I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading.
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A case, of White Van Man being cruelly oppressed by the authorities or a righteous protection of the environment?
A council is refusing to back down and cancel a roofer's £300 fine- which he claims was for keeping empty crisp packets in his work van without a rubbish licence.
Stewart Gosling, 43, kept the stash of empty crisp packets and water bottles in a plastic commercial waste bag in the back of his white van.
But when he was pulled over by council workers carrying out spot checks, they told him he was breaking the law for carrying the rubbish without permission.
It is, of course, that delight the European Union and law derived from it that leads to such. We tend to think that £300 for a crisp packet or two is a bit too much as a fine. But that's not the important point here, not at all:
A Waltham Forest Council spokesman said: 'The waste in this case was being transported in commercial refuse bag in the trader’s vehicle.
'Regardless of what the items are, if waste is being stored in a commercial refuse bag in a trader’s van it is necessary that they have a valid waste carriers’ license (sic).
'It is widely recognised as best practice for tradesmen to be licensed to avoid legal repercussions, in the event they are required to transport even small quantities of waste.'
That the anal retentive prodnoses appear to be in charge of society is also not something we favour but that's not the important point here either.
The Americans are rather ahead of us on this, given their constitutional prohibition upon unreasonable search and seizure. Yet we also insist that the police are not allowed to just randomly stop anyone and test them for drunk driving. There must be some cause, some reason to think that the offence might be being committed. Erratic driving for example.
Equally it's an important part of the British dispensation that we do not carry ID, that we do not have to prove ourselves to any passing official or policeman. The inquiry "And who are you, what are you doing here?" can be and is righteously answered by "Going about my lawful business, Constable."
Then, under the guise of this environmental law, we've granted every local council in the country the right to stop any vehicle and inspect it for empty crisp packets. An authoritarian breach of basic civil liberties is an authoritarian breach of basic civil liberties whatever the justification.
And that actually is the point here. Sure, the justification is the maintenance of our green and pleasant land but we've still just ceded much too much power to the State. That it's the local councils, not the police or the immigration authorities, insisting "Your papers please" as of right is not an improvement.
It is not that we the people are some problem to be managed by them, we appoint them simply to do society's scut work for us. The problem here is that they've taken unto themselves powers that State never should have in the first place, to be able to demand we prove our innocence at their pleasure.
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[Originally published May 19, 2010.]
There is something to Trotsky's vision of man under communism. From all historical appearances, man under a totalitarian state functions differently than a man under liberty. And degrees of man exist as society slowly turns from liberty to slavery.
The prevailing view is that man under socialized healthcare will remain the same as man today — a man living under a pseudo-free market. In fact, some even believe that man may progress. In this view, the doctor we see today will, at the very least, remain the same under socialized health care. Don't bet on it.Unlucky Ducks
I once worked as a software contractor for a state agency (forgive me). The building where I worked was not your typical government building. It had a modern feel, with a decorative moat detailing the front entrance. The front door — guarded, of course — was accessible via a walkway bridge of sorts.
It's not what you may be thinking; it was all very subtle and nice. However, the drop from the bridge to the mulch-covered, bush-laden moat was a good three feet.
One year, at the beginning of spring, a duck built a nest in the moat, under one of the many bushes. As her ducklings hatched and grew, it came time for them to search for water. However, despite their repeated attempts, the ducklings could not jump from the moat to the walkway bridge.
One of the employees in the building asked the building manager if he (the employee) could place a wooden ramp to allow the ducklings to waddle out of the moat. Being a good state employee himself, the building manager called the state department of natural resources for guidance. The answer: since ducks are migratory birds, no one could do anything.
The next morning, someone plastered official signs around the entrance, stating that any attempt to help the ducks was a violation of law. No ramp, no water, no food. And violators — you know this already — would be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
Soon we had a real scene. The mother duck would leave the moat and encourage her ducklings to follow. They couldn't, of course. She would march back and forth on the walkway bridge and quack in desperation. All the while, the guard at the entrance stood watch, stopping any attempt to help.
Repeated calls to the bureaucrats at the department of natural resources were answered by a repetition of laws and fines. And not one of the department employees was going to go against the rules, or even ask for an exemption, for any reason.
The ducklings died days later.
There you have it: upon joining the state, the department of resource folks — folks who likely dreamed of careers helping wildlife — became staunch bureaucrats enforcing rules over reason.Healthcare
I have had many good experiences with doctors, nurses, and such. Our pre-Obamacare system was not perfect, but it suffered from nothing that the free market couldn't cure. Nevertheless, our elected officials believe otherwise. And they have a lot of support from the masses, who, I believe, are deluded.
Many proponents of socialized healthcare envision a system where their current providers remain, and society, hidden behind the state, pays the bills. But man changes by degree as liberty is lost. So the smiling doctor and caring nurse you trust will become the faces of the nomenklatura and apparatchiks. They can become nothing else.
Yuri Maltsev, former economist under Gorbachev, detailed the truths of Soviet medicine in a recent Mises.org article. He wrote of drunken medical professionals roaming the halls of filthy hospitals — hospitals devoid of necessary equipment and supplies. And he wrote of a system where adherence to the rules of the bureaucracy trumped reason and sanity.
Meeting quotas was the mission, not serving the patients. So people died due to the rules of the bureaucracy, and no one could or would do otherwise.
Do we really believe the conduct of Russians under socialist rule was due to genetics or geography? Do we really believe there is something unique about Russians or Russia — and all the other groups who lived under socialist rule? And do we really believe Americans under that very same system would comport themselves in a different manner — as if altruism were genetic in the 50 states? Does anyone really believe any of that?
We have a tough case to make. We have the supporters of socialized healthcare dreaming that everything will remain the same, except someone else will pay the bill. It's a nice fantasy. But a fantasy, nonetheless. And fantasies can be hard to defeat at times.
On our side, we have the science of economics that says the system will collapse in the end. It will collapse under its own weight due to the state's inability to allocate resources efficiently. And just as important, we have history that shows how man behaves when under socialism — how man will behave until the system finally collapses. And let me tell you, that behavior ain't pretty.
Your doctor and nurse, no matter how nice today, will become the bureaucracy. They will see you in terms of state rules and regulations. They will push you out into the cold rather than risk having you die on site — and them having to suffer the consequences of a bad report to the central authorities.
Of course, your beloved healthcare professionals will not change overnight from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. No, they will slowly change as the cloud of socialized medicine and accompanying bureaucracy incessantly rots their souls (as it rots our souls as well). It will happen — it has to.
To think otherwise is to be that mother duck, expecting officials of the state to rescue her ducklings because that is what employees of the department of natural resources are supposed to do: rescue wildlife.
My review of Aimee Byrd’s third chapter of Why Can’t We be Friends? is going to be brief. It is going to be brief for the excellent reason that this is supposed to be a critical review, and this particular chapter contains very little to criticize. It was, in sum, an outstanding chapter. Put another way, it was a premise that was worthy of a much better argument.
In this chapter, she outlines the “call and response” nature of God’s relationship to us, and how that played out in our first rebellion, and how it matters in the restoration of relationship that is offered to us in Christ. This chapter was scripturally faithful, and theological astute. It was really good.
“God has spoken to humankind” (Loc. 677). “God has revealed himself to us” (Loc. 678). Prior to repentance, when God calls our names, we cower—as Adam and Eve did in the bushes. But when God calls our names in Christ, there is no longer any need to cower. But in either case, whether we hide or whether we come as summoned, the liturgical interplay is there. The call and response is there.
Having established all this, she gives some small indications near the end of the chapter of the use she will make of this premise, and it is only a small trouble. But mischief will come of it later on.
“If we believe the excuses for why Christian men and women can’t be friends, we deny both our purpose (communion) and our agency to achieve it” (Loc. 800).
Well, certainly, if God intends for us to pursue such relationships, then it follows that in Christ He has made the provision for us to do so. But how do we know that we are supposed to do this? Is it really part of my created purpose to be friends with women not my wife? God does equip us to do what He has called us to do, but what we are debating is whether He has called us to special one-on-one friendships under the guise of the brother/sister relationships. One of the things Aimee Byrd appears to be doing is falling into a category mistake. Brothers and sisters can be friends, but they need not be. They are not the same thing; they are overlapping categories—not different names for the same category.
Another thing she has mentioned a few times is that “meeting all your relational needs” it is a heavy demand to place on a spouse. Yes, but my instinctive response is to wonder why having all my relational needs met is any kind of necessity? “Meeting emotional needs” and “avoiding stereotypes” are imperatives that I do not see being derived from the New Testament.
Marriage is creation ordinance, and it is the only lawful outlet for sexual expression. By various means, God summons us to marriage. This is a risky endeavor. Because it is a fallen world, we have to reckon with the reality of unhappy marriages. Nevertheless, we are still called to it. Eve was given to Adam as a paradigm for the rest of human history. A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
But where is the imperative for cross-sexual friendships? Where are we told to do this? Just as marriage is risky, so also friendship across the male/female line is risky. But when we cross that particular line, we have no imperative, no promises, and we have no oaths to seal it, and we have all the same high levels of risk.
“Do we have the faculties to enjoy relationships between the sexes in purity?” (Loc. 801).
My question here is what does she mean by we? Before you become friends with someone, you don’t know them. Even supposing that you know that your own motives are friendship motives all the way down to the ground (and I would submit that this is not as easy as some might assume), you know next to nothing about the motives of the other person. How could you? You aren’t friends with them yet. You have no idea. When you enter into that friendship, and if at some point you begin to suspect that all is not healthy on the other side, you already have gotten yourself into a rat’s nest of a situation. You are already in a place where you ought not to be.
But—and I am just speaking to the blockhead guys here—this cannot be fixed with a simple “conversation”—as though saying and agreeing verbally that you are “just friends” makes it so. I have seen this play out before between unattached guys and girls who are “just friends.” He begins to suspect something is up, and since he is nowhere near ready to make a commitment, he decides he needs to have the talk with his “friend.” So he says, “We’re just friends, right?” What’s she supposed to say? “No, not friends at all. I desperately want to bear your children!” Certain levels of dishonesty are already baked into situations like this, and if one or both of the parties are married to other people, just imagine the possible mayhem.
“Do we express our love for one another by not being friends?” (Loc. 803).
Again, note the we. And I would suggest that the answer to this question is yes. Avoidance of friendship can be a true act of koinonia love—and frequently is.
You have heard this stated a number of times before, but it is the kind of truth that all of us need to hear again and again. “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you” (Philippians 3:1, ESV). And so here it is: Hard teaching creates soft hearts, and soft teaching creates hard hearts. Calvinism is hard doctrine, but it is supposed to be hard doctrine for the tenderhearted—not hard doctrine to match the hearts.The Text:
“It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:12–16).Summary of the Text:
When Rebekah went to an oracle about the conflict that was happening in her womb, she was told that, of the twins, the older would serve the younger (v. 12; Gen. 25:23). This was reinforced centuries later, at the other end of the Old Testament, when Malachi said that God loved Jacob, but hated Esau (v. 13; Mal. 1:2-3). Keep in mind that Jacob here refers to the Jews, and Esau refers to the nation of Edom. But to take this up to a larger scale doesn’t really solve any of our ruffled-free-will-feather problems. If you were a devotee of free will, would you feel better if somebody told you that God had only predestined that the airliner would crash, not that the passengers would? Now when we are told that God loved Jacob and hated Esau, our natural (fleshly) reaction is to charge God with unrighteousness. And so Paul raises the question. Is there unrighteousness with God (v. 14)? It cannot be. God forbid. No way. And what is the reason given for denying unrighteousness with God? The reason is what God said to Moses when Moses begged to see His glory (Ex. 33:19). God will be gracious to whom He pleases. He will be merciful to whom He pleases (v. 15). Grace is grace, and mercy is mercy. Neither of them can be earned or merited—not a scintilla of merit anywhere in it. So then, we come to the hard conclusion that, rightly understood, hard grace creates tender hearts. But in order to be hard grace, it must be not dependent upon the will of man, or the running of man, but rather upon the mercy of God alone (v. 16).No, Really, Not a Scintilla:
The heart of man can manufacture merit—something that he can use to argue that God is somehow obligated or required to show mercy—out of virtually anything. It is our knock-off of creatio ex nihilo. One of our favorite arguments arises from any mercy shown to others. Because our hearts are naturally envious, this argument seems compelling to us. What God gives to one, He must give the same thing to all others. But grace, by definition, cannot be demanded. For any reason.
Suppose there were two men on death row, and both of them richly deserve to be there. Each one was about as foul as a human being can get. Now also suppose that the governor pardons one of them, and does so for good reason. But that good reason has nothing to do with the worthiness of the one pardoned. It was dirty dozen mission or something. Now here is the question. Has the governor in any way wronged the convict that he did not pardon? Is that convict getting anything but what he deserves? He is getting nothing but justice, while the other is getting nothing but mercy. And mercy to one does not create any obligation within God toward the other. It is not of him who wills, or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.Hard Grace:
We do not insist on these doctrines of hard grace because we have an emotional need that somebody be damned. Rather, we insist upon it because we want to remember that grace is infinite grace. When God saved me, and when God saved you, He was under absolutely no external obligation to do so. Our need did not create His obligation—His love created the obligation. Our need was made up of our rebellion, our selfishness, our pettiness, our insolence, and our pride. In short, God could have refused to save you, He could have passed you by as He has in fact passed by many others, and He would not have been an iota less gracious. His infinite holiness would not have been diminished at all if the number of the elect had been diminished by one. Subtract me from that throng in front of the throne of God, and the saints would still be able to sing, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10). So walk through that multitude, and you will not be able to find one person who deserves to be there.Nature and Extent:
Now why emphasize this? Before we consider the extent of God’s grace, we have to anchor the nature of grace in our hearts and minds. That is because if we do not do this, we will draw false and destructive inferences about grace from the glorious extent of it. This is a filthy, undeserving, rebellious and insolent world—and it will be gloriously saved.
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee” (Ps. 22:27).
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1).
“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14).
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).
“And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust” (Rom. 15:12).
And all of it grace, all of it mercy, all of it Christ.
The most robust study ever conducted on the topic found that the average California state government worker earned 23 percent more in total compensation than their similarly skilled and educated private-sector counterpart.
That value rose to 33 percent above their private-sector counterpart, when the value of California state government workers’ legendary job security was included. But a recent report by the California State Auditor leaves one with the impression that the study vastly underestimated the true value of job security for government workers.
In February of 2014, a DMV employee was documented by her supervisors for sleeping at work. According to four separate witnesses, the employee continued to sleep at her desk for a minimum of three hours a day, for nearly 4 years straight.
The most mind-boggling part of this story is that there is no dispute that this employee was sleeping on the job, every day, for nearly 4 years.
In addition to the four witnesses, her daily sleeping was also documented by her supervisors in written, periodic performance evaluations, which the employee signed off on without disputing any of the factual allegations contained within.
When the state auditor got involved midway through 2017, the employee’s supervisor defended her failure to perform her core duty by claiming that “because she woke up the employee three to four times each day, she believed the employee missed only 20 to 30 minutes of work time daily.”
The auditor rejected the obvious falsehood that an employee who needed to be woken up “three to four times each day” somehow missed only 20 to 30 minutes of work.
The auditor instead found that the employee slept for at least 3 hours a day from February 2014 through December 2017 — a finding consistent with the statements provided by four separate witnesses and the fact that the employee’s work output was only 35 percent of the amount expected.
That 35 percent figure just reflects the number of reports the employee turned in, compared to what was expected. If we’re measuring productivity or value, it’s possible the employee was actually a net negative to the department, given what her colleagues and supervisors had to say about the few reports she did turn in:
Further, the employee’s evaluations mention that she made mistakes when entering data. In fact, during the investigation, a witness explained that the employee’s work was often so inaccurate that the witness would not trust the employee to accurately enter the witness’s own address or vehicle ownership change. Thus, the employee’s behavior may have prevented DMV from providing the public with an appropriate level of service.
So what was the final outcome? Despite sleeping on the job everyday and producing error-filled work for 4 years, the employee received no disciplinary action of any kind, and continues to collect her full salary and benefits.
What’s much worse, in my opinion, is the gross negligence of the supervisor. The DMV is a large employer. There will be some bad apples. Moreover, if an employee who is sleeping at their desk everyday receives no penalty of any kind, it’s not terribly surprising they never change their own behavior.
So what happened to the DMV supervisor who, by her own admission, did not take any disciplinary action against an employee that she needed to wake up three to four times a day, every day, for 4 years?
While the auditor recommended that the DMV take disciplinary action against the supervisors, the DMV countered that because they had no prior issues, they would instead only require that the supervisors undergo training to ensure they understand that employees who sleep on the job every day for four years should be disciplined, should such a situation arise in the future.
And that is why so many are critical of government. It’s not because this story is reflective of government employees generally — it’s not. The audit only occurred because of the employee’s coworkers who blew the whistle.
The continually justified criticism of government, however, is that it is a grossly negligent and irresponsible steward of taxpayer dollars — something perfectly reflected in the DMV’s response to the auditor’s findings.
Whenever we talk about tax cuts and growth-oriented tax programs in Europe, many tell us that “it is not possible” and that the European Union does not allow it.
However, it is false. Attractive, growth-oriented tax systems are not only possible in the European Union, but those countries that implement them have higher economic growth rates, less unemployment, and a well-funded welfare state.
To deceive us, we are forced to ignore Ireland, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg as well as most of the technology and job creation leaders.
Lower taxes and greater liberalization than in the rest of the Eurozone means higher growth, better wealth, and greater social welfare. The economic miracle of Ireland is not statism. Its secret is to put budgetary stability, investment attraction, private initiative, and maximize disposable income of citizens as the pillars of its economic policy.
Ireland has a corporate tax of 12.5% and a rate of 6.25% on income from patents and intellectual property, a key factor to attract technology companies. Its minimum salary is almost double that of Spain, Portugal, and other Eurozone countries, the average pension is higher as well and its health and education systems are of the highest quality, with nine universities among the best in the world according to the Best Global Universities Ranking 2018.
Ireland’s debt to GDP is 73%, unemployment is 5.1% (youth unemployment at 11.4%), public deficit is just 0.7% of GDP.
Only a few years ago, Ireland was close to the edge financially, and its 10-year bond yield rose to 14%. Ireland was considered one of the highest risk of default countries with Spain, Portugal, Greece, or Italy. Since then, low taxes, budget control, and reforms oriented at attracting capital have made Ireland become the fastest-growing European economy, with an unemployment rate that is less than half that of Spain, for example.
Deficits have been slashed, debt is under control, the economy is expected to grow 5.1% in 2018, and the economy is expected to reach full employment in 2019.
The European Union does not need to harmonize fiscal systems, but if it did, it should do so implementing the systems that promote growth and jobs, not the ones that promote stagnation.
A confiscatory tax system and a hypertrophied public sector have only created debt and stagnation in the Eurozone countries that have implemented them. France is a key example.
The last time France had a balanced budget was in 1980, and since 1974 it has never generated a surplus. Public debt reached 97% of GDP and the economy has been stagnating for two decades. Unemployment stands at 9.2% (with 20.4% youth unemployment ) and in 2017 it still had a current account deficit of 6.5 billion euros while the Eurozone has a surplus. In a country where public spending exceeds 57% of GDP, where public administration spending has grown by more than 13% since 2008, and 22% of the active population works for the State, local governments and public entities, talking of austerity is a bad joke. In addition, France has spent tens of billions on ‘stimulus plans’ since 2009. Specifically, 47 billion euro in 2009, 1.24 billion to the automotive industry, and two ‘growth plans’ under the Hollande mandate: 37.6 billion euro (‘investments’) and 16.5 billion (‘technology’).
When we talk about taxation in the Eurozone, we usually talk about tax revenues vs GDP, and not the tax wedge, which is what each one of us pays in taxes on our total income.
According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Paying Taxes study of 2018, European companies suffer a tax wedge of 40%. That fiscal wedge is almost 40% lower in countries like Luxembourg, Ireland, or Denmark and 12% lower in the Netherlands.
If we look at families, it is very similar. Most Eurozone countries have a tax wedge on families with one salary and two children that is twice the average of Ireland, Switzerland, or Luxembourg and 20% higher than the Dutch.
But what about social protection and welfare? Ireland, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg have some of the most easily-accessible and well-funded welfare systems.
Interventionists always talk of the Nordic countries as nations with very high taxes, and yet their tax wedge is lower for companies and families than the average of the Eurozone.
Countries with higher taxes do not have better welfare or social protection, but do have higher unemployment rates, weaker growth and higher debt. High taxation discourages economic activity, investment, and consumption and, on top, tax revenues weaken.
Macron is calling for a harmonization of the tax systems in Europe. I agree. Let us harmonize to the Ireland level. But no, what Macron implies when he uses the word “harmonizing” is “increasing taxes.” The recipe for unemployment and stagnation.
Governments willingly ignore the beneficial effect of growth-oriented taxation because their objective is not growth, investment or employment, but control.
Europe’s tax model cannot be to impose what does not work. We need to lower taxes to grow and create more employment. High taxes do not guarantee the welfare state, they make it unsustainable.
The Guardian gives us a long read on denialism. The part that so interests is what is not being said:
Denialism is more than just another manifestation of the humdrum intricacies of our deceptions and self-deceptions. It represents the transformation of the everyday practice of denial into a whole new way of seeing the world and – most important – a collective accomplishment. Denial is furtive and routine; denialism is combative and extraordinary. Denial hides from the truth, denialism builds a new and better truth.
OK. That's what we're being told it all is.
In recent years, the term has been used to describe a number of fields of “scholarship”, whose scholars engage in audacious projects to hold back, against seemingly insurmountable odds, the findings of an avalanche of research. They argue that the Holocaust (and other genocides) never happened, that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a myth, that Aids either does not exist or is unrelated to HIV, that evolution is a scientific impossibility, and that all manner of other scientific and historical orthodoxies must be rejected.
We have checked and nowhere is the denialism with the greatest impact upon humans mentioned, not even once. That delusion that planned economies work. We did test this idea to destruction in that controlled experiment we call the 20th century. The market economies wildly outperformed the planned ones in that basic aim of having an economy in the first place, making human lives better. But not a mention of this at all.
There are multiple kinds of denialists: from those who are sceptical of all established knowledge, to those who challenge one type of knowledge; from those who actively contribute to the creation of denialist scholarship, to those who quietly consume it; from those who burn with certainty, to those who are privately sceptical about their scepticism. What they all have in common, I would argue, is a particular type of desire. This desire – for something not to be true – is the driver of denialism.
Quite so, that desire to insist that if only the right people were directing affairs then all would be copacetic. The right people always, but always, being defined as those doing the insisting.
If we are to be properly informed concerning what we humans really do know then it is of a certain importance that all accept the idea that market economies work, non-market economies do not. As above, we have tested this and we know it to be true.
But then we don't really expect that level of self-knowledge from The Guardian. It would certainly have a lot of blank space between the adverts if it took the principle seriously.
“The issue is the nature of knowledge, not the nature of the stuff in the world. If oils made from pine needles were able to do marvelous things, there would be no one happier than I. But if no one is allowed to ask any judicious questions, then you may depend upon it—a scam is being run” (Confessions of a Food Catholic, p. 178).
Money supply growth inched upward again in June this year, but remains well below the growth rates experienced from 2009 to 2016. Overall, June's growth rate does not suggest a departure from the general downward slide in growth rates that's been in place since late 2016.
In June, year-over-year growth in the money supply was at 4.4 percent. That was up from May's growth rate of 4.2 percent, but down from June 2017's rate of 5.4 percent.
The money-supply metric used here — the "true" or Rothbard-Salerno money supply measure (TMS) — is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth.
This measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short time deposits, traveler's checks, and retail money funds).
M2 growth accelerated in June 2018, rising 4.2 percent, compared to May's rate of 3.8 percent. M2 grew 5.6 percent in June of last year. Overall, though, the M2 growth rates has fallen considerably since late 2016.
Money supply growth can often be a helpful measure of economic activity. During periods of economic boom, money supply tends to grow quickly as banks make more loans. Recessions, on the other hand, tend to be preceded by periods of falling money-supply growth.
Factors at work in differences between M2 and the Rothbard-Salerno measure include treasury deposits at the Fed, which have climbed again in recent months back to near all-time highs. Rothbard-Salerno calculates money supply including these deposits as money, although M2 does not. Thus, these recent increases in treasury deposits will result — all else being equal — in more money-supply growth in the Austrian measure of the money supply, than in M2.
The Rothbard-Salerno method also removes retail money funds and small time deposits from the money supply. In recent months, both retail money funds and small time deposits have been increasing. So these increases, which show up in M2, are not reflected in the Austrian measure.
The overall result has been slightly more moderation in the TMS measure of money supply over the past 18 months, than we see in the M2 measure. We can see that in the orange line here showing the total money supply in billions of dollars:Another contributing factor in slowing money-supply growth in recent months has been the overall slowdown in commercial loan activity. Commercial loan growth hit a 17-month high in June, but as the graph shows, we can see that activity remains below the levels we routinely saw during the recovery from 2011 to 2017.
The Constitution represented a coup from the beginning, and it's a dead letter today. The Declaration of Independence, however, is a truly radical libertarian document still worthy of consideration. Judge Andrew Napolitiano, our Distinguished Scholar in Law and Jurisprudence, recently gave a rousing talk at Mises University on the Declaration's natural law tradition–and how federal courts relentlessly and successfully attacked the principles it represented. This is Judge Nap at his scorching best, and you won't want to miss his comments on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
[The Freeman, May 1955]
The market economy — capitalism — is based on private ownership of the material means of production and private entrepreneurship. The consumers, by their buying or abstention from buying, ultimately determine what should be produced and in what quantity and quality. They render profitable the affairs of those businessmen who best comply with their wishes and unprofitable the affairs of those who do not produce what they are asking for most urgently. Profits convey control of the factors of production into the hands of those who are employing them for the best possible satisfaction of the most urgent needs of the consumers, and losses withdraw them from the control of the inefficient businessmen. In a market economy not sabotaged by the government the owners of property are mandataries of the consumers as it were. On the market a daily repeated plebiscite determines who should own what and how much. It is the consumers who make some people rich and other people penniless.
Inequality of wealth and incomes is an essential feature of the market economy. It is the implement that makes the consumers supreme in giving them the power to force all those engaged in production to comply with their orders. It forces all those engaged in production to the utmost exertion in the service of the consumers. It makes competition work. He who best serves the consumers profits most and accumulates riches.
In a society of the type that Adam Ferguson, Saint-Simon, and Herbert Spencer called militaristic and present-day Americans call feudal, private property of land was the fruit of violent usurpation or of donations on the part of the conquering warlord. Some people owned more, some less, and some nothing because the chieftain had determined it that way. In such a society it was correct to assert that the abundance of the great landowners was the corollary of the indigence of the landless. But it is different in a market economy. Bigness in business does not impair but improves the conditions of the rest of the people. The millionaires are acquiring their fortunes in supplying the many with articles that were previously beyond their reach. If laws had prevented them from getting rich, the average American household would have to forgo many of the gadgets and facilities that are today its normal equipment. This country enjoys the highest standard of living ever known in history because for several generations no attempts were made toward "equalization" and "redistribution." Inequality of wealth and incomes is the cause of the masses' well-being, not the cause of anybody's distress. Where there is a "lower degree of inequality," there is necessarily a lower standard of living of the masses.Demand for "Distribution"
In the opinion of the demagogues inequality in what they call the "distribution" of wealth and incomes is in itself the worst of all evils. Justice would require an equal distribution. It is therefore both fair and expedient to confiscate the surplus of the rich or at least a considerable part of it and to give it to those who own less. This philosophy tacitly presupposes that such a policy will not impair the total quantity produced. But even if this were true, the amount added to the average man's buying power would be much smaller than extravagant popular illusions assume. In fact the luxury of the rich absorbs only a slight fraction of the nation's total consumption. The much greater part of the rich men's incomes is not spent for consumption, but saved and invested. It is precisely this that accounts for the accumulation of their great fortunes. If the funds which the successful businessmen would have ploughed back into productive employments are used by the state for current expenditure or given to people who consume them, the further accumulation of capital is slowed down or entirely stopped. Then there is no longer any question of economic improvement, technological progress, and a trend toward higher average standards of living.
When Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto recommended "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" and "abolition of all right of inheritance" as measures "to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie," they were consistent from the point of view of the ultimate end they were aiming at — viz., the substitution of socialism for the market economy. They were fully aware of the inevitable consequences of these policies. They openly declared that these measures are "economically untenable" and that they advocated them only because "they necessitate further inroads" upon the capitalist social order and are "unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production" — i.e., as a means of bringing about socialism.
But it is quite a different thing when these measures which Marx and Engels characterized as "economically untenable" are recommended by people who pretend that they want to preserve the market economy and economic freedom. These self-styled middle-of-the-road politicians are either hypocrites who want to bring about socialism by deceiving the people about their real intentions, or they are ignoramuses who do not know what they are talking about. For progressive taxes upon incomes and upon estates are incompatible with the preservation of the market economy.
The middle-of-the-road man argues this way: "There is no reason why a businessman should slacken in the best conduct of his affairs only because he knows that his profits will not enrich him but will benefit all people. Even if he is not an altruist who does not care for lucre and who unselfishly toils for the commonweal, he will have no motive to prefer a less efficient performance of his activities to a more efficient. It is not true, that the only incentive that impels the great captains of industry is acquisitiveness. They are no less driven by the ambition to bring their products to perfection."Supremacy of the Consumers
This argumentation entirely misses the point. What matters is not the behavior of the entrepreneurs but the supremacy of the consumers. We may take it for granted that the businessmen will be eager to serve the consumers to the best of their abilities even if they themselves do not derive any advantage from their zeal and application. They will accomplish what according to their opinion best serves the consumers. But then it will no longer be the consumers that determine what they get. They will have to take what the businessmen believe is best for them. The entrepreneurs, not the consumers, will then be supreme. The consumers will no longer have the power to entrust control of production to those businessmen whose products they like most and to relegate those whose products they appreciate less to a more modest position in the system.
If the present American laws concerning the taxation of the profits of corporations, the incomes of individuals, and inheritances had been introduced about 60 years ago, all those new products whose consumption has raised the standard of living of the "common man" would either not be produced at all or only in small quantities for the benefit of a minority. The Ford enterprises would not exist if Henry Ford's profits had been taxed away as soon as they came into being. The business structure of 1895 would have been preserved. The accumulation of new capital would have ceased or at least slowed down considerably. The expansion of production would lag behind the increase of population. There is no need to expatiate about the effects of such a state of affairs.
Profit and loss tell the entrepreneur what the consumers are asking for most urgently. And only the profits the entrepreneur pockets enable him to adjust his activities to the demand of the consumers. If the profits are expropriated, he is prevented from complying with the directives given by the consumers. Then the market economy is deprived of its steering wheel. It becomes a senseless jumble.
People can consume only what has been produced. The great problem of our age is precisely this: Who should determine what is to be produced and consumed, the people or the state, the consumers themselves or a paternal government? If one decides in favor of the consumers, one chooses the market economy. If one decides in favor of the government, one chooses socialism. There is no third solution. The determination of the purpose for which each unit of the various factors of production is to be employed cannot be divided.Demand for Equalization
The supremacy of the consumers consists in their power to hand over control of the material factors of production and thereby the conduct of production activities to those who serve them in the most efficient way. This implies inequality of wealth and incomes. If one wants to do away with inequality of wealth and incomes, one must abandon capitalism and adopt socialism. (The question whether any socialist system would really give income equality must be left to an analysis of socialism.)
But, say the middle-of-the-road enthusiasts, we do not want to abolish inequality altogether. We want merely to substitute a lower degree of inequality for a higher degree.
These people look upon inequality as upon an evil. They do not assert that a definite degree of inequality which can be exactly determined by a judgment free of any arbitrariness and personal evaluation is good and has to be preserved unconditionally. They, on the contrary, declare inequality in itself as bad and merely contend that a lower degree of it is a lesser evil than a higher degree in the same sense in which a smaller quantity of poison in a man's body is a lesser evil than a larger dose. But if this is so, then there is logically in their doctrine no point at which the endeavors toward equalization would have to stop. Whether one has already reached a degree of inequality which is to be considered low enough and beyond which it is not necessary to embark upon further measures toward equalization, is just a matter of personal judgments of value, quite arbitrary, different with different people and changing in the passing of time. As these champions of equalization appraise confiscation and "redistribution" as a policy harming only a minority — viz., those whom they consider to be "too" rich, and benefiting the rest (the majority) of the people, they cannot oppose any tenable argument to those who are asking for more of this allegedly beneficial policy. As long as any degree of inequality is left, there will always be people whom envy impels to press for a continuation of the equalization policy. Nothing can be advanced against their inference: if inequality of wealth and incomes is an evil, there is no reason to acquiesce in any degree of it, however low; equalization must not stop before it has completely leveled all individuals' wealth and incomes.
The history of the taxation of profits, incomes, and estates in all countries clearly shows that once the principle of equalization is adopted, there is no point at which the further progress of the policy of equalization can be checked. If, at the time the Sixteenth Amendment was adopted, somebody had predicted that some years later the income-tax progression would reach the height it has really attained in our day, the advocates of the amendment would have called him a lunatic. It is certain that only a small minority in Congress will seriously oppose further sharpening of the progressive element in the tax-rate scales if such a sharpening should be suggested by the administration or by a congressman anxious to enhance his chances for reelection. For, under the sway of the doctrines taught by contemporary pseudoeconomists, all but a few reasonable men believe that they are injured by the mere fact that their own income is smaller than that of other people and that it is not a bad policy to confiscate this difference.
There is no use in fooling ourselves. Our present taxation policy is headed toward a complete equalization of wealth and incomes and thereby toward socialism. This trend can be reversed only by the cognition of the role that profit and loss and the resulting inequality of wealth and incomes play in the operation of the market economy. People must learn that the accumulation of wealth by the successful conduct of business is the corollary of the improvement of their own standard of living and vice versa. They must realize that bigness in business is not an evil, but both the cause and effect of the fact that they themselves enjoy all those amenities whose enjoyment is called the "American way of life."
Loose monetary policy of the central bank, which amounts to the lowering of interest rates and monetary pumping, gives rise to activities that cannot exist by themselves without the support from this loose monetary policy.
An increase in money supply as a result of an easy monetary stance by the central bank sets an exchange of nothing for something — i.e., the diversion of real wealth from wealth generators toward activities that emerge on the back of loose monetary policy. Various activities that emerge on the back of loose monetary policy are bubble activities. Given that these activities cannot support themselves, they constitute a burden on wealth generators.
It is tempting to suggest that a tighter monetary stance of the central bank could undo the negatives of the previous loose monetary stance — i.e., inflationary policy through the removal of bubble activities. In fact, this type of policy carries a label of a countercyclical policy.
In this way of thinking, whenever economic activity slows down it should be the duty of the central bank to give it a push, which will place the economy back on the trajectory of an expanding economic growth. The push is done by means of loose monetary policy, i.e., the lowering of interest rates and raising the growth rate of the money supply.
Conversely, when economic activity is perceived to be “too strong,” then in order to prevent an “overheating,” it should be the duty of the central bank to “cool off” economic activity by a tighter monetary stance.
This amounts to raising interest rates and slowing down monetary injections. It is believed that a tighter stance will place the economy on a trajectory of stable non-inflationary growth. In this way of thinking, the economy is perceived to be like a space ship, which occasionally slips from the trajectory of stable economic growth.
Hence, in this way of thinking it makes a lot of sense for the central bank to watch the economy all the time and make the necessary adjustments in order to keep the economy on the correct growth path.
It is also argued that because we do not exactly know the state of the economy at any point in time, it is quite possible that the central bank’s loose stance could be excessively loose which may result in a so-called overheating. This means that the loose policy will push the economy strongly above the trajectory of a stable non-inflationary growth.
Conversely, a tighter stance could be excessively tight thereby risking to plunge the economy below the trajectory of stable non-inflationary economic growth — a severe economic slump.
The view that the economy could be seen as a space ship is a misleading metaphor, since the economy is about human beings that use their means to achieve various goals. Given that economy is about human beings, no central authority can replace the free unhampered market that enables individuals achieving their goals in their best possible way.
The failure of various centrally planned economies such as the former Soviet Union is a testimony that central authorities attempt to push the economy toward the so-called desired trajectory results in an economic disaster.
As noted by Ludwig von Mises, a tight monetary stance cannot undo the negatives of the previous loose stance. The misallocation of resources due to loose monetary policy cannot be reversed by a tighter stance.
An infrastructure that emerged as a result of the loose central bank stance cannot be altered just like that by a tightening stance. Various resources that were committed to the new infrastructure cannot always be easily shifted toward another infrastructure, which is in agreement with consumers priorities.
According to Percy L. Greaves, Jr. in “The Causes of the Economic Crisis and Other Essays before the Great Depression”:
Mises also refers to the fact that deflation can never repair the damage of a prior inflation. In his seminar, he often likened such a process to an auto driver who had run over a person and then tried to remedy the situation by backing over the victim in reverse. Inflation so scrambles the changes in wealth and income that it becomes impossible to undo the effects. Then too, deflationary manipulations of the quantity of money are just as destructive of market processes, guided by unhampered market prices, wage rates and interest rates, as are such inflationary manipulations of the quantity of money.
A tighter monetary stance, while likely to undermine various bubble activities is also likely to generate various distortions thereby inflicting damage to wealth generators. Note that a tighter stance is still intervention by the central bank and in this sense; it does not result in the allocation of resources in line with consumers’ top priorities. Hence, it does not follow that a tighter stance can reverse the damage caused by inflationary policy.
By freeing the economy from central bank manipulations, the process of wealth destruction is going to be arrested. Only this is going to strengthen the process of real wealth generation. With a greater pool of real wealth, it is going to be much easier over time to absorb various misallocated resources.
Just as in the first chapter, the second chapter of Aimee Byrd’s book on male/female friendships contains a real tension at the heart of it. And given how she states her concerns, I can’t see any way of resolving that tension. Another way of putting this is to say that Aimee Byrd has complaints about our manners, but no solution to our problems.The Tension:
In the first place, we see plainly, very plainly, that she takes a dim view of stereotypes. They are simplistic, and reductionistic. Stereotypes: “we don’t reduce “ (Loc. 495) “that stereotyping blocks growth” (Loc. 507) “that align with conventional beliefs and hinder their ability to grow” (Loc. 509). “Women are stereotyped” (Loc. 509) “Men are stereotyped” (Loc. 510). “These stereotypes” (Loc. 514) “Still, they contribute” (Loc. 515). “Stereotypes can be even subtler” (Loc. 516). “Scripture turns stereotypes upside down” (Loc. 522). “we fall into objectifying or stereotyping men and women who are made in the image of God” (Loc. 440). “Reductive” (Loc. 566). “How could such renowned philosophers [Aristotle and those guys] stereotype women in the most reductive way?” (Loc. 569). “Let’s not reduce our brothers and sisters in” (Loc. 607). “be reductive” (Loc. 573) “turns stereotypes upside down” (Loc. 574) “However, much Christian writing has reduced us in this same way” (Loc. 588) “Our holistic personhood is not valued” (Loc. 449) “Not only do we need to look at individuals holistically” (Loc. 611). “That means we need to view our sisters and brothers holistically, not just physically” (Loc. 487).
In short, stereotypes > bad. That is one side of the equation.
But the other side of it is this:
“Paul didn’t describe androgynous function and relationships between men and women, but he smashed down unnecessary cultural stereotypes” (Loc. 564).
So on one end of the scale we have biblically defined roles between men and women, and concomitant necessary cultural stereotypes about men and women, and on the other end we have “reductionistic” and “unnecessary” cultural stereotypes. Great. How do we tell the difference?Reasonable and Unreasonable:
Now this presents a real challenge. Describe for me a society full of men and women who are distinctly masculine and feminine (which Byrd sees as desirable), who have non-androgynous functions, and non-androgynous relationships, without that giving rise to what any number of women would regard as offensive stereotyping—even if Aimee Byrd did not regard it that way.
We could be talking about large-scale important issues (the men go to war, and the women have babies), or we could be talking about the small scale cultural echoes of the large issues (the men take out the garbage, and the women make the biscuits). We could defend it by saying that certain cultural stereotypes are necessary
What this means is that the definitions of all such things will be put into the hands of the offended. What is a stereotype? What is an unnecessary stereotype? It will become anything that makes a woman feel stereotyped.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have felt less like a human being, a sister in Christ, and more like a threat” (Loc. 606).
In order to avoid this trap, Byrd has an obligation to define and describe the difference between a necessary non-androgyny and unnecessary stereotypes. Suppose someone is persuaded by her position in the abstract, and says that he wants to walk in accordance with what she has described. The problem is that she hasn’t described it—just outlined it. There is apparently a country called Unnecessary Stereotypes, but she has not yet told us where the border is.
Here it is again.
“Rather than upholding a call to healthy relationships between the sexes, we draw unreasonable lines” (Loc. 589).
She has given a number of examples of what she considers such an unreasonable line. Here’s one:
“Let’s be careful not to make blanket judgments that cross-sex texting or emailing are signs that an affair is imminent” (Loc. 604).
If she were a radical egalitarian, she could do this all day. But she is not. She acknowledges that there are biblically defined roles. For example, I am sure she would agree that men are called to preach the Word, and rule in the church, and women are refused such an office (1 Tim. 2:12-15). So if she wanted her book to be really helpful, she would show what such healthy relationships between the sexes might look like; she would describe some reasonable lines for us.
If any subculture (like the Christian subculture) grants that there are creational roles for men and for women, and if that is taken as a non-negotiable, then of necessity, certain lesser cultural roles will take shape (not specified in Scripture). These lesser cultural roles are called stereotypes by their enemies. But what do their friends call them? We call them customs and manners.
Only an idiot would think that women are incapable of opening their own car door. Only a greater idiot would think that Scripture requires men to open their wives’ car doors. But the fact that we do so is a reflection of our commitment to a foundational reality, and as we honor our women in the lesser things we are honoring the greater testimony of Scripture at the same time. But if someone doesn’t like it, it is the work of a moment to sneer at the stereotyping. Not only so, but if it is labeled as a stereotype (“the delicate little woman can’t get her own car door open”), it is the work of another moment to show that it was an unnecessary stereotype. The world didn’t end when the men stopped walking around the car.
What such manners do is that they orient the general population. People know what to expect from others, and they know what others expect from them. When you remove such restraints, manners, and customs, you leave everyone to their own devices and you see what we are currently seeing, which is a race to the bottom. If men are not taught how to treat a lady, then they will do what they feel like doing to her, which is to stare at her chest. If women are not taught how to carry themselves as ladies, then they won’t. And that is where we are now. We are living in the middle of a comedy of manners in a world without manners.
It is true that when a society is governed by various customs and manners that are not grounded explicitly in Scripture, some people will start to abuse those customs, or handle them in a wooden manner. This is how necessary customs can turn into harmful stereotypes.
“Masculinity’s machismo portrayal in much Christian literature leaves men who are less physical and aggressive feeling like they are less of a man” (Loc. 517).
Leaving aside for a moment the claim that modern Christianity exhibits a “machismo portrayal,” a claim I find dubious, let us take this at face value. I grant that in a world when the star quarterback is regarded as the real man on campus, and the president of the chess club isn’t, the result of this set up is that the president of the chess club might find himself teased. I don’t think he has to give up chess to be masculine. But I do think he has to tease back. He has to stand his ground. He can’t excuse himself to go call his mother.
So bring this all this discussion back to the point at issue:
“Apparently, we are all time bombs on the brink of having an affair—or of being accused of having one. Because of this, men and women often feel uncomfortable around each other, even in innocent contexts, and we impose strict hedges on behavior in order to avoid the threat of sexual impropriety” (Loc. 425).
“It also means our physicality should not pose a threat to one another. Is our zealousness to avoid sin inadvertently training Christians to reduce women to sexual temptresses and men to animalistic impulses? We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (see Rom. 12:2). To view the other sex as constant temptations to sin and threats to purity merely perpetuates the thinking and behavior of the unredeemed” (Loc. 489).
She refers to “time bombs,” “strict hedges,” “physicality,” “impulses,” and “constant temptations.” She thinks that to think this way is to be unhelpfully reductionistic. It is stereotyping women (and men) in ways that she believes to be a rejection of a holistic approach.A Last Example:
I have said earlier that there are any number of good reasons for keeping a Pence-like distance. I want to reassert this, because on this point I agree with her about the need to not be reductionist. The world is a lot more complicated than “affair avoidance.”
But for the sake of this last example, let us consider a situation that is explicitly a sexual one. Let us say that a man is being tempted by the looks and figure of some co-worker. He is a conscientious Christian, laboring to be faithful to his wife in thought, word, and deed, and he also sincerely wants to be respectful of his co-worker. Let us also say, in order to keep this simple, that his co-worker is not being out of line in any way—she is not being flirty, or immodest in any way. She is only trying to do her job, and she is doing it well. Her only problem is that she—in the immortal words of Paige Patterson—is built, and God is the one who did that, not her.
Aimee Byrd needs to build room in all this for those men who keep their distance so that they might treat the other person holistically. When a man is being blunt and honest with himself about the propriety or impropriety of his thought life, the very last thing he is doing with himself is stereotyping. It is not a stereotype at all—it is a particular situation where he wants to do something he knows he ought not to do. He is not staying away because he read in a book once that men, considered as a class, run a greater statistical risk of sexual impropriety as the propinquity increases. No, he is not stereotyping at all. He is dealing with one thing only, which is his particular set of temptations. He is not being reductionistic as he fights with his lust. Lust is reductionistic, and by battling his lust he is battling reductionism.
As nice as it might be for someone like Aimee Byrd to tell all the Christian men what temptations they are allowed to have, it is not realistic. It doesn’t work that way. When the situation is a sexual one, men have to deal with the devil, and not with some holistic paradise. Perhaps I can develop this further in a future installment, but men and women do not understand each other very well, and the chasm between them is probably the greatest when it comes to understanding their unique temptations. This is compounded when the men have been cowed by a sentimental feminism into lying about it, for the sake of keeping the peace.
In this essay, Wilberforce Academy director, Dr Joe Boot shows the importance of a person's world-and-life-view to their understanding of sexuality. He examines the religious and philosophical ideas that drive the attack on God's distinction of male and female - but notes that "no matter how subversive the utopian sexual revolutionaries become, they cannot finally overturn God’s creational norm and order" - because this is God's world.