American Elephants

You Made It! by The Elephant's Child

The End of Despair: Free Market Capitalism and Individual Liberty. by The Elephant's Child

In his classical study of apocalyptic movements in medieval and postmedieval Europe, The Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn points out that modern revolutionaries picture the coming society “as a state of total community, a society wholly unanimous in its beliefs and wholly free from inner conflicts.” Robert Conquest adds “To envisage a unanimous social order is to envisage the absence of individuality. Utopia amounts to the inflation of the ‘community’ into an entity in its own right, rather than a coherence of individual social human beings.”

The twentieth century has taught us that utopian ideas are a path to despair. There is no perfection because the very possibility is denied by flawed human nature. People carry signs and march for world peace and unity without realizing that they have trouble getting along with all the members of their own families. Witness the Occupy movement that only wanted the 1% to pay their fair share, and ended up with rape and murder and mayhem.

America’s Founders wisely recognized that politics could never be perfected because of flawed human nature. They designed a system with a minimum of bureaucratic and legal control in which disputes could be settled by political debate. Yet many resent the political debate itself. The two sides in Congress should just compromise. Everybody should just get along. This arises from a lack of understanding about the differences between the parties, which are deep and principled.

Liberals have raised compassion to a political principle. They assume that they can move the poor into the middle class if they just redistribute the nation’s wealth to make everybody more equal. But the attempts to give people who cannot afford the payments for their own houses has resulted in disaster for everyone. Attempts to create housing for the poor has most often resulted in ghettos and slums. Not because they are poor, and not because they are incapable, but because you cannot take enough money away from “the rich” to make the poor not poor. And it’s always someone else’s money they want to redistribute.

Thomas Sowell, several years ago  said:

What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor.  And how can that be done on a mass scale except by an economy that creates more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created.  As far as they are concerned, wealth exists”somehow” and the only interesting question is how to re-distribute it.

This is the essence of the problem of the left. Instead of understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats, they want to remove wealth from “the hated rich.” Nevermind that most people don’t hate, or even envy, the rich. Today they are worried about jobs and the economy. Hating the rich isn’t even on the list of concerns.

In America, typically, young people start out poor. Education, hard work, struggle bring them out of the bottom quintile and over time they will move up.  If they save and invest they may do well, even move into the highest quintile. Politicians have even complained about the wealth of some seniors, without understanding that re[resents a lifetime of labor and saving.  If you follow Forbes lists of the richest Americans or richest people in the world, you see that the list, with few exceptions is not the same over time.

Obama’s out again claiming that the government can’t afford not to raise taxes on “the rich.” That the Bush tax cuts for “the rich” are why we are in this depressed economy. The man has no understanding of the most basic economics nor of the most basic history.

Free market capitalism has created more wealth than the world has ever seen before, and raised more people out of poverty than was dreamed of. Milton Friedman, whose birthday today is, famously said:

A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

The interesting thing about the left, is the extent to which they excuse themselves from the schemes they dream up to help the poor. Obama regales his listeners with the great benefits ho ObamaCare, and promises that you can keep your doctor if you like him (not true) but their own generous health care plan is excepted from any of the unpleasant changes from ObamaCare. Their pensions will remain untouched. Why it’s just like the rulers of all those countries that had revolutions to create more equality for the poor. Even the Mullahs in Iran have their Swiss bank accounts, and their luxurious homes.

When they start talking about progress and “community” and “redistributing income,”  grab your wallet and run for the nearest polling place and vote the bums out. There is no better world just around the corner.

Remembering Milton Friedman on His 100th Birthday by The Elephant's Child
July 31, 2012, 2:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Milton Friedman was born 100 years ago today, and the world is vastly richer in its understanding of free market principles because of him. Well over 200 million peoples have been liberated from poverty because of the rediscovery of free market principles.

President Obama was a part-time instructor in civil-rights law at the University of Chicago, where Friedman taught for decades, but he famously did not participate in the lunchtime conversations among the faculty. He might have absorbed a little something.

In the 1960s, Milton Friedman explained that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If the government spends a dollar, that dollar comes from workers in the private economy. Robbing Peter to pay Paul does not create a magical “multiplier effect” by taking from productive Peter and giving to unproductive Paul.

This is the fundamental error central to Obamanomics. No matter how many times Obama waves his magic wand, no multiplier effect appears. We have had ‘true believers’ before, but never one who bet the whole economy on a Keynesian computer program. Obamanomics is the most expensive failed experiment in free-lunch economics in US history.

His was a voice for world-wide economic freedom. His debates, preserved on video, are a delight to watch as he skewers with a gracious smile, all opponents. He had a marvelous talent for communicating the values of the free market to a mass audience.

Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for 1976 — at a time when most of the prizes had gone to socialists.  It was a marker for the return of free-market economics to the intellectual debate.  His 1971 book , written with Anna Schwartz,  A Monetary History of the United States, changed the way we think about money. His two best-selling books, Capitalism and Freedom (1962) and Free to Choose (1980) belong on everyone’s bookshelves.

Newt Gingrich Has A Word for the Occupiers: by The Elephant's Child

That makes a nice juxtaposition with an essay on “The ABC’s of Self-Reliance” at City Journal by Stefan Kanfer.

[O]n October 26, ABC News: “At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new painful era of self-reliance in America.” Actually, what the president said was this: in the event he was not reelected, “If you lose your job you’re on your own, if you get sick, you’re on your own.” It was the ABC writers and editors who took it upon themselves to introduce “self-reliance” as a pejorative.

It all begins with the plaintive whine of a child “It isn’t fair!”And of course, it isn’t fair. Like your mother said —”Life isn’t fair.” Liberalism rests on the idea that somehow government should make things fair, as the only entity big enough and powerful enough to do so.  The Occupiers apparently believed that corporations and banks were the ones who made life unfair, and if we just shut down the banks and the corporations then …what? Dunno.

Daniel Hannan said it most clearly.  Those who rant “about fairness don’t mean equal treatment or justice, or, indeed any practical outcome whatsoever.  What they really mean is that they’re nice people, and they’re prepared to prove how nice they are with your money.”

There is no end point to the liberal aim, nothing can ever be solved, fairness will never arrive.  There is always more. That is why the Founders offered as eternal truth that “all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among those are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” That is all that they can guarantee us, and we have governments to try to protect those basic rights. Beyond that, you have to depend on that pejorative — self-reliance.  How is it possible, even for liberals, to think that self-reliance is a bad thing. Being able to take care of yourself. Do they think that creativity and invention are attributes of layabouts on the dole?

Well, yes, they do.

And that, you see, is the real problem. This week former speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that at the top of her priority list would be “doing for childcare what we did for healthcare reform.” If encouraging people to be layabouts on the dole, was an incentive for entrepreneurship, then “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”

Come to think of it, wasn’t it Nancy Pelosi who claimed that the best way to create jobs was to extend unemployment benefits?

Government Does Not Do New Ideas and Fresh Thinking! by The Elephant's Child

Late last month, Smithsonian introduced a “Department of Innovation” blog.

Seems a long time ago, but it was only back in January when Barack Obama told us that America had reached a “Sputnik moment.” He was referring to the competition with China to be the Big Dog of the 21st century global economy, but the subtext was that the country needs an attitude adjustment, that we need to start channeling Silicon Valley, a place where people may pledge to “Do no evil” but the true religion is innovation.

It made for one fine sound bite. But it hasn’t exactly inspired a bunch of innovation rallies and bake sales. So in the spirit of banging the drum for new ideas and fresh thinking, this blog will track all things innovative, not just in science and technology, but also in how we live, how we learn, how we entertain ourselves.

They started right off with a splendid logo of 19th Century technology (which they have subsequently fixed) of unworkable gears. The “sputnik moment” means taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to pursue the president’s bright ideas.  Innovation is simply not something that is done by government.  Government, by its very nature, kills innovation.

We have innumerable examples in the education system, where the more money the government plows in, the worse the schools get. And Obama’s pet “green jobs” projects are a shining example of top-down planning uninformed by market realities.  Millions in federal loan guarantees went to businesses that could not find private financing because their operations were not commercially viable.

Innovation is a product of free people and free markets. Every layer of management, layer of bureaucracy, approvals, regulations, permits, licenses, every excess finger in the pie is an innovation killer.  How many brilliant ideas never come to fruition because of the layers of bureaucracy standing in the way?

Innovation occurs in an individual mind, and a society that does not value the free individual does not innovate.

Plant a Garden, Go Directly to Jail for 93 Days? by The Elephant's Child

You didn’t pay any attention to the post below about overcriminalization, did you? Sure that you can’t be breaking any laws?  Think again.

The nanny government type that insists that little kids can’t sell lemonade in their front yards without a license from the city, are the same type who populate a big chunk of Congress, making laws that respond to current hot buttons.

They want to make the world a better place by telling us what to do. They are unable to exercise the restraint that characterizes a free people.  I call it the temptation towards tyranny.  You will find it in the requirement that restaurants post nutritional information on their menus. It’s rampant in San Francisco. There’s a reason why New York’s mayor is called Nanny Bloomberg.  Banning Happy Meals is typical. I hate tattoos, and piercings. I think they are remarkably ugly, but it’s their body, and not my business.

(h/t: Instapundit)

%d bloggers like this: