Wednesday, 29 January 2020

In praise of idle politicians #PartTimePM


There's a meme going around attacking the PM because she's a #PartTimePM.

Not building state houses. Not building govt roads. Not passing new laws. Not delivering.

As if the memesters want what she'd be delivering!

Dumb.

Because when she has "done" something that's been attacked too: anti-gun laws, anti-landlord laws, anti-property deals. Attacked with the same meme: #PartTimePM

These people are idiots.

I would have thought that if you were opposed to everything a Prime Minister says, does and aims to do, then the very best Prime Minister you could hope for is one who sits on her hands. Better there than in your pockets. Don't they understand that the more time she's in magazines, the less time she's implementing schemes to do you over.

Yet the less she does, the more they complain!

Dumb. Blind. Idiotic.

To paraphrase Bertrand Russell:
I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by the belief in the virtuousness of politicians working hard, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organised diminution of their work.
Don't call for her to work more: Celebrate her staying home.

Don't use #PartTimePM like a curse word. Starting insisting on it as a firm policy.
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"The central duty of an academic economist is to give the news that such and such a policy beloved of politicians and journalists is bad, when it is." #QotD



"The central duty of an academic economist is to give the news that such and such a policy beloved of politicians and journalists is bad, when it is."
~ Deirdre McCloskey from her 2019 book, Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All

Hat tip Don Boudreaux, who amplifies the quote:
Yes. And so the sound economist in practice spends much time insisting on fundamental points, three of the most important of which are these:     First, as Thomas Sowell often reminds us, reality isn’t optional. (For example, the cost of building a bulldozer isn’t zero simply because the rate of interest on funds used to finance the building of the bulldozer is driven by the central bank to zero.)     Second, economic reality is far more complex, nuanced, and changing than are the words that we use to describe this reality. (For example, “the” steel industry isn’t an objective thing in the way that the planet Mercury is an objective thing.)     Third, nearly all economic reality is invisible to the naked eye; it can be seen – although seldom in much detail – only with the use of sound economic theory. (For example, the terms of labor contracts even for low-skilled hourly wage workers include many more terms and conditions – nearly all implicit, and able to be altered – than are visible.)     The economist’s task is indeed a curious one...
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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

"What is the enemy of writing today? Fear — of moral judgment, public shaming, social ridicule, and ostracism. The mob has the final edit." #QotD


"If an editorial assistant points out that a line in a draft article will probably detonate an explosion on social media, what is her supervisor going to do—risk the blowup, or kill the sentence? Probably the latter. The notion of keeping the sentence because of the risk, to defy the risk, to push the boundaries of free expression just a few millimeters further out—that notion now seems quaint. So the mob has the final edit."
~ George Packer from his acceptance speech for the 2019 Hitchens Prize, awarded to "an author or a journalist whose work, in the spirit of the late Christopher Hitchens, 'reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, a range and depth of intellect, and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence'.” Read: 'The Enemies of Writing'
[Hat tip Paul Litterick]
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Friday, 24 January 2020

"There is no point in the leaders of global corporations trying to seek accommodation with the likes of Extinction Rebellion. They have not come to praise you for your efforts to decarbonise your activities; they have come to try to bury you." #QotD


Cartoon by Patrick Blower, Daily Telegraph
"There is no point in the leaders of global corporations trying to seek accommodation with the likes of Extinction Rebellion. They have not come to praise you for your efforts to decarbonise your activities nor to offer you advice as to how you can cut the carbon footprint of your company jet; they have come to try to bury you."
~ Ross Clark, from his op-ed 'Kowtowing to Greta won't save woke corporations from the wrath of the anti-capitalist Green movement'
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Thursday, 23 January 2020

"Terrifying Our Children with Doom Mongering Propaganda on Climate Change is Nothing Less Than Abuse"


Pic from Shutterstock

As the government prepares to fill its indoctrination centres classrooms with climate agit-prop, Douglas Murray reminds us that terrifying children with doom-mongering propaganda on climate change is nothing less than abuse:
"According to a variety of psychologists and psychiatrists, talk of a ‘climate crisis’ has led to an upsurge in young people reporting feelings of anxiety, helplessness and guilt. Supposedly serious politicians like to pretend that what the Swedish teenager is saying (we’re all about die) is true, that her proposed response (destroy free-market capitalism) is reasonable, and people who ought to know better are trying to outdo each other in hysteria. The results are hardly surprising.
    In recent weeks alone, a number of friends have told me of children feeling depressed or listless because they are falling for the lies of these abusers who claim that young people have no chance of ever growing up.
    One mother recently described how her daughters had asked what the point was in taking their GCSEs if they weren’t even going to be here a few years later.
You might have thought that, rather than whip them up still further, any remaining adults in the room should offer children the perspective and insight that age might bring, but I have been repeatedly struck by how few people there are willing to take up that role.
And instead, cynical politicians queue up to abuse 10-year-old children by terrifying them with doom-filled propaganda, demean them as unthinking pawns, indoctrinate them into their latest fashionable cause, and then exploit them as "activists" -- as so much expendable cannon fodder.
This, as at a time when youth suicide remains one of this country's biggest, and growing, tragedies.
    The reason so many are becoming ill with anxiety is precisely because so many adults in a position to know better are telling them that they should be terrified...
   They are growing up, of course, in a world where Greta Thunberg is preaching her gospel of imminent hellfire and in which world leaders queue up to approve her message
    This kind of scaremongering is so commonplace that it barely registers. Most of us [older folk] have lost count of the number of eco-doomsday ‘deadlines’ we have passed. Yet we are still here...
    None of this, of course, is to say that there are not environmental issues, most importantly to do with pollution.
    Many of our responses remain inadequate. But you have to be, if not ignorant, then very young to fall for everything that people tell you about the climate.
It's much easier to get them to fall for it when they get it before they even have the scientific smarts to judge it for what it is.

But why would that bother them?
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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

"What is important now is not the minority of bullies and would-be totalitarians. People are increasingly proving able to survive their onslaughts. What matters now is observing who stands up and [how]" #QotD


"So dominant have the minority-opinion pushers [would-be totalitarians and censors of the age] become that many people are persuaded that it would not just be career-damaging but socially fatal to say anything to the contrary. Even when that thing is the truth...
    "What is important now is not the minority of bullies and would-be totalitarians. People are increasingly proving able to survive their onslaughts. What matters now is observing who stands up and survives the stampedes, so that we can replicate such successes until such a time as the new totalitarians go the way of the old ones."

~ Douglas Murray, from his op-ed 'The terrifying parable of Laurence Fox’s Question Time appearance'
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Monday, 20 January 2020

'The Intellectuals & Climate Change'


"A new theory may be judged as valid because it seems to illuminate some things but it will produce other new conclusions which further advance will show to have been erroneous. But in such an instance the false belief will appear [it can be presented to the public] with all the prestige of the latest scientific knowledge supporting it [and be picked up and promulgated by a certain class of intellectuals]. 
    "Although in the particular field to which this belief applies all the scientific evidence may be against it, it will nevertheless, before the tribunal of the intellectuals and in the light of the ideas which govern their thinking, be selected as the view which is best in accord with the spirit of the time. 
    "The specialists who will thus achieve public fame and wide influence will thus not be those who have gained recognition by their peers but will often be men whom the other experts regard as cranks, amateurs, or even frauds, but who in the eyes of the general public nevertheless become the best known exponents of their subject."
~ F.A. Hayek, from his essay 'The Intellectuals & Socialism,' quoted in Rafe Champion's post 'The Intellectuals & Climate Change'
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Saturday, 18 January 2020

"Latin America’s freest, most stable and richest nation—is in free fall... a mere 40 days for the Latin American “oasis” of Chile to vanish. Other nations take note: This is what elite self-hatred can do for you." #QotD


"Latin America’s freest, most stable and richest nation—is in free fall... It took a mere 40 days for the Latin American “oasis”—as President Sebastián Piñera called Chile not long ago—to vanish. How a stable and prosperous Chile fell so dramatically in such a short period is a lesson for every Western democracy...
    "The free market didn’t fail Chile, whatever its politicians might say, and the state doesn’t lack the means to restore the rule of law. The central problem is that a large proportion of the elites who run key institutions—especially the media, the National Congress and the judiciary—no longer believe in the principles that made the country successful. The result is a full-blown economic and political crisis. Other nations should take note: This is what elite self-hatred can do for you."

      ~ Avel Kaiser, from his article 'Latin America's Oasis Descends into Chaos'
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Friday, 17 January 2020

Knowledge v "Climate Activism": How Dare They!



"What happens in our schools is a very big part of shaping the future of New Zealand," Helen Clark crowed back in her day. This remains true. The state's factory schools have a captive audience. A new generation of impressionable children is served up every day, by law, to be indoctrinated in the state's chosen values. "Education is not merely neglected in many of our schools today, but is replaced to a great extent by ideological indoctrination."

Some argue that the chief problem with the state's school system is that it is "inefficient." Not true. The problem is it is all too efficient: that is, it is ruthlessly efficient at delivering the government’s chosen values. And so it has – we now have several generations who are culturally safe, politically correct and unable to read a newspaper, a bus timetable or operate a simple appliance -- ‘good citizens’ of whom more than half are ‘functionally illiterate.’

Case in point: a series of tools announced by the Ministers of Education and Climate Change for students to "process their feelings of 'eco-anxiety' over climate change and to "plan their own activism." For which they will receive credits. "The new resourceClimate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow – is from the Ministry of Education and is aimed at Level 4 teachers teaching children aged 7-10 about climate." Part of a worldwide "mission to create an army of Greta Thunbergs" angry about "climate change" before they even have the tools firmly in their own minds to understand how climate even changes, or what is at stake for all humans on this planet if their activism were successful.
Materials created for teachers that were provided to the Guardian suggest students keep a “feelings thermometer” to track their emotions, learn how to change defeatist self-talk, and consider how their feelings could generate action and response...
    Another tool in the curriculum helps students create and carry out an action plan on a particular environmental issue – such as creating an edible garden.
    The curriculum included text, video, and advice for teachers, the education minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.
    “It explains the role science plays in understanding climate change, aids understanding of both the response to it and its impacts – globally, nationally and locally – and explores opportunities to contribute to reducing and adapting to it impact on everyday life,” he added.
The term “climate change” is deliberately vague.
Everyone agrees with the literal meaning of the words climate and change which means some kind of religious belief that humans have a convenient dial to control storms, clouds, rain, heatwaves and the sea, that they know what exact temperature “earth” should be, that we can also measure that accurately, and that all countries agree on that level of storms and heat and sea level.
Teaching this is teaching a delusion. And yet, that's not the worst thing about this climate indoctrination. The very worst thing is that "today's schools teach students to be comfortable bandying about abstractions they don't understand and opinions they can't validate" while denying them the means of thinking through these issues for themselves when they're ready for it. It teaches them to form conclusions without understanding, and take action without real knowledge.

Climate science is complex. Incredibly so: oceanic, atmospheric, biologic, geologic and thermodynamic processes interacting to drive a complex climate system with still unknown feedback systems and tremendous regional differences across the planet. To even begin to understand those interactions takes a firm grounding in not just the basic sciences, but in all the more advanced sciences that grow out of these. And this is not even to mention assessing the likely outcomes of the solutions they are being taught (without thought) to demand.

In other words: all knowledge has a hierarchy. Inversion of this hierarchy turns children who were ready to begin learning "into passive parrots able to recite - and unable to think." Teaching conclusions about complex processes without the platform of knowledge to understand or assess how those conclusions were derived violates that hierarchy, rendering students able to repeat the propaganda those conclusions, but not able to understand how they were arrived at. They become simply Pavlovian puppets.

Educator Lisa van Damme reiterates the point:
“To say that knowledge is hierarchical means that there is a necessary order to its acquisition. Before you can learn calculus, you must learn algebra; before you can learn algebra, you must know arithmetic. This fact, that knowledge—to be real, meaningful knowledge—must be gained in a specific order is generally understood in the subject of math, but is woefully neglected in many other areas. The most abstract principles of science are taught as bolts from the blue to be memorized, with no presentation of the observations and intermediate principles that led to their discovery and that render them meaningful. Controversial political events are discussed and analysed when students do not have the knowledge of history that would make an informed, intelligent judgment possible. These rampant inversions of the hierarchy of knowledge are turning children into passive parrots able to recite abstract formulas—and unable to think. If we want our children to be truly educated, to have a vast store of crucial knowledge that they grasp deeply and independently, then education must be radically reconceived with respect for the hierarchy of knowledge.”
It's not enough in any subject to give students conclusions without the means to validate those for themselves.  But the government will be terrorising schoolchildren about imminent death and destruction from “climate change” while denied them the means to understand why, or how, or to validate those conclusions for themselves.

How dare they.


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"The word unprecedented is applied to almost every bad thing that happens at the moment. The historical evidence, however, indicates fires have burnt very large areas before, and it has been hotter." #QotD


"The word unprecedented is applied to almost every bad thing that happens at the moment, as though particular events could not have been predicted, and have never happened before at such a scale or intensity. This is creating so much anxiety, because it follows logically that we are living in uncertain time: that there really is a climate emergency.
    "The historical evidence, however, indicates fires have burnt very large areas before, and it has been hotter."

~ Jennifer Marohasy, 'It has been hotter, fires have burnt larger areas,' from Vinay Kolhatkar's post 'The reason “green ideology” can light catastrophic fires in Australia'
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Thursday, 16 January 2020

"Trade is, in some ways, a form of technology. When a country exports wheat and imports textiles, it is as if it had invented a form of technology for turning wheat into textiles." #QotD


"Trade is, in some ways, a form of technology. When a country exports wheat and imports textiles, it is as if it had invented a form of technology for turning wheat into textiles. A country that eliminates trade restrictions will, therefore, experience the same kind of economic growth that would occur after a major technological advance."
          ~ Greg Mankiw, from his textbook Essentials of Economics.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

"The great difference between the real statesman and the pretender is, that the one sees into the future, while the other regards only the present" #QotD


"The great difference between the real statesman and the pretender is, that the one sees into the future, while the other regards only the present; the one lives by the day, and acts on expedience; the other acts on enduring principles and for immortality."
          ~ Edmund Burke

"A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years."
          ~ former U.S. president Harry Truman
'Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen."
          ~ author Bob Edwards
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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

"It is no wonder that politicians have a very low view of human nature: They are much in each other's company." #QotD


"It is no wonder that politicians have a very low view of human nature: They are much in each other's company."          ~ John Zube
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Monday, 13 January 2020

"It is a general error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare." #QotD


"It is a general error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare."
~ Edmund Burke, from his Observations on a Publication: “The Present State of the Nation”

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Friday, 10 January 2020

""The man of system seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.



"The man of system ... is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it... He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that ... in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it."
          ~ Adam Smith, from his Theory of Moral Sentiments
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Sunday, 22 December 2019

Holiday reading ...


My book stack has been piling up beside me ready to start my holiday project. Can you guess what it might be?

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Saturday, 21 December 2019

"It remains a common practice for economists (and others) to propose government interventions on the implicit assumption that these proposals will be heard, and carried out faithfully, by wielders of power possessing superhuman intelligence, information, wisdom, and benevolence." #QotD


"It remains a common practice for economists (and others) to propose government interventions on the implicit assumption that these proposals will be heard, and carried out faithfully, by wielders of power possessing superhuman intelligence, information, wisdom, and benevolence.
    "Routinely, people observe (or fancy that they observe) ways in which reality falls short of some imagined ideal, and then conclude that all that must be done to bring reality into closer alignment with the imagined ideal is to transfer more power and resources to government officials – or, at least, to the right government officials (which are those aligned with the angels and not with the devils).
    "Such a manner of thinking reflects the worst sort of superstition to which the human mind falls prey."

        ~ Don Boudreaux from his post 'Bonus Quotation of the Day…'
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Friday, 20 December 2019

"If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things." Bonus #QotD



"To secure the new coalition of voters the Tories must be the party of opportunity, aspiration and entrepreneurship...
    "If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. These voters want a hand up, not a handout. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things."

~ Matthew Lesh from his post 'Boris Has Won the War -- Now He Must Win the Peace'
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"In the future, any president of a different party than the [U.S.] House of Representatives will be immediately impeached. I'm kind of for that actually." #QotD



"In the future, any president of a different party than the [U.S.] House of Representatives will be immediately impeached. I'm kind of for that actually."
       ~ Jeffrey Tucker
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Thursday, 19 December 2019

"In reality, the market is just space where buyers and sellers come together to trade; just as railroads brought large swathes of the country together in the 19th century, the internet is bringing consumers of content and producers of content together in the digital marketplace." #QotD


"Markets are sometimes treated as magical, nebulous concepts by people who adore them, as well as those who abhor them. But in reality, the market is just space where buyers and sellers come together to trade...
    "Just as railroads brought large swathes of the country together in the 19th century, the internet is bringing consumers of content and producers of content together in the digital marketplace."

~ Zilvinas Silenas from his article 'What Streaming Services Teach Us about Economics'
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Wednesday, 18 December 2019

"Neither evidence nor logic penetrates the fog in which they have been reared. It is difficult to bring one to any conclusion, when detached from the group. They will say, 'Well, I just don't think so,' as if there could be no facts or connected mental processes which should lead to one opinion rather than another, or distinguish a conviction from a taste." #QotD


"Western education has moved steadily towards the [group] basis; that is its 'progressive' tendency. Class acitivities, group interests, social influences have become predominant. And the prevailing philosophy with which pupils are indoctrinated is that of 'instrumentalism' [i.e., pragmatism], which  denies that there are any universal or permanent [facts], moral values, or standards.
    "The most striking result is precisely that ... neither evidence nor logic penetrates the fog in which they have been reared. It is difficult to bring one to any conclusion, when detached from the group. They will say, 'Well, I just don't think so,' as if there could be no facts or connected mental processes which should lead to one opinion rather than another, or distinguish a conviction from a taste.
    "They have an impression that 'everything is different now' from anything that may have been in the past; though they have no idea what or how. Do not two and two still make four? Does not a lever operate on exactly the same principle today as it did for Archimedes? They do not quite know. They may say, 'Oh, I don't agree with you,' but they can give no reason for dissent. They are 'not quite convinced,' but they can offer no argument in rebuttal.
    "That is to say, when called upon to think, they cannot, because they have been trained to accept the class, the group, the 'social trend,' as the sole authority. As far as it can be done, they have been reduced to 'ganglions,' neural processes in a collective 'body,' instead of persons."

        ~ Isabel Paterson, from her 1943 book The God of the Machine.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Monday, 16 December 2019

"Progress does not happen automatically, it must be made to happen." #QotD


"Each generation has to fight the same old battles afresh in their own unique way. Unless they live up to this duty, improvement is impossible and decline almost inevitable. Progress does not happen automatically, it must be made to happen."
~ historian Tom Brooking summarising the "historicism" of Benedetto Croce
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Friday, 13 December 2019

Volcker: "Central banks are not exactly the harbingers of free market economies ... central banks were created as a means of financing the government." #QotD


"Central banks are not exactly the harbingers of free market economies... not at the cutting edge of a market economy; they were Johnny-come-latelies. ... Central banking is almost entirely a phenomenon of the twentieth century.... central banks were looked upon and created as a means of financing the government, which I do not think people have in mind when thinking about central banking today.”
~ Paul Volcker (Federal Reserve Chairman from 1979 to 1987) who died this week, speaking in 1990 on 'The Role of Central Banks'
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Thursday, 12 December 2019

"'Outside Germany, many still think the Nazis’ strength depended on illiterate mobs. In fact, the highest proportion of Nazi Party members came from the educated classes.' And note that in our generation, the thug types from far left/right are coming out of universities ready to rumble." #QotD



"A reminder: to defeat alt-rightists, neo-fascists, and neo-Nazis we need to get our philosophical game on. That’s the implication of my 2010 book 'Nietzsche and the Nazis.' Support for that thesis from a new book by philosopher Susan Neiman:
    'Outside Germany, many still think the Nazis’ strength depended on illiterate mobs, a view unfortunately reinforced by the dreadful book and subsequent movie 'The Reader.' In fact, the highest proportion of Nazi Party members came from the educated classes.'

    "And note that in our generation, the thug types from far left/right are coming out of universities ready to rumble."

        ~ Stephen Hicks, from his post 'How Nazi-Types are Manufactured'
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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

"All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness." #QotD


"All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."
          ~ John Adams
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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

"To force people to pay other people’s expenses through government taxes is a moral abomination. To justify the moral abomination through collectivist sloganeering—like 'paying back to society' or 'That is what a society does'—just adds a healthy dose of dishonesty to the moral abomination." #QotD


"There is no no society to 'pay back' to. Society doesn’t 'do' anything. 'Society' is an abstraction denoting a number of individuals. Only individuals think, learn, work, and trade. The premise behind catchphrases like 'paying back to society' is that some people must be forced to hand their money over to the state, so that some politically connected others can use the gun-backed machinery of government to legally force their values on unwilling individuals...
    "Collectivism is a great moral escape hatch. It serves as a semi-plausible justification for running roughshod over others. But there is no moral justification for forcing some individual members of society to pay the expenses of other members...
    "To force people to pay other people’s expenses through government taxes is a moral abomination. To justify the moral abomination through collectivist sloganeering—like 'paying back to society' or 'That is what a society does'—just adds a healthy dose of dishonesty to the moral abomination."

      ~ Mike LaFerrara, from his post 'There is No Society to 'Pay Back' To'
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Monday, 9 December 2019

"There are no more markets really, or investors, because central banks have killed off the markets... You can see this every time a Fed chief opens their mouth and every single person involved in the fake markets hangs on their lips." #QotD


"I’ve said multiple times before that there are no more markets really, or investors, because central banks have killed off the markets. There are still 'contraptions' that look like them, like the real thing, but they’re fake. You can see this every time a Federal Reserve Bank* chief opens their mouth and every single person involved in the fake markets hangs on their lips." 
~ Raúl Ilargi Meijer, from his post 'The Fed Detests Free Markets (Part 2)'
* "And when I say the Federal Reserve Bank, that also means the European Central Bank and the  Bank of Japan, and all the western central banks. I won’t get into the PBOC here, but they’re not far behind..."
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