Liberty vs. Leviathan

Chronicling Liberty's battle against Leviathan

Relocation

One of my favorite blogs, The Western Confucian, has relocated both geographically and virtually.  His new address is The Pittsford Perennialist.

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Context

In an attempt to add some clarity to blogosphere conversations involving economics and the Catholic Church here’s a brief comment on “common good” and Doug Douma’s post  “Don’t be duped by this dope, errr, Pope” at Libertarian Christians (LC) .

In the post LC quotes a Reuters article that quotes Pope Benedict XVI.  The Reuters quote comes from a response the Pope gave during a Q&A session with reporters on his way to Spain last week.

In addition to being taken out of context (by Reuters, not LC), the Reuters quote does not accurately reflect the transcript of the Q&A session provided by Zenit.

Reuters’ version reads:

The economy cannot be measured by the maximum profit but by the common good,

The Zenit version reads:

Man must be at the center of the economy and the economy must not be measured according to greatest profit, but according to the good of all.

LC comments on the Reuters version that “one cannot “measure the economy” at all; neither by the common good nor by maximum profit.”

First let’s recognize that the Pope and LC are in agreement that the economy can not be measured by profit.

LC also states that the economy can not be measured at all, whether by profit or “common good” [emphasis mine] and welcomes an explanation of how one would measure the economy by the common good.

I doubt whether the Pope would make a case that the economy could quantitatively be measured by the common good.  I think instead he would discuss the implications of what it means for man to be at the center of the economy.  (The economy being for man, not the other way around, man for the economy.)

From this response of the Pope and from what I’ve read of Catholic social teaching (Rerum NovarumQuadragesimo Anno, Centesimus Annus, Caritas in Veritate), I think the point the pope was trying to make is that man, acting man, must be the focus of how we evaluate the economy, not the mere P&L of corporations or the growth rate of the GDP.  The “good of all” or the “common good” is what’s good for all of us (universally) in the context of justice and charity; equal application of the law (GM and Chrysler comes to mind), lack of favoritism for certain classes (TARP and Cash for Clunkers comes to mind) and so on.

Being the head pastor of the universal Church, the Pope would not offer specific economic prescriptions to be enacted in this or that local or national economy.  What he will do though is work to guide the discussion and reflection to the moral and spiritual framework which supersedes the economic framework.  I think in this case he was gently saying that the economy should not be evaluated by aggregate, materialistic statistics so prevalent in our Keynesian world but rather it should be evaluated in the context of “a [moral] framework that honors the dignity of man and allows man to pursue not only material gain but also his higher calling.

*Word cloud of Caritas in Veritate by Wordle

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Fixed

Despite the fact that the fix has been in since the days of FDR, Bernanke’s press conference this week is a sure sign that Keynes is on the ropes.

And just in case you missed EconStories‘ “Fear the Boom and Bust” from last year…

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Easier and easier

Whether Obama or Bush,  Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Ray Stevens cleverly illustrates the depravity and absurdity of those in DC who deign to rule us.

[HT to Steve]

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Romney for Paul?

Can’t resist pointing out that Romney has unwittingly implied he could support Ron Paul in 2012.  Or, maybe he’s finally seen the light.

…I’m inclined to make sure there is somebody in the race who understand[s] how the economy works…

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Your dollar

David Breuhan, money manager and author of Spread the Wealth, reminds us in “An Appeal to Reason” of the detriments and immorality of the inflation created by the policies of the Federal Reserve:

Since 1913, it has engaged in a deliberate policy of inflation- an expansion of the money supply that has resulted in precipitously rising prices. Inflation benefits debtors at the expense of creditors. It benefits those with market power who have the ability to increase prices without losing market share. Inflation destroys real capital and overstates profits. It encourages speculation and spending, at the expense of prudence and savings. Inflation discourages ownership and fosters renting, depriving people of private property and liberty. It hurts those on fixed incomes, especially the poor and middle class…

…There is no historical evidence that a nation which relies on the excess creation of money will benefit from long term prosperity. In actuality, the opposite occurs.

… and calls for Congressional action to

  • stop the Fed’s purchasing of Treasury debt
  • prohibit the Fed from setting interest rates
  • eliminate the Fed’s ability to implement inflationary policies

I have my doubts that this will occur but it would be a great first step that has been made more possible by the recent appointment of Ron Paul as Chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee

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Incentives

What do the AARP, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America and National Public Radio have in common?  Each is a member of Independent Sector, a lobby group for charitable organizations.  In fact it’s a lobby group that’s pushing Congress to not decrease your estate taxes so that you’ll be more inclined to give your money to charities.

From their web site:

Independent Sector is calling on Congress to preserve this critical tax incentive for philanthropic giving by ensuring that any modifications to the tax do not raise the exemption level or lower the tax rates beyond the 2009 levels.

See if your favorite charity is a member.  Maybe you need a word with them to let them know what you think of confiscatory estate taxes.

(h/t to LRC Blog)

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QE2

Laughing is better than crying plus this sums it up quite nicely.

Warning: A couple of scatological references.

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Confirmation

To all my pro-life, tea party, conservative friends:

If there’s any doubt that the GOP establishment takes your energy, concern and vote for granted, look no further than this SPIEGEL Interview with Karl Rove for confirmation.  He makes clear that pro-lifers and liberty minded conservatives are his lessers and fully expects them to be co-opted and to toe the party line.

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure. There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

SPIEGEL: Is the Tea Party movement a repeat of the Reagan Revolution?

Rove: It’s a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be. It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution. If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated. It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.  (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Rove needs to know that people have and still do read Hayek.  Proving you don’t have to be “sophisticated” to appreciate Hayek, it was my first reading of The Road to Serfdom fifteen years ago that opened my eyes to the true nature of politics and, as Walter Williams said about Bastiat, “created order in my thinking about liberty”.  Reading Bastiat‘s The Law brought even more clarity.

To echo Taking Hayek Seriously, Rove is the first person I’ve ever heard to refer to Hayek as Freidrich August von Hayek. Maybe it’s Rove who has never read him.

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Jobs

Once again the major parties have supplied ample evidence that Hayek was right when he explained “Why The Worst Get On Top” in his classic The Road to Serfdom.  In “Sorry, Mayor, you’re in sales not job creation“, Manny Lopez of the Detroit News calls out Michigan Democrats’ worst, gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero, for his claim that he has created, and will continue to create, jobs.  Pointing out that Virg, like all politicians, doesn’t create jobs with his own capital but rather buys jobs with our money.

Recruiting a company to a city or state is not actually creating any jobs. It’s closing a sale using tax dollars to lure a company that then results in jobs, but it’s nothing like putting your own money on the line and hiring someone.

If Symmetry Medical later leaves Lansing, it will be bad for the city and damaging to the economy and to the families affected, but the mayor’s salary and job are secure. He’ll move on to the next company with your tax dollars in hand to try and find a substitute.

If that requires digging deeper into your pockets for more tax incentives instead of fixing the structural problem that exists, or hurting an existing business by offering perks to new businesses but not the ones that have been longstanding supporters of the community, so be it.

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