Thursday, 7 July 2022

Who *not* to listen to on energy policy


"On energy policy, listening to environmentalists who value less human impact on earth is as bad as listening to anti-vaxxers & taking seriously a 'vaccine-neutral' vision on health policy."
          ~ Nikos Sotirakopoulos


Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Four Amazing Differences


There are things every adult human being really needs to know, argues Don Boudreaux in this guest post, and four of them are inescapable economic principles...

Four Amazing Differences

by Don Boudreaux

If there’s a particular purpose for my presence on this earth – other than being a loving and responsible father for my son – that purpose is to teach principles of economics. Even adjusting (as best as I can) for professional bias, I have no doubt that no body of knowledge is more important for understanding society than is economics, with few bodies of knowledge being as important. And the part of economics that, far and away, is most important is economics principles, popularly known as “Econ 101.” Probably as much as 90 percent of the many harmful government policies being pursued or proposed at any moment would grind to a halt if a majority of the populace [or of economics lecturers - Ed.] had a solid grasp of basic economics.

At the beginning of each semester, I – unlike most teachers of economics principles – devote a couple of hours to the task of impressing upon my students (most of whom are still too young to purchase adult beverages) just how very different is the world they know from the world that was known to most of their ancestors. I identify four ways in which the lives of those of us in the modern, capitalist world differ categorically from the lives of almost everyone until just a few centuries ago.

1: Astonishing Prosperity


The most obvious way in which our lives today differ from those of our pre-capitalist ancestors is that we’re fantastically wealthier. Ordinary people today sleep beneath hard roofs and walk on hard floors in homes equipped with indoor plumbing, electric lighting, and featuring cupboards full of food, closets full of clothing, and garages or driveways full of automobiles. We’re so wealthy that it’s quite plausible that our pets today live materially better lives than did our human ancestors before the industrial age.

Although recounted frequently, this truth about modern standards of living cannot be told too often. We’re so accustomed to our spectacular wealth that we take it for granted. And that which is taken for granted is seldom appreciated and correctly understood.

2: Reliance on Strangers


A second way in which our lives differ categorically from the lives of nearly all of our ancestors is that we, unlike our ancestors, depend for our survival almost exclusively on strangers. Prior to capitalism, Jones personally helped to produce many of the goods that he or she consumed. Jones likely had a hand directly in the hunt, building the family hut, weaving cloth for the family’s clothing, or tending the crops and animals destined to become the family’s meals. Most of the other goods and services consumed by Jones but not directly produced with his or her labor, were produced by people known personally to Jones, such as the village blacksmith, cobbler, cooper, butcher, tailor, tanner, carpenter, and wheelwright.

Today in stark contrast, we denizens of capitalist economies not only do not personally directly help to produce the goods that we consume, we have no idea of the identities of nearly everyone who did have a hand in producing the goods that we consume. Almost everything that we consume is produced for us by persons who we do not know – by people who are, to us, strangers.

Consider the shirt now on your back, the shoes on your feet, the salami in your refrigerator, the lightbulb above your head, your smartphone resting nearby, the gasoline in your car, and the polio vaccine that still protects your body. Ask: Who made these things? You have no idea of their names, faces, religious beliefs, political affiliations, or physical whereabouts. And none of these people know you. But nevertheless these strangers who don’t know you – and, hence, who presumably don’t care about you – somehow were led to toil to produce valuable things for you.

Wow.

3: The Strangers are Multitudinous


A third way that our lives today differ categorically from the lives of all humans who lived before the dawn of capitalism is that the sheer number of people whose knowledge, skills, and efforts are necessary to produce the goods and services that we are accustomed to consume on a regular basis is astronomical. Not only are we today utterly dependent for our survival on strangers, the number of strangers on whom we depend is mind-bogglingly large.

This reality is true for even seemingly simple goods such as pairs of jeans, oranges, and window panes. But this reality is better seen by pondering a more ‘modern’ yet still commonplace good, such as a smartphone. The glass on the phone’s face is made of materials that some strangers found by exploring and that were then processed by other strangers into glass. Yet different strangers programmed the codes that allow the phone to work, while other strangers designed the microprocessors – little marvels that were physically produced by machines made by still other strangers and then transported to the factory for assembly by yet different strangers. Each app, of course, is the product of the minds of other strangers still.

I don’t know – no one could possibly know – the exact number of persons whose efforts were devoted to producing your smartphone and keeping it operational. But I’m confident that this number is much greater than one million – in fact, it’s likely multiple times greater. When this number is added to the number of strangers whose efforts were devoted to producing your living-room couch, your HVAC system, the latest medicines that you ingested, your automobile, and the commercial-air flight that you’ll next take to visit your parents or to close that business deal, the number of strangers who routinely work for you likely numbers well over a billion.

Even more wow.

4: No One Knows How to Make Any Modern Good


The fourth categorical difference between our lives and those of our pre-capitalist forebearers is that almost everything we consume is something that no one person knows how to make or could possibly know how to make. This incredible claim warrants repetition: Nearly everything that we consume is something that no one does, or could, know how to make.

The most famous explanation of this marvelous reality is Leonard Read’s brilliant 1958 essay “I, Pencil.” The production of something as commonplace, as inexpensive, and as seemingly simple as an ordinary pencil requires the knowledge and efforts of so many different individuals that no one person – indeed, no committee of tireless geniuses – could possibly possess such knowledge. This inconceivably vast amount of knowledge is dispersed across the minds of countless specialized producers, nearly all of whom are strangers to each other as well as to the final consumers of their products. And yet we have pencils in such abundance that an ordinary American worker today need toil only 13 seconds to earn enough income – ten cents – to purchase a new pencil.

Reflect on this fact: An ordinary (“nonsupervisory”) private-sector American worker today, who earns about $27 per hour, can earn enough income in a matter of seconds to purchase something the production of which is so complex that no human being can hope to know fully all that is involved in its production and, hence, that requires the knowledge and labor of millions of strangers.

What causes the great and overwhelmingly successful coordination across the globe of the productive efforts of billions of strangers? And why is this coordination so silent and incessant that we take it for granted? We hardly notice it.

We hardly notice this vast occurrence of global cooperation and coordination, that is, until our attention is drawn to it by a competent teacher of Econ 101. That teacher’s task then becomes that of revealing the logic of how market prices, profits and losses, competition, and innovation drive the specialization and the innumerable efforts that make our marvelous world a reality.

The learning adventure is glorious!

* * * * 

Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with American Institute for Economic Research and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He is the author of the books 'The Essential Hayek,' 'Globalization, Hypocrites and Half-Wits,' and his articles appear in such publications as the 'Wall Street Journal,' 'New York Times,' 'US News & World Report' as well as numerous scholarly journals. He writes a blog called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the 'Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.' Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
His post first appeared at the AIER blog.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

"Justice consists first not in condemning, but in admiring..."


"Justice consists first not in condemning, but in admiring -- and then in expressing one's admiration explicitly and in fighting for those one admires....
    “It is, if anything, more important to praise and reward the good than to condemn the evil. To speak up and to fight for the men who are right and who represent rational values.
    “Granted, the evil must be fought and condemned … but then, brushed aside.
    “What counts in life … and this is the issue, of course, of the potency of virtue … what counts in life is the good.
    “They are the men who create the values life requires. They are the men mankind relies on. They are the men whose virtues and achievements must be acknowledged above all, if justice is a virtue, and if life is the standard.
    “So it is important to tell Plato, for instance, that he's wrong. But it is more important that Aristotle hear somebody who recognizes that he is right.
    “It's important that James Taggart not get away with the fraud that he runs Taggart Transcontinental, but it is more important that Rearden find someone who can understand what he is achieving.
    “The first duty of justice is to acknowledge and defend the good.
    “And in this respect, I might point out the whole of 'Atlas Shrugged' is a passionate act of justice.”

~ Leonard Peikoff, composite quote from his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and lecture 'Objectivism and the Moral Foundations of Government' [hat tips Felipe Lapyda and Robert Nasir]

Monday, 4 July 2022

“ The artist and the entrepreneur, so often pitted against each other, are in fact on the same side.”

 

Pic by Financial Times


“Artists and entrepreneurs are blessed with similar convictions. Both are innovators. They see possibilities where others see limitations, bringing the previously unimagined into being. Both have skin in the game, living in the theatre of risk, performing on the public stage of jeopardy. Failure can be brutal and success is often a prelude to future disappointment but they are driven ever-forward by self-expression; it’s in the DNA of these independent, slightly unreasonable, regularly difficult people. Cussed mindsets have no alternative. Both the artist and the entrepreneur suffocate when shackled by a boss, a wage or an insurance premium. 
“Born disrupters, truly great artists and entrepreneurs are modernists, creating demand where none previously existed, conjuring something out of their imagination and courage. Unlike the critic, the artist and entrepreneur are eternally optimistic. They must believe in the future. The optimism of their will overcomes the pessimism of their intellect. Originality is their currency and constant adaptation their tool. The artist and the entrepreneur, so often pitted against each other, are in fact on the same side.”
~ David McWilliams, from his article ‘Bloom or Bust: What James Joyce can teach us about economics

Friday, 1 July 2022

"Vaccines have directly or indirectly saved about 20 million lives worldwide, reducing the death toll of the pandemic by close to two thirds"


Image by Daniel Schludi, via Unsplash, license.

"Between leftists sowing panic about Covid (and overselling the Covid vaccines) and Trumpsters all but pretending Covid doesn't exist (and yet that the vaccines didn't work at all, or were even dangerous), I can understand why many people had trouble reaching a solid conclusion about whether taking one is a good idea....
    "With that out of the way, here is some good news as a respite from the bad coming from every corner today: Researchers have estimated that, despite their delayed and far from optimal rollout, the Covid vaccines have directly or indirectly saved about 20 million lives worldwide, reducing the death toll of the pandemic by close to two thirds...
    "[Further,] the longer the vulnerable evade the virus, the less vulnerable they become relative to the original virus. For example, I am glad to know that Paxlovid is available now, if my wife or I catch this.
    "That's both good news and a lesson for when the next pandemic happens, if one should occur in our lifetimes. If that happens, 'part of me wants to catch this and get it over with' will not even cross my mind!
    "And that would be true, even if the next one doesn't turn out to be able to reinfect.
          ~ Gus Van Horn, from his post 'The Millions Saved by Covid Vaccines'


Thursday, 30 June 2022

"True, governments can reduce the rate of interest in the short run..."


"The cyclical fluctuations of business are not an occurrence originating in the sphere of the unhampered market, but a product of government interference with business conditions designed to lower the rate of interest below the height at which the free market would have fixed it....
    "The wavelike movement effecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion....
    "True, governments can reduce the rate of interest in the short run. They can issue additional paper money. They can open the way to credit expansion by the banks. They can thus create an artificial boom and the appearance of prosperity. But such a boom is bound to collapse soon or late and to bring about a depression....
    "The ultimate cause, therefore, of the phenomenon of wave after wave of economic ups and downs is ideological in character. The cycles will not disappear so long as people believe that the rate of interest may be reduced, not through the accumulation of capital, but by banking policy."

~ Ludwig Von Mises on the Business Cycle, compiled quote from his books Human Action, Omnipotent Government, and article 'On the Manipulation of Money and Credit.'


Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Churchill - "Without him England was lost for a certainty, and with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and again."

 

 "...3/4 of the population of the world imagine that Winston Churchill is one of the Strategists of History, a second Marlborough, and the other 1/4 have no conception what a public menace he is and has been throughout this war! It is far better that the world should never know, and never suspect the feet of clay of that otherwise superhuman being. Without him England was lost for a certainty, and with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and again."

~ Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke, Chief of Churchill's Imperial General Staff, diary entry 10 September, 1944

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

"The anti-abortionists’ claim to being 'pro-life' is a classic Big Lie."


'Flaming June' by Frederick Leighton

"[Nearly [fif]ty years after Roe V. Wade, no one defends the right to abortion in fundamental, moral terms, which is why the pro-abortion rights forces are on the defensive.
    "Abortion-rights advocates should not cede the terms 'pro-life' and 'right to life' to the anti-abortionists. It is a woman’s right to her life that gives her the right to terminate her pregnancy.
    "Nor should abortion-rights advocates keep hiding behind the phrase 'a woman’s right to choose'” Does she have the right to choose murder? That’s what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.
    "The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person.
    "We must not confuse potentiality with actuality.... That tiny growth, that mass of protoplasm, exists as a part of a woman’s body. It is not an independently existing, biologically formed organism, let alone a person. That which lives within the body of another can claim no right against its host. Rights belong only to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual.
    "('Independent' does not mean self-supporting–a child who depends on its parents for food, shelter, and clothing, has rights because it is an actual, separate human being.)
    "'Rights,' in Ayn Rand’s words, 'do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born.'
    "It is only on this base that we can support the woman’s political right to do what she chooses in this issue. No other person–not even her husband–has the right to dictate what she may do with her own body. That is a fundamental principle of freedom....
    "Abortions are private affairs and often involve painfully difficult decisions with life-long consequences. But, tragically, the lives of the parents are completely ignored by the anti-abortionists. Yet that is the essential issue. In any conflict it’s the actual, living persons who count, not the mere potential of the embryo....
    "The anti-abortionists’ attitude, however, is: 'The actual life of the parents be damned! Give up your life, liberty, property and the pursuit of your own happiness.
    "Sentencing a woman to sacrifice her life to an embryo is not upholding the 'right-to-life.'
    "The anti-abortionists’ claim to being 'pro-life' is a classic Big Lie. You cannot be in favour of life and yet demand the sacrifice of an actual, living individual to a clump of tissue.
    "Anti-abortionists are not lovers of life–lovers of tissue, maybe. But their stand marks them as haters of real human beings."
          ~ philosopher Leonard Peikoff, from his article 'Abortion Rights are Pro-Life'


Monday, 27 June 2022

"Decades of being able to point to 'Roe v. Wade' and declare the matter settled has made the left ideologically complacent and unable to defend the philosophical basis of their stand on abortion"


"The abortion debate is America’s great testing ground for the theory that you can win an argument, not on its actual merits, but merely by manipulating the language to 'frame' the issue in your favour. So the defenders of abortion don’t call themselves anything so crude as defenders of abortion. They call themselves 'pro-choice,' because who wants to be against choice? And the opponents of abortion call themselves 'pro-life,' because who wants to be against life?
    "... Decades of being able to point to 'Roe v. Wade' and declare the matter settled has made the left ideologically complacent and unable to defend the philosophical basis of their stand on abortion ... [yet] abortion is an issue that uniquely calls upon a deep philosophical perspective.... the abortion issue won’t let you get away with vague invocations of 'freedom.' It requires that you have a specific philosophical view on what is the source of individual rights.... [yet] in a way, both sides have abandoned the field of proper philosophical argument, on an issue that really requires it.
    "It is important to fill that gap, to know where we stand philosophically, and to clearly define our principles, because this debate is just getting started....
    "Put simply, if you think rights are granted by society, as the left does, that leads to one particular view of abortion. If you think that rights are given to us by God, that tends to support a different view. And if you believe that rights have a secular, non-collectivist foundation, as I do, that leads to yet another approach to the question ... a third possibility: that they come from nature...."
          ~ Robert Tracinski, from his 2013 article 'The Philosophy of Gosnell'

"Accumulated savings..."


"Accumulated savings consist of the entire stock of existing capital goods and partially finished goods. We might also add stockpiled partially consumed final goods such as houses and cars as savings. Production processes use up some capital goods and cause capital goods to wear out, which is the consumption of savings.
    "The consumption of savings is a real process. Savings are consumed as stockpiles are used up, energy is burned, and capital goods wear out. These processes are not directly comparable to quantities of cash used in transactions. Because the production of capital goods and the movement of goods to market uses up real resources, these processes can only be funded by savings...
    "Accumulated cash balances are not accumulated savings."

          ~ Robert Blumen, from his article 'Did Real Bills Enable the Growth of Trade'


Friday, 24 June 2022

"They beg for more oil and coal for themselves while telling developing lands to rely on unreliable solar and wind."


"The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants, and Spain and Italy are spending big on African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the nation will more than double its exports....
    "They beg for more oil and coal for themselves while telling developing lands to rely on [unreliable] solar and wind."

~ Bjorn Lomborg, from his op-ed 'The Rich World’s Climate Hypocrisy' [hat tip Samizdata]

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Abuse


"When [legal] power is given which may be easily abused, we ought always to presume that it will be abused, and although it is possible that great precautions will be taken at first, those precautions are likely to be relaxed in time. We ought not to give powers liable to very great abuse, and easily abused, and then presume that those powers will not be abused."
~ John Stuart Mill, from his Testimony on the 1871 Contagious Diseases Act [hat tip Stephen Hicks]

 

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

"There is no surer way to infect mankind with hatred — brute, blind, virulent hatred — than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes."


"Tribalism has moved from the fringes of society to the mainstream. We live in what’s becoming a tribal age.
    "What does that bode for our future? ...
    "Take a look at societies where tribalism is deeply enmeshed in the culture. Look at the unending tribal conflicts of the Balkans; the hundreds of thousands of corpses that piled up during the eruption of tribal conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda; the sectarian wars that pervade the Middle East....
    "'There is no surer way to infect mankind with hatred — brute, blind, virulent hatred — than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes. If a man believes that his own character is determined at birth in some unknown, ineffable way, and that the characters of all strangers are determined in the same way — then no communication, no understanding, no persuasion is possible among them, only mutual fear, suspicion and hatred'....
    "The spread of tribalism, [Ayn] Rand continued, 'is an enormously anti-intellectual evil.' There’s no bargaining with tribalism, no accommodation, no compromise to be found with it. Tribalism can, and must, be marginalised and eliminated.The antidote for tribalism — the positive to aim at — is the ideal of individualism, which animates Rand’s philosophic thought and novels.... The source of [her characters'] virtue lies in their choice to think for themselves.
    "For Rand, that path is open to every single one of us, if we choose it....
    "It’s this fundamental commitment to reason and facts that enables you to pursue your own goals and happiness in life; to find the people you rightly choose to associate with and to love.
    "And, on Rand’s account, it is this fundamental orientation to reality, rather than some collective, that inoculates the individual from the virulent pull of tribalism."

          ~ Elan Journo, from his article 'The Virulent Pull of Tribalism'


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

"The British Empire was something that people should celebrate..."


"[Britain's new] Attorney General is proud of the British Empire for what it brought to the world in terms of language, culture and the industrial revolution. Suella Braverman says ... 'the Left is 'ashamed' and 'fearful' of Britain’s history when in fact it should celebrate 'the ingenuity and the genius of the British people'.... The British Empire was something that people should celebrate...
    "[Suella Braverman, the Attorney General] said her parents - who emigrated to the UK in the 1960s from Mauritius and Kenya- 'were born under the British Empire in the 1940s, and they have nothing but good things to tell me about the mother country. I am proud of the British Empire. I am informed by the experience of my parents.'
    “Not least the fact that it was Britain that gave them opportunity and safety when they were young adults.' ...
    "[In] Mauritius “the legal system, the language, some of the educational norms - are all influenced heavily by the British Empire. In Kenya, the administration, the civil service, the infrastructure, ports, railways, roads brought by the British - the British Empire was a force for good. That is not to deny the awful things as well that went on because of the time period and cultural norms at that time'...
    "‘What Britain brought to their countries… was remarkable. And I am very saddened by this apology and shame promulgated by the left and ... the collective guilt ... that permeates our society.”
    "Ms Braverman, MP for Fareham, added that she was 'very frustrated with left-wing activists who want to decolonise our curriculum and cancel our culture and take down statues'....  
    "'A small view of Britain [is] that we are somehow insignificant and wrongdoers rather than [the] generous view of Britain in terms of what we’ve brought to the world, in terms of language, culture and the industrial revolution'."

 


Monday, 20 June 2022

"One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism ..."


"One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.”
          ~ Ayn Rand, from her 1975 essay 'The Lessons of Vietnam'

Saturday, 18 June 2022

"Endemic isn't harmless"


"Instead of attenuating until it is no worse than the flu or - like a miracle - disappearing, Covid-19 is here to stay. It will join the roster of infectious diseases that we grapple with on a regular basis, like measles, RSV and influenza. But the threat it poses to the health system and its ability to kill [at a rate 8 times more than seasonal flu] and cause Long Covid put it somewhat closer to those older diseases [polio, smallpox] we have since put behind us.
    "'There's a fair chance it's going to sit in this tricky space where it is more serious than the flu but it's not the existential threat that it was in 2020,' University of Canterbury mathematician and Covid-19 modeller Michael Plank said.
    "For more than two years, people have looked forward to Covid-19 exiting a pandemic state and becoming endemic, as if that marks the end of our struggle with the virus. In truth, this is just the beginning...
    "'Covid-19, another highly transmissible infection [like polio] with long-term consequences for health, may well end up in that same basket of diseases that are simply too infectious and too harmful to tolerate ongoing high levels of community transmission.'
    "And without any other interventions, high levels of community transmission are what we're destined to get. The Covid-19 pandemic may be coming to an end, but our fight against the virus is just beginning."

~ Marc Daalder, from his article 'Covid isn’t over, it’s just getting started' [hat tip Eric Crampton]


Friday, 17 June 2022

Beer O’Clock Tribute: All Hail Pale Ale


Way back in the mists of time, i.e., about 14-55 years or so BC*, back when craft beer was just something talked about on obscure blogs by large oft-bearded men wearing Hawaiian shirts, the late and much-lamented beer writer and raconteur Neil Miller was one of the two main contributors to our (ir)regular Friday afternoon Beer O'Clock column here at NOT PC -- in which in his own entertaining fashion he introduced most of us to just what was going on with this weird new stuff that frequently tasted of something called hops.

So in tribute to his good self, I'm going to just as (ir)regularly post some of those columns that you might remember -- this one, for example, in which he introduced us to something we'd never heard of, something called Pale Ale...

Beer O’Clock: All Hail Pale Ale

From 2007: in which Neil celebrated one of his favourite beer styles – Pale Ales ...

I’m a great believer that beer needs to be drunk in the proper context. Ordering a jug of Speight’s at the excellent Leuven Belgian Beer Café is very poor form. Conversely, drinking 8.5 per cent Duvel at the cricket will have you completely trumpeted by tea time.

The quest for proper context was my excuse at least for eating gourmet hot dogs and watching the opening match of the NFL while sampling the first bottle of Emerson’s American Pale Ale (6 per cent). The star-spangled label would outrage Nick Kelly and Keith Locke - always a huge bonus. It pours a deep burnished gold which would not be out of place in Fort Knox.

This is a big, strong and independent beer delivering plenty of rich orange and grapefruit notes – like snogging a Californian fruit salad - before a unilaterally firm finish. The day this beer is released each September should be a public holiday. No one would really miss Labour Day.

American Pale Ales (APA) are the boisterous new cousins of the traditional English style pale ales. Historically, pale ales are firm, fruity, nutty and relatively bitter. A fine example is the Croucher Pale Ale (5 per cent) from Rotorua. The brewer, Paul Croucher, is a reformed university lecturer who is fiercely passionate about food and beer.

His Pale Ale throws a punchy malt nose with lashings of stone fruit. In the glass, it has a full, biscuity body with pronounced orange and caramel notes. A lingering dry finish leaves the drinker immediately ready for the next taste.

One of the popular beer genres is India Pale Ale. This style of beer was developed when Britain still ruled the Raj. The troops – heaven forbid – would not drink local brews, so barrels of good old English pale ale (pip! pip!) were shipped in from Portsmouth.

Given that beer does not like heat or movement, the rough, steamy ship journeys tended to see the beer arrive in an undrinkable state. Long before refrigeration, the brewers turned to their two main weapons against infection – alcohol and hops (a natural preservative). The result was a strong, bitter style known as India Pale Ale (IPA) which, ironically, has still never been made in India.

Made from authentic ingredients and true to style, Tuatara IPA (5 per cent) is a luxuriant beer with a deep spicy nose, mellow marmalade body and a long, imperial finish. It is great to see this beer appearing in supermarkets around town.

Another university lecturer who went on to gainful employment is the effervescent Dr Ralph Bungard who runs the boutique Three Boys microbrewery in Christchurch. He says his Three Boys IPA (5.2 per cent) is unique because it uses a selection of New Zealand-grown hops which produce similar aromas and flavours to modern IPAs and APAs, “but extends those styles in a genuinely New Zealand direction.”

His golden beer has a herbal and citrus nose, a well balanced body with lashings of grapefruit and a cleansing finish. Another magnificent beer and one more reason to All Hail Pale Ale!

Cheers, Neil
* BC = Before Covid

Markets Must Have Their Day of Reckoning



Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne,
Public Domain, via Wikimedia

The American Federal Reserve Bank governors all thought they could avoid a day of reckoning post-2008, but all they've done is delay it -- and as Dan Sanchez outlines in this Guest Post, the longer it has been postponed, the worse it is going to be...

Markets Must Have Their Day of Reckoning

Guest Post by Dan Sanchez

A worse-than-expected inflation report released last Friday spooked U.S. Federal Reserve officials into contemplating on Monday steeper-than-expected interest rate hikes.

That in turn spooked traders into a stock sell-off, driving the S&P 500 into a bear market that same day.

And that in turn is spooking everyone about the prospect of an imminent recession.

And the Fed just confirmed investor fears about this when it approved an interest-rate increase of 75 basis points, the largest interest rate increase since 1994, and then "signalled it would continue lifting rates this year at the most rapid pace in decades.”

Scary as the prospect may be, the economy is long overdue for a crash. And the more we postpone that Day of Reckoning, the worse it will be.

Indeed, in a sense, a “reckoning” is exactly what an economic “bust” is. And understanding why can help us understand what (and who) drives the boom/bust business cycle.

In the Christian tradition, the “Day of Reckoning” refers to the Last Judgment: a prophesied time when everyone’s good deeds and misdeeds in life will be accounted for, with eternal reward and punishment apportioned accordingly.

The phrase is also a literary application of a financial term. To “reckon” is to count, to calculate, or to estimate a quantity. And historically, a “reckoning” meant a settling of financial accounts.

In the boom/bust business cycle, an economic “bust” or “recession” is a “reckoning” in that it is a correction of the distortions of the preceding “boom” or “bubble”: a mass recalculation of profit and loss that reconciles the markets with economic reality.

In Objectivist terms, you can evade economic reality (as 'The Fed' has been trying to), but you cannot evade the consequences of that evasion. It is those chickens that are now coming home to roost.

Fed lending inflated the bubble that is now beginning to burst. The process is destructively simple: In the American economy, the distortions of the boom/bubble are the result of the Fed creating new money and dumping it into the loan and capital markets in order to “stimulate” the economy.

The new money bids up the prices of capital goods—and future financial flows in general—relative to the prices of present consumption goods and services.

This is manifested in a drop in the interest rate, and it misleads entrepreneurs into investing more resources into production without a commensurate decrease in present consumption of resources (in other words, without a commensurate increase in saving).

This means the economy’s scarce resources are over-committed, so there is not enough for all the boom-time production projects to actually be completed. [We can see this here in NZ with reports of supply and skilled-labour shortages that are more than just Covid-related.]

This overextended, artificially “stimulated” economy may be pleasant for the present (for investors, workers, consumers, and the government), but it will inevitably incur great pain down the road.

Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist who first described this process, compared the situation to a housebuilder with an inflated inventory of building materials. Perhaps he only has enough resources to build a bungalow, but misled by his falsified figures, he lays the groundwork for a mansion.

Inevitably, the builder’s plans must collide with reality. At some point in the building process, he must realize that his project is unsustainable; he must “take stock” and come to a “reckoning” of how much he really has.

It will be a rude awakening, to be sure. But the sooner it happens, the fewer resources the builder will squander: not only his labour and those of his team, but any materials that can’t be salvaged from the partially-built mansion. If his Day of Reckoning is delayed too long, by the time he course-corrects, his malinvestments may have impoverished him so much that he no longer has enough to build a bungalow and must settle for a shed.

Similarly, an economy “stimulated” by interest rates being driven down, not by an increase in saving, but by the Fed’s money-pumping, must inevitably collide with the limits of scarcity. Economic reality can be evaded, but it cannot be defied. At some point, the economy’s entrepreneurs must realise that not all of their projects can be completed with the saved resources available.

This realisation generally happens when the Fed finally eases up on the money-pumping (as it has started to do recently), allowing relative prices (and thus, interest rates) to recalibrate to better reflect the actual rate of saving. The more realistic pricing paradigm brings about a reckoning: a massive do-over of profit-and-loss accounting. Projected profits turn to losses on a mass scale, revealing malinvestments for what they are. That is what is known as a crash, bust, recession, or depression.

A recession is a revelation of economic truth. It is a painful revelation, to be sure. But, just as with Mises’s housebuilder, the sooner it is allowed to fully happen, the better. The longer the Fed postpones the economy’s Day of Reckoning by continuing to falsify economic calculation with its money-pumping, the more resources will be squandered, the more civilisation will be impoverished, and the more excruciating the inevitable reckoning will be.

We must eventually reckon with economic reality anyway. So there is no better day to start than today.

* * * * 

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in chief of FEE.org, where a version of his post first appeared.



Thursday, 16 June 2022

"There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion."


"The recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression, is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion. There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved."
~ Ludwig Von Mises, from the chapter 'The Monetary or Circulation-Credit Theory of the Trade Cycle' in his book Human Action


Wednesday, 15 June 2022

"New Zealand does very well in amplifying its homegrown gang problem"


"Lately there’s a lot of noise over the deported 501s and their contribution to escalating gang and gun violence.
    "But New Zealand does very well in amplifying its homegrown [gang] problem through strong welfare incentives and weak child protection services....
    "Over an examined twenty-one year period 92 percent of gang members received a benefit at some point with the average duration of receipt at 8.9 years.
    "Their rents are often paid through the accommodation supplement if not through income-related rents and emergency housing in motels etc. And their food is often paid for through hardship grants.
    "Gang partners are also paid single parent benefits and child tax credits. Their weekly ‘package’ can amass more than $1,000.... it is important to gang members to father children, and they do it more frequently than non-gang members - 2,337 gang members had benefit spells that included 7,075 dependent children."

~ Lindsay Mitchell, from her post 'Why Luxon Can't Win the War on Gangs.' She notes that in 2014 there were 3,960 adult gang members known to police; 5,343 at the end of 2017; and as of June 30 last year there were 8,061! As I said back in 2016, 'Don’t like gangs? Then legalise cannabis.'

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

The modern educational science of victimology


"The primary function of teachers today is no longer to be the transmitters of knowledge but to serve as agents of social and political change. This is what they are taught to be in the teacher-training institutions....
    "['Educators' there have] invested enormous time and resources in pushing the ideology and agenda of what is often called cultural Marxism and what is more narrowly known as 'Critical Theory' ... now dominated by two offshoots of Critical Theory known as Critical Gender Theory and Critical Race Theory. Developed in America’s [teachers colleges] and law schools, Critical Gender Theory and Critical Race Theory seek to deconstruct and reinvent all traditional gender categories and racial relationships. The primary delivery mechanism for inciting this social revolution is [the] government school system...
    "The principal aim of CT was and is, first, to deconstruct the forms of domination and hierarchy (i.e., the power relations) found in traditional or bourgeois societies, and, second, to reconstruct society toward what it calls 'real' or 'true' democracy, which is a neologism for socialism. Critical theory seeks to liberate any and all 'victim' groups based on their inferior and subjugated social status in capitalist societies (e.g., non-whites, women, and LGBTQ+ persons, etc.)....
    "The overweening goal of Critical Theory was and is the theoretical and practical delegitimisation of all Western moral, social, cultural, religious, legal, political, and economic institutions. Critical Theory is less a philosophy and more of a weapon used in a never-ending critique of Western civilisation. The point, however, was not to destroy the West’s institutions through armed revolution and violence as with traditional Marxist-Leninists but rather to infiltrate, undermine, and silently reconstruct those institutions from within. Eventually, the Frankfurters broadened the universal conflict from that between proletariat and bourgeoisie to oppressors (fill in the blank) and oppressed (fill in the blank)....
    "The specific political goal is to create a new class of the 'oppressed.' From this new class of victims will come the new revolutionaries who will keep the revolution alive and move it to the next stage of development. This is the ultimate means by which capitalism is to be dismantled and the State is to become the final arbiter of the principle, 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'."

Monday, 13 June 2022

"The purpose of a gang..."


"It has often been thought that by many who analyse gang membership that belonging to a gang offers young people the family experience that they have been deprived of.... If this were true, everyone who lives in an impoverished, decaying or otherwise brutal environment would join a gang....
    "The purpose of a gang is not to provide a stable, nurturing, caring, family environment. It is ... a group of warriors who ruthlessly pursue their objectives, and who readily dispense with anyone who betrays them. In the family of gangs, anyone is expendable."
          ~ Stanton Samenow, from his book Inside the Criminal Mind



Friday, 10 June 2022

Why do we hear increasing calls for censorship in the market for ideas?



Why is free speech so frequently disparaged today -- dismissed as "freeze peach" by the commentariat -- by those who, yesterday, were in the forefront of the battles to defend it? As Peter Jacobsen explains in this Guest Post, a 1974 paper by Nobel Prize-winner Ronald Coase (below) has a convincing answer.



Why do we hear increasing calls for censorship in the market for ideas?

by Peter Jacobsen

After Elon Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter was accepted, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans for a “disinformation” governance board. Musk’s purchase is not final, and the governance board is now paused, but the reaction to these events has been telling.

One might expect professionals in the market for ideas would be concerned by a government agency policing speech. Curiously, many groups who historically have defended free speech against interference seem slow (or absent) in response.

Members of the journalism industry have reacted negatively to Musk’s vocal support of free speech. His purchase is “dangerous,” and his commitment to free speech will lead to people being “silenced.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press attacked Musk for wanting free speech, claiming that this desire was inconsistent with the fact that he has criticised people in the past.


This claim by the AP is terribly confused since, as most sane people understand, criticism is obviously compatible with free speech.

Time magazine voiced opposition to Musk from another angle, trying to disparage what they called his “tech bro” obsession with free speech." 

Meanwhile, CNN writers crafted the suggestive headline, “Twitter has been focused on 'healthy conversations.' Elon Musk could change that.”

And over at The Conversation, Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University, argues John Milton’s idea of the uncensored marketplace of ideas is outdated and calls for “refereeing” of social media. And of course, this refereeing isn’t at all what we'd call censorship. Why would you think that?

Another professor writing for The Conversation, Jaigris Hudson, argues Elon Musk’s free-speech push will make speech less free because if harsh language is allowed some people will apparently just stop talking. This article when set next to this Washington Post piece and the AP tweet underscores a consistent theme of mistaking free speech for freedom from criticism.

Head bureaucrat of the government’s “paused” disinformation board, Nina Jankowicz, also wishes Twitter would move in another direction. Jankowicz wonders, why not allow verified accounts to edit the Tweets of people using free speech too dangerously?

Although it isn’t uncommon for high level military bureaucrats like Jankowicz to desire censorship, academics and journalists have long been stalwart defenders of the importance of an uncensored marketplace for ideas. For a long time, universities and newspapers were seen as places where controversial means and ends could be debated publicly. The common final defence of these institutions against calls for censorship was “the truth will out.” No longer.

But this once-common defence of the marketplace of ideas was so universal among the professional intellectual class that it inspired Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase (1910-2013) to write a paper trying to explain why this was so. And, using this same paper, we can see Coase implicitly predicted the increasing favourability of censorship among the professional intellectual class.

The Market for Goods vs. the Market for Ideas


In a 1974 paper, Coase, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School, mused over an interesting puzzle. Professional intellectuals focus tremendous effort in highlighting why the market for goods and services requires regulation. Meanwhile, those same intellectuals often argued that the market for ideas should be free from regulation.

So, why the asymmetry?

To answer this puzzle, Coase first dismissed two popular but wrong explanations for this paradox.

The first explanation is that markets for goods and services can have so-called 'market failures.' For example, if gasoline buyers and sellers don’t have to pay for the pollution gasoline generates, they will buy and sell too much at the expense of those who experience pollution. (Coase's solution was to ensure all such costs were internalised.)

However, the problem with this explanation is obvious. There can also be failures in the market for ideas. Even if it’s correct that the best idea will win, it’s obvious that the best idea won’t always win immediately. Pollution in the market for ideas, such as disinformation, is also possible.

In other words, the market for ideas also has market failures. On this criteria, either both types of markets should be regulated–or neither.

The second wrong explanation for why professional intellectuals defend the market for ideas from regulation is that unregulated speech is necessary for a functioning democracy. This explanation sounds okay at first, so what’s wrong with it?

Well, the market for goods and services is also necessary for a functioning democracy. As Coase puts it,
For most people in most countries (and perhaps in all countries), the provision of food, clothing, and shelter is a good deal more important than the provision of the “right ideas,” even if it is assumed that we know what they are.
So good ideas being necessary for a functioning democracy can’t be an explanation for why the market for ideas should be unregulated, since professional intellectuals favour regulation for goods and services which are also necessary for a functioning democracy.

The asymmetry remains.

Coase finishes his 1974 essay by solving the paradox. Why do professional intellectuals defend the market for ideas against regulation but not the market for goods and services?
The market for ideas is the market in which the intellectual conducts his trade. The explanation of the paradox is self-interest and self-esteem. Self-esteem leads the intellectuals to magnify the importance of their own market. That others should be regulated seems natural, particularly as many of the intellectuals see themselves as doing the regulating.
So, the market for goods and services is one over which the intellectuals would like to exercise control. Whereas the market for ideas is, in 1974 at least, the market already controlled by the intellectuals. And they see their market as a higher and more important calling. The market for goods and services, in their view, is both less important and more corrupted.

The Masses Take Over the Market for Ideas


So how does Coase’s explanation here predict the increasing calls for censorship in the market for ideas?

Remember the explanation Coase gave. Professional intellectuals considered the market for ideas as above regulation because they controlled the market.

But times have changed since Coase wrote his article in 1974.

The internet has revolutionised the landscape of the market for ideas. It’s no longer the case that the well credentialed have the most sway in the ideas market. Recent years have been characterized by creators on YouTube, podcasts, and, most recently, Substack dominating the market for ideas.

Now that the market for ideas is no longer dominated by academia and the journalism industry, and some of those places in which they do hang out intellectually look to be controlled by what they see as out-of-control billionaires, members of those groups no longer have the same incentives to stop industry regulation.

In fact, as in many industries, it may be in incumbents’ best interest to regulate competition. After all, if people get their new commentary from Joe Rogan and not CNN, that hurts CNN’s bottom line.

So, although Coase did not foresee in his piece the decentralisation of the market of ideas, the logic of his paper gives a clear prediction. If the ones who hold the reins to the market for ideas lose their grip, calls for regulation are sure to follow. And this is exactly what we’re seeing.



* * * *

Peter Jacobsen is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ottawa University and the Gwartney Professor of Economic Education and Research at the Gwartney Institute. He received his PhD in economics from George Mason University, and obtained his BS from Southeast Missouri State University. His research interest is at the intersection of political economy, development economics, and population economics. His website can be found here.
His post previously appeared at the blog for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).


Thursday, 9 June 2022

Beware the Allure of Simple ‘Solutions’


What's 'not seen' by social engineers is generally even more important than what is, explains Don Boudreaux in this Guest Post. Social engineers see only a relatively few surface phenomena, he observes, and remain blind to the astonishing complexity that is ever-churning beneath the surface that goes to create those surface phenomena. They need to turn off their tendency to push their simple coercive solutions at the expense of the freedom that would otherwise solve them.

'Turn off that tendency to coerce,' says Don Boudreaux

Beware the Allure of Simple ‘Solutions’

by Don Boudreaux

The attitudes and opinions of today’s so-called “elite” – those public-opinion formers who Deirdre McCloskey calls “the clerisy” – are childish. And not in a good way. Most journalists and writers working for most premier media and entertainment companies, along with most professors and public intellectuals, think, talk, and write about society with less insight than the average toddler.

This sad truth is masked by the one feature that does distinguish the clerisy from young children: verbal virtuosity. Yet beneath the fine words, beautiful phrases, arresting metaphors, and affected allusions lies a notable immaturity of thought. Every social and economic problem is believed to have a solution, and that solution is almost always superficial.

Unlike children, adults understand that living life well begins with accepting the inescapability of trade-offs. Contrary to what you might have heard, you cannot “have it all.” You cannot have more of this thing unless you’re willing to have less of that other thing. And what’s true for you as an individual is true for any group of individuals. We cannot support governments artificially raising the cost of producing and using carbon fuels, for example, unless we are willing to pay higher prices at the pump and, thus, have less income to spend on acquiring other goods and services. Equally, we cannot use money creation to ease the pain today of COVID lockdowns without enduring the greater pain tomorrow of inflation.

While children stomp their little feet in protest when confronted with the need to make trade-offs, adults accept the necessity of trade-offs. Except, of course, for those childish adults who are paid-up members of the clerisy.

No less importantly, adults -- real adults, those who understand this point -- are not beguiled by the superficial. They understand that not everything immediate noticeable is always important, and that -- all too frequently -- it's the things we don't see that are more important. Especially when the latter cause the former.

Pay close attention to how the clerisy (who are mostly, although not exclusively, Progressives) propose to ‘solve’ almost any problem, real or imaginary. You’ll discover that the proposed ‘solution’ is superficial; it’s rooted in the naïve assumption that social reality beyond what is immediately observable either doesn’t exist or is unaffected by attempts to rearrange surface phenomena. In the clerisy’s view, the only reality that matters is the reality that is easily seen and seemingly easily manipulated -- and manipulated, always and everywhere, with coercion. The clerisy’s proposed ‘solutions,’ therefore, involve simply rearranging, or attempting to rearrange, surface phenomena by means of the government's guns.

  • Do some people use their own guns to murder other people? Yes, sadly. The clerisy’s superficial ‘solution’ to this real problem is to outlaw private guns (which ignores that this tends to leave guns in the hands of outlaws). 
  • Do some people have substantially higher net financial worths than other people? Yes. The clerisy’s juvenile ‘solution’ to this fake problem is to heavily tax the rich and transfer the proceeds to the less rich (ignoring that there are too few rich to make the coercive transfer worthwhile, while reducing incentives for the less rich to get rich themselves). 
  • Are some workers paid wages that are too low to support a modern family? Yes. The clerisy’s simplistic ‘solution’ to this fake problem – “fake” because most workers earning such low wages are not heads of households – is to have government prohibit the payment of wages below some stipulated minimum (ignoring that this tends to price marginal workers out of all employment altogether).
  • Do some people suffer substantial property damage, or even loss of life, because of hurricanes, droughts, and other bouts of severe weather? Yes. The clerisy’s lazy ‘solution’ to this real problem focuses on changing the weather by reducing the emissions of an element, carbon, that is now (a bit too simplistically) believed to heavily determine the weather.

I could go on ... and I will.

  • Do prices of many ‘essential’ goods and services rise significantly in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters? Yes. The clerisy’s counterproductive ‘solution’ to this fake problem (“counterproductive” and “fake” because these high prices accurately reflect and signal underlying economic realities) is to prohibit the charging and payment of these high prices. 
  • When real inflationary pressures build up because of excessive monetary growth, are these pressures vented in the form of rising prices? Yes indeed. The clerisy’s infantile ‘solution’ to the very real problem of inflation is to blame it on greed while raising taxes on profits.
  • Is the SARS-CoV-2 virus contagious and potentially dangerous to humans? Yes. The clerisy’s simple-minded ‘solution’ to this real problem is to forcibly prevent people from mingling with each other.
  • Do many youngsters still not receive schooling of minimum acceptable quality? Yes. The clerisy’s lazy ‘solution’ to this real problem is to give pay raises to teachers and spend more money on school administrators.
  • Do some American workers lose jobs when American consumers buy more imports? Yes. The clerisy’s ‘solution’ is to obstruct consumers’ ability to buy imports. Are some people bigoted and beset with irrational dislike or fear of blacks, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals? Yes. The clerisy’s ‘solution’ to this real problem is to outlaw “hate” and to compel bigoted persons to behave as if they aren’t bigoted.
  • Do many persons who are eligible to vote in political elections refrain from voting? Yes. The ‘solution’ favoured by at least some of the clerisy to this fake problem – “fake” because in a free society each person has a right to refrain from participating in politics – is to make voting mandatory.

The above list of simplistic and superficial ‘solutions’ to problems real and imaginary can easily be expanded.

The clerisy, mistaking words for realities, assumes that success at verbally describing realities more to their liking proves that these imagined realities can be made real by merely rearranging the relevant surface phenomena. Members of the clerisy ignore unintended consequences. And they overlook the fact that many of the social and economic realities that they abhor are the result, not of villainy or of correctible imperfections, but of complex trade-offs made by countless individuals.

Social engineering appears doable only to those persons who, seeing only a relatively few surface phenomena, are blind to the astonishing complexity that is ever-churning beneath the surface to create those surface phenomena. To such persons, social reality appears as it does to a simple child: simple and easily manipulated to achieve whatever are the desires that motivate the manipulators.

The clerisy’s ranks are filled overwhelmingly with simple-minded people who mistake their felicity with words and their good intentions for serious thinking. They convey to each other, and to the unsuspecting public, the appearance of being deep thinkers while seldom thinking with more sophistication and nuance than is on display in every classroom of toddlers today.

* * * * 

Don Boudreaux is a senior fellow with American Institute for Economic Research and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He is the author of the books The Essential Hayek, Globalization, Hypocrites & Half-Wits, and his articles appear in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, US News & World Report as well as numerous scholarly journals. 
He writes a blog called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
A version of his post first appeared at the American Institute for Economic Research blog.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

"Russia’s War Is the End of Climate Policy as We Know It"


"In the decades following the end of the Cold War, global stability and easy access to energy led many of us to forget the degree to which abundant energy is existential for modern societies....
    "Virtually overnight, the war in Ukraine has brought the post-Cold War era to a close, not just by ending Europe’s long era of peace, but by bringing basic questions of energy access back to the fore. A new era, marked by geopolitically driven energy insecurity and resource competition, is moving climate concerns down on the list of priorities....
    "Much of the climate commentariat—politicians and policymakers, academics and think tank analysts, journalists and activists—appears shellshocked by the violent return of energy geopolitics and fossil fuel shortages.... Europe’s headlong rush to shut down fossil fuel production and shift to renewable energy over the last decade substantially increased its dependence on Russian oil and gas ... [and] most of the world’s solar panel and battery production is controlled by another dictator—Chinese President Xi Jinping ... 
The idea that the crisis might be resolved by choosing Western dependence on Chinese solar panels and batteries over Western dependence on Russian oil and gas reveals just how unserious the environmental movement’s pretensions to justice, human rights, and democracy really are....
    "If recent months have demonstrated anything, it is that war, insecurity, and economic crisis are merciless teachers. Climate advocates and their political allies have often engaged in the policy equivalent of smoking one’s own supply: They have confused the subsidy-driven growth of renewable energy with evidence that the world is ready to rapidly transition off fossil fuels. Hence, they discouraged the production of oil and gas wherever they could and chronically underinvested in other sources of clean energy, such as nuclear power. But while there has been technological progress, the global economy is still very far away from fully replacing fossil fuels.
    "The confluence of war in Europe with a global energy security crisis reminds us that the West is not so different from the rest of the world. For better or worse, energy development and security remain the coin of the realm. Any global strategy to build a bulwark against ethnonationalist authoritarianism, achieve economic stability, and transition toward a low-carbon future will need to accommodate itself to that reality."

~ self-described "ecomodernist" Ted Nordhaus, from his article 'Russia’s War Is the End of Climate Policy as We Know It'

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

"Arguments about [American] gun rights ... remain a mess"



"To see why it is proper for a government to regulate weapons and to understand the principles by which it should, we need to go back to some fundamental principles of moral philosophy, political philosophy, different kinds of rights, and the nature of government... 
    "You have a natural right to defend yourself against an attack, using unlimited force if necessary. But it still might rightly be illegal for you to own or carry a gun...
    "Remember, the proper question is not, 'Why can the government restrict my access to guns?' The proper question is, 'What share of its legal monopoly on the use of force should the government share with its citizens?' The proper answer is, 'Whatever is needed for those citizens to protect themselves when the government cannot.'
    "Unfortunately, this principle is not articulated in the [US] Constitution and we are stuck twisting the Second Amendment into service. Things would be better if we didn't have to....




    "The current situation in the US is a moral mess. The plainest constitutional defense for a right to own and carry a gun is no longer relevant. The main defense hangs by the thread of a 5–4 Supreme Court ruling weakened by its own caveat. The argument by economists and social scientists is morally empty. And the one possibly valid moral argument doesn’t appeal to any principle that is explicitly in the Constitution or that American politicians are sworn to uphold or, sadly, that people much believe in anymore.
    "Those wanting a morally strong argument for gun ownership should demand, primarily, protection of the natural right to self-defence and not of the civil rights of the Second Amendment. Those who want to help potential victims of murder, assault, and rape should not demand that those victims also surrender their natural right to defend themselves against such threats. Those social scientists honestly trying to determine social effects of particular gun laws should not propose that those determinations qualify as moral arguments, one way or the other. And those who believe a government’s job is to protect citizens’ natural rights should recognise that a government legitimately possesses a monopoly on force and with it a responsibility to regulate weapons.
    "Until we again recognise the difference between—and the relations between—civil rights and natural rights, and until we learn to again ground legislation in the protection of citizens’ natural rights and not on social statistics, arguments about gun rights will remain a mess."
~ John McCaskey, from his 2016 post 'Natural Rights, Civil Rights, and Guns'

Friday, 3 June 2022

Q: Is our Reserve Bank any better?


"[S]ince its inception in 1913, [the US Federal Reserve Bank] has given us one Great Depression, a bunch of recessions and a currency worth maybe 1/20th of its 1913 value. 'The Fed' is an inflation factory, stumbling and fumbling from one self-inflicted crisis after another."
~ Larry Reed, from his article 'How the United States Conquered Inflation After the Civil War'