Monday, June 28, 2010

Krugman's Stupid Just Won't End...

So, Paul Krugman is a total idiot... Now that he's finally catching up to the reality that we're in the early stages of a lengthy depression, he's trying to make up for his failure to predict the crisis and his contributing to its exacerbation by claiming that we just didn't throw enough gasoline on the fire money at the economy.

(Paul Krugman pictured above.)

This is just as predictable as his cadre of sycophants in the comments section obsequiously sucking up to his every fictitious word and contributing with absolutely brilliant arguments of their own like Larry in Brooklyn, NY:
"Only selfish fools oppose the spending needed to put people back to work."
Yeah... I guess I'm a selfish fool then, aren't I?

Or perhaps, I - and a hell of a lot of other people - are neither selfish, nor the utter morons which comprise the bulk of Krugman's fan-base and actually understand that immense printing & spending of non-existent money is what got us into this mess in the first place, and is in no way a viable solution!

Now... The cool thing is, I don't really need to do a post on why this is so. William Anderson at the Krugman in Wonderland blog already did a great post on the topic. And really... Anderson didn't really even counter Krugman himself but just left it up to Ludwig von Mises' writing in 1948 in a piece entitled "Stones into Bread"... Mises said:
"The stock-in-trade of all Socialist authors is the idea that there is potential plenty and that the substitution of socialism for capitalism would make it possible to give to everybody “according to his needs.” Other authors want to bring about this paradise by a reform of the monetary and credit system. As they see it, all that is lacking is more money and credit. They consider that the rate of interest is a phenomenon artificially created by the man-made scarcity of the “means of payment.”

In hundreds, even thousands, of books and pamphlets they passionately blame the “orthodox” economists for their reluctance to admit that inflationist and expansionist doctrines are sound. All evils, they repeat again and again, are caused by the erroneous teachings of the “dismal science” of economics and the “credit monopoly” of the bankers and usurers. To unchain money from the fetters of “restrictionism,” to create free money (Freigeld, in the terminology of Silvio Gesell) and to grant cheap or even gratuitous credit, is the main plank in their political platform."
Mises description here applies 100% to Krugman. If only, in his view, we could just print more money and spend more and more, the "inflation" will make everyone better off.

The failure in reasoning here - especially for a supposedly top-tier "intellectual" like Krugman - is kind of astounding. Money isn't wealth! I don't see how anyone could possibly be confused on this point... If we print more money, all we have is... More money!

We don't have more houses or computers, clothes or food... We don't have a higher standard of living - just a more expensive one.

Now, here's the point where I could go on this whole tirade about how there's no such thing as perpetual motion, and there's no magic formula that lets government spending increase wealth, especially when that same government is doing nothing but spending said money on silly pork projects that benefit their buddies... But as it happens, thanks to one lone comment of sanity on Krugman's own article - I don't have to!

Check out what "Rafe" from Arizona wrote today at 11:11am (cleaned up for format just a bit):
"Just as lawyers have a vested interest in making sure the interpretation of the law and its practice is as complicated as possible, so do economists when it comes to the economy. As such I decided to describe in my head an economic system based on the first law of thermodynamics which states:

“The increase in the internal energy of a system equals the amount of energy added to the system by a heating process, minus the amount of energy lost by the system due to work done by the system on its surroundings.”

So, if the internal energy of an economic system can be made analogous to the potential growth in real and financial capital, then the heating process in a capitalist society is equivalent to its private sector’s ability to generate such capital. Energy loses (in capital) can then be categorized by the cost of doing business, poor business decisions or practices, and taxation to sustain government functions. Since profits account for the cost of doing business and poor business decisions, only government remains as a constant form of drain surrounding the economic system.

Potential Growth = Privately Generated Profits – Cost of Government

With this simple equation in mind it should be evident that private enterprises are the only means of generating a measurable, self-sustainable, growing economy. The following thoughts, mostly based on commonly accepted economic principles (as bounded by this proposal) are intended to further understand the resulting economic system:

- The potential growth of an economic system within a society is a function of the exchange of financial capital (liquid, monetary assets) for goods and services from private enterprises, the taxation of capital (real and financial) to support commonly accepted governmental functions, and the effectiveness of the said governmental functions

- The exchange of financial capital for goods and services is driven by supply and demand; market manipulation (intended or unintended) from private or government entities complicates the simple supply-demand interaction and can endanger the balance and trust in the economic system

- Private enterprises rely on profits as a measure of success and growth; profits account for the costs of doing business such as supplies, real property, investments, payrolls, employee benefits, interest, market loses and taxation

- Taxation reduces access to capital; however this is done with a common societal understanding or consensus for the need of certain governmental functions

- The value of capital is a function of business driven monetary markets and society’s trust in those markets and the economic system--the government’s role is to ensure that trust is warranted by:
  1. Setting ethical examples of behavior for the business sector to follow
  2. Fostering safe communities in which business can thrive
  3. Maintaining a system of justice to ensure the rule of law
  4. Ensuring an educated society to expand private intellectual capital
  5. Assist in caring for the indigent—-a value rooted on religious principles
  6. Maintaining a military force that can defend its society at large and support national objectives
- Unlike the private sector use of profits as an indicator of success, there are no methods to assess the effectiveness of any governmental function; not even victory in war--the more functions a government assumes, the greater the potential for inefficiency and negative effect on growth

- A growing government without a growing private economy reduces long term growth potential, as the private sector loses more capital to sustain the surrounding governmental overhead

- A self-sustaining government that generates employment and taxes itself is equivalent to a perpetual motion machine, which is impossible under the laws of thermodynamics and this simple view of economics"
What's funny is that his formula is actually akin to Murray Rothbard's "Private Product Remaining". I don't know if Rafe was aware of that at all... But otherwise, he figured it out quite well...

There's some kind of poetry in the way Rafe working out a real understanding of economics is juxtaposed against Paul Krugman's abysmal failure to do what he's ostensibly been trained to understand by the brightest minds in the world.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Nearly Identical" ≠ "Identical"... But close.

A few days ago, I posted a Facebook status update, as I often do, that went a little something like this:
"Will Americans learn that Obama & Bush are nearly identical in policy and reject the *ideas* instead of the suit? I do hope so."
Naturally, one of my (few, but) painfully predictably partisan Democrat/liberal "friends" commented on this explaining to me that:
"To the Libertarian, of course they are both the same. Isn't it easy just to lump 'em all together? And of course Nader was correct - about certain issues - that the only difference between the two parties was who got on their knees first when it comes to corporate power.

That said, it's ludicrous and incorrect to make a blanket statement that they are identical. If you're real about this, you have to go issue by issue..."
He then went on to link to Wikipedia articles detailing some of the things about Obama vs. Bush policy in foreign policy, domestic policy, energy policy & economic policy.


Now... Leaving aside the fact that it was a stupid Facebook status update (!), and as such wasn't intended to be parsed as if it were a college entrance exam, the guy was technically right - there are ever-so-meaningless distinctions between Bush & Obama, mostly in terms of where each prefers to concentrate their various power-grabbing efforts. True enough... They aren't identical, and each politician certainly does do a few different things, but mostly it's annoying when people have poor reading comprehension skills - I quite clearly didn't say that they were exactly the same.

You see that, right?

Regardless, I was going to leave it alone until my friend Bob came to the party and gave a generally good rant, correctly explaining that:
"...specific republican and democractic tactics don't need to be identical, to share _nealy_ identical or at least very similar objectives and strategies."
Which is, point of fact, precisely why I used the term "nearly identical", as opposed to saying "identical" with no modifier!

The partisan hack democrat seemed to have missed that. But anyway...

Being technically right in the most semantically literal of ways is all well and good, until you realize that the poor chap was dead-wrong in reality. Sure there are differences... But in the sense that both parties are interested in control over the American public, their specific choices as to what to focus on are slightly different, and typically only in style and not at all in substance

This essentially only encompasses the "little" stuff though.

Both Republicans & Democrats constantly use the government to enforce their vision of morality - their vision of unified "utopian" societies. (R)s might focus on controlling sex & reproduction, (D)s might want to focus on unpopular drugs like tobacco & fatty foods - but when it comes right down to it, the bottom line is that both parties are entirely focused on *controlling* the population's opportunities & behavior.

If you want to get into specifics with the "big stuff", those minor differences even start to fade away... What do I mean? Well, let's see, shall we?:

Bush: Started a couple wars.
Obama: Continued & expanded said wars.

Bush: Expanded Medicare, expanded Dept. of Ed, expanded... umm... everything?
Obama: "ObamaCare"... If it's the power of government, oh you better believe it's been expanded!

Bush: Warrentless Wiretapping.
Obama: Warrantless Wiretapping.

Bush: Rendition and a massive amount of secrecy & some obstruction of justice on the side.
Obama: Rendition and a massive amount of secrecy & some obstruction of justice on the side.

Bush: No to Habeas Corpus for WoT Prisoners.
Obama: Hmm... Still NO to Habeas Corpus for WoT Prisoners.

Bush: Keynesian - absolutely retarded - economic policy including multiple rounds of utterly useless "stimulus" packages and enormous give-aways to big banks, big auto manufacturers and other special friends.
Obama: Keynesian - absolutely retarded, borderline psychotic - economic policy including multiple rounds of utterly useless "stimulus" packages and enormous give-aways to big banks, big auto manufacturers and other special friends.

Now... Sure... Bush had Haliburton, and Obama has Goldman Sachs... But are we really going to sit here and quibble over the names of the people involved when the *principle* is exactly the same no matter who's involved?

So... Yeah kids, to folks like myself who don't feel the need to wrap up our identities in teams & parties, and who think that people should be *MORE* free to live their lives as they choose instead of less, Bush & Obama look pretty much the same to me.

The vast majority of politicians... No really, pretty much all of them... are (nearly) identical - in the sense that they (almost) all want to control people's lives here, they (almost) all want to blow up people & stuff in other countries, they're (almost) all completely and utterly economically illiterate and basically (almost) all are pretty happy to use their power to hand out special privileges to themselves & their buddies.

And as someone who's not completely ignorant of history - I'm not even the tiniest bit surprised by these traits... The only reason I say "almost" and "nearly" is because I'm someone for whom precision of language is usually fairly important, but statistically speaking, I'm pretty sure just saying "all" is good enough in most cases anyway!

But my friend Bob's rant didn't actually end with that comment... He also went to a place that he and I disagree on somewhat - and my liberal acquaintance & I have nothing in common on:

The influence of money in politics.

The Democrat holds events, concerts and such trying to make people aware of the "need" to write laws in the vein of McCain-Feingold, which would manipulate election laws so as to ban certain people from using their money at certain times and other laws which would magically stop lobbying, then he wants to replace all that with publicly-financed campaigns.

The problem with all that is... money & power will ALWAYS find each other!

It has nothing to do with campaign finance reform, nothing to do with election law, or with limitations on lobbyists... none of that stuff could matter less.

In reality, all sorts of these types of laws are already on the books, and they don't stop anything they're intended to stop - certainly not the big money and the corporate influence... Tell you what though? They do actually give politicians the power to crack down on the little guys and they make it continually harder & harder for 3rd parties to get any kind of traction at all. The laws actually work just like any other laws written to favor big business - they increase barriers to entry for people trying to get in, while making it insignificantly more difficult for the established players to stay where they are. It also makes it super easy for politicians (a la Hilary Clinton, for instance) to use said laws as a club with which to beat people who criticize them.

And... Publicly financed campaigns?? Bah!

Exactly who is in charge of deciding who gets what money, huh? Could it possibly be that the Democrats & the Republicans currently in power might find ways of funneling 90+% of funds allocated to political campaigns to their own people? Do you think that if by some miracle some alternate party found their way into power, they wouldn't do the exact same thing?

The people with money are going to find their way to influence the people in power no matter what ridiculous laws are written, and no matter how elections and campaign financing are structured. But most people - especially the foil of this little story - gets the causal relationship exactly backwards.

Money flows towards power because the power effects what we all do.

It effects our lives, our businesses, our social activities, our travel arrangements... EVERYTHING. And the more power held by a tiny group of Washington D.C. asshats, the more that power effects people. As a result, EVERYONE has the incentive to try to manipulate that power so that it favors them and allows them to do the things they want to do (or hell, even subsidizes them to do what they want), instead of prohibiting the things they do.

And when people are competing - such as in business - or in ideology, they have a secondary incentive to make sure that power is used to harm their competitors or their rivals.

The more power government controls at the expense of the people, the more people need to influence it just to get through life and maybe prosper a little bit. And guess what - People with lots of wealth & money are in a better position to influence that power than people without it... Just like they're in a position to have a nicer everything else!

It ain't rocket science, guys. Rich people get all the good deals... They always have, and they always will - if they didn't, then there'd really be no point to being rich, ya know? So let's not be surprised when the same money and connections that buy rich people nice houses & yachts is the stuff that gets them access to Congressmen & Senators. I hate be the one to inform everyone that in fact, it's the same money and connections that got rich folks access to Lords & Kings 1,000 years ago.

But the solution isn't to give the people in Washington even MORE power to pick who gets to influence them and what other people's money will be used to fund - the solution is to LIMIT THEIR @!#$ing POWER!

Limited government power means fewer incentives exist for anyone to influence that power and thus more private money allocated towards meaningful pursuits and less to manipulating the people in charge. There is a reason that really strong centralized governments & dictatorships become *more* corrupt and more subject to influence of money, not less...

Again... Not rocket science.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Launching CitizenA Multimedia!

I hope this post isn't too premature, but fairly soon, Maggie & I are going to release our first official video and Part I of II in our new series on the Bill of Rights, through our new company; CitizenA Multimedia Production.

This video has been made possible through the generosity of the folks at the Moving Picture Institute, of which I'd like to especially thank Thor Halvorssen and Rob Pfaltzgraf for helping me embark on this new phase of my career. They've both been an immense help to me and I'm very grateful for that.

Because of the MPI backing, we will be posting the full video online and distributing through as many venues as will have us - but it will also be available for sale on our website (or no a distribution site such as iTunes once we decide for sure which route to take) for $2.00, so I honestly hope everyone who watches and likes what we're doing will help contribute to the creation of more of this kind of media. That's about half the cost of a latte, so... Not so bad, right?

I should stress that we will need the support though.

We're setting out on this brand new venture well prepared. Maggie and I are an incredibly complementary team and of course we are committed to making this work, but like any business, we need an income to keep it going. I know this may seem like kind of an obvious point - but unfortunately, so much of online media goes unsupported and the future is far from certain in terms of how new media production is going to be funded. No one has come up with a truly excellent model for supporting online media, but by offering a low-cost, high quality product, we hope that we can entice you to keep us going by actually buying each new release.

Now... Our company is primarily geared towards producing educational multimedia, specifically for young teens & high school aged students being educated at home. If you're a parent or a student outside the government-run school system, we are here to serve you.

Historically, home schoolers have not had nearly enough resources and learning aids in part because no one has been supplying that market effectively and also because those who do create this kind of media content tend to go after the big government money in public schools.  So we feel that this is a market that needs to be explored, not only because the quality of most educational media is currently so poor, but also because the specific topics that we want to offer first - like US history, philosophy, civics & economics - are all in dire need in most school settings right now. We believe we can help parents, teachers & tutors by producing entertaining, top-quality media that invites young students to embark on their own studies of these ideas by making the subjects exciting and interesting.

Eventually we will be able to expand in other ways and into covering more and more subject areas, but this is where we're going to start.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions, and I'd love to hear other people's ideas on videos they'd like to see created. Of course I'm still working freelance as a composer & media producer, and I will continue to blog and write articles. Maybe I'll even get a few more of them published, who knows! So until this venture gets as big as Maggie & I really hope it's going to be, I'll always be available for hire to score your film or produce media for your organization... Definitely keep me posted on those projects!

That said... I hope you come back to check out the full Bill of Rights video and I really hope you like it enough to send us a couple bucks and help fund the next one... And the next one... And the next one...

The power of the internet is amazing, and getting videos like this made just 10 years ago or so would have been extremely difficult, and finding distribution would have been impossible... However, all this amazing technology is a double-edged sword. Mass distribution means that page hits and video views are absolutely crucial to this material being supported - so please, send our work to your friends as it comes out, introduce us to everyone you know and encourage them to actually buy our videos as well so that we can keep making media that makes a difference in young lives.

So... Go check out our new site (which is still in the early stages of development), register and post in our forum and stay tuned for the full  Bill of Rights video, discussing the philosophy & history of the document, and then get ready for it's sister; Part II, which will introduce students the purpose of each of the 10 amendments.

Thanks everyone, and I hope you like what you see!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm posting a Daily Show clip? Just this once!

True enough... Finally, Jon Stewart says something I think is worth something:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Seriously though... I don't know how many times I could have said 100% of this for the past two or three years... And no one listened. Instead, they heard generic & vague yet clearly enunciated platitudes coming out of the mouth of an attractive politician. No invented Southern accent must mean that he's smarter than the last guy... And what's this you say? He's a "Constitutional scholar" as well?  Man... What could be better for America!

We were bound to have a president truly different from George W. Bush.  It was going to be great, all the power-grabs and new regulations (strange behavior for someone who we're also told "deregulated" everything, isn't it?), new authorities usurped from the people by Bush would be gone... The power of the executive branch would shrink under Obama and people would have their civil liberties protected once again.

I was skeptical.

I wrote of being skeptical... I noted the nannyism, the power-hungry nature of Obama, the historical tendency for the new boss to be exactly the same as the old boss and for government power to increase - never decrease... At least not without a violent revolution, unfortunately.

But I was told that I was crazy... I was to trust that Obama was a smart man, he was a professor, he cared about principles and the Constitution.

Finally, even Jon Stewart is starting to recognize all that as utter bullshit... I hope everyone else does too.

Honestly though, it shouldn't take so long for people to catch up to the obvious.