrats who use the brutality of the police state to enforce their mindless edicts.

One state has a motto that reads, “live free or die”. I like that and would just add that one can never live free as long as he is a subject of the nation-state.


I answer three Global Warming Cultists

This blog probably would have died after a year or so like so many other one-writer blogs do, if I had not been told that I just had to try Twitter. Ever since I joined Twitter, there have been no shortage of ideas for blog posts. In fact I am way behind in responding on a couple of issues that I promised I would get to this summer. Ah, if only time was unlimited. It may be that time itself is the most scarce thing of all.

Today, I am responding to three friends that I met in the comments area of Glenn Greenwald’s blog about five years ago and then later started interacting with them on Twitter. They range from libertarian leaning all the way to the hard-core progressive left,  but all are decent people who can think for themselves. Friends. These people, Joe , Presumptuous Insect , and Rena , all decided one day recently to claim that catastrophic, anthropogenic, CO2 caused global warming was going to kill us all and send those thoughts my way on twitter. I don’t know who was behind the idea to gang up on me late one night when they knew I was already asleep, but I suspect Joe. Well, friends, it is not going to get too hot on planet earth. The political scam of the “fight to save the earth” itself might well kill off a lot of people by driving up energy costs well beyond what we poor folks can pay, but there will not be any drastic warming.

So, even though I don’t like to do “global warming” here at this blog since others cover that subject much better than I can, I am going to respond to the trio on the issue in this post. Before I launch into a talk on temperatures, let me first exhibit a couple of representative tweets.

Presumptuous Insect

  Awful. The elderly really cannot tolerate heat. I guess they have the “freedom” to die now.

I live in central Florida and it is much warmer here, on average, than in New York. Even so, we don’t have tons of elderly dying off each summer due to the heat. Why is that? It is because freezing cold kills people, not warmth. With warmth you can take measures like staying inside in the a/c or just sitting in the shade with an iced tea. Please don’t try to destroy the world’s modern economy by claiming that a fraction of a degree on average is going to kill off the old folks. I am one of them and I tell you it just ain’t true.

I honestly do think the denial is directly related to the very real shortcomings of the market to control AGW.

I have covered this issue many times as has Rothbard, Block, and many others. We feel comfortable in saying that private contractual cooperation among free people whose property rights are respected and protected will deal with the problem of pollution better than the current system of control by the nation-state. I do not detect any ‘fear’ of environmental issues on the part of Anarcho-Capitalists in the least. What I do detect is a willingness on the part of most libertarians to read the damn charts and look at real world data with a scientific outlook like the one they trained me in science to have back in college: “being skeptical even of one’s own work is the default position of the scientist”. (See Karl Popper)

I saw one tweet where The Bug wanted to move the goal posts yet again by saying:

“Some prefer term ‘climate collapse’ as more accurate as that phrase takes emphasis off just warming & looks at all anomalies”

Well after 17 years of no warming and global colling since 2002 I can see how she might want to change the fraud’s slogan yet again. After all, consider this:

Professor Judith Curry of, the chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on June 14, 2013: “Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 year ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002 (note: I am receiving inquiries about this from journalists). This period since 2002 is scientifically interesting, since it coincides with the ‘climate shift’ circa 2001/2002 posited by Tsonis and others. This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 yr ‘pause’.”

And to beat all, these cAGW cultists (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) sent me all these tweets in the very week that Steve McIntyre has been vindicated in his destruction of the “hockey stick” in the early Bfiffa papers in the publication of the Briffa et al 2013 paper. Yes, Briffa has admitted defeat and given up trying to run shoddy statistical analysis past real statisticians. The CRU has abandoned the shoddy one tree super-stick.

The problem with the cultists is that every prediction has been wrong and the real world data does not match their theory and yet they still think CO2 is a poison. Are we to criminalize human breathing?

All the data sets have been “adjusted” to show more present warming but even those data sets can’t hide the decline in temperatures that run counter to the CO2 hypothesis. But consider one long, long data set from England.

Central England Temperatures: Do They Provide Evidence That Current Global Warming Scare Is Totally Blown Out of Proportion?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Now keep in mind that the chart above goes from 1659 to only 2009 and so does not show the latest present cooling that has stumped so many of the climate alarmists. However, look at it. The slight rise in temperatures is exactly what has been going on since the end of the Little Ice Age that the cultists love to use as a starting point to show warming. Hell, we should be glad that the temperatures have warmed since the 1800s!

The chart is from the Central England Temperature dataset which is reputed to be the oldest in the world. It has over 350 years of temperature records drawn from “multiple weather stations located both in urban and rural areas of England, which is considered a decent proxy for Northern Hemisphere temperatures – not perfect, but decent.” Climate Cycles Change provides us with some analysis.

The first characteristic of the graph to note is the green trend line. That line indicates an overall warming of 0.26°C per century rate since 1659. So, for some 350 years central England, and the world, have been warming. No big surprise there since Earth has been continuously warming since the end of the Little Ice Age; and, at the end of that 350 year trend line of warming is the first decade of the 21st century.

The second characteristic of the graph is that temperatures just seem to have this habit of going up and down, for extended periods. What’s really amazing is that they did this consistently before the large increase of human CO2 emissions, pre-1946. Okay, maybe that’s not so amazing since this is called temperature variability and represents the natural, dynamic nature of our climate….That variability, as displayed by the CET data in the graph, has experienced temperature changes as much as 2.5°C from one year to the next. A change of 2.5°C in a single year! Keep that figure in mind as we further analyze the dataset. Please note, the graph also reveals very similar temperature variability post-1946, after the huge atmospheric input of human CO2 emissions.

That Climate Cycles Change post was inspired by an analysis of CET by Czech physicist Lubos Motl. Because the CO2 hysterics and fraudsters make such a big deal of the very slight warming trends seen in the past 30 years, Lubos Motl applied the same technique to the full CET dataset of 350 years.

Let us see what Motl found:

In the late 17th and early 18th century, there was clearly a much longer period when the 30-year trends were higher than the recent ones. There is nothing exceptional about the recent era. Because I don’t want to waste time with the creation of confusing descriptions of the x-axis, let me list the ten 30-year intervals with the fastest warming trends:

1691 – 1720, 5.039 °C/century
1978 – 2007, 5.038 °C/century
1977 – 2006, 4.95 °C/century
1690 – 1719, 4.754 °C/century
1979 – 2008, 4.705 °C/century
1688 – 1717, 4.7 °C/century
1692 – 1721, 4.642 °C/century
1694 – 1723, 4.524 °C/century
1689 – 1718, 4.446 °C/century
1687 – 1716, 4.333 °C/century

You see, the early 18th century actually wins: even when you calculate the trends over the “sufficient” 30 years, the trend was faster than it is in the most recent 30 years.

Climate Cycles Change confirmed this analysis with charts of its own. What they all show that is that the current 30 year history of climate in England is far from being dramatic, dangerous and unprecedented. The CET changes in the last 30 years have been well within the normal and natural cycles of climate change in England.

I was first concerned that the so-called climate scientists (alarmists like Hansen of NASA) were frauds and anti-science because the love to start their alarming charts at the end of the Little Ice Age. By starting at the end of the LIA one can easily (and understandably) show warming — and thank the gods for the warming. There was a Forbes story not long ago that detail a bit of the climate history of the LIA.

Around 1250 A.D., historical records show, ice packs began showing up farther south in the North Atlantic. Glaciers also began expanding on Greenland, soon to threaten Norse settlements on the island. From 1275 to 1300 A.D., glaciers began expanding more broadly, according to radiocarbon dating of plants killed by the glacier growth. The period known today as the Little Ice Age was just starting to poke through.

Summers began cooling in Northern Europe after 1300 A.D., negatively impacting growing seasons, as reflected in the Great Famine of 1315 to 1317. Expanding glaciers and ice cover spreading across Greenland began driving the Norse settlers out. The last, surviving, written records of the Norse Greenland settlements, which had persisted for centuries, concern a marriage in 1408 A.D. in the church of Hvalsey, today the best preserved Norse ruin.

Colder winters began regularly freezing rivers and canals in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Northern France, with both the Thames in London and the Seine in Paris frozen solid annually. The first River Thames Frost Fair was held in 1607. In 1607-1608, early European settlers in North America reported ice persisting on Lake Superior until June. In January, 1658, a Swedish army marched across the ice to invade Copenhagen. By the end of the 17th century, famines had spread from northern France, across Norway and Sweden, to Finland and Estonia.

Reflecting its global scope, evidence of the Little Ice Age appears in the Southern Hemisphere as well. Sediment cores from Lake Malawi in southern Africa show colder weather from 1570 to 1820. A 3,000 year temperature reconstruction based on varying rates of stalagmite growth in a cave in South Africa also indicates a colder period from 1500 to 1800. A 1997 study comparing West Antarctic ice cores with the results of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two (GISP2) indicate a global Little Ice Age affecting the two ice sheets in tandem.

The Siple Dome, an ice dome roughly 100 km long and 100 km wide, about 100 km east of the Siple Coast of Antartica, also reflects effects of the Little Ice Age synchronously with the GISP2 record, as do sediment cores from the Bransfield Basin of the Antarctic Peninsula. Oxygen/isotope analysis from the Pacific Islands indicates a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature decline between 1270 and 1475 A.D.

The Franz Josef glacier on the west side of the Southern Alps of New Zealand advanced sharply during the period of the Little Ice Age, actually invading a rain forest at its maximum extent in the early 1700s. The Mueller glacier on the east side of New Zealand’s Southern Alps expanded to its maximum extent at roughly the same time.

Ice cores from the Andeas mountains in South America show a colder period from 1600 to 1800. Tree ring data from Patagonia in South America show cold periods from 1270 to 1380 and from 1520 to 1670. Spanish explorers noted the expansion of the San Rafael Glacier in Chile from 1675 to 1766, which continued into the 19th century.

The height of the Little Ice Age is generally dated as 1650 to 1850 A.D. The American Revolutionary Army under General George Washington shivered at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, and New York harbor was frozen in the winter of 1780. Historic snowstorms struck Lisbon, Portugal in 1665, 1744 and 1886. Glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana advanced until the late 18th or early 19th centuries. The last River Thames Frost Fair was held in 1814. The Little Ice Age phased out during the middle to late 19th century.

The Little Ice Age, following the historically warm temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from about AD 950 to 1250, has been attributed to natural cycles in solar activity, particularly sunspots. A period of sharply lower sunspot activity known as the Wolf Minimum began in 1280 and persisted for 70 years until 1350. That was followed by a period of even lower sunspot activity that lasted 90 years from 1460 to 1550 known as the Sporer Minimum. During the period 1645 to 1715, the low point of the Little Ice Age, the number of sunspots declined to zero for the entire time. This is known as the Maunder Minimum, named after English astronomer Walter Maunder. That was followed by the Dalton Minimum from 1790 to 1830, another period of well below normal sunspot activity. …

The increase in global temperatures that humanity has since since the end of the LIA in the 1800’s is simple a reflection of the end of the Little Ice Age and natural climate cycles. Look up in the sky at noon some day and see the big ball of fire that drives our weather. It is not some trace gas of 400 parts per million in our atmosphere. The global temperature trends since the end of the LIA have followed ocean temperature cycles and not CO2.

I would like to introduce you to a chart from Wikipedia which is notoriously pro-alarmist. The chart is one of climate history over the millions of years and represents our best understanding of ice core data and other proxy data that yields this climate reconstruction. This chart is not controversial.

Temperature History

Temperature History, click to enlarge

Please look at the last 100 million years or so and see the steep decline in global temperature. It was this chart or charts much like this one that helped fuel the “new ice age scare” of the 1970s. There is little that can be done about the long term cooling other than using our technology to adapt to it. There is just not much grant money going to flow from studying natural cycles of millions of years compared to a nice short term warming cycle that can be played into a “world threatening crisis”. But the warming stopped in the ’90s friends. It has been cooling since ’02. Wake up, you have been played for a sucker.

Why did the governments of the world back the cAGW scam? Because it meant ever more control over your lives. The whole play reminds one of the GWOT. In both cases an imaginary hobgoblin was used to scare the pants of the public to get them to demand government action. The same tactic works every time it seems like.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H.L. Mencken

I did not give any Political Consent to the DC Criminals

Every so often some modern “liberal” claims that I have given my consent to be ruled by the criminal gang writ large called the US Government. I tell you friends, I have most certainly not given my consent to be ruled by those thugs on the Potomac. “But you agreed to the social contract” they yell. No. No I did not. I never signed any “Social Contract“. Hell, I have not even seen such a contract to sign! Such talk of a “social contract” is utter nonsense and propaganda.


These propagandists have to be talking about implied consent  to this “social contract” since we know that the Constitution which is our basic contract in the US was signed by just a few men (no women) and every one of those people are long dead. It is now over two centuries later and even the grandchildren of these men are all dead.

Did I give any implied consent when I voted a few times? No. I never got to vote on the legitimacy of the regime. And besides that, if you refuse to vote the regime does not then allow you to opt out and pay no taxes or ignore the government’s laws and rules. Try not voting and then smoking dope on a downtown street if you don’t see my point. There is no way to give “consent” if there is no avenue by which one may withdraw his consent or to never give it in the first place.

There are some folks who claim that I agreed to the social contract and the constitution simply because I was born inside the geographical boundaries claimed by the criminal gang in DC. In my youth this sort of argument was seen in the “America, love it or leave it” bumper stickers. This sort of hogwash claims that the government owns me because I was born! No way my friends, no way.

Then there are those who claim because I have generally obeyed the laws and not started a revolution that I am agreeing to the social contract. Nonsense on stilts! The regime puts a gun to my head and I obey to keep from getting shot and you call this agreeing to a contract? No contract law class in the world would call that arrangement an honest and fair contract. There are many laws passed by the criminal legislatures of this land that I obey because the police state would aggress against me if I did not; but that by no means says that I see these laws as legitimate. Hell, even tyrannical, oppressive regimes have the passive acceptance of their people given that they are not in open, armed revolt.

The most common claim that I have agreed to a social contract comes from the modern “liberals” who will say that if I use the government roads or the state’s legal system then I have agreed to be ruled by the criminal gang. But there can be no consent on my part as I have no way to opt out of this arrangement. The state steals more than half the paycheck of the common American and then spends it as the state pleases. If we use the roads we are force to pay for, this is not a voluntary, consensual arrangement. This is being raped and told to like it.

I have heard the modern “liberals” claim that you are a horrible person if you shop at Walmart. These same people support the government’s road system that allows Walmart to compete against the local businesses in every town in America and they support taxing the working man to the point he has to shop there where he can get the most for his money. And yet it is supposed to be the working man’s fault that Walmart is successful. Typical. The problem with most “liberals” is they voice loud and vociferous opinions on things they refuse to study.

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” ~Murray Rothbard

No living person ever gave consent to the current regime in any meaningful way since there is no way to not obey. There in no meaningful choice in the matter. The government is violating our natural rights in an open and blatant manner and none of us is safe from it as long as it is allowed to exist. You have no moral obligation to support the state and I would argue that you have a moral obligation to oppose the state at every turn. Withdrawing your moral support for the regime is critical since public support is the basis of every regime’s power over the ruled. To just resignedly cooperate is to support the bastards. To be fair, it is not just the modern “liberals” or “progressives” who make this claim of “social contract” as the basis for supporting the state. Conservatives do likewise.

The reason that government schools are so crucial to the maintenance of the regime’s power is so that the state can propagandize the citizen from childhood up through young adulthood. The “public school system” is the regime’s most elaborate and effective propaganda operation but it is not the only one. It is one of many.

After all the years of government propaganda called “school” and then living in a society where the mainstream media is a propaganda arm of the regime, it is a wonder we can think at all. (h/t Paul Simon) The candidacy of Ron Paul did a lot to help millions of Americans wake from their slumbers and realize they have been lied to by the state. Our job is to keep that information flowing and help the citizens understand why they need to withdraw their consent to be governed  by this outlaw regime.

The whole of economics

The whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups. ~Henry Hazlitt

Hazlitt alerted us to the problem, we often don’t look at the whole picture and the long term effects. The law of unintended consequences tells us that we really do need to try to look ahead and see what may or may not come of our actions. Any human on planet earth could do much worse than to take the time to read Henry Hazlitt’s book “Economics in One Lesson“. Thomas Sowell has long echoed Hazlitt’s ideas in his nationally syndicated columns and in his many top selling books. Sowell writes that as a nation we often don’t look to see what the effects are of any proposed action on groups other than the target group and also don’t think about the effects of these actions have over time on the target group. What is the cascade of effects?

It is easy to show “good” effects on one group as you hide the bad effects on other groups. As Dr. Sowell pointed out:

“The government can always save 10,000 jobs — at a cost of 50,000 other jobs. If the jobs that are saved are in one industry, represented by vocal spokesmen, and the 50,000 lost jobs are spread thinly across the country in two’s and three’s here and there, then this is a good deal for the politician who becomes a hero to those 10,000 voters whose jobs he saved. This is obviously not a good deal for those who lose their jobs but they may not even know why. Moreover, when they are not concentrated in one place or in one industry, they are unlikely to come to the attention of the media. So they don’t count politically.”

That Thomas Sowell quote is an example of not looking to see what effects an action has on all groups. This is just more vote buying by the rulers who pull the levers of government power. The actions they take invariably are counterproductive and inherently unfair to the majority even as the rulers make it look otherwise. As H. L. Mencken observed long ago, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible and wrong.”

Government is never going to do your investigation into these matters for you since they are trying to keep you like a mushroom: in the dark and covered with crap. It is your job to educate yourself and to seek out those who have studied real economics and can help you understand the way the world really works and not be fooled by the demagogues.

Hazlitt also pointed out the main problem we have in trying to reason with the collectivists, socialists, and progressives who all believe in some form of Marxism. He wrote:

The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weakness, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects – his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity. ~Henry Hazlitt

I think Hazlitt has hit the nail on the head with that quote. I don’t see how I could add much to it here today. The collectivist has great envy of the others who are out in the world getting things done. They are full of hate towards those that they see as “exploiting” the people; often by offering them things to buy. The fact that people buy these things of their own free will matters little to them. Why? Read the quote again.