I posted this on Mises.org in response to The First 30 Years of the Mises Institute

I was terribly afraid that you would not make this change in direction, and am both excited and pleased that you have decided to.

Rothbardian ethics specifically avoids the Protestant requirements for symmetry of information, and warrantee in any transaction, and Rothbard consistently avoids the treatment of norms as a commons – despite the necessity of property as a norm. Both of theses facets of Rothbardian thought permanently render Rothbardian ethics regressive and insufficient for the high-trust society that is the moral ideology of the american population. Hoppe has supplied some of the necessary solutions, but they require institutional changes that first require the support of the population’s moral sentiments. And only constant exposure to morally agreeable ideas will make them tolerate institutional change.

Ron Paul, whether intentionally or not, (I do not know) does not make the Rothbardian error in his promotion of libertarianism, and therefore renders social and moral code more acceptable to a broader audience of Americans – most of whom embrace the sentiments of the founders and some variant of the protestant ethic. Conservatives in particular see the morality of the normative commons as equal in importance to the rule of law. This is why Ron Paul’s message sells with the population more than Rothbard’s. Rothbard did give us Propertarian ethics and revisionist history, and the language we needed to talk about freedom. But his ethics is not tolerable by members of a high trust society, and libertarianism is only possible within a high trust society. Ron Paul’s ethics is tolerable, because implicitly, his message does not undermine the high-trust moral code.

I’ve felt your use of ideology, education, and technology was always superior to the actual ethical program it contained. Hopefully the ethical program (which people sense, even if they cannot articulate) when subject to the Ron Paul ethos, will change, so that the operational superiority of the Mises Institute will be matched by a philosophical and ethical program that will take us beyond the support of a tenth of the population, with MI as the well-funded and leading organization behind that change.

It’s also great to see Tom Woods put to full use, and that his confidence in himself and his ideas has finally taken hold – it comes across in everything he writes, says and does. I’m surprised and thrilled that you’ve brought in Napolitano. It would be helpful if we could recruit more time and effort from Bob Murphy – especially if he had some coaching on presentation of his arguments from Napolitano.

(I’ve been toying with the idea of using Karl Smith, to play the foil for our side, because he is the only honest liberal economist emerging from the current generation that is literate in both moral and economic ideas. He has and will engage with Murphy. But the problem is in creating the appropriate venue, and I have enough work on my plate right now.)

Anyway, all that said, congratulations on the change in direction. I”m one of the many people that owes an intellectual debt to MI.

Curt

 

FREUD WAS A FOOL AND AS MUCH OF AN INTELLECTUAL DISASTER FOR MANKIND AS MARX

Humans are driven by status signals. The purpose of status signals may in fact INCLUDE access to reproduction, but that is only one of the may uses of signals. Without signals we cannot know whom to imitate. Without those signals we literally cannot think. We cannot think without signals any more than we can perceive beyond our fingertips without numbers, counting and arithmetic. We cannot think without signals any more than we can think about the future in a division of knowledge and labor without the tools of time, money and prices.

The human accounting system is status signals. Unlike the properties of the physical world, which we need numbers, measures, counting, arithmetic to sense, and unlike the economic world of our productive cooperation where we need money and prices to sense each other’s wants and needs, we need no tools to sense status signals. They are the only fine measurements we can grasp without abstract tools.

 

“I cook, I clean, I work, and my husband sits on the couch demanding beer. Women do everything here. We want to be soft. But we can’t be.” – Nikka.

Chivalry is yet another positive western value constructed by the church. I often write how the church granted women property rights, and forbid cousin-marriage out to six or eight degrees, in order to make it more difficult for the clans to maintain consolidated property holdings and associated financial and political power, while at the same time making it easier for the church itself to acquire lands.

But the forcible introduction of the myth and philosophy of Chivalry is as important to the development of the unique western character, in suppressing paternalism and tribalism, as the forcible implementation of property rights by the church.

Humans have existed in excess since the advent of domestication of plants and animals. The germanic princes and their retinues were not as barbaric and predatory as secular fantasies argue. However, the militarism of the Carolingians and Vikings, and the power of the states that they constructed in western Europe were impossible for the trading states of the south, and the church to resist. So, just as the church had used its power of literacy and legitimacy to manage the Christian monarchs, they used the crusades and the myth of chivalry, to direct the energies of these professional warriors to productive ends.

This ethic of chivalry conveyed status upon those who served christendom. It codified service of others as masculine. It could be obtained through demonstrated action, and spiritual reflection, as well as daily posturing, rather than the more expensive requirement of land holding, and was therefore more widely available to retinues. It also provided a code of conduct that the aspring classes could imitate, making the ethics pervasive.

The need for commoners to rent land from land holders, participate as infantry, and to demonstrate their capacity for honorable hard work, before marriage and reproduction were possible, reinforced this set of chivalrous values – allowing laborers and craftsmen to also adopt the chivalrous ethic, and to demonstrate their status signals through conformity to it. THe corresponding delay of childbirth and consequential inclusion of women into the work force, as well as their possession of rudimentary property rights, worked along with suppression of the breeding of the lower classes to create the european universalist and commercial character.

This code of chivalric conduct does not exist here in the east among the men. Service is immasculine. It violates the primary principle of manliness which is independence from external direction. Whether that external direction come from service to an employer or service to the commons – society.

Manliness, and masculinity have not been hybridized. It is not even as mature here as it is among the peacock strutters of the mediterranean — even if it is less ignorant, brutal and barbaric than that of the Arabs, and less familial and hierarchical than that of the Asians. And while we will certainly argue that masculinity has been overly feminized in much of the west, so much so that lower class males are returning to their individualistic migratory roots, the ethic of masculinity through service remains — for now.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this that westerners might want to remember:

1) The church made what is unique about the west, and did so without monopoly powers of violence that are possessed by the current secular west.

2) The west is unique for artificial reasons. it is not a natural social order. It was forcibly constructed by wit and wisdom due to the weakness of the church. Whereas the paternalistic orders in the rest of the world were forcibly constructed by violence.

3) The west is unique because we were a small, weak, poor minority in the world who relied upon technology to compensate for our numbers, and property rights and the denial of centralized power to any and all. WE were lucky to inherit from the greeks the tool of reason which allows warriors to debate and science to develop. But it seems we are reversing our trend and denying our history.

As for the Byzantines: without the church, I see no means of introducing chivalry into the civilization quickly, and we must hope that the commercial society eventually provides men with the incentives to build a high trust society of service like that of the west.

Affections to all.
Curt Doolittle

 

Libertarianism lih-ber-tair’-ee-un-ih’-zum (noun)

1) SENTIMENT: A sentiment giving precedence to individual liberty above the competing sentiments of care-taking and order — which are the respective priorities of left and right.

2) POLITICAL BIAS: A range of political biases that express the precedence for liberty as the freedom from organized coercion through the minimization or elimination of monopolistic government — and therefore maximizing the self organizing civic virtues and norms.

3) ECONOMIC BIAS: An economic philosophy that seeks to maximize human prosperity by increasing the opportunity for entrepreneurial trial and error by advocating the inviolability of individual property rights, free trade, and sound money.

4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: An explicitly articulated political philosophy that reduces all rights to property rights, where property has been obtained by the processes of homesteading, manufacture, and voluntary exchange, which are necessary for peaceful human cooperation because they facilitate the emergence of a market for goods and services where prices convey information that we can use to determine our actions.

5) INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK: An framework of political institutions that seeks to replace the monopoly of the abstract state and its attendant bureaucracy with private formal institutions and public informal institutions that are subject to the pressures of market competition.

libertarian lih-ber-tair’-ee-un
An individual who demonstrates a preference for one or more of the definitions of Libertarianism.

 

LIBERTARIANISM: 1) A sentiment giving precedence to individual liberty above care-taking and order. 2) A range of political biases that express that precedence as freedom from organized coercion through the minimization or elimination of monopolistic government — and therefore a reliance on the maximization of self organizing civic virtues and norms. 3) An institutional framework that is reliant upon the sole principle of several property that has been obtained by homesteading, manufacture, and voluntary exchange. The result of which maximizes peaceful human cooperation by facilitating the emergence of a market for goods and services where prices convey information that we use to determine our actions. 4) An explicit political philosophy that reduces all rights to property rights, and seeks to replace the monopoly of the abstract state and its attendant bureaucracy with private institutions that are subject to the pressures of market competition.

(138 words)

 

Krugman’s straw man of the day uses discussions about the impact of the iPhone 5 release on the economy to suggest we are all Keynesians, and that government should spend more money.

Propertarianism

But all actions have costs. And Americans have decided that the cost of funding expansion of government influence, power, and corruption is so high, that government stimulus is even worse then continuing recession.

So, while Americans may understand, within reason, the value of stimulus. Unlike Keynesian economists, American’s also understand the cost of the expansionist state. And they have had quite enough of it.

Unlike certain Nobel laureates.

 

SACRED – “SACREDNESS”

It is very hard to build the concept of ‘sacred’ into the values of a population. External threat, common strife, shared ambition, education, and indoctrination all can achieve it.

Sacred concepts are a form of The Commons. They are a community property. And a community property, whether real land, built capital, formal institution, or cherished narrative, may be used by all, but not consumed by any.

Conservatives invest in a large portfolio of such commons, and as such treat them as sacred. Conservatism is, by and large, a government of norms. It is intrinsically anarchic, but not intrinsically libertarian. And as such, ‘Sacredness’ is pervasive in conservative culture.

Rothbardian Libertarians disavow the existence of a commons, other than the institution of property itself – a seeming contradiction. But the purpose of that denial is to forbid the existence of a state which must arbitrate the use of such commons.

Hoppeian Libertarians restored the commons into libertarianism, while prohibiting any commons that consists of an organizations of human beings- thereby forbidding the existence of a state, while allowing for the existence of contractual, private government.

Social democrats treat all property as a commons, and the means of distributing it as a commons. But they treat nothing as sacred other than the emotional predisposition to prevent harm and express care-taking. Sacredness is an act of self denial, and progressives avoid deprivation at all costs. As such, all forms of property other than the current-consensus for the purpose of reducing conflict, are absent. With that absence must also go the sacred.

Under this analysis, Sacredness is not exclusive to conservatism. It is only that conservatism treats moral capital – forgoing opportunities, and building moral capital in the population – as of high value, Rothbardian libertarianism of little to none, and to progressives, an antithesis of their world view. This is somewhat confusing unless we take into account that those with predispositions toward libertarianism and progressivism are searching for experience and stimulation. While conservatives are searching for improving the excellence of established themes. This is why conservative art tends to be illustrative and progressive art tends to be experiential.

Contrary to popular, studied, and academic belief, the debate as to whether the enormous power of fiat money eliminates the need for sacredness – forms of property we call norms which require self denial – is not over. Fiat money can be used

Conservatism is not so much about the seen as unseen. Its pretense is a form of respect of the sacred. And the sacred consists of common property that they pay for with constant acts of self denial.

Having paid this high price for the commons, it is no wonder why they object to the consumption of it by progressives, or the destruction of its institutions by Rothbardians.

 

Some Thought Experiments Involving Assassination
by JASON BRENNAN

1. Suppose an evil demon appears before you and says, “I plan to kill hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians and destroy their country’s architecture unless you kill this one innocent person.” Under these extreme circumstances, might it be permissible for you to kill that innocent person?

2. Suppose an evil demon appears before you and says, “I plan to kill hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians and destroy their country’s architecture unless you kill this Mafia don, a criminal who has himself killed many people and who plans to kill many more.” Under these extreme circumstances, might it be permissible for you to kill that Mafia don?

3. Suppose an evil demon appears before you and says, “I plan to kill hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians and destroy their country’s architecture unless you kill the president.” Under these extreme circumstances, might it be permissible for you to kill the president?

4. Suppose the evil demon possesses the president. The evil demon, in the guise of the president, plans to invade a foreign country. Suppose you know that the invasion is unjust–it clearly violates the correct theory of just war. Suppose you also know that the war will kill hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians and destroy their country’s infrastructure. Suppose killing the demon-possessed president will stop, or at least has a good chance of stopping, the invasion. Under these extreme circumstances, might it be permissible for you to kill the president?

5. Suppose there is no evil demon. However, suppose the president, though not possessed by an evil demon, acts just like the possessed president in 4. The president appears before you and says, “I plan to invade a foreign country.” Suppose you know that the invasion is unjust–it clearly violates the correct theory of just war. Suppose you also know that the war will kill hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians and destroy their country’s infrastructure. Suppose killing the president will stop, or at least has a good chance of stopping, the invasion. Under these extreme circumstances, might it be permissible for you to kill the president?

Jason,

1) Humans war. They always have and always will. It is impossible to resolve all conflicts by peaceful means.

2) The demon and the president are participants in a war.

3) As participants in the war they are outside daily civil legal and moral prohibitions we have constructed for peaceful interactions: our prohibition on violence does not apply. War revokes the prohibition on non violence. That is the purpose and point of demarcation of ‘war’.

4) Moral rules are general rules. They are a shortcut that allows us to propagate contractual terms which help us reduce our error in calculating property transfers when they are beyond our perception and knowledge. Moral rules are not abstract truths. The confusion is created by the priority one gives to the genetic structural categories of family, tribe, and nation, versus the egalitarian structure limited to the categories of the individual and humanity. Much religious content seeks to extend the familial category to the universal as a means of creating an opposition to the state. And approaching questions of property as questions of morality is an artifact of applying religious techniques that seek to simplify complexity into emotionally accessible social rules, to what are practical contractual constructs the articulation of which is too complicated for general use.

5) There is is no longer a genetic composition to war – the need to fight other tribes for genes to persist – which necessitates one’s participation in tribal war. Wars are now, and have been for a long time, conducted for economic interests, even if those economic interests apply only to the costly norms, status signals, property rights portfolios, and political systems that vary between groups. Therefore the individual is free to choose sides.

6) As free to choose sides, one may calculate his interests and those interests of those with whom he shares interests, and determine if he is benefitting or harming those with whom he shares interests. And if it is in his interest and the interest of those with whom he shares interest, then he may act to kill the demon/president/minister/general or not at his will.

Propertarianism is correct: all human ethical and political statements can be reduced to property rights, and done so without contrivance. That is because all morals and all human moral feelings, are expressons of property rights when property rights are articulated such that they fully encompass the entirety of those things which humans treat as property.

It is hard to do this topic justice in short form. But hopefully this is enough of a sketch to illustrate the problems of both moral parlor games, and treating war as other than a utilitarian construct.

So the thought experiment misleads the reader with false premises.
a) Argued on abstract and loaded absolute moral grounds, not articulated contractual grounds, in order to mislead the reader.
b) Moral statements are general contractual rules for peaceful mutual exchange.
c) And war by definition is outside of that contractual environment.
d) ‘Just War’ is not an abstract moral truth but a contratual proposition between parties who seek to limit their own costs (See Kagan).

So, the thought device is dependent upon the error of the common parlor game, in which one which poses false dichotomies in order to confuse the participants into thinking (like the train-lever parable) that morals are absolute rules foiled by specific extremes, rather than that morals are general statements of property rights loaded with emotional content so that they propagate more easily.

The error here is confusing a statement of abstract and absolute truth, with one of utilitarian contract. The first is the meme. The second is a fact.

Sometimes we must take risks. Otherwise, we risk also confusing convenience with conviction.

 

Scalia is a bit of a personal hero. I adore his clarity.

He appeared on Fox the other day, and explained Textualism and Originalism. (See wiki.) But I was frustrated that he kept stating what he believed, and how these things SHOULD be interpreted, but now WHY they should be interpreted that way.

Now, I’m sure that’s because it’s obvious as the summer sun to him.

But to the average person, it isn’t.

The reason we should (and a new constitution should mandate) that we apply the original meaning to the precise text, is to prevent the court from circumventing the legislative process and effectively writing new law without the legislative process. Further, it prevents creative destruction of the constitution through reinterpretation, rather than legislation. And emphasis on originalism forces lawmakers to write clearer laws.

The constitution contains a process by which it can be modified. That process achieves it’s goals. But our nation has been lost through the reinterpretation and creative expansion of the law via the courts, where the majority would not have approved such laws had they been subject to the constitutional amendment process.

Any law that would modify the original intent of the constittuion, and the text, should be subject to the requrement that the amendment process be followed.

This violates the democratic socialist secular humanist proposition, that the legislature, endowed by the people with power, can enact any law that they wish.

Of course, this makes no sense, because, that is the very meaning of the ‘rule of law': limits on what laws can be enacted.

And it assumes, incorrectly, that we are wiser than we are.

 

Paul,

1) THE ART OF CREATING AND ATTACKING STRAW MEN
You have mastered the strategy of creating then attacking straw men, and in doing so crafting the typical progressive implication that emotions, stupidity and irrationality drive political behaviors. (See Paul Jonson’s Intellectuals, Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society, and Richard Posner’s Public Intellectuals. All of which discuss this tactic.) Among economists you have singular mastery of this rhetorical device.)

2) CONVENIENTLY IGNORING NON-MONETARY COSTS
In your straw men, you consistently fail to acknowledge that the superior economic productivity of certain countries requires that their citizens pay substantial non-monetary costs. These non monetary costs which we refer to as:
a) TRUST (bearing risk in order to contribute to the commons),
b) CONFORMITY (abstinence from privatization of payments on the common property of manners, ethics and moral norms) and;
c) PERSONAL DISCIPLINE (abstinence from involuntary transfers, and exchange of temporal satisfactions for inter-temporal capital accumulation), all of which are a paid in opportunity costs.
These non monetary costs are far higher costs than monetary costs. That is why they are so scarce on this planet. Few civilizations have managed to break the familial and tribal preference, and only Christendom has both forbidden cousin marriage, and given women property rights – both of which are needed to accomplish the unintuitive but necessary environment for a high trust society.

So, as an economist, either you fail to grasp the basic concept of opportunity cost to the individual, or you falsely apply an infinite discount to the very high cost in opportunities, of those norms, all of which prevent privatization of the commons of norms, that allow us to create the high trust society, that in turn makes the west more productive than ANY other culture.

This ignorance a product the most common progressive error: the false consensus bias rampant among progressives, and the denial of the existence and necessity of moral capital: habitual behaviors of self-denial.

3)
a) Humans object to involuntary transfers. They object to involuntary transfers by violence, to theft, to fraud, and to ‘Cheating’.
e) All human beings dramatically reject ‘cheaters’ (people who privatize the commons, or who engage in theft, fraud and violence) much more vehemently than they pursue their own welfare. Humans will pay very high costs to prevent ‘cheating’ (involuntary transfers),
f) And they will pay that high cost whether the cheating is performed against an individual, a group of numerically allocated shareholders, from the unallocated physical commons, or from the un-allocatable (non numeric) commons of moral capital: manners, ethics, morals and norms.

b) DIFFERENT CONCEPTS OF PROPERTY, MORALITY, AND REPRODUCTIVES STRATEGY BETWEEN LEFT AND RIGHT

d) All human societies allocate individual and communal property differently, and the left and right in each society place very different values on moral and ethical norms that require restraint from privatization of the commons. (That commons which Jonathan Haidt among others calls Moral Capital).

c) All human societies stack their preferences for decision making differently – the north of Europe is biased for the commons, and the south of Europe is biased for the family, (as demonstrated by Edward Banfied).

5) The straw man you create, is either an error or a deception or both. I cannot judge, despite following you for years. But that straw man ignores the cost and consequences of behavioral capital. It ignores the basic nature of man. It ignores:
a) the NECESSITY of that basic nature of man, in order for an economy to function using prices and incentives, and
b) the necessity of that nature of man for an efficient economy to function through the existence of property, and the existence of trust, and the absence of corruption (privatization of the commons and non-value added toll-collecting).

Behavior matters, as Sowell illustrates by the example of the conquest of France by Germany in six weeks, despite the vast superiority of French forces and equipment. Behavior matters, as the difference the north and south of europe demonstrates. An economy consists of institutions both formal and informal. And to base one’s arguments entirely upon formal institutions, and a so called efficiency while ignoring the vast costs in opportunity costs, discipline and risk absorption of creating the informal institutions.

6) Human beings are redistributive when the very high costs of norms are paid equally. Then the results of adherence to those norms (money) can be distributed. But that is because money is of little value and cost compared to the deprivations paid to establish those norms. This is the problem of ‘getting to Denmark’. The world cannot ‘get to Denmark’ without breaking up into Denmarks, and creating the norms of Denmark. Human willingness for redistribution is inversely proportional to ‘cheating’. And cheating depends upon a homogeneity of norms, since diversity of norms is by definition theft of forgone opportunity costs from one group by another. It is privatization of someone else’s common. Small homogenous societies are egalitarian. Large diverse societies are not. This is very simple economics of human behavioral opportunity costs.

7) It is far easier to construct such straw men as you do, than to take on the heady labor of analytically deconstructing and refuting such straw men. If it were not, you would be more readily refuted. And, economically speaking, since it is cheaper to produce and distribute your intellectual product constructed of straw, than it is to produce and distribute the refutation of that product made of logical bricks. Just as the children’s story of the Three Little Pigs demonstrates with utter clarity. One can build many straw men cheaply. So, it is obvious why those of us capable of refuting them with logical bricks devote our time elsewhere and hope the market eventually accomplishes through awareness what we cannot afford to accomplish through costly daily deliberate action.

So, That is economics. Macro economics as you advocate it, is simply monetary manipulation for short term gain. Nothing more. It is an abstraction useful for aggregates that represent statistical categories that assume the underlying distribution of humans is relatively equal without acknowledging the ongoing costs of maintaining that statistical distribution of categories. You are discounting what you consider externalities, in order to make your model fit your conclusion. That is what you are doing. And that is all that you are doing.

8) I understand that your sentiments are those of a mystical collectivist in the marxian and freudian “Era Of Superstition” as Hayek termed your philosophy. I understand why you ignore larger environmental causes of economic circumstances like the uniqueness of the American position post-war. And I understand why you limit your empirical analysis to postwar data sets in order to avoid refutation of your ideology – the refutation of which in turn poses a problem for your sentiments. But you must at some point if you are honest, confront both your avoidance of empirical evidence, and the historical record. The historical record which demonstrates that no body of people have held land, and therefore been able to create a monopoly of the institutions we call government and norms over that body of land, while holding the sentiments that you naturally ‘feel’ — and fell prior to cognition, and contrary to evidence.

The depth of this criticism is damning to your ideology. You must prove that such a thing is possible without resorting to dictatorship.
(as Sowell has argued in Knowledge and Decisions, and Hayek has argued in The Constitution Of LIberty. Unfortunately these men lacked the data that Jonathan Haidt now possesses, and Jonathan Haidt lacks the knowledge of microeconomics, and Propertarian reasoning that would tie micro economics and politics to our genetic behaviors and moral preferences. Thankfully we now have that knowledge. Which is what I do)

Your selective empirical positivism is supportive of your straw men. That is all. And you sell your straw to willing customers, who simply want to use it to gain political power, in order to extract privileges, and nothing more.

9) EUROPE MISTAKENLY BELIEVES FEDERATION BY IMITATING THE UNITED STATES, WHEN IT’S THE UNITED STATES THAT SHOULD BREAK INTO SMALLER STATES
Given the expanding polarity of the United States due to our First-Past-The-Post electoral system, and the introduction of women into the labor and voting pools, and the consequential dissolution of the nuclear family, and its emerging consequences, it is quite evident that not only do we, and the world, not need a united Europe, but that we we have likely proven the argument of the economic historians, and political philosophers, that small states with their own currencies are not only more pacifist, but more possibly democratic and redistributive, and that by consequence, the United States should desire to dissolve into Joel Garreau’s Nine Nations Of North America.

After all, while NY money may end up in Alabama, it is not the people in Alabama who vote for higher taxes and greater regulation. And the people of the south, southwest and center despise the declining rust belt, and the NY/DC one-size-fits-all monetary, cultural, and war machine.

-Curt Doolittle

(NOTE: Written in response to: “The Radicalizing Effect Of The Euro Disaster” but addressing Krugman’s argumentative structure more directly.)

I’ve decided to spend a little time constructing an argument to undermine Paul Krugman’s straw men. Below is the first draft, written in response to the above mentioned post. Over the next year I’ll keep using it as a mantra, distill it a bit, and try to popularize it among libertarians and conservatives. I really do not feel Krugman is challenged adequately on his reasoning. It’s almost always on his motives, or his style. But both his economic arguments and his political arguments are open to empirical and rational refutation respectively.

 
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