Philosophy


I was recently listening to President Trump’s proposal to change U.S. immigration laws and how they would somehow help the economy.

Well, Sheldon Richman puts into words better than I could what this amounts to:

Immigration brings out the social engineers and central planners across the political establishment. We see this clearly in the debate over Donald Trump’s support for legislation that would cut legal immigration in half while tilting it toward well-educated English-speakers and against low-skilled non-English-speakers. . . .

But what is this thing they call “the economy,” which has needs? Social engineers of all parties and persuasions talk as though an economy is some kind of mechanism to be centrally fine-tuned and overhauled occasionally according to a plan. Even those who style themselves free enterprisers display the central-planning mentality when it comes to immigration.

Contrary to this establishment view, the economy is not a mechanism. It is, rather, hundreds of millions of American producers and consumers, who also happen to be embedded in a global marketplace. Why can’t they be trusted, without the direction of politicians, to decide for themselves what they need and to engage in social cooperation — that is, among other things, to trade goods and services — to obtain it?

 

A. Barton Hinkle:

Last weekend, president Nicolas Maduro used a sham election to consolidate power, and by Tuesday armed thugs were rounding up opposition leaders. This is the all but inevitable outcome of the Venezuelan government’s economic policies, which have driven the richest nation in Latin America — a country with more oil than Saudi Arabia — into shocking destitution.

And Darío Paya, former Chilean ambassador to the Organization of American States:

“Populists and socialists destroy their societies in predictable ways. It’s not like one day a populist gets up and says, ‘I’m going to ruin this country.’ Rather, he starts out wanting to spread the wealth and finds that the easiest way to hand out cash is by simply printing lots of it. Which creates a new problem: As the currency weakens, prices rise. But the populist finds there’s an answer for that too. If bread is getting expensive, he can fix its price, and he gets to vilify the baker as a greedy capitalist.

 

“But then the baker stops producing bread because he can’t afford to make it, what with the rising price of flour. And so what does the populist do next? He fixes the prices of flour. When that doesn’t work, the politically expedient thing to do will be to take over the bakery and the farms and hand them to the folks in the party’s local committees, who prove to be rather less apt at farming and baking. …

 

“And if violence does erupt, it can be denounced as the doing of enemies of the state and used as a pretext for renewed crackdowns: ‘We’re going to tell the imperialism and the international right that the people are present, with their farm instruments in one hand and a gun in the other,’ Maduro told a Caracas crowd. And soon, Mr. Populist finds himself with a good reason to suspend the country’s constitution. Thus does a tyrannical attitude toward the shop-owner selling bread lead to a tyranny over a whole nation.”

 

 

 

CNN:

One of the opposition leaders says he likes the way the streets of the capital looked Thursday morning — empty.

Freddy Guevara, vice president of the opposition-led National Assembly, posted pictures of near-empty Caracas streets to his Twitter account, saying they showed that Venezuelans there were answering the call to stay home from their jobs.

“This is Bolivar Avenue this morning. A point of pride that we emptied it like all of Caracas. We continue!” Guevara tweeted.

Venezuela, the model for central planning of the economy — which is a better description than simply calling it socialism — is producing so much pain for its citizens that they are rebelling. And in response to the failures and protests the Maduro government is trying to re-write the country’s constitution to give itself more power.

And that’s how it goes: too much government control of the economy produces too much misery — such as lines for bread, bread for god’s sake — which leads the political leaders of such stupid policy to go to extremes to continue to hold power.

I thought Trump “won” the debate. He went on offense and rebutted criticisms. We finally heard some debate on issues such as Obamacare.

What we didn’t get from either debate was a discussion on effective management of the government as an enterprise. Seems the candidates are more interested in managing and controlling the lives of the American people and the global American Empire.

The government is still spying on us, spending way too much, not reining in an unaccountable bureaucracy, not reining in entitlement programs.

What we need is a debate on effective management of the sprawling government.

Gary Johnson is aiming to do that:

What the country needs now, he [Johnson] says, is a president who will cut spending, hold taxes down, be skeptical about foreign military interventions, and allow free markets and new businessess to flourish.

 

After all the hullabaloo from the GOP and Dem political conventions, I thought I’d remind everyone where the U.S. stands on global measures of economic freedom and human freedom.

Politics is toxic and deceptive. Rarely does the truth emerge from political conventions. So what was said at them, well, take with a grain of salt. Let’s look at the facts.

Economic freedom measures the level of voluntary exchange, property rights, regulations, and other indicators.

In 2013, the last year available, the US ranked 16 out of 197 countries and sinking. By contrast, in 2000 the US ranked 2 out of 123 countries, #3 in 2001, 5 or 6 from 2002 through 2008, then 10 in 2009, 12 in 2010, 16 in 2011, and 13 in 2012.

Here is an interactive map of the world.

Human freedom combines economic freedom with measures of social freedom such as freedom to exercise one’s religion, association, assembly, and expression. It measures a total of 76 indicators.

On this measure the US ranks 20 out of 152 in 2012, the latest year data are available.

Here.

Daniel Oliver says Hillary is more deserving of the authoritarianism label than Trump. Regardless of that argument, progressivism has other issues and should be avoided:

Running out of other people’s money is certainly one problem with socialism, but not the only one. Socialism is inherently authoritarian, which is why it is the younger brother of Communism and a first cousin of the authoritarian progressivism of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Barack Obama. And Bernie and Hillary. After all, how do the socialists get other people’s money? They take it. That means people will hide their money, which means the state must employ spies and guys, and guys with guns. And crooked agents like Lois Lerner to run crooked agencies like the Internal Revenue Service.

Both parties practice progressivism. The Democrats embrace the label, Republicans shun it but using the government to force your choices on others is a hallmark.

An alternative philosophy has the government only protecting our constitutional and natural rights, preventing others from harming others, treating citizens equal before the law, protecting commons, but otherwise leaving us to our own pursuits.

Note how marriage equality, drug legalization, lower taxes, fewer war fit in.

Note also this philosophy lets people make most of the choices in their lives. After all, who is supposed to make those choices in your life if you are a functioning human; you or someone else?

It doesn’t demonize one group for exploitation which is what Democrats do with people who work in some industries, and Republicans do with people of other races. Democrats over the years have demonized people who work for health insurers, tobacco companies, banks, Uber and the sharing economy. They still do.

Here.

Don Boudreaux:

Leonard here describes American “Progressives” of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.  But this passage also perfectly describes, without changing a single word, American “Progressives” of the early 21st century.  Fancying themselves to be ‘scientific,’ “Progressives” now as then, have a wholly unscientific understanding of politics and of the state.  That understanding, because it is unscientific, is romantic in the worst way: it is dreamily, often stupidly, unrealistic.

Democrats fully embrace this type of politics, Republicans do sometimes. As such, Hillary sounds like the competent technocrat when discussing an issue. It gives her an air of credibility and people feel comforted.

But she suffers from the problem described in this post. Here. The bottom line is issues rarely get resolved in how she expects, then she, like other progressives, blames someone else.

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