Posts Tagged ‘Austrian School of Economics’

Libertarians: Capitalists or Free-Marketeers?

April 12, 2013

In re-reading Professor Murray Rothbard’s wonderful essay, “Capitalism vs. Statism”, we were reminded that “capitalism” is a term invented by Marx and used by the Marxists. In contrast to this is the idea of the “free-market”, which arises naturally whenever men are left to their own devices, as in a peasant or jungle society. It needs no central planning, as each man produces or does what he has in abundance or trades his unique skills for the products of other producers, without any coercion. Any contractual disputes between producers and consumers are brought before the wise elders of the community or tribe, and settled.

So, this distinction set us thinking about whether we should use the term “capitalist” at all, and choose rather to employ the term “free-marketeer” in its place. Is not using a term coined by Marxists to describe the free-market  playing into their hands?

Indeed, what image does the term “capitalist” conjure up in the mind? Does it not mean someone whose one drive is to acquire capital, or money? In other words, someone obsessed with money? In getting this term dispersed in wide-spread usage, the Marxists have achieved a popular view that capitalists are money-obsessed individuals.

Now, what does the term “free-marketeer” imply? Much more that someone who is money-obsessed. Firstly, it stresses that one wants freedom not only for oneself, but for the other party in the transaction. And also, one wants freedom for everybody else doing transactions, and making markets. Freedom for all! Not just for me. Secondly, it shifts the emphasis from the money-half of the transaction to the commodity-half of the transaction. In other words, the true free-marketeer is interested in the commodity he is either getting, or getting rid of in the market, much more than the money-half of the transaction. Certainly, the seller is very interested in taking receipt of the asking price in terms of cash, but that cash is almost always as a means to some commodity or service that the seller values. The wealthy seller may find it in the added security of having his cash balance just a little bit larger, and further away from bankruptcy; the hungry seller in the lentil sandwich he just bought with the proceeds of his last sale. But in both cases there is some value, be it the elimination of the physical discomfort of hunger or the psychological gratification of being slightly more financially secure, which makes it worthwhile for the seller or buyer to engage in his action.

This emphasis on the commodity and its implimentation by the new owner for some physical or psychological value is the real meaning of the “free-market”, not two parties to a transaction who are only interested in the capital-half of the transaction. Obviously, the buyer is far more interested in the thing or service he is receiving for his money rather than just his money, or he wouldn’t have spent it. Even when one is “forced” to sell or buy, it is always to achieve a desired physical or psychological need, be it bread or selling one thing to pay off the debt on another thing. So “free-market” implies not money, but action, i.e. the action to which the acquired commodity is put.

Now, it seems to us that Mr. Libertarian, Thomas Jefferson, saw this subtle distinction between physical property and the ends to which it is put. Jefferson, in our view, was a Renaissance Man; one of the greatest. In his life’s actions, one can see the intellect of the Renaissance Man constantly at work, whether he was approaching gardening and farming, the construction of Monticello so that the U.S. Mint could put it on the back of the nickel 180 years later, playing the violin, collecting and reading books, arguing for the Abolition of Capital Punishment in Virginia, or putting forth the most lucid case ever for the Natural Law philosophy of Libertarianism in his masterpieces, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

In earlier documents the phrase “Man is endowed with certain inalienable Rights, amongst which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” had read “Life, Liberty, and Property”. But we believe Jefferson had the amazing insight to make the Libertarian leap from mere “property” to the much larger cause or aim to which it is put, that is “the pursuit of happiness”. This insight directly correlates to Ludwig von Mises subjective valuation principle which is one of the major breakthroughs in economics of the Austrian School — that the value of anything is its subjective value to the owner or purchaser, and that value can never be predicted. No wonder all the other schools of economics could never ever figure out how to measure the value of an object; it cannot be done except subjectively. It can only be measured it terms of its psychological gratification and value to the property owner.

Now, Professor Rothbard in his essay breaks Capitalism down into two breeds: “state Capitalism” and “free-market Capitalism”. State capitalism is what we have in America and the West: the government and associated industries looting wealth from individual Capitalists, a form of Mussolini’s Fascism. “Free-market Capitalism” would be — well, no one really knows exactly what it would be like since it has never really existed except in remote peasant and jungle communities that are probably unknown to modern history. Free-market Capitalism’s days as a world economic system are ahead of it, in the future, and not in the past which has never known it.

Whether we should use the rather longwinded terms “free-market Capitalism” and “free-market Capitalist” every time we want to refer to Capitalism or the Free-Market, or whether we should comply with the Marxists by using a term they coined which, as we have pointed out, has prejudicial connotations, or lastly whether we should always use the term “free-marketeer” instead  of “Capitalist”, is a hard decision which each Libertarian must make for himself. The subtle distinctions are probably beyond the comprehension (or interest) of most Socialists.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

There Is a Free Lunch at The Mises Diner

February 3, 2010

One of the most common dictums thrown at one in America when one is growing from pupdom to wolfdom is “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” You hear this not only from cynical socialists, who feel that no Capitalist would ever give away anything for free unless he expected a higher return by the action, but also from hardboiled business types, who think that if a deal sounds too good, there’s always a catch in it, and who think that all other businessmen think exactly as they do.

But this duo of sceptics would be contradicted not by any swindling capitalist or even greater swindling socialist, but by the most pro-Capitalist, pro-free-market outfit in America: the Mises Institute; for what the Institute has done is not only made available copies of many of the classics of the Libertarian-Austrian School of Economics philosophical-economic outlook for free, but now, in the last few weeks, added a whole new raft of recordings to be inspected with a circumspect ear (to mix metaphors). These latest jewels of scholarship include two series of lectures delivered by Professor Murray N. Rothbard at the NY Polytechnic Institute in 1986, an excellent reading of A. J. Nock’s “Our Enemy, the State” by Jock Coats of Oxford, essays of Herbie Spencer, as well as readings by Jeff Riggenbach, who is also an excellent reader with a rich, resonant voice. (Herbie Spencer, known as Herbert to his friends, was a late 19th century British Libertarian-leaning essayist, who, according to Rothbard, became more statist as he aged. You can see this in the upper half of his face, which became like a human being later in life, while the lower half retained its wolf-like hirsuteness.) And the cherry is a brief, crisp recording of a short lecture Mises gave during an interlude in the US Steel corporation’s program in 1962, in which he explains why the free-market is so different from the old monarchies and church-dominated societies. (The reason is, if you’re curious to know, because instead of expropriating wealth by looting or taxation, which the king or church-priesthood had done is olden times, the free-market requires that a man serve his fellow men in some useful capacity by expending energy, and he will only be able to garner a living if he can fulfill some useful need. Therefore, his wealth is dependent on the consumer, not on legalized looting, and each consumer must, in turn, find something to turn his hand to so that he may procure the wherewithal to secure those commodities he needs for survival, or wants as fripperies. Thus the consumers, and not the kings, priesthood, or even the businessmen, are the real kings in a true free-market economy.Like Rothbard, Mises could make pellucid murky economic problems with a comparatively short, understandable explanation.)

The two Rothbard series of lectures feature one on a history of America from 1870 through King Roosevelt II from an Austrian School economic perspective, and several on the basics of economics like Value, and the Determination of Prices. These constitute the brown rice and beans (bread and butter for you junkfooders) of economic understanding, which can then be applied to the gallimaufry of American political history. Rothbard’s technique of historical analysis, which always asks “Qui bono?”, who benefits from a specific piece of legislation?, is one that logically explains not only the vast giveaways of the public’s wealth that were doled out to corporations during the 19th and 20th centuries, but the current massive giveaways by Obama, Geithner, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Frank, and that whole gang of “experts”, well paid at the public university’s feeding troughs, who said that the sky would fall if we didn’t bail out the megabanks, AIG, and Detroit. The same lies, the same “sky is falling” arguments, and it’s a hundred and forty years later. The same liers; the same gullible public quickly gulled, like the flocks at the seashore, with a few crumbs of bread that will be piled on the backs of the unborn. Socialists don’t give a damn about the unborn slaves that will have to slog for years to pay off the debt that they are building up right now so that those corporations they say are too big to fail can continue to give their enormous bonuses. They are the sadistic torturers of the unborn.

But the new items on the menu should not blind one to the solid, staple fare that Mises has in the pantry of its archives. There, for example, is Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty”, perhaps the first book any would-be neophyte Libertarian should read, perused aloud in excellent rendition by Jeff Riggenbach. No need to strain the eyes now, you can listen to it while taking the (subsidized) public transport, or while waiting to have your genitalia examined by a lusty Brunehilde at the airport. Thank goodness we Americans still have a “Right to Privacy”, eh what?

Anyway, there is plenty of “free lunch” for us Capitalists to stuff our brains with until bursting at the Mises Diner. Fortunately, unlike the fare at many other Brain Diners, there are no brain-clogging cholesterols of lies, no mind-hardening triglycerides of Leftist propaganda, no simplistic schemes like the money crank’s idea of printing up money and handing it out as a solution to shortages, or the Georgeist’s taxing land only. There is only economic truth, amazing in its simplicity after baffling economist theoreticians for over 2000 years, explained in the Woody Allenesque, quickfire, pace of Professor Rothbard, and always sprinkled with lots of humourous quips which usually are pretty good.

So don’t let the cynics give you any of their guff. At the Mises Diner, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

The Pathetic Left’s Obama Hangover

November 30, 2009

The Left, it seems, is getting quite a hangover from their Il Duce, President Obama. What can one howl to the Left? “We told you so?” But voting for those free goodies, and punishing high income producers, was worth getting a lot more folk killed in Afghanistan to them, and now they are wringing their hands in anguish, but still saying that they voted right, even though they voted for death and warmongering. If those people had voted for Ron Paul or Bob Barr, the troops would all be home by now, and the burden could have fallen on the wealthy Saudis and Gulf Arabs or whomever in the region felt threatened by the religionous Fascists of the Taliban. The Taliban are Miscreants, but America or a NATO coalition can never defeat them on the ground, without incurring massive civilian casualties and refugee misery that no American or Englishman would tolerate in their “Homelands”, especially when imposed by countries half-way around the world. Thanks Leftists for getting a whole bunch of women and children butchered; their blood is on your hands. Those of us who voted for Ron Paul and later Bob Barr would have saved many lives if we had succeeded. Those who voted for Obama have caused the deaths of many innocent civilians, and they must bear the weight of their guilt in their minds forevermore. Those who voted for McCain would probably have caused the same misery; perhaps even worse.

And the manifestations of  that hangover of the Left came clearly in two distinct missives, one paper, one shortwave.

Silverwolf happened to peruse an issue of the latest newsletter from Rural Organizing Project, a “progressive” Oregon non-profit which espouses the usual laundry list of demands: tax the rich and give free everything to everybody in the name of “Human Dignity”. The Human Rights violations in robbing someone through the tax system of what they have produced to give to those who have made no effort to produce never seems to occur to these folks, and in a sense what they want is the Power to be able to do this, more than the actual tax revenue. If you can tax someone 40 or 50%, well, then one day in an “emergency” you can tax them 90%, as they did in Britain and Truman’s America, or impose Eugene McCarthy’s idea for a 100% confiscation of one’s Estate upon death. Now that’s an idea that will really appeal to the followers of Robespierre: a financial guillotine for the talented people of the country so that the others can drink the lifeblood of the labour with which they filled up their days for forty or sixty years. The years of drudgery sustained by their victims are soon forgotten by the looters.

Anyway, the writer of the newsletter lamented the high hopes they’d had for Obama (you mean all those flipflops like saying he’d limit himself to public funding during the campaign if McCain would, and then backing out when it was more profitable for him to do so, his overthrow of Wisechief Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation between Church and State” by expanding Bush’s “Faith Based Initiative” garbage, his advocacy of mandatory Volunteering, which is involuntary servitude and paves the wave for another Draft in the Hitler-LBJ tradition, his calls for prolonged detention, overthrowing 700 years of Habeas Corpus, his kowtowing to some of the worlds leading Human Rights Violators, like the heads of Saudi Arabia and Totalitarian China, his vowing to end secret CIA prisons, and then permitting them in Afghanistan because they are under the Army Special Forces Division — all these contradictions didn’t make you skeptical? Can’t you tell a lying hypocrite when you see a lying hypocrite?) They’d been suckered by the rhetoric of peace and change — again. Seems to Silverwolf there is something seriously lacking in the political perceptions of these “progressives” who will regress us right back to the economic chaos of the Weimar Republic, and the inflation that made Hitler possible.

And no sign on the Left of a consciousness about how the Obama monetary policy, under Cardinal Timothy Geithner of the First Keynesian Church of Washington, causes inflation, leads to economic chaos, and just makes it more impossible for the poor to survive. Leftist policies cause inflation and inflation kills poor people — a lesson the Left has never learnt, or rather, doesn’t want to acknowledge because it would destroy their “raison d’etre”, their reason to be, and their reason to be is to wage economic warfare on Capitalists. That’s why they’d rather vote in a war under Obama than a Peace under Ron Paul.

Then came a missive by shortwave from the Stralasian “Land Down Under”. The well-known Radio Stralasian interviewer and semi-Leftist, Phillip Adams, (though he is Capitalist enough to own private property and raise cows, belching methane while he laments climate change and the opposition to carbon emissions schemes in Stralasia — also a fanatic when it comes to forcing every to get vaccinated, a most unLibertarian posture) interviewed Rabbi Michael Lerner, the (self-defined) Left-Progressive who edits Tikkun magazine. Now Lerner is one of those in the Jewish Community who is highly critical of Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians, and who had high hopes for Obama. (Lerner’s debate with Alan Dershowitz, available on youtube,in which Dersh rips him to pieces in front of Paula Zahn, will give you a good appreciation of his views.) His disappointment in the President, expressed in the Adams interview, was palpable, and similar in tone to the R.O.P. Newsletter writer. Another Left-“Progressive” who voted in the Warmonger. More American lives lost, more Afghani lives lost, more U.S. debt piled on debt.

The Pathetic Left has no comprehension of the principles of true economics, and now the problems that Socialism and its ally, Keynesian Economics, bring eventually to every economy are hitting the people who think like the folks at R.O.P. And since they are economic illiterates and ignore the self-evident Truths of the Austrian School of Economics, they and their policies can never govern efficiently, but their rule only leads to more chaos and misery for the People of America.

And the Left has a vast blindspot where they cannot see that the values that they are trying to force upon everyone in the America Community are religious values, whose proper place is in the realm of the Church, and not the State or the Government. The Left has either forgotten or ignores the fact that the Jeffersonian Constitution is a Libertarian Document, perhaps THE Libertarian Document,  designed to protect the Individual from the arbitrary power of Government, the exact power that the Left wishes to impose, and needs to impose, to extract wealth from the producing class; but that Jeffersonian Constitution makes no Collectivist attempt to impose essentially Religious Values on the populace at large. These are in the realm of the Church, and there is nothing stopping these people from starting a church or civic group to implement their perceived religious values. Or rather, the only thing stopping them is the need to acquire private property and maintain their right to it — the exact thing they want to outlaw for the Capitalist-Libertarian.

Well, Silverwolf’s advice to the Left is: Get used to economic chaos and Warfare for the next three years, because that’s how long Obama’s term as President will last. Thanks for you gift to America.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwww! — Silverwolf