Ludwig von Mises
In Collins’s fictional world known as Panem, a despotic government rules over all with a violent iron fist. There is a strict separation between the political class and the rest of the populace, with the latter working in slave-like conditions to support the former. Throughout Catching Fire, the subject of revolution is paramount. Stories such as the Hunger Games are wonderful things because they spark what conservative statesman Edmund Burke called the “moral imagination.” Whether viewers know it or not, the basic plot of the Hunger Games series is an appeal to the moral imagination that men should be free from working as servants to others. We may not be living hand-to-mouth while being forced to labor for thuggish overlords but the modern trend is clear: the political class is consuming more and more wealth-generating capital for themselves.
The Fed is busy doing everything in its considerable power to get credit (that is, debt) growing again so that we can get back to what it considers to be “normal.” But the problem is that the recent past was not normal. For the Fed to achieve anything even close to the historical rate of credit growth, the dollar will have to lose a lot of value. This may in fact be the Fed’s grand plan, and it’s entirely about keeping the financial system primed with sufficient new credit to prevent it from imploding.
A zombie government armed with accounting tricks has bailed out a zombie banking industry using even more financial phoniness. A few numbers pushed here and there, and the industry is earning record profits. But out in the real world where people live and work, things aren't so rosy. Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.
Economics should not not try to effect human behavior, but to explain it. It does, however understand how incentives and disincentives affect behavior. All political visions involve the improvement of man and/or society by changing the nature of man. Social planners want to “improve” and “perfect” matters according to their ideas of what these terms imply. Little commonality exists regarding utopian visions. One commonality between these utopian ideas does exist — the universal failure of all such schemes. There is no better way to understand the wisdom “the perfect is the enemy of the good” than to study the historical wreckage that has resulted from trying to “perfect” society.
Until recently, Alan Greenspan’s main argument to exonerate himself of responsibility for the 2007-2009 financial crisis has consisted in the claim that strong Asian demand for US treasury bonds kept interest rates on mortgages unusually low. Though he has not given up on this defense, he is now emphasizing a different tack... His new tack is no better than the old tack.
“We paid our Social Security and Medicare taxes; we earned our benefits.” It is that belief among senior citizens that President Obama was pandering to when, in his second inaugural address, he claimed that those programs “strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers.” If Social Security and Medicare both involved people voluntarily financing their own benefits, an argument could be made for seniors’ “earned benefits” view. But they have not. They have redistributed tens of trillions of dollars of wealth to themselves from those younger. Social Security and Medicare have transferred those trillions because they have been partial Ponzi schemes.
Still unnoticed by a large part of the population is that we have been living through a period of relative impoverishment. Money has been squandered in welfare spending, bailing out banks or even — as in Europe — of fellow governments. But many people still do not feel the pain. Many people believe the paper wealth they own in the form of government bonds, investment funds, insurance policies, bank deposits, and entitlements will provide them with nice sunset years. However, at retirement they will only be able to consume what is produced by the real economy. Savers and pensioners will at some point find out that the real value of their wealth is much less than they expected. In which way, exactly, the illusion will be destroyed remains to be seen.
Standard microeconomic theory shows that deviations of a price from its natural level bring forth bad results. One of the easiest ways to grasp the pernicious effects of price controls is when it is phrased in terms of the minimum wage. Long story short, the minimum wage acts as a price floor which stops people from selling labour services at a price below the mandated level. The final result is an increase in unemployment, partly from existing workers who lose their jobs and partly from new entrants to the labour market looking for a job but unable to get hired. It’s really not a very difficult theory to comprehend. Yet I’m always surprised at how few are able to apply this basic lesson.
How could such a monetary disaster happen in a civilized and advanced society, leading to the total destruction of the currency? Many explanations have been put forward. It has been argued that, for instance, that reparation payments, chronic balance of payment deficits, and even the depreciation of the Papermark in the foreign exchange markets had actually caused the demise of the German currency. However, these explanations are not convincing. Looking at the world today - in which many economies have been using credit-produced paper monies for decades and where debt loads are overwhelmingly high, the current challenges are in a sense quite similar to those prevailing in the Weimar Republic more than 90 years ago. Now as then, a reform of the monetary order is badly needed; and the sooner the challenge of monetary reform is taken on, the smaller will be the costs of adjustment.
The pushers of Obamacare had years to plan. Everything looked right on paper. No expense was spared. There were thousands of meetings, a foolproof plan, mountains of numbers to back it all up. Then finally you press the button. The whole thing explodes — and not just the website. The risk pools will not lower premiums. The mandates will not cause people to experience health-insurance bliss. The price controls will not control costs. The new tools for access will not lead to greater access. Science is glorious. But government is not science, and society cannot be managed scientifically from the center. Ludwig von Mises had a phrase he used to describe every attempt: “planned chaos.” There is a plan, and the experts are in charge with all resources and conviction. But the results are crazy, random, irrational, confusing, and chaotic. It would be the greatest legacy of the Affordable Care Act if the government finally understands this message.
When the U.S. economy dipped into an inflationary recession in 1969, the Keynesian paradigm could not explain that phenomenon. Given the fact that both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations (not to mention Congress) have followed the Keynesian playbook, the sorry results should be enough to discredit Keynesianism, this time for good. Either a theory explains and predicts phenomena or it does not, and it should be clear that Keynesian theory has failed, but, alas, it seems that the Keynesian paradigm is more influential than ever. Here is a paradigm that claims there cannot be an inflationary recession, yet all of the recessions that have wracked the U.S. economy in recent decades have been inflationary. Alas, the academic “market test” really does not embrace the actual success or failure of a theory.
“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
These words, spoken by U.S. President Barack Obama in various forms and iterations, have become a running joke amidst the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. All across the country, hundreds of thousands of citizens are receiving cancellation notices in the mail. The stringent requirements for insurance plans under the new edict are curtailing many individual policies. A simpleton can grasp the economics: you prohibit something, it goes away. And yet, for years prior, the White House ignored the oncoming train and is now slowly inching away from the wreckage.
This was not the unforeseen consequence of good-intentioned legislation.
It’s hard to maintain monopoly status in a free market when you have to deal with all that competition and whatnot. Between other companies’ low prices and new, updated products entering the market each day, it’s almost like Rich Uncle Pennybags is a thing of the past. But fret not! The politicians of the world would like to offer anyone dead set on controlling an entire industry the chance to shine. So come one, come all — government agencies, cronies, and all their friends — as we present the five best ways to create a monopoly and to ensure you never have to compete again.
Our hypothesis is simple: if money growth exceeds the GDC metric a deflationary busts will inevitably come. If authorities refuse to accept reality and print more fiat money at the first sign of bust, they may “save the day” but they will “ruin tomorrow”!
The whole fulcrum of the bloated American state is beyond ready for a radical deconstruction. The same goes for most nation-states in the West. The continual borrowing, serviced indiscreetly by an accommodating central bank, has made an entirety of the populace fat and happy off of debt. This is no realistic method for operating any institution. Something has to give eventually. Any conservative who places high value on civil society over the intrusion of government should balk at the prospect of a higher debt load. It makes certain that the ruling political class will not cease in their effort to infiltrate private life. Unfortunately it appears as if some otherwise sharp minds have fallen prey to the liberal device of alarmism.