This issue comes up a lot when you back a Christian into a corner (of course he’ll deny being backed into a corner). If shown the folly of the Bible, he will reply that you’re simply using human reasoning to rationalize away the message of the Almighty, and with this he simply appeals to authority, and his zealotry inflates in response to such… uninformed criticism.
This of course assumes (quite wrongly) that humans are actually capable of understanding God’s reasoning. A species that doesn’t even amount to a speck of dust in the universe is capable of understanding the mind of a being who’s presumably older than time itself and created all there is in the universe. Yeah… no, that isn’t happening any time soon. The reason is fairly simple; we weren’t meant to, at least for the time being. Any reasoning that God makes must, for humans to comprehend it in our current state of perception and consciousness, MUST be transmuted into human reasoning.
This, and for no other reason (assuming Christianity is completely true), is the reason that Christianity, contrary to the opinions of the Christians themselves, is the reason that Christianity, as well as the other religions of Judaism and Islam, is Human Reasoning. Humans, in their current state, are utterly incapable of understanding the nature of a being that is both omnipotent and omnipresent, is all wise and all knowing, etc., etc.. The reasoning of this Deity is thus utterly meaningless to us, all that matters is that a being far more powerful than us is telling us to do X, Y, and Z. This is of course assuming that the Bible, as the Christians would have us believe, is the pure, infallible word of God.
It can be assumed, safely, that a being such as this is not going to make mistakes, but unfortunately for God, if it is assumed that the Bible is the pure word of God, the Bible is loaded to the hilt with mistakes. Nevermind the purely scientific errors the Bible makes, of which others within the respective fields have pointed out, the errors I’m going to lay waste to are economic and philosophical.
The Bible tells us, in Romans 13 1-7:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
And just like that, the claim of infallibility goes up in smoke. An unbiased look at history shows us, undeniably, that government authority figures are anything but bastions of the public good. Barbaric tribes throughout history who rape, pillage, and murder the surrounding territories for their personal enjoyment and gain have not, and could not have caused 1/6th of the horror that government authorities have implemented on people, especially their own, and it is not this way without reason.
The taxes it collects, which is justified supposedly by the Social Contract, are a guaranteed source of revenue. The money that the government collects through taxation is used to hire soldiers, who are then used to extract more money. The Social Contract, which he will insist is the justification for taxation, is illegitimate by its very nature. No court of law would ever accept as evidence for a claim of suit a contract that has not been signed by anyone. On the contrary, the Social Contract is nothing more than a decree of superiority of one group over another:
“We WILL provide you with whatever service we so desire to provide, whether you want it or not, you WILL pay us taxes for these services, whether you want to you or not, or you WILL be arrested, your property forcibly seized, or if it has to be done, we WILL kill you and those who resist with you.”
This is the Social Contract, and if you’re sane enough to reject such an arrangement, then you’re told to move to an island and away from society. Society is nothing more than a code-word for that network of interrelations by which people exchange their services voluntarily with one another. Since no one has ever signed an open, formal contract saying that they will pay taxes for services X, Y, and Z, taxation is theft. To forcibly confiscate a person’s money and then to infer or assume his content because he then proceeds to use those goods and services is an insufficient proof of consent. On the contrary, it is no proof of consent at all.
Is God so evil as to impose a system like this upon us? I don’t think so. No, the above verses were written by some court historian who sought favor with the prevailing government of the time, or it was written by some poor fool who’s foundation in logic and reason has been all but washed away by systematic indoctrination.
My last post was an extremely scathing analysis of progressivism, and it has upset some people; namely MarxistMax. Let’s just jump right into this.
He first attempts to reprimand me for referring to himself and his contemporaries as cancer, saying that the best times of human civilization have been credited (by whom?) to progressivism, while the most horrid times have been credited (by whom?) to conservatism. This reprimand, coming from MarxistMax, is rather strange. He knows me well enough to know that I don’t care for the conservatives anymore than I care for the progressives, and in fact I have a post dealing with conservatism in the same way I dealt with progressivism in the works.
He then admits what I knew for a fact MarxistMax would admit; namely, that “For Profit” food and water production is exploitation. The reason I knew this is simple; MarxistMax, contrary to his progressive counterparts, is actually consistent. MarxistMax, because he is a Marxist, is more than prepared to make that statement, but progressive counterparts, who believe that we should have private ownership of the means of production, don’t believe this to be true at all. Not one progressive has denounced American food companies for exploiting people’s hunger or thirst; instead they have chosen to denounce Americans for their eating habits.
MarxistMax goes on to say that he will always view it as exploitation that, “For Profit companies control our subsistence. you shouldn’t be able to buy life.” And right after he says that, he says this:
“His second point covers the living wage, with rambling intensity which makes it difficult to read and even more difficult to process. The first half of the argument regards the economic mechanics of the Living Wage, which I would be lying if I said I understood.”
I would like everyone who’s reading this now to notice something about the two quotations above, and that something is this; the two quotations are imperishably linked to one another. MarxistMax does not understand economics (or else my economic treatment of the Living Wage wouldn’t have been difficult for him to process), and because he doesn’t understand economics, he insists on pursuing this idea of exploitation. My economic treatment of the Living Wage shouldn’t have been difficult to process at all. All I did was show how businessmen think when unexpected expenses are suddenly thrown onto him by the government.
This statement by MarxistMax compels me to remember a quote that I heard long ago, though I don’t know from where or who said it; “To not understand your opponent’s position is to not understand your own.”
But, there is a silver lining to this cloud; MarxistMax is on the edge. He may not realize it, but when he says that he will always consider “For Profit” production to be exploitation, he’s talking to himself far more than he’s talking to me. I of course know that since he is a Marxist, he will consider any sort of profit to be exploitation, and I don’t see any sort of real argument as to why For Profit production is exploitation anywhere in his post.
I have a challenge for you, MarxistMax, but before I challenge you, I want you to watch This video of President Obama making the very contradiction that you said no progressive has made.
Now then, my challenge to you MarxistMax is simple. I believe you are in self-doubt regarding your own philosophy of economics, but I’ll give you a chance to prove me wrong. All you have to do to prove me wrong is to read this book cover to cover, and once you have read that book cover to cover, come back to me and tell me that you still see the world in the same light that you do.
Those of you who view my blog know of my encounters with a certain MarxistMax, but given the fact that I’ve been dealing with Marxism so much on my blog, I’ve decided to take a step away from Marxism in order to deal with what has come to be known as “Progressivism” today.
Here are just a few of the positions progressives hold:
1) Healthcare should be run entirely by the government. “For Profit” medicine by necessity excludes the poor from getting the healthcare that they need to survive.
2) Businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care about society as a whole, and who can only make money by exploiting workers by paying them Slave Wages. Therefore, the government needs to institute a Living Wage.
3) Banks need to be heavily regulated (if not outright nationalized). If it isn’t bad enough that they do nothing but speculate in the market, they’re constantly exploiting people through interest lending (or usury if you want to call it that). There’s no reason it should be considered moral or ideal that the Banksters should be allowed to make such excessive profits while people are losing their homes and starving on the street!
4) Too much money is going to Big Oil, and not enough is going to renewable, clean energy sources. We need to completely get away from fossil fuels so we can stop Global Warming and prevent humanity from going extinct due to Climate Change. There’s no reason Big Oil should be allowed to make such excessive profits by exploiting our environment!
5) Too much is being spent on War, and not enough is being spent on roads, bridges, and education. Our infrastructure is crumbling while Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex is making a killing off of exploitation and… killing people.
6) The Public School System is a disaster, but it is because we’re not spending enough money on it; teachers are grossly underpaid, textbooks are out of date or non-existent, overcrowding is a serious problem in the classrooms, and all of this coupled with the fact that the two-parent household is breaking down, particularly in the inner-cities, has created this terrible system that we have now. So, the Federal Government must provide as much funding as possible to all states so that they can hire more teachers, provide better classrooms, and empower our youth, especially in the inner-cities, to strive for education, and to make Higher Education freely available to all those who can meet the University’s academic standards.
7) Immigration is an essential part of our country. We should do everything we can to encourage immigrants to our country to work, and to see to it that all of those immigrants have access to the same education and healthcare that we have access to, as well as affordable housing.
8) Housing needs to be more affordable. The government should be doing more to provide people with cheap, affordable housing, especially in the Inner-Cities. There is no excuse for letting people live under bridges or in their vehicles!
There is more to the Progressive Ideology, but I will only deal with these for the time being. You will notice no doubt that I have certain words/phrases underlined and in italics. It is because these words have become magic to the perception of the typical progressive. Here is my response to the listed positions:
1) The phrase “For Profit” is being used in a tone that suggests that profit-making is exploitation. I find it strange that the Progressive can say that it’s ok for a company like Microsoft to make profits selling their goods and services, or that it’s ok for a small business to make profits, but it’s not ok for private healthcare providers to make a profit. Healthcare, quite contrary to being a right or some alien commodity that’s different from any other good or service, is nothing more than an economic good/service. They would likely respond, “Healthcare is absolutely essential for society! That’s the difference!”
Would they say the same about the companies that produce food, or how about the companies that produce bottled water? Food and water are both absolutely necessary for a person to survive, so are we being exploited because there are private companies producing food and water and making big profits? According to them therefore (if they were consistent), this exploitation is even worse than the exploitation occurring with healthcare because people need food and water far more often than they need healthcare. After all, For Profit food and water production by necessity excludes people who have no means to pay for food and water, right? Just as it is true that there is no money in “For Profit” medicine in people who’re not sick, so it is also true that there is no money in “For Profit” Food and Water production in people who’re not hungry or thirsty. Would you accuse “For Profit” food and water production of exploiting the hunger and thirst of the people in the same way that you accuse Private Healthcare of exploiting people’s sickness?
2) I agree with the idea that businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care about society as a whole, but the problem with saying, “therefore, we need a Living Wage”, is that you lose your initial assumption. It is assumed that if you have a Living Wage law, then those same greedy businessmen will just bite the bullet, pay their workers more, and all will be well. We will come back to this assumption later. Right now, I wish to mention that I had it suggested to me (more like shouted at me) by a progressive that, “Apple depends entirely on the wages people paid out by other employers, which are roughly 5 times more than it pays its own workers! Apple can’t even sell its own product to its own employees! Now take your free-market attitude and force these other companies to pay their workers what Apple pays theirs, and do you know who’ll be screaming? Apple, because they they can’t sell their products anymore and their profits will drop!!”
Those who have been trained in economics will no doubt do a spit-take upon reading the above quotation, but this was indeed said to me by a staunch progressive. First of all, the quotation blindly assumes that the price of one good/service will remain constant even though the prices around it are changing. If for some reason the wages of all workers fell down to the level Apple pays its workers, then the prices around those wages would come down as well. Food, energy, appliances, all would come down in price. The progressive who made the case above in quotations has also made the mistake of looking at the size of the number rather than what the number can get. The progressive would say; “A can of coke has gone from $1 to $2! So therefore, we need to see to it that each consumer is getting at least that much more in purchasing power by forcing employers to increase his wage!”
Do you see the mistake the progressive is making? He’s making the mistake of thinking that purchasing power comes from how many dollars you have, instead of how much each dollar can buy. If a can of coke dropped in price from $1 to $0.75 or $0.50, then you could say that the dollar has more purchasing power. You can have quite literally as many dollars as you want, but it wouldn’t increase the purchasing power of each individual dollar unit one bit. Purchasing power, therefore, is how much each dollar can buy, not how many dollars a given person has.
Now we come to his notion of a Living Wage. I’ve been told by many progressives that a Living Wage is that wage by which is absolutely necessary for survival. In other words, if you were paid less than a Living Wage, you couldn’t survive; you couldn’t afford all of the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
The first big problem with this concept is that it seeks to set an objective number on numerous groups as “absolutely necessary”. A person who is having difficulty living on $13 per hour may be having difficulties for a number of reasons, but someone else will have a harder/easier time living on $13 per hour. The reason is simple; not everyone has the exact same set of responsibilities. Person A may have to make $13 per hour good enough to pay for a wife and two kids, a mortgage payment, a car payment, etc., while Person B might not have to pay for a wife and kids, or make a car payment. Due to this difference in personal responsibilities, Person B will have a much easier time living on $13 per hour than Person A. Thus, a “Living Wage” will differ from person to person, depending not only on the set of responsibility that each person has, but also on his ability to manage his money effectively (yet another variable that the Living Wage concept doesn’t take into consideration).
The second big problem regarding the Living Wage is the necessary policy prescription that stems from the concept of the Living Wage. “Therefore, we need the government to set a Minimum Wage which adjusts itself to the cost of living.” It is here that we must return to the progressive’s initial assumption; namely, that businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care for society as a whole. I mentioned earlier that the problem with arguing for a Living Wage on the basis that big, greedy assholes are paying their workers low wages is that you lose the initial assumption. The reason this is so is simple; suppose you have Corporation X, a corporation named and ran with an iron fist by someone named Person X. He pays his workers far less than the neighboring businesses, so much so that the laborers in the surrounding businesses, on average, make 5 times more than the workers at Corporation X. Person X is absolutely ruthless; he doesn’t care about the plight of his workers, where or how they live, if they eat, etc.. All he cares about is they had better be at work on time, and they had better perform the services that he pays them for, or he will fire them without any other considerations.
Now, enact a Living Wage law, and what happens? The progressive seems to believe that Person X will say, “Yeah, it sucks that I’m not making as much in profit as I was before, but if I pay my workers more, it’ll make the economy better because they will have more purchasing power to buy other goods and services. This income will eventually come back to my business, and I’ll be better off in the long run.” It is here that the progressive loses his initial assumption of businessmen being greedy assholes. If you maintain that assumption, then you realize that instead of saying what is quoted above, he will say this; “Damn it! I’m not making as big a profit as I was before. All right, what we’re going to do is raise our prices, and we’re going to lay off some of those good for nothin’ asshats on the factory floor! At least my profits won’t hurt as bad!”
Some of those workers on the factory floor, who the progressive felt was being exploited, paid for the progressive’s intervention with the only source of income they had. The reason for this is simple; if the government steps in and sets the price of labor (wages) above the prevailing market rate, you doom a portion of the labor force to be unemployed. Of course, this probably won’t deter the progressive who feels that workers are being paid Slave-Wages from this kind of thinking, and to be honest, you probably never will. Progressivism is an ideology that is inherently reactionary, that shuns all reason for emotional gratification, and the very term Slave-Wages, a term that the progressives are very fond of, is indisputable proof of this. Had they not completely rejected reason for emotional gratification, they would’ve immediately seen that the term Slave-Wages is self contradictory; slaves are not paid wages, as wages are agreed upon by both the employer and employee, otherwise the potential employee doesn’t take the job.
This brings us to the progressive’s continuous use of the word exploitation. Whenever the progressives use the word exploitation, very rarely do they ever use it correctly. Many progressives won’t explicitly refer to profits as exploitation, but they will always refer to excessive/unreasonable profits as exploitation. Yet, you will never hear a progressive speak about unreasonable/excessive losses (unless he’s the one losing money of course). The phrase excessive profits is utterly meaningless if you’re not prepared to talk about excessive losses. Let me give you an example; suppose you have a lottery, and the person running it sells two million in tickets. At the end of the lottery, the person (or people if you prefer) running it hands out 1.8 million in prizes, and keeps $200,000. This means that, collectively, everyone who bought into the lottery lost $200,000, but no one ever thinks of this number, or he dismisses it the second it enters his mind. If you’re not prepared to argue that this $200,000 is an excessive loss, you cannot seriously argue that the $200,000 the person running the lottery kept for himself is excessive profit.
3) The term Banksters has become very popular these days. It is a play on the word gangster, and while I share the same disdain for certain big bankers the progressives have, I don’t make the mistake of lumping all big bankers in with those who extort money in backroom deals, or to steal a phrase from Ayn Rand, I don’t lump honest bankers and businessmen in with those who are apart of “The Aristocracy of Pull”.
The progressive’s true disdain for Big Business or Big Bankers comes not from the acts by which they consider to be exploitation, they come from the fact that those Big Businessmen that both myself and the progressives despise have managed to “corrupt” the public institutions, i.e., the senate, the congress, the white house, etc.. The politician is looked upon by the progressive, unless he gives them reason to think otherwise, as a saint; a patriarch/matriarch of the public good, working tireless for the welfare of all. The politician, when running for office, need but proclaim the merits of collectivism, denounce private interests as greedy/exploitative, and he will be embraced by the progressive without question. It is only later in his voting does he get any sort of serious criticism from the progressive. The progressive has completely forgotten that elected representatives are nothing more than average people; average people chosen by other average people to perform functions X, Y, and Z. It is foolish to assume, as the progressive assumes, that the mere election to statehood somehow changes the politician to a bastion of the public good.
Those who so wearily often use the term Banksters are also the same who rant and rave that the Banksters have their senators and their congressmen bought and paid for; that they have the government “in their pockets”. The following considerations will show this to be false:
It is indeed possible to pay off a politician to vote as you want him to vote, or to say what you want him to say, but he is no more “in your pocket” than the money you have given him. If he is approached by another interest who wants him to vote/speak differently than you, he will do so if the pay is better, and he will not hesitate to vilify you publically/legislatively if he sees it in his interest to do so; violently twisting the knife he placed in your back as he departs from you in the service of his new employer. The only possible way you could say that you have a politician in your pocket is if he truly agrees with you ideologically; that you have common ideals, and share the same ultimate vision, but even this has problems. It is true that he will willingly work with you, for X sum of cash (and even enjoy his work), but if you and the politician disagree as to the means by which to reach your common ideological end, and if you cannot reconcile your differences, the politician will not hesitate to go to the employment of someone else; violently twisting the knife he placed in your back as he departs from you in the service of his new employer. In other words, you cannot “buy” a politician; you can only “rent” one.
It of course never occurs to the progressive that government regulation enables the types of shenanigans that we see in such crises as the 2008 housing market crash; it never occurs to him that because elected representatives are average people, precisely because they are average people looking to compromise and profit, the legislation regulating banks and insurance are, far far more often than not, written by the people to be regulated. It never occurs to him that the government, far from being a partner or a protector of the public good, hampers and destroys the public good by coercively shifting resources to different people; distorting incentives and creating moral hazards that could only initially be conceived in a nightmare.
We now come to the last issue to be dealt with here; namely, the hatred of speculation. The progressive makes the big mistake of confusing a speculator with a gambler. The difference between them is so readily apparent that it is appalling to see it missed. The difference between a speculator and a common gambler is this; the gambler creates his own risk. He doesn’t have to lose money because spinning pictures on a slot machine don’t line up in a specific order, or because one horse can run faster than the others. He creates this risk himself, while the risks in the market are inherent. Since resources must be allocated, and since there will always be those who direct and those who follow, someone must bear this risk; the speculator performs this function. To the extent that he is successful, he is rewarded. To the extent that he fails, he not only loses money, he loses credibility; those who watched what he is doing will laugh at him and scorn him, and unless he improves his ability to perform this function, he is forced out of the profession for good.
Contrary to the beliefs of the progressives, speculators earn their money, and they do society a great service.
4) It is common practice among the progressives to personally vilify people who put forth alternative theories. If you say for instance that global warming is a myth, or that it’s a natural cycle the planet goes through, then you are nothing more than a shill for Big Oil and corporations. If you say for instance that universal healthcare doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how much evidence you have in your favor, you are nothing more than a shill for Big Insurance companies or Big Pharma. If you say that unions only care about their own members, and that they can’t raise the wages of anyone else other than their own members, then you’re nothing more than a shill for Big Business, you’ve been brainwashed, etc.. Never mind the massive amount of evidence that unions are an inherently evil entity, that doesn’t matter; you’re a scab and that’s all there is to it.
I am not interested in getting into debates with people over whether or not global warming is real or man made, and I’ve already dealt with the criticism of excessive profits. So instead, I’ll simply show you how silly progressives are being when they take up the mantle of environmentalism:
The progressive says we need to invest in alternative energy sources, i.e., wind, solar, etc., while at the same time spending money on roads. The machines repairing the roads put out a ton of CO2, but this goes completely unnoticed by the progressive. More/better roads encourages more driving, which means more CO2 in the air, but never mind that, we have to put the unemployed to work. GM failed, should it be bailed out? Absolutely, because we need jobs, but what does GM produce? They produce cars, cars that emit CO2 into the air when driven. What about existing CO2 output? We need to tax it so as to discourage CO2 output.
So in other words, we have to spend money on alternative energy sources, while at the same time polluting our air even more in order to put unemployed people to work making more instruments (cars) which will themselves pollute the environment, while at the same time forcing people to pay for CO2 output. I think you can see how hopelessly self-defeating all of this is.
5) The reason our infrastructure is crumbling is precisely because it is government run, government managed. The government has no stake in actually repairing or managing infrastructure efficiently. Why should it when those average people, who you selected to be elected representatives, can get far more by pillaging other countries, by bartering with each other for favors/votes, or to put it more simply; why should they try to serve the public when they can get far more by playing baseball?
6) You can’t empower anyone (at least not in a good way) through bad means, and this is showing itself in the inner-cities. The motivation programs that are supposed to keep kids in school, keep kids from buying/selling drugs, joining gangs, etc., have been, on the whole, a massive failure. You can form your own reasons as to why they have failed so abysmally, but the fact remains still. As for the public school system itself, I have learned from personal experience that it is a system that is, ultimately, accountable to no one; the parents have no control, the good teachers have no control, the poor administration people who try to make a difference can’t because they have no control, etc., and when you try to point the finger to blame someone within the school system for the horrible mess it is, something is always there to deflect the blame. This goes all the way to the Federal Level and beyond.
Only one entity can be blamed for the horrible mess that the school system is, and that entity is the government. Why? Because it is precisely the government who’s running it. If you’re interested in researching more, I refer you to these reporting specials. Click here, here, and here.
7) The progressive makes a good point about immigration, but unfortunately, he poisons the well with the same poison that he has flooded the other wells with. If you indeed offer free services such as healthcare, education, etc., to immigrants, then you will have people pouring in by the tens of thousands looking to get on the public dole. The progressive had demonstrated here, as well as other places, that he does not understand the nature of incentives, nor does he understand the nature of moral hazards.
8) This is so patently absurd, I could easily get away with just writing “2008. ‘Nuff said” and leaving it at that.
As you can plainly see, the progressive ideology is built about the sands of economic illiteracy, an inherently false understanding of incentives, emotional reactionary nonsense. It is a system that appeals only to those who’re too weak or too stupid to use logic and reason, and only a fool would be drawn into this patently absurd, inherently destructive ideology.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt it necessary to deal with this problem in detail.
A while ago, I engaged in a long debate regarding protectionism with a blogger named “MarxistMax”, author of the blog The Red Threat. After our long exchange, MarxistMax posted this on his blog as a final response to me. Now, I’m not going to respond to the points he made regarding the topic of Protectionism; I’m giving him the last word on that front.
Instead, I am going to give a lesson in what is not seen; a lesson stressed heavily by Henry Hazlitt in the best-selling economic text, “Economics in One Lesson” and Frederic Bastiat in his famous essay, “What is Seen and What is Unseen.” Frederic Bastiat said, “The Bad Economist takes account of only what is seen. The Good Economist takes into account that which is seen, and that which is unseen.”
I mention all of this because MarxistMax, who I assume is a Marxist due to his name and the name of his blog, paid me a few very high compliments which, coming from a Marxist, is very huge.
Quote from MarxistMax: “Recently I’ve engaged in a very lengthy debate with a fellow WordPress blogger, kenpruitt666. His blog is very well written, and I have no doubt that his writings are full of intellectual rigour and professionalism. It’s clear that he’s a very intelligent chap, even if we don’t agree on this issue.
Surprisingly enough, I’m willing to concede that I’m losing the debate. This I do without bitter feelings, because I don’t underestimate the capabilities of my opponent. He truly is a tough nut to crack.”
My capabilities, as MarxistMax put it, lies in detecting the unseen consequences of a given set of policies. The unseen is what is perceptible to the mind only, i.e., it doesn’t show up on any statistic or any other formal system of measurement. Let me give you a popular example.
The Broken Window Fallacy
Suppose you have a bakery sitting on the street corner. Suddenly, some punk throws a brick through the glass pane and shatters it to a million pieces. The baker comes out mad as hell. Why? Because his window has been broken. He now has to pay the Glazier $250 to fix his window. The crowd who gathered around the bakery to see the spectacle sees one of its members say, “Wait, this isn’t a bad thing. Think about it for a moment. The money that the Baker gives to the Glazier is money that the Glazier can spend at the tailor, and he can in turn spend that money at a bookstore, etc.. The destruction of the window has enabled the circulation of income that wouldn’t have happened without it. So, this isn’t a bad thing at all.”
The fallacy with the above quotation is paying attention to what is seen and not to what is unseen. While it is true that the money the Baker gives the Glazier is money that the Glazier can spend on X Y and Z, it fails to consider what the Baker would’ve done had he not had to spend the $250 to replace his window. He could’ve spent that money at a tailor, or he could’ve replaced his old shoes with new shoes, or he could’ve bought some new books, he could’ve put it away in a savings account which means the money would’ve been lent out to entrepreneurs looking to start a new business (which creates opportunities for a whole set of other businesses), or he could’ve invested that money back into his own business.
The point is; you have the same set of opportunities (except for the Glazier of course) without the broken window. This is forgotten in the above example because the person in the crowd only sees two parties in the above transaction; the Baker and the Glazier. He doesn’t see that there is a third person to be considered here, and to make this even harder on the person in the crowd, we don’t even know who this third person is. He could be anyone; tailor, shoemaker, etc.. And indeed, the statistics will show an increase in GDP as a result of the broken window, but the statistics do not, and cannot, capture the opportunities foregone as a result of the Baker having to pay the Glazier $250 to fix his window.
The broken window hasn’t created new wealth by allowing for the circulation of money that wouldn’t have existed without it, it has simply made society as a whole less wealthy to the tune of one window.
This is all simple enough to figure out, if you simply give it a little thought, and it applies to an entire range of economic issues, including Protectionism (an example of which I used in my debate with MarxistMax). Of course, all of the above is really just an exercise in observation and deductive reasoning, but nonetheless, it gives us the tools we need to understand what we need to understand about exchange and human behavior in the market. Such things as econometrics are unnecessary.
Idolatry is a sin considered to be very grave in the mainstream religions of America (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Idolatry is the practice of worshipping an idol (especially physical objects such as statues carved or molded in specific images of a particular deity or god). Now you may be thinking, “Who could accuse every-day Americans of worshipping idols? Surely this is a practice reserved for savages in some third-world country. We live in a country built upon Judeo-Christian laws! Surely we would be smarter than to worship carvings of stone and clay!”
Well, Idolatry is a sin that is sometimes not fully understood. The main problem with the common conception of Idolatry is that it’s assumed (wrongly) that you need to be worshipping a physical object of some kind in order to be accused of Idolatry. In fact, institutions are even more powerful as idols of worship than physical objects of worship (especially in this day and age). An appropriate example of this is to look into the writings of the old Socialist writers. Bossuet, for example, says the following.
“One of the things which was the most strongly impressed upon the mind of the Egyptians, was the love of their country…. Nobody was allowed to be useless to the State; the law assigned to everyone his employment, which descended from father to son. No one was permitted to have two professions, nor to adopt another…. But there was one occupation which was obliged to be common to all, this was the study of the laws and of wisdom; ignorance of religion and the political regulations of the country was excused in no condition of life. Moreover, every profession had a district assigned to it…. Amongst good laws, one of the best things was, that everybody was taught to observe them. Egypt abounded with wonderful inventions, and nothing was neglected which could render life comfortable and tranquil.”
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just provides us with another example.
“The legislator commands the future. It is for him to will for the good of mankind. It is for him to make men what he wishes them to be.”
These men believe that the State is what gives life to all men; it is the State that gives men their form and teaches them virtue. There are many politicians here in America who, while they haven’t admitted so outright, believe in this nonsense, and cannot be convinced of their error. How could they believe that it is the State that gives men their form and teaches them virtue instead of God Almighty!?
Lepelletier provides us with yet another example.
“Considering the extent of human degradation, I am convinced, of the necessity of effecting an entire regeneration of the race, and, if I may so express myself, of creating a new people.”
What!? How can these men be considered great men, and these horrendous writings be taught to our children in the universities!?
The idol being worshipped by the authors of these quotes is the State, and what an impressive idol the State is! It can create the laws of civilization at will; it can tax, subsidize, imprison, legalize, and criminalize whoever and whatever it wants!
You wouldn’t think the State to be an idol. “What!? The State an idol!? What nonsense! The State isn’t some lifeless piece of stone or clay, the State has life, and shows its life in its management of the affairs of civilization!”
The Prophet Mohammed (on whom be peace) pointed out that the idols the Arabic people worshipped had neither the power to help them, nor to hurt them. If you picked up a stone or clay idol, and threw it across the room, could it save itself? Of course not, so how could this same stone or clay idol be of any use to you?
The State has this same problem, with a twist. The State is unlike any other idol in the since that it is, effectively, a living entity as the would-be critic pointed out in the quotation above. The problem with the critic’s analysis however is that he doesn’t address how the State manages to have life in the first place. Does it have life and form on its merit of its mere existence?
The truth is that no collective has a will, or even an existence independent of the individuals which make it a collective. While it is true the State has life, this life has come from the individuals which give it life. Without the individuals of society, the common man, the State could not even exist. He gives life to the State through his compliance with its laws, and his advocacy of its importance.
This in and of itself would not be a problem normally. We need a police force, a military, and courts of law. The problem arises when far too much importance is placed on the State, as in the quotations above, and I must emphasize to the reader that while no politician in this day and age would openly say such things, their actions speak differently. Take for example, Montesquieu, and his belief that the laws, and therefore the legislator, should divide up the fortunes accumulated by the whole of society in order to make the rich poor and the poor rich. Montesquieu says the following on this:
“To sustain the spirit of commerce, it is necessary that all the laws should favor it; that these same laws, by their regulations in dividing the fortunes in proportion as commerce enlarges them, should place every poor citizen in sufficiently easy circumstances to enable him to work like the others, and every rich citizen in such mediocrity that he must work, in order to retain or to aquire.”
Thus, according to Montesquieu, one of the functions of the law, and thus the legislator, and thus the State, should be to commit theft in order to pursue equality!
It is my belief that when you violate one Commandment of God, you are bound to violate another unless you repent. These writers went from worshipping the State as the force that gives life and form to civilization, in direct violation of the Commandment, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me”, to advocating the law to steal from one group to give to another, in direct violation of another of God’s Commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”
How can it be that a country built on Judeo-Christian laws could commit these sins on a collective scale? The answer lies in the fact that religious faith is fading, for reasons I will not discuss in depth here, but it is enough to say for now that the main motivation for the denunciation of religious faith in the Western countries is due to the blatant hypocrisy of the Preachers, the Imams, the Rabbis, the religious scholars, and the people who follow them.
Those who either do not have faith in the teachings of God, or don’t know how to apply them to society are in manifest error! They violate, knowingly or unknowingly, the Commandments of God!
The legislators of today act as though they are indeed God, and while some challenge these actions by the legislator, the vast majority of the opposition to these transgressions are skin-deep. Many of them challenge the actions of the legislators/politicians because they would rather have their plans enacted and not those of another man.
A prime example of this today is Paul Ryan, who said of the president’s economic plan, quote;
“By failing seriously to confront the most predicable economic crisis in our nation’s history, the President’s policies are committing us and our children to a diminished future.”
He goes on further to say;
“Are we interested in treating the symptoms of poverty and economic stagnation through income redistribution and class warfare, or do we want to go at the root causes of poverty and economic stagnation by promoting pro-growth policies that promote prosperity?”
But what does Paul Ryan advocate in the place of the current plan? Well, looking at his voting record, he voted YES to making the Patriot Act permanent, YES to $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler, YES to $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending, YES to extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks, and YES to providing $70M for Section 8 Housing vouchers, among other things.
The current president is doing all of these things to a greater extent. If anything, he should be patting the president on the back, but instead, he speaks of values that he himself clearly doesn’t hold, and advocates a plan which differs from the current president only in degree of intensity. Indeed, at their core, the current president (Barack Obama) and Paul Ryan aren’t different at all. We can see quite clearly that the only real problem Paul Ryan has with the current president’s course of action is that it’s the president’s plan and not Paul Ryan’s.
The president (the position, not the person) is yet another idol the general public worships. They expect the president to plan for millions of differing micro-economies, as if anyone but God Almighty could do such a thing! If you don’t believe me, turn on the news and listen very carefully to the commentators and pundits. You’ll hear things such as, “This president’s plan is doing such a great job,” “This president’s plan is failing horribly,” “This president doesn’t have a plan for this or that,” etc. Turn on a presidential debate, and you’ll hear the moderators ask questions such as, “What is your plan for the economy? What is your plan for healthcare?”
How can anyone but God Almighty plan like this!? This is lunacy, and to think that a reasonable person is expected to support this nonsense!
Idolatry is truly an evil sin, and we have to watch the way we conduct ourselves very carefully, especially in this day and age.