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Easter message from the Archbishop of Kenya

Anglican Ink - Sun, 12/04/2020 - 06:52

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you” KJV Isaiah 35: 3-4

1. PREAMBLE

Fellow Kenyans, We send you Easter greetings, Year 2019, as we celebrate the victory of our Lord Jesus, earned through his sacrificial giving of his life for the fallen worldly systems. The world is in a state of uncertainty and anxiety over the COVID 19 Pandemic, with major disruption of our lives. We are not able to congregate in our Churches to celebrate the risen Christ, as we have done over the years. This Easter period however, provides with us with opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing our Nation, our Continent, and the World as a whole.

Please join me in appreciating the ongoing efforts by National and County governments to contain the spread of corona virus crisis in the country. The COVID-19 outbreak in Kenya is gradually getting out of control, spreading quickly- according to the reported increase of daily caseloads. We appreciate the continued effort by the Government in controlling the spread of the virus. We urge every person resident in Kenya to support these Government efforts, through personal initiative as instructed by the health authorities.
We also urge all organizations throughout Kenya, to support these Government initiatives. Churches and other Faith-based agencies, have a special responsibility at this challenging time, in caring for those affected by this pandemic in various ways (Matt. 25: 35-40).

2. OUR FAITH

Faith is tested when we are in crisis. As believers, when you are sinking the best question to ask is “where is your faith?” This COVID-19 pandemic has tested our faith uniquely. The world is in a major crisis never witnessed before. This pandemic reminds us that ultimately the world is not our home. Ultimately, we are not in charge but we can boldly and gladly say that God is. We are simply agents of God’s authority and power. There is always temptation to give up hope and abandon our faith. But we encourage you to remain hopeful- though it is not easy for all of us. There is hope for a better future, as we learn from the lessons and the teachings from this pandemic. We are reminded and encouraged to ultimately trust in God rather than in any other power or authority (Proverbs 3: 5-6).

3. THE ROLE OF CHURCH HEALTH FACILITIES

Do join me in appreciating the quiet role being played by the majority of our service providers in our Church health facilities – who operate in very challenging situations. They have remained faithful in keenly observing and complying with what the government is doing in this very specialized work of responding to the pandemic. Indeed, many of our health workers are serving among communities where access to health care is limited, and COVID-19 testing kits have so far remained limited. In crowded areas social distancing is hardly achievable.

We now call upon the Government, at the National and County levels; Private and Mission Hospitals to heed the plight of the health workers who are in the core of response to this Pandemic. Additional Government support should include better equipment, supplies and risk allowances among others.

We are keenly aware of the fact that the Private sector health units are consulting with government authorities to work out a joint strategy for controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, we believe there is room for the relevant government authorities to undertake a rapid mapping process of the existing facilities managed by faith based Institutions in each county, in view of the high chances of wider spread of the COVID-19 virus into the rural communities. Home care is an option that we should start preparing particularly by church institutions.

Such mapping should establish current capacity and resource gaps of these heath facilities in terms of staff, equipment, materials, services and facilities. In addition, the mapping should include local public institutions adjacent to these heath facilities, which could be temporarily converted into Quarantine centres. Access to identified institutions should be improved, in addition to requisite resources.

4. STRENGTHEN BORDER CONTROLS

In view of many border control points, we can be very vulnerable – even with our own strict discipline within the Country. In order to minimise the Impact of possible spread from illegal visitors, it is to strengthen Border controls to stop any illegal entries.

5. FOOD SECURITY

We appreciate the efforts by both National and County Governments to ensure that the vulnerable are supported with adequate food supplies. It is essential that we take care to ensure strategic food stocks in food insecure Counties. In view of the on going restriction of movement in and out of some of the cities/ regions, this should be done selectively, taking account of the unique context of Kenya. Specifically, it is to ensure availability of adequate quantities of Maize and other cereals in NCB stores located in food insecure Counties like Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir among others.

6. CHECK ON PRICING

In order to protect many of our people who are yet to access the basic sanitation materials, we urge the Government to intensify the implementation of clear guidelines.

7. VERIFY SOURCE OF INFORMATION:

Please seek information only from trusted sources so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause panic and worry. Get the facts; not rumours

8. FAMILY SUPPORT:

As advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and if possible, stay connected with your loved ones, including through digital methods, is one way to maintain contact. Check on your colleagues, your manager or other trusted persons for social support – your colleagues may be having similar experiences to you.

We encourage counselling support for each other.

9. USE CIVIL LANGUAGE:

As already envisaged by the WHO, many of us are already stressed by having been forced to stay home for long. The curfew and lock down in some of our counties, though necessary is already taking its toll on many. It is important that we check our language and exercise civility in in social media. We wish to remind you not to refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or “the diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, and after recovering from COVID-19 their life will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones.


10. SOCIAL SAFETY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

We commend the efforts by both National and County governments to reach the very needy in our country. The allocation of recovery from corrupt money, the voluntary reduction of salary as led by the President, the foregoing of travel allowance by the civil service, among other already agreed actions, will indeed release the needed funding for the envisaged social support. However, a lot more can still be done. There is need for bottom up approach to involve the citizens in suggesting how they could be supported. The worrisome economic implications of lost jobs -especially amongst the non-skilled and slum workers – is leaving many Kenyans hungry every day.

The World Bank and EACC have donated funds to support the poor. A credible identification of beneficiaries and reporting procedure is essential.

11. ACCESS TO PREVENTIVE EQUIPMENT

Availability of the equipment and tools to prevent the spread of the virus should be at the lowest cost possible. We recommend speeding up the process of availing face masks to the public, and avoid of cheap substandard ones that will not be helpful The government promised face masks; its time the government fulfilled its promise toward prevention of the spread of the virus.

12. THE QUARANTINE, CURFEW AND LOCK-IN

We commend the government for the quick decision to restrict Nairobi Metropolitan Area with great wisdom and tact. The Police brutality was quite unfortunate and we do appreciate the President’s apologies for the mishandling of Kenyans by the police at the beginning of the curfew in various parts of the country. We now urge Kenyans to seriously adhere to the measures as instructed by the government, so that we do our best to reduce the rate of infection. At the same time we pray that God get us out of this pandemic quickly, so that we get back to normalcy.

13. EDUCATION SYSTEM AND EXAMINATION

We do appreciate the innovative manner in which the Ministry of Education has encouraged virtual learning even during this time of great uncertainty. Following the closure of all education institutions three weeks ago, there is growing anxiety among leaners, parents and stakeholders, wondering when these institutions will re-open. We do appreciate the difficulty, at the moment, for the government to specify when the institutions will re-open and when examinations will begin.

Finally, we emphasize what we are learning from those who have been through this COVID-19 battle. Indeed we can only ignore history at our own peril. We shall succeed if we operate on the principle of “shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control and treatment and imposing targeted measures. We have mobilized the whole nation, set up collective control and treatment mechanisms and acted with openness and transparency. What we fought was a people’s war against the outbreak. We have put up a strenuous struggle and made tremendous sacrifices”

In conclusion, we pray for those infected and affected by COVID 19. We send condolences to the families who have lost their dear ones to the virus. We urge all to adhere to guidelines and directives given towards prevention of the pandemic. Let us support those who are currently facing food shortages across the country. We urge Kenyans to remember Christ died for us as sign of sacrifice. As a Nation we should not lose hope. Rather, we should continue to pray that this pandemic will come to pass.

May God bless you, God bless Kenya,
Signed on this date 10th April 2020,
Bishop borne

The Most Rev. Dr. Jackson Ole Sapit
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Bishop of All Saints’ Cathedral Diocese and Bishop in Ordinary of the Defence Forces

The post Easter message from the Archbishop of Kenya appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Nicole Saphier: Make America Healthy Again

Mises Institute - Sun, 12/04/2020 - 00:15

Our guest is Dr. Nicole Saphier. She is a radiologist and a breast imaging specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Monmouth, New Jersey. She appears frequently as a medical contributor on Fox News, and comments on a variety of medical as well as health policy issues. She comes on today to discuss her new book – Make America Healthy Again.

Categories: Current Affairs

Per Bylund on Regulations, COVID, and Sweden

Mises Institute - Sun, 12/04/2020 - 00:15
Our guest is Per Bylund, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University where he holds the Records-Johnston Professorship of Free Enterprise in the School of Entrepreneurship. We talk about regulations in the age of COVID, and he also shares his perspective on Sweden’s response to the pandemic.
Categories: Current Affairs

What Is Entrepreneurship?

Mises Institute - Sat, 11/04/2020 - 20:00

[From Chapter 8 of Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State.]

We shall concentrate on the capitalist-entrepreneurs, economically the more important type of entrepreneur. These are the men who invest in "capital" (land and/or capital goods) used in the productive process….

The capitalist-entrepreneur buys factors or factor services in the present; his product must be sold in the future. He is always on the alert, then, for discrepancies, for areas where he can earn more than the going rate of interest. Suppose the interest rate is 5 percent; Jones can buy a certain combination of factors for 100 ounces; he believes that he can use this agglomeration to sell a product after two years for 120 ounces. His expected future return is 10 percent per annum. If his expectations are fulfilled, then he will obtain a 10 percent annual return instead of 5 percent. The difference between the general interest rate and his actual return is his money profit (from now on to be called simply "profit," unless there is a specific distinction between money profit and psychic profit). In this case, his money profit is 10 ounces for two years, or an extra 5 percent per annum.

What gave rise to this realized profit, this ex post profit fulfilling the producer’s ex ante expectations? The fact that the factors of production in this process were underpriced and undercapitalized—underpriced in so far as their unit services were bought, undercapitalized in so far as the factors were bought as wholes. In either case, the general expectations of the market erred by underestimating the future rents (MVPs [marginal value products]) of the factors. This particular entrepreneur saw better than his fellows, however, and acted on this insight. He reaped the reward of his superior foresight in the form of a profit. His action, his recognition of the general undervaluation of productive factors, results in the eventual elimination of profits, or rather in the tendency toward their elimination. By extending production in this particular process, he increases the demand for these factors and raises their prices. This result will be accentuated by the entry of competitors into the same area, attracted by the 10 percent rate of return. Not only will the rise in demand raise the prices of the factors, but the increase in output will lower the price of the product. The result will be a tendency for a fall in the rate of return back to the pure interest rate.

What function has the entrepreneur performed? In his quest for profits he saw that certain factors were underpriced vis-à-vis their potential value products. By recognizing the discrepancy and doing something about it, he shifted factors of production (obviously nonspecific factors) from other productive processes to this one. He detected that the factors’ prices did not adequately reflect their potential DMVPs [discounted marginal value products]; by bidding for, and hiring, these factors, he was able to allocate them from production of lower DMVP to production of higher DMVP. He has served the consumers better by anticipating where the factors are more valuable. For the greater value of the factors is due solely to their being more highly demanded by the consumers, i.e., being better able to satisfy the desires of the consumers. That is the meaning of a greater discounted marginal value product.

It is clear that there is no sense whatever in talking of a going rate of profit. There is no such rate beyond the ephemeral and momentary. For any realized profit tends to disappear because of the entrepreneurial actions it generates. The basic rate, then, is the rate of interest, which does not disappear. If we start with a dynamic economy, and if we postulate given value scales and given original factors and technical knowledge throughout, the result will be a wiping out of profits to reach an ERE [Evenly Rotating Economy; for more see chapter 5] with a pure interest rate. Continual changes in tastes and resources, however, constantly shift the final equilibrium goal and establish a new goal toward which entrepreneurial action is directed—and again the final tendency in the ERE will be the disappearance of profits. For the ERE means the disappearance of uncertainty, and profit is the outgrowth of uncertainty.

A grave error is made by a host of writers and economists in considering only profits in the economy. Almost no account is taken of losses. The economy should not be characterized as a "profit economy," but as a "profit and loss economy."

A loss occurs when an entrepreneur has made a poor estimate of his future selling prices and revenues. He bought factors, say, for 1,000 ounces, developed them into a product, and then sold it for 900 ounces. He erred in not realizing that the factors were overpriced and overcapitalized on the market in relation to their discounted marginal value products, i.e., to the prices of his output.

Every entrepreneur, therefore, invests in a process because he expects to make a profit, i.e., because he believes that the market has underpriced and undercapitalized the factors in relation to their future rents. If his belief is justified, he makes a profit. If his belief is unjustified, and the market, for example, has really overpriced the factors, he will suffer losses.

The nature of loss has to be carefully defined. Suppose an entrepreneur, the market rate of interest being 5 percent, buys factors at 1,000 and sells their product for 1,020 one year later. Has he suffered a "loss" or made a "profit"? At first, it might seem that he has not taken a loss. After all, he gained back the principal plus an extra 20 ounces, for a 2 percent net return or gain. However, closer inspection reveals that he could have made a 5 percent net return anywhere on his capital, since this is the going interest return. He could have made it, say, investing in any other enterprise or in lending money to consumer-borrowers. In this venture he did not even earn the interest gain. The "cost" of his investment, therefore, was not simply his expenses on factors—1,000—but also his forgone opportunity of earning interest at 5 percent, i.e., an additional 50. He therefore suffered a loss of 30 ounces.

The absurdity of the concept of "rate of profit" is even more evident if we attempt to postulate a rate of loss. Obviously, no meaningful use can be made of "rate of loss"; entrepreneurs will be very quick to leave the losing investment and take their capital elsewhere. With entrepreneurs leaving the line of production, the prices of the factors there will drop and the price of the product will rise (with reduced supply), until the net return in that branch of production will be the same as in every branch, and this return will be the uniform interest rate of the ERE. It is clear, therefore, that the process of equalization of rate of return throughout the economy, one that results in a uniform rate of interest, is the very same process that brings about the abolition of profits and losses in the ERE.

A real economy, in other words, where line A yields a net return of 10 percent to some entrepreneur, and line B yields 2 percent, while other lines yield 5 percent, is one in which the rate of interest is 5 percent, A makes a pure profit of 5 percent, and B suffers a pure loss of 3 percent. A correctly estimated that the market had underpriced his factors in relation to their true DMVPs; B had incorrectly guessed that the market had underpriced (or, at the very least, correctly priced) his factors, but found to his sorrow that they had been overpriced in relation to the uses that he made of the factors. In the ERE, where all future values are known and there is therefore no underpricing or overpricing, there are no entrepreneurial profits or losses; there is only a pure interest rate.

In the real world, profits and losses are almost always intertwined with interest returns. Our separation of them is conceptually valid and very important, but cannot be made easily and quantitatively in practice….Do profits have a social function? Many critics point to the ERE, where there are no profits (or losses) and then attack entrepreneurs earning profits in the real world as if they were doing something mischievous or at best unnecessary. Are not profits an index of something wrong, of some maladjustment in the economy? The answer is: Yes, profits are an index of maladjustment, but in a sense precisely opposed to that usually meant.

As we have seen above, profits are an index that maladjustments are being met and combated by the profit-making entrepreneurs. These maladjustments are the inevitable concomitants of the real world of change. A man earns profits only if he has, by superior foresight and judgment, uncovered a maladjustment—specifically an undervaluation of certain factors by the market. By stepping into this situation and gaining the profit, he calls everyone’s attention to that maladjustment and sets forces into motion that eventually eliminate it. If we must condemn anyone, it should not be the profit-making entrepreneur, but the one that has suffered losses. For losses are a sign that he has added further to a maladjustment, through allocating factors where they were overvalued as compared to the consumers’ desire for their product. On the other hand, the profit-maker is allocating factors where they had been undervalued as compared to the consumers’ desires. The greater a man’s profit has been, the more praiseworthy his role, for then the greater is the maladjustment that he alone has uncovered and is combating. The greater a man’s losses, the more blameworthy he is, for the greater has been his contribution to maladjustment.

Of course, we should not be too hard on the bumbling loser. He receives his penalty in the form of losses. These losses drive him from his poor role in production. If he is a consistent loser wherever he enters the production process, he is driven out of the entrepreneurial role altogether. He returns to the job of wage earner. In fact, the market tends to reward its efficient entrepreneurs and penalize its inefficient ones proportionately. In this way, consistently provident entrepreneurs see their capital and resources growing, while consistently imprudent ones find their resources dwindling. The former play a larger and larger role in the production process; the latter are forced to abandon entrepreneurship altogether.

There is no inevitably self-reinforcing tendency about this process, however. If a formerly good entrepreneur should suddenly made a bad mistake, he will suffer losses proportionately; if a formerly poor entrepreneur makes a good forecast, he will make proportionate gains. The market is no respecter of past laurels, however large. Moreover, the size of a man’s investment is no guarantee whatever of a large profit or against grievous losses. Capital does not "beget" profit. Only wise entrepreneurial decisions do that. A man investing in an unsound venture can lose 10,000 ounces of gold as surely as a man engaging in a sound venture can profit on an investment of 50 ounces.

Beyond the market process of penalization, we cannot condemn the unfortunate capitalist who suffers losses. He was a man who voluntarily assumed the risks of entrepreneurship and suffered from his poor judgment by incurring losses proportionate to his error. Outside critics have no right to condemn him further. As Mises says:

Nobody has the right to take offense at the errors made by the entrepreneurs in the conduct of affairs and to stress the point that people would have been better supplied if the entrepreneurs had been more skillful and prescient. If the grumbler knew better, why did he not himself fill the gap and seize the opportunity to earn profits? It is easy indeed to display foresight after the event.

Categories: Current Affairs

Calls for Central Planning in the COVID-19 Panic Are like the Calls for the "War Socialism" of Old

Mises Institute - Sat, 11/04/2020 - 17:00

In dark hours, when people fear for their lives, they eagerly deliver their freedom to the state. Many want the government take control of their lives, because they think it will be better for them. Ludwig von Mises has written extensively about the erroneous belief that in an emergency the state must take control of the economy because the market economy supposedly fails. Specifically, Mises dealt with this subject in his writings on war socialism.

In Human Action, he writes about the reasoning in favor of state planning:

The market economy, say the socialists and the interventionists, is at best a system that may be tolerated in peacetime. But when war comes, such indulgence is impermissible. It would jeopardize the vital interests of the nation for the sole benefit of the selfish concerns of capitalists and entrepreneurs. War, and in any case modern total war, peremptorily requires government control of business.” (1998, p. 821).

In Nation, State, and Economy Mises similarly remarks:

So-called war socialism has been regarded as sufficiently argued for and justified with reference mostly to the emergency created by war. In war, the inadequate free economy supposedly cannot be allowed to exist any longer; into its place must step something more perfect, the administered economy. (2006, p. 117).

The similarity between the reasoning in favor of war socialism and the arguments that have been brought forward during the corona emergency is striking. Today war rhetoric abounds. Emanuel Macron explicitly stated, “We're at war,” and sent, as in Spain, the military to the streets. US president Donald Trump similarly speaks of “Our Big War” and invokes the wartime authority of the Defense Production Act. We hear the slogan “We are in this together” all the time.

Mises discusses German war socialism during the First World War in detail. He points out that Emperor Wilhelm II basically lost all powers to the General Staff. General Ludendorff “became virtually omnipotent dictator,” he explains in Omnipotent Government (1985, p. 42), and subordinated everything to the war effort.

Winning the war was thought to be the outstanding goal, which could only be achieved by centralizing all powers. These powers were given to the military. After all, they were the experts in military matters.

Today, we face a similar tyranny of experts, to borrow a term from William Easterly. In the medical emergency, enormous power lies in the hands of doctors such as Anthony Fauci in the US or Christian Drosten in Germany. These experts advise governments what to do—for instance, which size of gatherings shall be prohibited (events of 1000, 100, or 3 persons), if and for how long economies shall be locked down, and if the wearing of masks shall become mandatory. And politicians follow the advice of the doctors. After all, they are the experts.

The similarities to war socialism do not end there. Indeed, to different degrees we are experiencing war socialism, because the war against the virus involves a massive central invasion of private property. Almost all economic activity has become subordinated to the war effort. In many countries businesses not considered essential to the war effort are forced to close down, such as retail stores, gastronomy businesses, or hotels. Others are forced indirectly to close, as their customers are confined.

In a sense, the whole population has been conscripted in the fight against the virus. Some people are allowed to continue producing, because it is considered worthwhile. Other people have been conscripted and ordered to fight the war on the home front. They are not allowed to leave their homes, as the experts consider this the best way to fight the virus and win the war. Even children are forced to contribute to the war effort by staying home. The central planners also decide when it is worthwhile to leave the home trenches, i.e., to walk the dog or buy groceries.

As in other wars, borders are temporarily closed and the international division of labor is severely hampered. War is financed in three main ways (Mises 2006, pp. 136–42).

First, goods and services are confiscated. In the corona war, medical material is being seized. Companies are closed and individuals confined. They shift their “production” toward the war effort. They produce “social distancing,” which is considered the main “good” necessary to win the war against the virus. Second, taxes are increased. Indeed, war profit taxes are especially popular. We are already hearing the first proposals in that direction. Third, the printing press accelerates, which we are experiencing as well.

In sum, the government interventions in the corona epidemic can be considered as a form of war socialism.

The next question is: is war socialism true socialism?

According to Mises, true socialism exists when there is a “transfer of the means of production out of private ownership of individuals into the ownership of society. That alone and nothing else is socialism. (Mises, 2006, p. 142).

Mises declares: “the measures of war socialism amounted to putting the economy on a socialistic basis. The right of ownership remained formally unimpaired. By the letter of the law the owner still continued to be the owner of the means of production. Yet, the power of disposal over the enterprise was taken away from him” (2006, p. 143).

In socialism, the central authority decides what is produced. In corona socialism, the government indirectly does that also: it decides which businesses are allowed to open and which are not. Thus, it decides what can be produced (masks, ventilators) and what will not be produced (tourism or sporting events).

Mises clarifies: “War socialism was by no means complete socialism, but it was full and true socialization without exception if one had kept on the path that had been taken” (Mises 2006, p. 144). Of course, corona socialism, as an instance of war socialism, is considered to be temporary, as “exceptional provisions for the duration of the war” (Mises 2006, p. 146).

But does war socialism achieve its aim? The defenders of the centralized effort claim that “the organized economy is capable of yielding higher outputs than the free economy” (Mises 2006, p. 117).

The opposite is true. It is the private economy that wins wars. The private economy is yielding more goods and services to alleviate the corona epidemic. The efficiency of private companies these days is amazing. Uncounted solutions are coming from the private sector, which is switching to the production of masks, medical suits, drugs, ventilators or coming up with safe new ways of delivering goods and services to consumers.

Private companies swiftly shift their production efforts due to anticipated profits. In a market economy, it is profits that direct production, quickly taking all human needs into account. In contrast, the medical production czars tend to have only one end or human need in mind. They want to slow down infection rates at all costs. They disregard other human ends, such as creating successful businesses and enjoying a vast array of goods and services such as vacationing or other leisure activities. When these ends cannot be reached, there may be other health problems, such as heart diseases or psychic issues. The forced lockdown brings economic misery. A general fall in living standards ensues with all its consequences.

The central medical planning focuses only on measurable variables such the infection rate. By not taking into account other ends (and not being able to do so), this planning exerts enormous harm from the point of view of voluntarily interacting individuals. In contrast to the central planning approach, which focuses on one end, all ends in human society are taken into account in the market economy through (expected) profits. Production is adjusted swiftly and efficiently toward the changing ends of consumers.

It is entrepreneurial profit seeking that unleashes human creativity and genius and thereby satisfies human needs as efficiently as humanly possible. The right answer to a war, and to the corona war as well, is therefore to eliminate all barriers to entrepreneurship:

For anyone of the opinion that the free economy is the superior form of economic activity, precisely the need created by the war had to be a new reason demanding that all obstacles standing in the way of free competition be set aside. (Mises 2006, p. 117)

In other words, in order to win the corona war, government should cut taxes and regulations vigorously. Unfortunately, governments around the world have opted for the opposite path, namely war socialism. If they do not quickly rectify their responses and end their war, the socialization of our economies will continue. Mises warns: “in the long run war and the preservation of the market economy are incompatible” (1998, p. 824).

Categories: Current Affairs

Calls for price controls are economically illiterate

Adam Smith Institute - Sat, 11/04/2020 - 15:47

Recently there have been calls for the government to impose maximum prices on everyday goods. These are motivated by the belief that, during this crisis, shops and producers have been exploiting customers by raising the prices of essential items.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that this is plain wrong. From the middle to the end of March, prices of dried pasta, kitchen rolls, tinned soup and long-life milk actually fell 1%. Baby food and antibacterial wipes fell nearly three times that.

Yes, there were tiny increases in the price of handwash, toilet roles and cleaning products. And cough medicine is certainly up in price. But the general picture is that most retailers have not actually sought to exploit anyone.

But then, if they want to have any customers left after the crisis is over, that seems to me to be a perfectly sensible strategy.

More generally, though, the calls for the government to cap prices are economically illiterate. When things are in short supply and heavy demand, their prices do indeed edge up. But that induces producers to supply more, and prompts consumers to use things more sparingly, or find alternatives. Which is exactly what you want to happen.

If you put price caps on scarce, you just make them even scarcer. If you thought the shelves were bare after all the panic buying, just wait until you see the effect of price controls.

Categories: Current Affairs

Even If the Fed Keeps Pumping Money, We May Still See Deflation

Mises Institute - Sat, 11/04/2020 - 12:00

So far in March, the data indicates that the yearly growth rate of our measure for US money supply (as measured by the AMS metric) stood at 10.5 percent against 6.6 percent in February and 1.7 percent in March last year.

Given that the Fed is busy throwing money at the economy as if there were no tomorrow, it is tempting to suggest that the momentum of the AMS is likely to increase further and that consequently runaway inflation could emerge in no time.

However, in response to the massive decline in real economic activity, it is possible that banks' generation of loans out of thin air, i.e., through fractional reserve lending, could fall sharply.

For the time being, the annual growth of our measure for this type of credit—also known as inflationary credit—stood in March at 14.1 percent versus 7.4 percent in February and 3.4 percent in March 2019.

If the momentum of inflationary credit were to fall sharply, it would likely cause the yearly growth rate of money supply to follow suit (see chart). Consequently, a sharp fall in price inflation could emerge. If this were to happen, the government and the central bank would intensify their spending and money pumping to counter the deflation.

ams

A general decline in the prices of goods and services is regarded as bad news, since it is seen to be associated with major economic slumps such as the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In July 1932, the yearly growth rate of industrial production stood at –31 percent while the yearly growth rate of the consumer price index (CPI) stood at –10.7 percent by September 1932 (see chart).

ams Is the Fall in Prices Bad News?

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with declining prices. In fact it is the essential characteristic of a free market economy to select those commodities as money whose purchasing power grows over time. What characterizes an industrial market economy under a commodity money such as gold is that the prices of goods follow a declining trend. According to Joseph Salerno,

In fact, historically, the natural tendency in the industrial market economy under a commodity money such as gold has been for general prices to persistently decline as ongoing capital accumulation and advances in industrial techniques led to a continual expansion in the supplies of goods. Thus throughout the nineteenth century and up until the First World War, a mild deflationary trend prevailed in the industrialized nations as rapid growth in the supplies of goods outpaced the gradual growth in the money supply that occurred under the classical gold standard. For example, in the US from 1880 to 1896, the wholesale price level fell by about 30 percent, or by 1.75% per year, while real income rose by about 85 percent, or around 5 percent per year.1

In a free market the rising purchasing power of money, i.e., declining prices, is the mechanism that makes the great variety of goods produced accessible to many people. On this Murray Rothbard wrote,

Improved standards of living come to the public from the fruits of capital investment. Increased productivity tends to lower prices (and costs) and thereby distribute the fruits of free enterprise to all the public, raising the standard of living of all consumers. Forcible propping up of the price level prevents this spread of higher living standards.2

Most experts argue that a general fall in prices is always “bad news,” for it postpones people’s buying of goods and services, which in turn undermines investment in plants and machinery. All this sets in motion an economic slump. Moreover, as the slump further depresses the prices of goods, it intensifies the pace of economic decline.

For consumers to postpone their buying of goods because prices are expected to fall would mean that people have abandoned any desire to live in the present. But without the maintenance of life in the present no future life is conceivable.

Should "Bad" Price Deflation Be Fought?

Even if we were to accept that price declines in response to an increase in the production of goods promotes the well-being of individuals, what about the case in which a fall in prices is associated with a decline in economic activity? Surely, this type of deflation is bad news and must be fought against.

The Problem with Money Creation

Whenever a central bank pumps money into the economy, it benefits various individuals engaged in activities that sprang up on the back of loose monetary policy, and it occurs at the expense of wealth generators. Through loose monetary policy, the central bank gives rise to a class of people who unwittingly become consumers without first making any contribution to the pool of real saving. Their consumption is made possible through the diversion of real savings from wealth producers. They only take from the pool of real savings and do not contribute anything in return.

Observe that both consumption and production are equally important in the fulfillment of people’s ultimate goal, which is the maintenance of life and well-being. Consumption depends on production, while production depends on consumption. The loose monetary policy of the central bank breaks this bond by creating an environment where it appears possible to consume without producing.

Not only does easy monetary policy push the prices of existing goods up—or prevent goods from becoming less expensive—but the monetary pumping also gives rise to the production of goods which are demanded by non–wealth producers. Now, goods that are consumed by wealth producers are never wasted, for these goods sustain them in the production of goods and services. This is, however, not so with regard to non–wealth producers, who only consume and produce nothing in return.

As long as the pool of real savings is growing, various goods and services that are patronized by non–wealth producers appear to be profitable. However, once the central bank reverses its loose monetary stance, the diversion of real savings is arrested. Non–wealth producers' demand for various goods and services is then undermined, exerting downward pressure on their prices.

The tighter monetary stance arrests the bleeding of wealth generators as it undermines bubble activities. The fall in the prices of various goods and services comes simply in response to the arrest of the impoverishment of wealth producers and hence signifies the beginning of economic healing. Obviously, to reverse the monetary stance in order to prevent a fall in prices amounts to renewing the impoverishment of wealth generators.

As a rule, what the central bank tries to stabilize is the so-called price index. The “success” of this policy however, hinges on the state of the pool of real savings. As long as the pool of real savings is expanding, the reversal of the tighter stance creates the illusion that the loose monetary policy is the right remedy. This is because the loose monetary stance, which renews the flow of real savings to non–wealth producers, props up their demand for goods and services, thereby arresting or even reversing price deflation.

Furthermore, since the pool of real savings is still growing, the pace of economic growth remains positive. Hence the mistaken belief that a loose monetary stance that reverses a fall in prices is the key in reviving economic activity.

The illusion that monetary pumping can keep the economy going is shattered once the pool of real savings begins to decline. Once this happens, the economy begins its downward plunge. The most aggressive loosening of monetary policy will not reverse it.

Moreover, the reversal of the tight monetary stance will eat further into the pool of real savings, deepening the economic slump. Even if loose monetary policies were to succeed in lifting prices and inflationary expectations, they could not revive the economy while the pool of real savings is declining.

  • 1. Joseph T. Salerno, "An Austrian Taxonomy of Deflation" (paper presented at Boom, Bust, and the Future, Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, Jan. 19, 2002), p. 8.
  • 2. Murray N. Rothbard, What Has Government Done to Our Money? (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1991), p. 17.
Categories: Current Affairs

Owen Jones insists there's inequality and then there's inequality

Adam Smith Institute - Sat, 11/04/2020 - 07:01

There are different ways we can measure inequality, most certainly. The usual useful and overarching method is the Gini (either index or coefficient, whichever way you prefer to do it). It’s not a perfect measure given all those different ways that we can measure but it is the one most commonly used, the one referred to when we say that this society is more unequal than that and so on.

Which makes Owen Jones’ latest complaint interesting:

Coronavirus is not some great leveller: it is exacerbating inequality right now

That depends upon the measure of inequality we use. If we do use the Gini for income as our measure then inequality is falling right now. It always does in recessions. The richer among us depend more upon profits and capital income than the poorer. It is capital income which collapses in recessions - more than labour income at least. Those already dependent upon benefits of course see no diminution in their income at all.

Recessions reduce the Gini measure of inequality.

Owen Jones wishes to use different measures and that’s just entirely fine. But there is a proviso to using those different measures - he doesn’t get to come back to using the Gini as we exit recession and it rises, as it always does. Although we’d make a heavy bet at slim odds that he, along with many others, will attempt to so pick and choose their measures.

Categories: Current Affairs

Human Action Part Four with Dr. Mark Thornton

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 22:45

Professor Mark Thornton and Jeff Deist finish Part Four of Human Action with a look at Chapters 21–24 of the book—a powerful exposition of how social cooperation and market exchange create far more harmony in society than state power. Here Mises explains how we all choose labor or leisure every day, and why wages are not the exploitative pittance socialists imagine. Land and rents have been misconstrued as special factors of production, when in fact market exchange helps us understand their prices just like any other good.

These chapters serve as a nice summation of several themes in the book, and set the stage for considering full socialism in Part Five.     

Use the code HAPOD for a discount on Human Action from our bookstore: Mises.org/BuyHA.

Additional Resources

Human Action: Mises.org/HumanAction

Bob Murphy's Study Guide to Human Action: Mises.org/Study

Categories: Current Affairs

Free Trade Brings More Foreign Investment into the US. That's a Good Thing.

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 22:00

Politicians and pundits have a blind spot when it comes to international economic transactions. They ignore a portion of trade! In particular, they ignore trade in claims on future income—that is, stocks and bonds.

Narrated by Daniella Bassi.

Original Article: "Free Trade Brings More Foreign Investment into the US. That's a Good Thing."

Categories: Current Affairs

Keynes Called Himself a Socialist. He Was Right.

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 20:00
Introduction

In 1997 Ralph Raico published an article titled “Keynes and the Reds.” Raico’s article highlighted John Maynard Keynes’s review of a 1936 book by the British socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb called Soviet Communism. In his review, Keynes discusses Joseph Stalin’s USSR and concludes: “The result is impressive.” For Raico, a historian in the classical liberal tradition, this statement contradicts the conventional idea that Keynes was a model liberal.

Unfortunately, Keynes’s defenders still portray him as a model liberal. For example, Robert Skidelsky claims, “Keynes was a lifelong liberal” and “He was not a socialist.”1 Roger Backhouse and Bradley Bateman insist: “He was a classical liberal in his politics, being as attached to individual freedom as the most ardent libertarian, who throughout his life repudiated socialism.”2

This article is a sequel to “Keynes and the Reds.” It presents further evidence that shows that Keynes was sympathetic to Soviet socialism and not a genuine liberal.

The Bolshevik Revolution

Keynes was highly enthusiastic about socialism in Russia from the very beginning. He celebrated the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The Russian Revolution broke out on March 8, 1917, and Czar Nicholas II abdicated on March 15. The prospect of a socialist revolution in Russia elated Keynes, and he wrote to his mother:

I was immensely cheered and excited about the Russian news. It’s the sole result of the war so far worth having. An acute and even struggle is now going on between the Socialists and the Milyukov constitutionalists. I see not the remotest chance, however, of any pro-Tsar counter-revolution.3

Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks took power on November 7, 1917. Keynes happily announced, “The only course open to me is to be buoyantly bolshevik.”4 In December, he cofounded the 1917 Club in London.5 Of course, the club was named in commemoration of the year of the Bolshevik Revolution. The membership of Keynes’s 1917 Club reads like a who’s who of twentieth-century British socialists: G.D.H. Cole, Hugh Dalton, J.A. Hobson, Ramsay MacDonald, Oswald Mosley, John Strachey, H.G. Wells, and Leonard Woolf.

Again in February 1918, Keynes admitted to “being a Bolshevik.”6 The famous journalist Clarence W. Barron, founder of Barron’s magazine, met Keynes in 1918 and recorded: “Lady Cunard says Keynes is a kind of socialist and my judgment is that he is a Socialist of the type that does not believe in the family.”7

Keynes described himself as a Bolshevik, but what was the nature of this revolution? As Sean McMeekin writes, “In their first two months in power, the Bolsheviks had not so much won over the Russian people as harassed and bludgeoned them into submission.”8 Tragically, Keynes’s Bolshevik comrades killed over one hundred thousand Russians in the months that followed their takeover.

The 1920s

From 1919 to 1923, Keynes devoted most of his energy to postwar financial problems, but he remained enthusiastic about the socialist experiment in Russia. He proclaimed on April 26, 1922: “An extraordinary experiment in socialism is in course of development. I think there may be solid foundations on which to build a bridge.”9

Keynes held Vladimir Lenin in high regard. On July 6, 1922, he declared that “[Lenin’s] political control of affairs was of a high intellectual competence. The histories of revolution contain nothing more remarkable or more coldly and splendidly glittering than the career of Lenin.”10

Certainly, no genuine liberal can agree with Keynes’s endorsement of Lenin. As Robert Service writes, “Lenin relied on dictatorship and terror.”11 Lenin’s government killed over 4 million of its own people, making him the fifth-bloodiest megamurderer of the twentieth century.12 By 1923, Lenin’s regime had opened over 350 concentration camps across the USSR. These camps were the foundation of the gulag system that eventually “chewed up almost 40 million lives.”13

Keynes’s enthusiasm for the socialist experiment in Russia united him with his future wife, the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova. As her biographer admits, Lopokova had “natural sympathies for socialism.”14 Lopokova wrote to Keynes in April 1922, “I see you have sympathy for Russia.”15

Keynes impressed Lopokova with his involvement in Russian, or “USSRian,” societies. He wrote her on February 24, 1924, “I enclose a paper for you to look through about the new USSRian Society I have agreed to join.”16 And on May 10: “I enclose a prospectus of the new society I have joined for getting into intellectual touches with Russians!”17

What was this new USSRian society? In July 1924, Keynes was a founding vice-president of the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR (SCR).18 The SCR was a pro-Soviet society controlled and financed by VOX (All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries).19 VOX was the Soviet government’s international propaganda agency; it was essentially a front for socialist propaganda outside the Soviet Union. Keynes’s vice-presidency of the SCR means that he had been working in conjunction with the Soviet government’s propaganda machine for more than a decade before he published The General Theory.

Keynes married Lopokova on August 4, 1925, and the couple honeymooned in the USSR with the SCR. Keynes spoke to the Soviet politburo on September 14, 1925. Leon Trotsky attended, as he was the chairman of the technical and scientific board of industry. Trotsky identified Keynes as a socialist: “Even the more progressive economist, Mr. Keynes told us only the other day that the salvaging of the English economy lies in Malthusianism! For England, too, the road of overcoming the contradictions between city and country leads through socialism.”20 When Keynes returned, Virginia Woolf recorded that “Maynard has a [Soviet] medal set in diamonds.”21

Keynes addressed the SCR after his trip to the Soviet Union. He declared, “During the next fifty years the U.S.S.R. would make larger contributions to the world than any other European country.”22 At the time of this statement, the Soviets had already killed 5 million of their own people.

Keynes was certainly aware of the Soviets’ brutality. In fact, he attributed the brutality to the “beastliness” in the “Russian and Jewish natures.” He wanted to “achieve its [the USSR’s] goal” but “not in that [beastly] way”:

The mood of oppression…is the fruit of Red revolution—there is much in Russia to make one pray that one’s own country may achieve its goal not in that way. In part, perhaps, it is the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature—or in the Russian and Jewish natures when, as now, they are allied together. But in part it is one face of the superb earnestness of Red Russia, of the high seriousness, which in its other aspect appears as the spirit of elation….beneath the cruelty and stupidity of New Russia some speck of the ideal may lie hid.23

Keynes grew increasingly close to Sidney and Beatrice Webb in the mid-1920s. In 1926 Virginia Woolf recorded, “The Keynes’, Lydia and Maynard, are both completely under the sway of the Webbs….The great Keynes…is at her [Beatrice’s] feet.”24 That year he attended the Socialist Summer School, and Beatrice recorded: “I see no other man that might discover how to control the wealth [or means of production] of nations in the public interest.” 25

On the political spectrum, Keynes put himself as far to the left as one could possibly be. In fact, he viewed himself as even farther to the left than Sidney Webb: “I have played in my mind with the possibilities of greater social changes than come within the present [socialist] philosophies of, let us say, Mr Sidney Webb….The republic of my imagination lies on the extreme left of celestial space.”26 This statement led Rod O’Donnell to correctly conclude that “[Keynes’s] vision lay beyond the Fabian Socialism of Webb.”27

The Soviets reciprocated Keynes’s esteem. In 1927 the Soviet government invited him to the USSR to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. He wrote to his wife on October 16, 1927: “I was much flattered last night by getting the enclosed invitation from the Bolsheviks to go to Russia next month to celebrate the tenth year of the Republic. My first impulse was to accept (assuming that the invitation covers you too)….The idea is very attractive.”28

Keynes visited the Soviet Union in 1928. On his return he observed the Soviet Union is “much more normal than anyone here thinks.”29 The Soviet government had already killed 7 million of its own.30

1930–The General Theory

Keynes was closely connected with the British socialist movement in the early 1930s. He was an associate member of the New Fabian Research Bureau.31 This was Britain’s leading socialist think tank, run by fellow 1917 Club and SCR member G.D.H. Cole. Keynes was also involved with its sister organization, the Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda. On December 13, 1931, he gave a speech to this society titled “A Survey of the Present Position of Socialism.”32

Keynes was an important economic advisor to Britain’s first socialist prime minister, his old friend Ramsey MacDonald from the 1917 Club. Indeed, Keynes viewed himself as a more radical socialist than MacDonald and Hugh Dalton, another 1917 Club member. In June 1930, at a meeting with those men, Keynes described himself as the “only socialist present.”33 Beatrice Webb agreed and said, “[Keynes is] certainly more advanced than MacDonald.”34

In 1923 Keynes bought Nation and Athenaeum, a weekly political newspaper. By early 1931, he had merged it with the New Statesman, Britain’s leading socialist newspaper. That paper was founded in 1913 by his close friends the Webbs. The combined paper was called the New Statesman and Nation, and Keynes was the new chairman of the board. From February 1931 until his death in April 1946, Keynes was chairman of Britain’s leading socialist newspaper.

Robert Skidelsky admits that Keynes’s newspaper had “sympathy for Soviet communism.”35 However, to distance Keynes from the bad name of Stalinism, Skidelsky blames the paper’s pro-Soviet stance on its editor, Kingsley Martin. Like Roy Harrod, Keynes’s official biographer, Skidelsky insists that “the New Statesman was unmistakably Kingsley Martin’s.”36

First, Keynes himself demanded that the socialist Martin be the editor during the merger negotiations.37 Second, Keynes asked Martin if he would make the newspaper socialist in policy, and Martin told him he would. “As it happened this was the right answer: Keynes was a Socialist in policy.”38 Finally, Martin himself contradicted Skidelsky’s claim that Keynes was just an aloof chairman of a pro-Soviet newspaper:

Maynard was the only active director of the N.S.&N. Right up until his death in 1946 we met frequently at his Sussex home at Tilton or his house in Gordon Square.…His biographer, Sir Roy Harrod [like Skidelsky], mentions his intimate connection with the Nation and then says that as the years went by he fell out of sympathy with the N.S.&N. policy. This does not tell the story.39

Keynes's magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, was published on February 4, 1936. E.S. Goller wrote in the Daily Worker on April 16 of that year: “With little to gain and a lot to lose, Keynes was one of the chief organisers of the Congress of Peace and Friendship with the U.S.S.R. in Cambridge. Where Keynes’s sympathies are, it is easy to judge.”40 The Congress of Peace and Friendship with the USSR that Keynes helped organize was a “British Soviet front organisation.”41 A.L. Rowse wrote in his review of the General Theory:

At every single point, without a single exception, it is in full agreement with Labour [socialist] policy….No wonder Mr. Cole, in a vociferous welcome, has acclaimed the books as “the most important theoretical economic writing since Marx’s Capital”…Mr. Cole is justified…It may be described as, for the first time in this country, laying the foundations of a Socialist economics.42

John Buchan and Keynes were members of a dinner club called the Other Club, and they dined together regularly for over a decade. Just after The General Theory was published, Buchan described Keynes as a “gentlemanly communist.”43 Buchan recorded that “his line is that he despises capitalism.”44 Keynes affirmed, “Private capitalism is an out-of-date institution.”45

Keynes declared only 119 days after The General Theory was published: “Until recently events in [Stalinist] Russia were moving too fast and the gap between the paper professions and the actual achievements was too wide for a proper account to be possible. But the new system is now sufficiently crystallised to be reviewed. The result is impressive.”46

No genuine liberal can agree with Keynes that Stalinist Russia was “impressive.” The period of collectivization in the USSR coincided with the development and publication of The General Theory. In this period, Stalin “enslave[d]…100 million people” and 11.5 million of his own people were killed.47 Further, during this period Stalin rapidly expanded his gulag system of concentration camps. By the time he died in 1953, Stalin had killed approximately 55 million, making him the bloodiest megamurderer in human history.48 As Raico has insisted, Keynes’s 1936 claim that Stalinist Russia is “impressive” shows that he was not a true liberal.

Keynes’s Later Years

In 1939, Keynes praised the Left Book Club. He exclaimed, “How foolish, too, to decry the Left Book Club! It surely is one of the finest and most living movements of our time.”49 What was the Left Book Club? “The Communist Party and the Left Book Club” was published in May 1938, and it reads: “The Communist Party of Great Britain uses the Left Book Club as a channel for revolutionary propaganda and activity.”50

Moreover, this document shows that Keynes’s SCR was connected to the Left Book Club. As noted, Keynes was a founding vice-president of the SCR in 1924, and it was financed and controlled by the Soviet government. The flow chart in the document shows that the Left Book Club had connections to the “Propaganda Depts. of the Soviet Government and Communist International.”51 In short, Keynes’s endorsement of the Left Book Club was an endorsement of the British Communist Party and, by extension, the Soviets.

Stafford Cripps was the Webbs’ nephew, and in 1950 he became president of the Fabian Society. In the early 1930s he was assistant secretary of the New Fabian Research Bureau and a major funder of the Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda. In the late 1930s Cripps attempted to unite the socialist Labour Party with the Communist Party. Keynes exclaimed in 1939, “I am all for Sir Stafford Cripps, and I would join his movement.”52 He told Cripps, “I am in full sympathy with what you are doing.”53 Keynes stated around this time, “The question is whether we are prepared to move out of the nineteenth century laissez-faire into an era of liberal socialism.”54

In 1939 Keynes praised “the splendid material of the young amateur communists.”55 Here he was praising the communists in the Cambridge Apostles, a society at Cambridge that he joined on February 28, 1903. By the 1930s, “Keynes was plainly the intellectual leader and the most active member of the Society,” and “he acted as a father figure for the Apostles.”56 Keynes controlled entry into the society, and a socialist orientation was “a prerequisite for election to the Apostles at this time.”57

The Cambridge Five was a notorious Soviet spy ring at Cambridge. All of the Cambridge Five were members of Keynes’s Apostles, and at least eight of the Apostles were confirmed Soviet spies: Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Michael Straight, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, Guy Lidell, John Cairncross, and Leo Long. Beyond these eight, there were at least forty more Soviet spies operating around Cambridge. As yet, scholars have been unable to link some forty code names (including Poet, Chaffeur, and Professor) to specific individuals.58 

Keynes ran the British treasury during the Second World War. As Skidelsky reports, “He was the treasury.”59 In July 1944 Keynes went to the Bretton Woods Conference to design the postwar world monetary system. His American counterpart was the US Treasury official Harry Dexter White. Keynes and White are the two individuals most responsible for the postwar monetary system that emerged.

Today it is well known that White was a Soviet spy.60 And while collaborating with White in 1944 at Bretton Woods, Keynes was vice-president of the SCR.61 This means that the postwar monetary system was designed by two men with connections to the socialist government of the USSR. Of course, the Keynes-White monetary system devolved into the current world monetary system.

Conclusion

Ralph Raico challenged the idea that Keynes was a genuine liberal.62 No doubt, Raico was correct. Contrary to sympathetic commentators, Keynes was not in the tradition of genuine liberalism. Rather, as O’Donnell states, “Keynes envisaged and espoused a particular form of socialism” and “it is clear, explicit and unambiguous; he used the term socialism to characterise his own views.”63

  • 1. Robert Skidelsky, Keynes: Return of the Master (New York: PublicAffairs, 2009), pp. 157, 135.
  • 2. Roger Backhouse and Bradley Bateman, Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), p. 148.
  • 3. John Maynard Keynes to Florence Ada Keynes, Mar. 30, 1917, PP/45/168/9/8–9, Papers of John Maynard Keynes, King’s College Archive Centre, Cambridge University.
  • 4. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, 30 vols. (London: Macmillan and Cambridge University Press for the Royal Economic Society, 1971–89), vol. 16, p. 266.
  • 5. Hugh Thomas, John Strachey (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 68.
  • 6. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 16, p. 267.
  • 7. They Told Barron (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1930), p. 189.
  • 8. Sean McMeekin, The Russian Revolution: A New History (New York: Basic Books, 2017), p. 223.
  • 9. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 17, p. 408.
  • 10. Ibid., p. 436–37.
  • 11. Robert Service, Lenin: A Biography (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000), pp. 10, 410.
  • 12. R.J. Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions Publishers, 2009), p. 8.
  • 13. Ibid., p. 9.
  • 14. Judith Mackrell, Bloomsbury Ballerina (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2008), p. 259.
  • 15. Lydia and Maynard: The Letters of Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990), p. 35.
  • 16. Ibid., p. 162.
  • 17. Ibid., p. 189.
  • 18. For documentation, see Edward W. Fuller, “Was Keynes a Socialist?” Cambridge Journal of Economics 43 (2019): 1653–82, esp. 1675. Also see note 62.
  • 19. Michael David-Fox, Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to Soviet Union, 1921–1941 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 82–84.
  • 20. “Dialectical Materialism and Science,” The New International, February 1940, p. 31, https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/ni/vol06/no01/v06n01–feb–1940–SWP.pdf.
  • 21. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 3 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), pp. 43–45.
  • 22. SCR: 1924–1944 (London: SCR, 1944), p. 2. Also see John Maynard Keynes to Lydia Lopokova, Oct. 31, PP/45/190/3/14, Papers of John Maynard Keynes.
  • 23. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 9, pp. 270–71.
  • 24. The Letters of Virginia Woolf, vol. 3 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), p. 289.
  • 25. The Diary of Beatrice Webb, vol. 4 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), pp. 93–94.
  • 26. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 9, pp. 309–10.
  • 27. Rod O'Donnell, “Keynes’s Political Philosophy,” Perspectives on the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5 (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 3–28, 1991), p. 5.
  • 28. John Maynard Keynes to Lydia Lopokova, Oct. 16, 1927, PP/45/190/3/241, Papers of John Maynard Keynes.
  • 29. “A Trip to Russia,” PS/4/81, Papers of John Maynard Keynes.
  • 30. Rummel, Death by Government, p. 83.
  • 31. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961), p. 235.
  • 32. “A Survey of the Present Position of Socialism,” PS/5/104–22, Papers of John Maynard Keynes. A diluted version of the speech is contained in The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 21, pp. 33–39. Also see Rod O’Donnell, “Keynes’s Socialism: Conception, Strategy, and Espousal,” Keynes, Post-Keynesianism and Political Economy: Essays in Honour of Geoff Harcourt, vol. 3 (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 158–60.
  • 33. Hugh Dalton, The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton (London: Jonathan Cape, 1986), p. 115.
  • 34. The Diary of Beatrice Webb, vol. 4 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), p. 103.
  • 35. Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes: The Economist as Saviour (New York: Viking, 1992), p. 389.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. Edward Hyams, The New Statesman: The History of the First Fifty Years, 1913–1963 (London: Longmans, 1963), p. 120.
  • 38. Ibid., p. 125; Father Figures: The Evolution of an Editor, 1897–1931 (Chicago, Henry Regnery, 1970), p. 198. Of course, by 1927 Keynes knew that Martin was a socialist: “after dinner must go to Kingsley Martin to talk to some of his young socialists.” See John Maynard Keynes to Lydia Lopokova, Feb. 16, 1927, PP/45/190/3/173, Papers of John Maynard Keynes.
  • 39. Editor: New Statesman Years, 1931–1945 (Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1970), p. 41.
  • 40. “Vulgar Marxism? A Critic Criticised,” GTE/8/12, Papers of John Maynard Keynes.
  • 41. Giles Udy, Labour and the Gulag (London: Biteback Publishing, 2017).
  • 42. Keynes: Contemporary Responses to the General Theory (Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press, 1999), p. 111.
  • 43. The Island of Sheep (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1936), p. 105.
  • 44. Ibid., p. 106.
  • 45. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 21, p. 491.
  • 46. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 28, p. 333.
  • 47. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler , 1929–1941 (New York: Penguin Press, 2014), p. 131; Rummel, Death by Government, p. 83.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 21, p. 496.
  • 50. “The Communist Party and the Left Book Club,” The Economic League, May 1938, p. 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/studying/docs/stalinism/778–2_b.pdf.
  • 51. Ibid., p. 2.
  • 52. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 21, p. 496.
  • 53. Ibid., p. 502.
  • 54. Ibid., p. 500.
  • 55. Ibid., p. 496.
  • 56. Richard Deacon, The Cambridge Apostles: A History of Cambridge University’s Elite Intellectual Secret Society (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux) p. 135. John Costello, Mask of Treachery (New York: W. Morrow, 1988), p. 133.
  • 57. Costello, Mask of Treachery, p. 257.
  • 58. Andrew Lownie, Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2015).
  • 59. Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Freedom (New York: Viking, 2000), p. 135.
  • 60. ​In 1997, a US Senate committee concluded, “the complicity of Alger Hiss of the State Department seems settled. As does that of Harry Dexter White of the Treasury Department.” Benjamin Steil, The Battle of Bretton Woods (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013), p. 329.
  • 61. SCR: 1924–1944, p. 1. Also see note 19; and Edward W. Fuller, “Keynes and the Ethics of Socialism,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 22, no. 2 (2019): 139–90, esp. 171, https://qjae.scholasticahq.com/article/10468–keynes–and–the–ethics–of–socialism.
  • 62. Also see Ralph Raico,” Was Keynes a Liberal?” Independent Review 13, no. 2 (2008): 165–88.
  • 63. Rod O'Donnell, “Keynes’s Socialism: Conception, Strategy, and Espousal,” Keynes, Post-Keynesianism and Political Economy: Essays in Honour of Geoff Harcourt, vol. 3 (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 149, 164.
Categories: Current Affairs

Government Overreach in the Age of COVID-19

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 17:00

In times of crisis, governments have a tendency to overcompensate for risk. This tendency may be in the public’s best interest, but it could also serve broader governmental interests. The public and government’s interest are not always one and the same.

After the September 11 attacks, a bipartisan Congress enacted the disastrous USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) in an alleged attempt to stop terrorism. After the 2008 financial crisis, the progressive Congress implemented Dodd-Frank, which dramatically expanded federal regulatory authority over the financial sector. During today’s novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, legislators are contemplating similarly disastrous measures. Some politicians have called for the nationalization of the medical supply chain, while others propose draconian quarantining measures that could result in the expansion of government surveillance.

Crises often provide the public with a useful case study for understanding how systems can operate under stress, which is why some institutions are “stress tested” in times of peace and prosperity. Interestingly enough, the federal government conducts these sorts of national security exercises on a regular basis; however, presidential administrations, past and present, have largely ignored warning signs. There is even evidence that the government downplayed the warning signs of the inevitability of the September 11 attacks.

History would have us believe that government is not adept at formulating the necessary strategies to confront crises, but governments are simply comprised of people. People are inherently imperfect, and it is incredibly difficult to adequately address risks of these proportions.

We are in uncertain territory during this pandemic. This virus, as its name implies, is novel. We lack adequate information about its transmissibility, mortality rate, degree of criticality, and treatment. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Uncertainty makes it impossible to weigh costs and benefits, such as whether reducing the spread of a virus is worth the cost of an economic shutdown.” This feeling of uncertainty has thoroughly resulted in a “tsunami of negative news” by the media, which has in turn influenced politicians to act irrationally. Former Secret Service agent and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino has referred to some in the media as “hysteria merchants” and “panic salesmen.” This feeling of insecurity is precisely why I wrote about the need to refrain from exaggerating “the novelty of our situation.”

Measures Proposed

Some elected officials and media pundits have been promoting the hysterical notion that we can either implement draconian (national) lockdown measures on both the economy and individuals or be complicit in the mass death of millions. This line of binary thinking has become all too common, but it is surely no way to govern a nation, let alone a nation the size of the United States (roughly 320 million people). Given the overwhelming diversity of our population and geography, it is prudent to evaluate the situation on a state-by-state basis, which is precisely why the US's political structure—even after decades of centralization— still relies on the principles of federalism. To mitigate the risk of exposing mostly unaffected populations to “hot-spots,” public health agencies and professional medical associations could propose some base measures for states to implement, such as ensuring that individuals do not unduly interact outside of maintaining essential services.

As of March 25, more than half of all coronavirus cases have occurred in just four states (New York, New Jersey, Washington, and California). The question remains: what to do to ensure that the growth in the number of cases is not exponential? Some lawmakers seek indefinite lockdowns at the national level, while others prefer a more targeted approach. One of the questions we should immediately ask is what authority or powers do the federal government have and what authority are we, the people, willing to let it have?

Federal lawmakers are confined to measures that are arguably within the bounds of the United States Constitution and within legal precedent. Citizens around the world are enduring the full brunt of their leaders “never letting a crisis go to waste.” Some politicians have engaged in a bevy of civil liberty–infringing responses, such as mass surveillance techniques, enforced lockdown measures, restrictions on movement, and the closure of public facilities including places of worship.

The United States has been comparatively safe from autocratic tendencies at the federal level—compared, that is, to many foreign regimes—with officials offering recommendations rather than explicit mandates. For example, President Trump has sought more targeted measures to lock down so-called hot spots affected by the virus. Critics have derided this as putting money above public health, but as economist Paul Romer writes, “we need to shift within a couple of months to a targeted approach that limits the spread of the virus but still lets most people go back to work and resume their daily activities.” Romer rightfully acknowledges that if Treasury secretary Mnuchin’s prediction of 20 percent unemployment comes true, the economy as we know it may fail.

No Need to Nationalize the Medical Supply Chain

Rather than nationalizing the medical supply chain to “improve distribution of equipment,” public health and emergency management agencies could assist states by connecting states and localities to medical equipment producers and distributors on an as-needed basis. This would ensure that states take the lead in determining which medical supplies are necessary given their levels of viral cases. This facilitation would ensure that states with more novel coronavirus cases receive adequate supplies until supply can meet demand.

Nationalization of the supply chain, on the other hand, would distort the price signals present in a free enterprise system. As Jon Miltimore writes, “No single producer and central authority can possibly know what is most needed in a given economy consisting of millions of people and products. We overcome this problem by relying on information that comes from price signals.” Profit-seeking entrepreneurs will enter to meet the demand, just as Elon Musk has proposed to do.

Private enterprise is mobilizing at levels not seen since World War II to combat the “invisible enemy,” as President Trump calls it. Since private businesses are voluntarily working to supply healthcare workers with needed resources, President Trump has been hesitant to enforce the Defense Production Act. While private enterprise works with government agencies to boost supply, governments around the world are “imposing massive closures on schools, travel and gathering places, and barring many workers from going to work.” These limits on freedom are troubling but expected.

Mass Surveillance Is Not the Answer Either

Wartime measures are being modified to combat this pandemic. Some foreign lawmakers have proposed and implemented mass surveillance measures to track infected patients. For example, the Israeli government recently passed a law allowing the Shin Bet, or Israel Security Agency, to utilize cellphone location data to “track down the persons that had contact with known infected hosts, and then notify them via SMS about the next steps they must take.”

The White House has proposed partnering with American technology companies such as Facebook and Google to use “geolocation data for disease tracking.” Perhaps even more worrisome, the White House has initiated conversations with these companies over how to limit the spread of misinformation during this pandemic, which could lead to censorship.

There may be potential economic benefits to tracking the location of infected Americans. If we can properly assess the spread of the virus, then parts of the country could reopen, assuming the virus can be contained. Such data may inform government decision-making, but government should not have access to geolocation data of individuals, especially if it is not deidentified. If country-specific surveillance is not sufficiently frightening, there has been talk about “an international mobile tracing scheme” to enable “authorities to monitor movements and potentially track the spread of the disease across borders.”

While this pandemic continues, the public must ensure that any infringements “in the public interest" do not last beyond this crisis. Governments have a tendency to continue to find new justifications for old war powers. The Guardian, a progressive outlet, writes, “As we witnessed with the authoritarian reactions to 9/11, emergency violations of civil liberties are not easily rolled back, and often aggregate over time.” At the Financial Times, Yuval Noah Harari outlines the citizen empowerment needed during this pandemic. He writes, “When people are told the scientific facts, and when people trust public authorities to tell them these facts, citizens can do the right thing….A self-motivated and well-informed population is usually far more powerful and effective than a policed, ignorant population.”

Mass surveillance in the name of public health, nationalization of industry, and legally enforced quarantine measures—these are all very real possibilities in the United States. This crisis has provided policymakers or thought leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their true character while allowing everyday Americans to display their entrepreneurial spirit. Unlike past economic crises, this public health crisis is a government-mandated shutdown of “nonessential business.”

Conclusion

As the novel coronavirus began infecting Americans, some industries and businesses voluntarily closed operations to protect the public health. Other industries and businesses followed suit as a result of CDC and other public health expert guidance. To manage the shock to the medical supply chain, private enterprise has mobilized en masse to fill the gap between production and demand. As free enterprise mitigates the public health risks of the virus, government should use this opportunity to learn that the best path forward is to provide leadership and guidance rather than coercion. Government may be useful in providing oversight during this pandemic, but we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem.

Drastic measures are less necessary when businesses and individuals voluntarily cooperate to combat a public health crisis. If this case study can teach one lesson, it is that humanity can solve problems when given proper incentives, making coercion unnecessary. This is largely why the White House has not enforced the Defense Production Act to coerce businesses into building up the medical supply chain. Additionally, technology companies such as Facebook and Google voluntarily provide information to nonprofits and public health researchers so that they can provide adequate insight.

Although some would like to blame capitalism for the early missteps in the federal response to the virus, the opposite is true. It was federal public health regulators who hampered the private sector response to this crisis. To ensure that the United States moves past this pandemic, we must take an approach that minimizes government infringements of civil liberties; we must also maximize the incentives of private businesses and individuals who want to assist in our efforts to combat this “invisible enemy.”

Categories: Current Affairs

Geoffrey Smith elected Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia

Anglican Ink - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 15:05

The General Secretary of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia has written to confirm that Archbishop Geoffrey Smith of Adelaide has been elected as the next Primate of Australia.

Archbishop Smith was elected by a reconvened election panel who met by video conference earlier today. The full text of the letter is as follows:

The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide, has been elected Primate by the Board of Electors.

He received the requisite majorities in each order of bishops, clergy and lay and has accepted this office in writing.

Archbishop Smith commences in the role immediately, given that Archbishop Philip Freier’s term as Primate concluded on 31 March 2020.

The Board of Electors commenced the voting process at a face to face meeting on 14 March 2020 and concluded the election process with an electronic ballot which “opened at 4.00pm AEST on Monday 6 April and closed at 4.00pm AEST on Tuesday 7 April 2020”.

Voting was as follows:

davidould.net understands that the election of Smith follows a decision to abstain by a number of those clergy who had previously voted for Bishop Condie of Tasmania.

The new Primate’s first task was to have been chairing the General Synod. That meeting has now been postponed until 2021. Attention will now turn to the Appellate Tribunal who will make a ruling on the Wangaratta and Newcastle dioceses’ decision to approve a blessing of persons in a same-sex marriage.

The post Geoffrey Smith elected Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

A Puzzle about Mises and Conscription

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 15:00

Some remarks in Ludwig von Mises’s Socialism shed light on a puzzling passage in Human Action. The passage is puzzling because it goes counter to what one would expect Mises to say. Mises, although not an anarchist, was an extremely strict classical liberal. No reader of his Liberalism can doubt his full commitment to liberty.

Conscription into the military is one of the greatest possible interferences with liberty. Not only are conscripts enslaved, often under brutal conditions, they can be sent to die in battle. You would thus anticipate that Mises, the supreme classical liberal, would oppose conscription.

And you would be right. In a short book written in 1940 but published only in 1998, Mises condemns conscription in World War I.

The first step which led from the soldiers’ war back to total war was the introduction of compulsory military service….The war was no longer to be only a matter of mercenaries—it was to include everyone who had the necessary physical ability….But when it is realized that a part of the able-bodied must be used on the industrial front…then there is no reason to differentiate in compulsory service between the able-bodied and the physically unfit. Compulsory military service thus leads to compulsory labor service of all citizens who are able to work, male and female. (Interventionism: An Economic Analysis, [1940] 1998, p. 69)

In the same book, he ascribes the fall of France to anticapitalist views. Because of campaigns in the 1930s against "war profiteering," the French (and to a lesser extent the British) refused to rely on the market to provide them with the arms they needed to withstand the German onslaught. "On the basis of such [anticapitalist] reasoning the [Léon] Blum government nationalized the French armament industry. When the war broke out and it became imperative to place the productive power of all French plants into the service of the rearmament effort, the French authorities considered it more important to block war profits than to win the war" (p. 72).

Now we get to the puzzle. In a passage included in the second and later editions of Human Action, Mises supports conscription. He says: “He who wants to remain free, must fight unto death those who are intent upon depriving him of his freedom. As isolated attempts on the part of each individual to resist are doomed to failure, the only workable way is to organize resistance by the government. The essential task of government is defense of the social system not only against domestic gangsters but also against external foes. He who in our age opposes armaments and conscription is, perhaps unbeknown to himself, an abettor of those aiming at the enslavement of all” (Human Action, 3d ed. (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1966), p. 282. This passage is not in the 1949 edition.)

How is this possible? How can Mises, a strict classical liberal who argued against conscription, have changed his mind? The answer is simple. He didn’t support conscription as a general policy, and he didn’t change his mind.

He thinks that conscription is usually wrong, but there is one case in which it is allowable. He mentioned this exception in Socialism, published in 1922, and gives an argument for this:

Nothing is gained when the teacher of morals constructs an absolute ethic without reference to the nature of man and his life. The declamations of philosophers cannot alter the fact that life strives to live itself out, that the living being seeks pleasure and avoids pain. All one's scruples against acknowledging this as the basic law of human actions fall away as soon as the fundamental principle of social co-operation is recognized. That everyone lives and wishes to live primarily for himself does not disturb social life but promotes it, for the higher fulfilment of the individual’s life is possible only in and through society. This is the true meaning of the doctrine that egoism is the basic law of society. The highest demand that Society makes of the individual is the sacrifice of his life. Though all other restrictions of his action which the individual has to accept from society may be considered ultimately in his own interests, this, says the anti-eudemonistic ethic, can be explained by no method which smooths over the opposition between individual and general interests. The hero's death may be useful to the community, but that is no great consolation to him. Only an ethic based on duty could help one over this difficulty. On closer considerations we see that this objection may be easily disproved. When society's existence is threatened, each individual must risk his best to avoid destruction. Even the prospect of perishing in the attempt can no longer deter him. For there is then no choice between either living on as one formerly lived or sacrificing oneself for one's country, for society, or for one's convictions. Rather, must the certainty of death, servitude, or insufferable poverty be set against the chance of returning victorious from the struggle. War carried on pro aris et focis [for hearth and home] demands no sacrifice from the individual. One does not engage in it merely to reap benefits for others, but to preserve one's own existence. This of course, is only true of wars in which individuals fight for their very existence. lt is not true of wars which are merely a means of enrichment, such as the quarrels of feudal lords or the cabinet wars of princes. Thus Imperialism, ever covetous of conquests, cannot do without an ethic which demands from the individual “sacrifices” for the “good of the State.” (p. 402)

Thus, Mises is consistent. If you are fighting for hearth and home, you aren’t in his opinion giving up anything by fighting, since you face destruction if your society is destroyed. The state, in conscripting you in these conditions, isn’t worsening your position. If the war isn’t for hearth and home, then this argument doesn’t apply and conscription isn’t allowable.

I don’t think that this argument works. For one thing, shouldn’t it be up to each individual to decide whether conditions would be “insufferable” if the enemy won? Why should the state decide this? But it isn’t my purpose here to assess Mises’s argument but rather to bring it to people’s attention.

Categories: Current Affairs

Did Native Peoples Live in Harmony with Nature? It's Complicated.

Mises Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 12:00

A leading trope of the contemporary environmental movement is that indigenous peoples residing in a precapitalist order are particularly skillful at managing the earth's resources. These groups are often portrayed in the media as being in harmony with the natural environment. Without a doubt many indigenous groups are animistic and therefore may hold nature in high regard. But venerating nature does not preclude one from engaging in activities that have a deleterious impact on the natural environment. Indigenous peoples may respect the earth but pursue practices that are injurious to the environment due to gaps in their knowledge.

On the other hand, because indigenous societies are not homogeneous, we ought not to assume that all indigenous peoples are environmentalists or demonstrate a spiritual relationship with nature. In fact, few writers interrogate the practical considerations behind the practices of indigenous peoples. Observe the following declaration made by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in a 2017 article: "Indigenous peoples see themselves as connected to nature and as part of the same system as the environment in which they live. Natural resources are considered shared property and are respected as such."1 Evidence is rarely proffered to justify these baseless positions, yet this does not stop the propagation of such views by leading writers.

Unlike the unfounded assertions of radical environmentalists, studies paint a more realistic assessment of native peoples’ relationship with nature. As postulated by Calvin Martin, for example, the eastern Algonkian Indians revered animals due to fear.2 Based on their worldview, overhunting could result in being punished by wildlife. Hence, in that context conservation was driven by practical realities, not environmentalism.

Moreover, research has found that in native societies religious beliefs do not always bode well for the protection of animals.3 In his 1992 book Green Delusions Martin W. Lewis adumbrates the argument that practices inducing environmental ruin are not anomalous, but typical of indigenous societies. According to Lewis, “Severe overhunting by so-called primal peoples as occurred in many different parts of the world. As it turns out, not only do hunter-gatherers and (hunter farmers) sometimes slaughter their prey in a non-sustainable manner, but in several cases, they have actually been encouraged to do so by their religion.” Thus, Brightman (1993) argues that Cree Indians’ belief system encouraged, instead of preventing, indiscriminate hunting. In their society, refusal to accept all the bounty furnished by the spirits indicates that they are no longer in need of their gifts.4 Therefore, animals are killed in large numbers to replenish supply. These beliefs are supplanted by the idea that animals regenerate after death. Similarly, anthropologist Shepard Krech in his seminal The Ecological Indian (1999) provides copious examples opposite to the views of environmentalists.5 Krech propounds the argument that in numerous cases the mystical beliefs of American Indians were quite detrimental to wildlife. He posits that overkilling was a strategy to secure future bounty because natives viewed animals as sentient beings, who if not killed would warn their counterparts to be wary of hunters.

In this regard traditional native peoples are not dissimilar to individuals living in contemporary societies. Humans irrespective of their level of development will put their interests over those of other species. American Indians’ approach to bison hunting by Native American is a stellar example of anthropocentrism in an indigenous society. To quote historian Andrew C. Isenberg, "Even such precapitalist societies such as the equestrian bison hunter of the Great Plains were sometimes given to waste and degradation of the resources upon which they depended. To assume an unchanging, harmonious relationship between Indians and the Great Plains environment classes both Indian culture and nature as static."6

Research exploring the association between native peoples and the environment has yielded results directly opposed to the fanciful claims made by the media and environmentalists. Larry Schweikart in a fascinating 2002 review of the evidence detailing this relationship opines that, “Controlled burns by the Indians often got out of control, and without modern firefighting equipment, flashed through forests, destroying everything in their path. Deer, beaver, and birds of all were already on a trajectory to extinction in some areas, because over and above the hunting done by Indians, natural predators and disasters thinned herds.”7  More recent research has found that the actions of Native Alaskan hunters resulted in the extinction of an abundance of species.8

Though the image of native peoples as passionate protectors of the environment is well established, the reverse is true in many cases. So far, we have seen that many native peoples’ practices have had negative effects on animals. Furthermore, contrary to what is said by environmentalists, not all native peoples are nature lovers. Reports show that the natives of Indonesia9 and the Solomon Islands often remove vegetation of all types as leisure when rummaging through the forest.10 The Agta in the Philippines have no qualms about cutting down trees, and "pollute the air they breathe far more than most industrial nations," according to Thomas Headland.11

Apart from religion and destructive agricultural practices, a major reason for waste and resource depletion in native societies stems from a lack of property rights, especially in hunter-gatherer communities. Despite the rantings of environmentalists, nature does not fare better under collectivist economic systems. The late Nobel laureate Douglass C. North remarks that “When common property rights over resources exist, there is little incentive for the acquisition of superior technology and learning. In contrast exclusive property rights which reward owners provide a direct incentive to improve efficiency and productivity, or in more fundamental terms to acquire more knowledge and new techniques.”12 Native peoples, like all humans, respond to incentives. When property rights are well defined, they are far less likely to pollute or overuse resources. Environmental manager Terry L. Anderson in one of his many publications aptly describes how wildlife is maintained when families possess direct property rights, "It was in these family tracts that the supply of game animals was maintained by deliberate systems of rotation in hunting and gathering, and defended by family groups as a heritage from some remote time when the country had been given to their ancestors by the Creator.”13

Throughout history humans have sought to manipulate nature in order to advance societal goals. Like all individuals, native peoples have transformed their environment and engaged in activities that contemporary scholars consider unsustainable. Maintaining balance between economic growth and sustainable development is a challenge that requires smart thinking and strategy. Environmentalists may be dissatisfied with the apparent excesses of our era but lobbying for a return to the precapitalist order of native societies will not avert ecological crises. The free market model undergirded by property rights has been proven to be the system most adept at addressing pollution and resource depletion.

  • 1. “6 Ways indigenous peoples are helping the world achieve #Zero Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Aug. 9, 2017, http://www.fao.org/zhc/detail-events/en/c/1028010/.
  • 2. C. Martin, Keepers of the Game: Indian-Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978).
  • 3. W.M. Lewis, Green Delusions: An Environmental Critique of Radical Environmentalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992).
  • 4. R. Brightman, Grateful Prey: Rock Cree Human-Animal Relationships (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993).
  • 5. S. Krech, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1999).
  • 6. A. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
  • 7. Larry Schweikart, “Buffaloed: The Myth and Reality of Bison in America,” Foundation for Economic Education, 2002.
  • 8. E. Burch, “Rationality and Resource Use among Hunters: Some Eskimo Examples.” In Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian, ed. M. Harkin (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).
  • 9. R. Ellis, “What Black Elk Left Unsaid: On the Illusionary Images of Green Primitivism,” Anthropology Today, 1986.
  • 10. R. Keesing, Cultural Anthropology: A Comparative Perspective (New York: Holt, Rinchart and Winston. 1976).
  • 11. T. Headland, “Revisionism in Ecological Anthropology,” Current Anthropology, 1997.
  • 12. D. North, Structure and Change in Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • 13. T. Anderson, “Property Rights among Native Americans,” Foundation for Economic Education, Feb. 1, 1997.
Categories: Current Affairs

Turning the diamond: George Herbert on Prayer, Day 13

Anglican Ink - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 11:18

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The Milky Way, the bird of Paradise,

Dennis Lennon continues:

Approaching the full circle of Herbert’s diamond as we turn it in the light, his “inspired litany, this zodiac of marvels,” we meet images of “near hallucinogenic intensity.” But the author isn’t simply handing around mystical cannabis when he describes prayer under the ravishing metaphors of “the Milky Way, the bird of Paradise.” Those are ecstatic images – but Christian ecstasy is never a flight from reality, rather the opposite. Like the shimmering and radiant effect of bright sunlight on water, Christian ecstasy arises out of our being “in Christ” who is the Lord of all reality. Movement into Christ is movement into reality.

Christ indwells his people, who indwell him by the Holy Spirit. It is a relationship which places us in vital connection with the One who even at this moment is speaking all creation into being and holding it in life (Hebrews 1:1-4; Colossians 1:15-20). We are thereby mysteriously but truly related to “All things,” they are our rightful sphere by virtue of our union with Christ their Lord. An incredible statement of our status in Christ runs:

All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

One thing is made crystal clear b those words: no longer can we conceive of “in Christ and Christ in me” as a purely internalized, privatized affair concerned mainly, if not exclusively, with our own inner world. If Christ the Lord of “All things” dwells in you and you in him, then you have dealings and connections with everything else. Therefore no sooner has George Herbert satisfied us concerning the nearness of Christ, and prayer as the language of personal intimacy with him (“Heaven in ordinary…”) than he sends us rocketing out to the boundaries of our estate, “All things … the world…” Except he suggests those farthest limits not by equations or formulae, but in two utterly beautiful things located way out there in the distance.

Prayer as reaching up into the immensities of space is symbolized by the lovely, hazy, stream of rich star-fields flowing through Cassiopeia and across Orion, which we call the Milky Way. And to indicate the boundaries where knowledge emerges from mystery and discovery takes over from hiddenness, Herbert evokes a creature of mythic elusiveness and beauty – for a seventeenth-century Englishman located on Salisbury Plain – from the jungles of the strange and fascinating East: the bird of Paradise….

It seems therefore that prayer as a star galaxy and as an exotic bird is a beguiling way of claiming “All things … the world …” as the domain of prayer and worship. It is saying that everything that exists should be raised up to God in thanksgiving for his glory….

A friend once told me that when he gave thanks for his food in a restaurant he extended his silent prayer to include everyone in the place: as their brother, and on their behalf, just in case God should go unthanked for his gift! He had hit upon a profound aspect, perhaps the central one, of a Christian’s function within a largely unbelieving society….

We are suggesting that prayer as “the Milky Way, the bird of Paradise” will open up our interests and prayers to take in all life. This is the wisdom and subversive power of “diaspora” life. Christians are scattered all over society, yet placed there by God for his purposes: cells at prayer and worship, claiming the neighborhood for God’s transfiguring blessing.

You have long discovered how compressed and concentrated Herbert’s apparently simple images are. It is necessary to “move in” with his metaphors before they yield their content. So I ask: why these two unusual things, the galaxy of stars and the exotic bird? Did Herbert smile to himself when he saw them side by side on the paper in front of him? I hope so, for they make me smile every time I read them. And I am sure they make children smile. “The Milky Way – what luck! To think that someone had the good sense to name the 100,000 million stars of our galaxy after a chocolate bar! And who thought to call that magical bird after “Paradise” (meanings within meanings, within meanings)?

What has Herbert hidden for us within the two images? Both are stunning in their exotic and elusive beauty. They suggest prayer as a looking to the God of indescribable and holy loveliness, the fount of all joy and love and delight.

Reading Lennon’s comments on the Milky Way reminded me of one other witness who brought me to Christ. For two years, I attended an odd little junior college located in the high desert of eastern California. The college was enclosed on all sides by the White and Inyo Mountains, and at night we would take long walks down the only paved road there and look up at the Milky Way. Seen from 5,000 feet up, far from the smog of LA, the stars came down and kissed the crest of the mountains. I was not a Christian at the time, but I was not without questions and God was not without witness: “The heavens are telling the glory of God…”

And a second thought half a century back came to me. When I was in seminary, this time in Berkeley, California, I went to a healing conference where Agnes Sanford spoke. She was one of the great prayer warriors in the church, and I remember her saying that she prayed every day for the San Andreas fault. Well, Agnes Sanford has gone to be with the Lord, but the San Andreas fault has not yet slipped. Perhaps someone took up her calling, or perhaps she is still praying.

The post Turning the diamond: George Herbert on Prayer, Day 13 appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Do not treat the Lord’s table with levity says Archbishop of Nigeria

Anglican Ink - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 10:46

Maundy Thursday, a day Christians celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper, re-enact the washing of the feet as Christ did for His disciples and wherein they celebrate the anointing of Jesus Christ at Bethany with the blessing of oil took another form this year. As the entire world had shut down in a bid to manage the spread of the coronavirus disease and many nations were on lockdown, preventing public gatherings, including physical Church services. This however did not stop virtual services from taking place, but the social distancing prevented the re-enactment of the washing of the feet. Thus, this year’s Maundy Thursday service in the Anglican Church focused on the institution of the Lord’s Supper.Save

The Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Rev’d Henry C. Ndukuba who spoke on the topic, “The costly love” pointed out that Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price, so that man would be delivered from the hands of the enemy and set free from captivity.

He said, “Jesus demonstrated love in its highest form, costly love.”

Primate Ndukuba noted that Jesus was not forced to die, rather He was prepared to do so in obedience to the Father. According to him, “Wherever there is genuine love and wherever love is true, it is a love that seeks the good of the beloved, a love that obeys totally and follows completely.”

Quoting profusely from the Scriptures, the Primate revealed that Jesus humbled Himself and became a “slave” to wash the feet of the disciples, in order to show them how he expected them to lead His people.Save

The Cleric explained that the institution of the Lord’s Supper is one of the chief services in the Anglican Church, but it is one of those services that is often abused and not taken seriously. This, he said is the reason Christians need to be reminded of how to observe and partake in the Holy Eucharist. He warned against partaking of the Communion, while still living in sin; stating that God is no respecter of persons and would punish anyone who provoked Him to anger.

The Archbishop urged Christians who intend to participate in the Communion to flee from sin and other idolatrous practices. He encouraged them to hold on to God, in spite of the pressures all around, so that when they come to God in Communion, it would be a fellowship of Father to child.

Primate Ndukuba charged believers to always examine themselves before they take the body and blood of Jesus Christ, no matter their position in the Church.

He said, “The time has come and God is shaking the heavens and the earth, God is shaking the Church and the world and anything that is not of Him must be removed. God is bringing about a turn-around, so let us examine ourselves, so that we will not bring judgement on ourselves.”

He however added that God’s mercy is available to anyone who having examined himself or herself is seeking forgiveness.

The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria highlighted the benefits of the Communion, explaining that it enforces the unity of the body of Christ. He said when a man gives his or her life to Christ, it is expected that he or she begins to see people through the eyes of Jesus Christ; because costly love breaks down all barriers till it becomes either Jesus or nothing.

The Most Rev’d Henry Ndukuba lamented the new trend where believers rejoiced at the downfall of others in the body of Christ; as opposed to the time, where what affected one believer affected all believers. He said there is power in the blood of Jesus and therefore, Communion must be taken only when it would bring glory to God.

The post Do not treat the Lord’s table with levity says Archbishop of Nigeria appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Easter message from the Archbishop of Uganda

Anglican Ink - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 10:38

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’” (Matthew 28.5)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I greet you all in the name of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ!

Easter 2020 is a very unique Easter. We have never had an Easter like this where we cannot gather together to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. At the same time, we extend our sympathies to those who have lost their dear ones, both in Uganda and outside Uganda. We especially extend our condolences to the thousands of families around the world who have lost family members to COVID-19 and stand in prayer with those who are still struggling to recover.

It was only five weeks ago that I was installed as the 9th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. I want to sincerely appreciate the Chair of the Organizing Committee, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, and her entire team who worked tirelessly to bring us together to seek God’s blessing for this next season in the life of our church. I also want to appreciate all the Bishops of the Church of Uganda and the Christians for their sacrificial support, as well as the many businesses who made contributions. Finally, to His Excellency, the President of Uganda, we extend heartfelt thanks for your support that has enabled the church to be a strong development partner with the government.

During this extraordinary season, we especially appreciate the President and government’s efforts to keep Ugandans safe and well. Yes, our lives have been significantly disrupted by the closures of churches, schools, and businesses, the restrictions on movement, and the nighttime curfew. Nevertheless, we encourage all Ugandans to obey the President’s directives so together we can defeat COVID-19. We also appeal to the security organs in the country to enforce the restrictions respectfully; please do not beat your fellow Ugandans as if they were animals.

In the midst of these challenges, we appreciate the government’s efforts to distribute food to those directly impacted by the lockdown. It’s a difficult exercise and the food may not reach everyone who really needs it. As this is Easter season, however, we call upon Ugandans to do what we normally do and share the little you have with others, especially the disabled and the orphans and widows in our communities.

We are extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health and the entire medical community who continue caring for us in our normal sicknesses and have sacrificially extended themselves to respond to the current health crisis. We also appeal to the government to increase the supply of face masks, gloves, and other protective gear to all the healthcare workers around the country. We need them to stay healthy so they can care for us.

We also want to sincerely appreciate all the media houses during this trying time. They have risen to the challenge of keeping us all informed of what is happening on a daily basis, not only in Uganda but around the world. We are especially grateful for them availing airtime on radio and TV for the church to successfully offer “Worship from Home.” We could not do this without them, and we are very, very happy. This is an example of what it means for all of us to come together to defeat this virus.

It also reminds us of one of the core messages of my Charge, which is the need for a Church of Uganda TV station. Let us thank God that one of the blessings of these challenging days is that we have clearly seen the need for our own TV station, and I appeal to all stakeholders to work with us to see that vision come true. We have already seen the blessing of Church-owned radio stations in the few regions that have them. I want to encourage the development of more Church-owned regional radio stations, as well. There is need for both TV and radio.

I also want to encourage each one of us to use social media responsibly and in a God-honouring way. Before you forward something, please verify whether or not it is true. Do not circulate gossip or fake news. Let’s use social media to encourage one another with the good news of Easter – that Jesus is alive. He has conquered sin and death, and he set us free to build up and encourage one another in following the way of Jesus.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the account of Jesus’ resurrection includes two times when it was said, “Do not be afraid.” First, the angel tells the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Then, just in case the women did not believe the angel, Jesus himself appears to them and says it again, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Many people right now are afraid. Apart from the coronavirus, we have our fears about how to find money for school fees and food; we fear our job security; we still have concerns about politics and the upcoming elections; churches are fearing where their income will come from when Christians are not allowed to gather on Sundays. And, now, we also have fears because of the return of the locusts in northern Uganda, Karamoja, and Teso.

These fears are like stones in our heart. The Lord said to the women who went to the tomb looking for Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” He’s saying the same thing to us today: “Do not be afraid.” Let the stones of fear in your life be rolled away. Jesus is alive, and because he lives, we can face tomorrow.

Finally, I am calling all dioceses and churches in the entire Church of Uganda to plan for a massive General Thanksgiving the first Sunday after the restriction for gathering in public worship is lifted. When that day comes – and, I am sure that it WILL come – we must all come together to thank God for what He has done.

We want to assure all Ugandans during this unique Easter 2020 season that we are praying for you.

  • We are praying especially for His Excellency, the President, and his dear wife, Mama Janet, as they lead us through this challenging season.
  • We pray for all members of the Judiciary and Parliament.
  • We pray especially for our leaders in the Ministry of Health, all the doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals.
  • We pray also for the police and UPDF personnel and all working in the security organs of our beloved country.
  • We pray for God’s protection and favour on all businesses, especially those that have been affected by the lockdown.
  • We pray for all Ugandans who will be affected by the return of the locusts, especially those in northern Uganda, Karamoja, and Teso.
  • We pray for all families to return to Jesus and to let him be at the centre of their marriages and relationships with their children and grandchildren.
  • Finally, we pray for all religious leaders in the country to continue working together to bring the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection to every man, woman, and child in this country.

May the Lord bless you and keep you during this unique Easter 2020 – in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Yours, in Christ,

— signed —

The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba

The post Easter message from the Archbishop of Uganda appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

This economic management thing is difficult, isn't it?

Adam Smith Institute - Fri, 10/04/2020 - 07:01

We have some sympathy with this argument, despite its source:

One clear example of an industry not needing a bailout is the supermarkets, which are set to receive a £3bn business rates holiday this year as a result of the government’s support package. Shortly after the rates holiday was announced, Sainsbury’s put out a stock market announcement welcoming the news and highlighting that the company paid more than £500m in business rates last year. The company’s share price surged – the rates holiday is worth more than twice the company’s annual profit. Tesco has a business rates bill of £700m – equal to 50% of its profits for 2019. On Wednesday, the company increased its dividend by 60% – proposing a payout to shareholders of £637m. What possible argument does the company have that it needs a government subsidy?

To find ourselves having even sympathy with an argument put forward by Tax Watch UK feels uncomfortable.

The point that we - rather than Tax Watch - would make about this being that gosh, this managing an economy in detail thing is hard, isn’t it? This being a useful observation for us to carry with us into those sunlit uplands of the post-coronavirus world.

That world out there, that economy, is complex. It isn’t possible for a few people to sit at the centre and decide what should be done in it. It’s not even, as the above shows, possible for those few Fat Controllers to decide in that detail how it should be taxed or not so the idea that they can do anything more complex like decide pay rates, production levels or methods is absurd.

We are, here in crisis, attempting to do some planning of the economy and that’s fine, it’s a crisis. But the lesson to be taken from how badly it’s being done is that it’s not something we should be trying to do in the future.

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