Mailvox: the Vox Cave

BLS is determined to make a pest of himself: Would anybody else like to see a collection of Vox’s libertarian explanations in one place, on-line? I don’t mean WND archives, I’m thinking of a resource center to educate wandering ignorami. For example, Vox has described the flaw in the labor theory of value over 1,000 times, so he’s not thrilled to do it again. I can’t remember his point-by-point rebuttal. But could I link to it? Vox says it’s not his job to be a teacher. But he is. I, for one, value his conclusions; I just don’t understand how he arrived at them.

And Astrosmith chimes in: OK, then, Vox. The first one would be your much mentioned “why the labor theory of value is a load of crap” or however you want to say it. Go to the CAVE…I like that.

Boy, Astro and BLS, you guys sure have a hankering for the sexy topics, don’t you. I’ll post my formulation of the idea tomorrow and everyone can chime in on what they’d find interesting this week. It’s a good idea, doggone it, but I have a bad feeling that I’m actually going to have to think about some of these things now.

Two votes for Labor. At least Tony Blair can find support somewhere in this cruel world.

Clarification requested

Before I can work out an opinion of where these issues stand in light of the various political strains, I need some additional information on a few of these, AA. Let me know when you can. If I didn’t mention one, I felt that the issue was clear.

2. Racism

I’m assuming this means a ban on racism by public and private parties? Or is the government permitted a monopoly? Not being sarcastic here, the federal government has plenty of monopolies these days such as the mail and printing money.

3. Education – particularly education reform.

Does this mean reforming public education, private education or what?

4. An individual’s right to choose what he or she does with his or her own body

Is this referring primarily to abortion, or also to a right to die as well as freedom to use any drug?

6. The environment

I’m assuming this means protecting it by giving government title over wilderness areas as well as the ability to regulate private land use.

7. Wellfare/Wellfare reform

Keep welfare but make it more efficient?

8. Prison reform/death penalty

I don’t know what this means. There’s a number of possibilities. Make the death penalty more equitable? Ban it?

10. Removing bureaucracy from government

I’m assuming this means a goal of making government more efficient, doing more with less?

Mailvox: Since you insist

Strange writes: Actually, my argument was more like this (but thank you for misrepresenting it)

As Monday’s column will show, we’re somewhere between 1) Denies he said what he said and 2) Denies he meant what you claim he means here. But I am very familiar with the drill. I’ll go ahead and deal with this later tonight after I finish my workout. Notice, in the meantime, that he simply tries to skip over the points where he’s already been demonstrated to be wrong, such as the “fiscally irresponsible” point about social programs. We’ll see just how adroit an escape artist he is.

1.) Socialism does not slow economic growth.

2.) The fact that the vastly more socialized European nations have economies comporable to that of the U.S. indicates that this is in fact true. If nothing else, it indicates that the economic growth is not seriously impacted.

3.) Roach’s comments display that Europe’s economic growth is in fact less than the U.S. He even gives the reasons why. However, the economies are still comporable (compare the U.S. and the now less-socialized Russian economy, and you’ll find a bigger difference, if not in growth of GDP – their stats for last year were 7.3%, but does anyone believe that – then in other measures of Russia’s economic health). Therefore Roach’s analysis of Europe neither contradicts what I said, as I never implied that Europe’s economy was exactly as healthy as the U.S.’s, simply that it was not significantly less-healthy, and does not provide evidence that the difference between the economies is due to more socialized economies.

4.) Therefore, there is no evidence that socialism is slowing economic growth, and even if we blame socialism for Europe’s somewhat slower growth than the U.S., there is nothing like the massively slower growth that the Austrians would predict for the much more socialized European economies. Note, of course, that the European growth statistic are bad in both the highly socialized and not-very-socialized economies. Further evidence that it is not socialism doing the slowing.

This isn’t my critique, as I want to verify the numbers, but it should suffice to show that Strange is once again off orbiting a planet of his own. From 1965 to 1974, government spending in Western Europe averaged 37 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), and economic growth averaged 4.3 percent yearly. However, the European leftists gained power and increased government spending to an average of 47 percent of GDP by 1984, where it has remained, as compared to slightly more than 30 percent of GDP for the U.S. Not surprising, economic growth fell to an average annual rate of only 1.7 percent in Europe, while the U.S. enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 3.6 percent for 1984-2000. Also for the past 20 years, Europe has suffered an average unemployment rate more than 50 percent higher than the U.S.

As I said, I want to verify this source but I have no reason to doubt it and it corresponds closely with what I know from a previous and unrelated perusal of total intervention in the economy as measured by spending over GDP. Note that Europe’s growth was half of the USA’s, again completely exploding Strange’s assertions. Half is markedly slower, especially since the US is hardly a free market capitalist economy. For someone who rejects an axiomatic approach, Strange sure doesn’t seem to pay any attention to the empirical data. I’m also curious to know how my previous summary was an inaccurate representation. It seems to match his correction pretty nicely.

Not that I accept these Keynesian macroeconomic analyses. I utilize them solely for the purpose of providing common ground for the argument.

Since you ask so nicely

Strange provides a critique: Some conservative economists, like this one, are so desperate for evidence to confirm their failing theories, that they’ll ignore the bulk of a statement by an economist so that they can present the tiny portion of it that agrees, however minimally, with their position. Take, for instance, the insistance that Europe’s economy is worse because of it’s socialism. As evidence, the above-linked blog uses a quote from a recent statement by Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanely. But if the author of the blog had read the entire quote, he wouldn’t have been so quick to use it. Roach criticizes Europe for being slow to change, but are the changes he thinks European needs to make, or to have already made, those that the conservative economists would want? There is nothing in the article to indicate this. There is, in fact, nothing in Roach’s comments that indicates the problems in Europe are ones that only conservative economists could have predicted. They are problems that any economist, whatever his or her theoretical bent, would have predicted. He does say that European governments have been fiscally irresponsible, but doesn’t say how (there’s nothing to imply that he’s criticizing social programs). Rather, the primary problem, according to Roach, is Europe’s “cultural resistance” to fully joining the IT revolution. Without it, he claims, the European economy will not be able to adapt to the rapidly changing global economy.

Again, Strange exposes his inability to comprehend what he’s reading. I did indeed peruse Roach’s entire article. Since Strange asserted of Europe and Canada “for the most part their economies are doing as well as the U.S.’s on a relative scale, and theirs are much more socialized societies than ours” I only cited Roach to demonstrate that in the case of Europe, the economy was not doing as well, as I already knew on personal basis due to my contacts in the European banking industry. I am not a Chicago-influenced Keynesian like Roach, and as an Austrian I neither believe nor accept the fictitious growth figures being put forth by the various government institutions, here in the USA, in Canada or in Europe. But as I happened to be reading it not long after reading Strange’s comment, it served nicely as a non-anecdotal dismissal of Strange’s statement, since I doubted he’d take my word for it. I could have as easily cited comparative unemployment figures or a number of other statistics.

The rest of Roach’s article was irrelevant for my needs, especially since Roach was not writing about the historical performance of the economies, as we were discussing earlier on the blog, but about a short-term quarterly perspective and the likely prospects for the future. In any event, Roach view of the causes didn’t need to be in accordance with my own in order to to disprove Strange’s assertion.

Break down what Strange is saying. We’ll leave Canada out to keep it simple.

1. Socialism doesn’t slow economic growth.

2. Europe is more socialistic, and has comparable economic growth to the USA.

3. But Europe’s economic growth is not comparable to the USA, because (SR says), it hasn’t embraced the IT revolution.

4. Therefore socialism doesn’t slow economic growth.

Big buzzer on the logic there. Perhaps SR is wrong about the cause. Perhaps he isn’t. In either case, his statement suffices to prove that Strange’s assertion was wrong. Furthermore, it’s not hard to dismiss some of Strange’s subsequent points, as one wonders where else Roach believes that Europeans are being “fiscally irresponsible” if not on their social programs, especially considering that 43.9 percent of France’s GDP goes to social programs. “obligatory charges had risen from 43.8 percent of output in 2002 to 43.9 percent in 2003….charges imposed by the state had been cut from 15.8 percent of GDP in 2002 to 15.5 percent last year. But those taken by social welfare bodies had risen from 21.5 percent of output in 2003 to 21.9 percent in 2003.” I rather doubt Roach was complaining about their not-exactly-massive military spending.

It’s true, however, that it’s not only eurosocialism causing Europe’s problems. At least part of it is due to the USA because their economies are being raped and pillaged by the imperial dollar. We have successfully exported our debt-based inflation at the expense of foreign investors, which is why the Euro has risen from .88 to 1.30 in only two years, negating almost the entire war rally for European and Asian investors alike. And yet, they must continue to invest in our debt, lest the entire financial structure collapse. Roach, by the way, has even expressed some concern about this in the past, just not in that particular article. And, of course, this financial structure is nothing more than another government-imposed endeavor that we Austrians oppose.

Conservative – at least the Austrians – have been predicting the inevitable inflationary end game for some time, ever since Bretton Woods in 1973 turned the national dollar into an international one. Keynesian theorists, on the other hand, deny that it’s even possible for inflation and unemployment to co-exist, despite the experience of the 1970s. The only real question for the Austrians is how long the game can last, and we’re not even close to what I would estimate to be the maximum, which would be around 2043 given what I understand to be the maximum historical lifespan of a paper currency. This is a strange time to assert that Austrian theory is failing. I’m not the least bit surprised that GDP numbers are showing growth. Just look at the prices at the gas pump. It’s exactly what the theory predicts.

Mailvox: sometimes it happens to be true

BLS writes: My understanding of economics and therefore of political science is so Olympian, and your ignorance of both so abysmal, that meaningful communication between us is impossible. And I’m too busy to educate you or even to back up my assertions by citing specifics. You’re wrong because you’re ignorant; trust me. Is that a fictional argument made by a liberal, or a paraphrase of some of the exchanges on this very website?

That sounds pretty accurate to me. Except you left one vital thing out. “… your ignorance of both is so abysmal, AS DEMONSTRATED BY YOUR STATEMENT X, that….” I have probably described the flaw in the labor theory of value, which is the foundation of all Marxian philosophies of distributive justice, over 1,000 times. If you neither know what the labor theory of value is, nor understand why it is integral to the idea that government has a right and a duty to distribute societal wealth, how can you possibly even begin the discussion. And would you truly deny that most people know next to nothing about economics? I even know one econ major who has no idea who John Maynard Keynes is, much less any of his theories. Or, perhaps you prefer to deny that political science depends heavily on economics….

I do not believe that it is my job to educate every ignoramus with an attitude who happens to float by. I am not a teacher. It is not my concern that most Democrats don’t realize that they are espousing policies that are integral to both the Communist and National Socialist philosophies; if they are so clueless as to attempt to conflate my right-wing weak-and-spineless government libertarianism with the mythical right-wing Nazi, they don’t need to say any more for me to be certain that they know nothing about economics, politics or history. Do you take someone seriously as a basketball critic when they ask if the tall guy made a touchdown after he dunked the ball? I wouldn’t.

I’m not asking them to trust me, I’m just stating that they’re ignorant. They can believe me or not, as they wish. Frequently, I provide some level of specifics, usually places for them to go and see why I’m dismissing them so readily. If they’re too lazy to do that, then I’m certainly not going to waste the time required to prove it to them. I have delved into detail with more sophisticated critics too many times to make any apologies for not engaging with those who know nothing. Ask a polite question, I’ll probably answer it if I can. Make a stupid accusation and I’ll treat you like the idiot you expose yourself to be.

The reason that my column on Monday will upset so many left-liberals is that they will recognize the bitter truth of what I am writing. They should, for I have invented nothing, I simply recorded my recollection of many a debate with a liberal friend. If you want to take me on, then take me on! Don’t blithely say that you reject all metaphor then immediately engage in using metaphor, or claim to reject all axiomatic reasoning yet base your arguments on statistics that are self-defined as nothing more than crude approximation. Show where the metaphor falls down. Demonstrate where the axiomatic reasoning is proved to be false. Go for it! But don’t whine if you get it wrong and receive a bitch-slap in return.

The problem, of course, is that it is often so easy to demonstrate the Left’s flawed thinking that many don’t even realize that it’s not simple name-calling. For example, Alterman’s media theory is a howler, simple to disprove both logically and empirically. I did the former, others have done the latter. Now, if you can do that to one of my arguments, I will be pleased to salute you, as I do not expect to be right all the time. But I do hope to make it a little more difficult than Alterman and his ilk do.

The abysmal Alterman

I saw this joker pop up on Miller the other day, and it struck me that his argument was almost too stupid bother breaking down. I haven’t bothered deconstructing Alterman’s ludicrous notion that a media consisting of Democratic journalists and Democratic editors owned by huge corporations is conservative because the ownership group of huge corporations is conservative because the entire premise is based on a silly myth: big business is opposed to big government.

Yes, there is a pay-to-play fee, such as the EU just stuck Microsoft with the other day. But big business and big government not only don’t have a fundamentally antagonistic relationship, they have a deeply symbiotic one. Remember the phrase “special interest group” and the many complaints that they run the government? Well, guess who most of those special interest groups are? Exactly, and big business, wielding big goverment as a weapon to beat down internal and external competitors, not to mention feeding off government as a primary customer, is perhaps the largest and most dependable fan of incessant government intervention in the economy outside the politicians themselves.

Of course, Alterman probably hasn’t figured out yet that the political spectrum extends outside Democrats and Republicans, so perhaps we should give the poor guy a break. If I ever happen to debate the doorknob – he smiles as if even he doesn’t believe what he’s saying – there’s going to be less left of him than there was after Sheikh Yassin got close and personal with the missile.

As always, I prefer an axiomatic approach, but Anti-Socialist Tendencies has the statistics for those who require such things to support their logic.

It’s never enough

I read today that French firefighters are demanding the right to retire at 50, instead of 55. Now, perhaps they start working earlier than their university graduates – I had a French roommate and Parisian girlfriend one year in college – but that would seem to indicate that they would be working somewhere around 25 years, or one-third their life expectancy. France will have to import a lot more Arabs to make up for the potential loss of man-years due to demographics and the fact that the French want to work less and less; I expect this, like most French concepts, to eventually blow up in their haughty faces.

Keep in mind that it makes no sense to give into these progressive demands. They only lead to the next one, so you might as well stand your ground the first time.

Mailvox: how to argue like a conservative

AA writes: How to argue like a conservative:

1. Pretend that liberals are more prone to use various forms of irrational argumentation that conservatives.

2. Pretend that conservatives are less likely to deny the facts when they do not accord with their beliefs.

3. Number things.

This is a nice little batting practice pitch. My experience is nothing more than anecdotal evidence, but nevertheless it does suggest that liberals are far more prone to use these methods of irrational argumentation than those of other political stripes, to the left and to the right. After all, you have to be irrational in order to believe that government involvement improves things, let alone all things. Has anyone ever heard a liberal argue for less government involvement in the economy? Ever heard a liberal group agitating for anything but more government money for their pet project? (Classical liberals and war protests aside.) You don’t have to be irrational to self-identify as liberal, but it helps.

But more importantly, conservatives, being conservative and historically more accepting of the status quo, are far less likely to open a conversation with something that is expressly designed to test the political views of the other person. Liberals glorify progress and dialectic, now suddenly I’m supposed to believe that they are no more interested in challenging those around them than your average non-intellectual worker bee? That defies both reason and experience.

I don’t actually think conservatives are less likely to deny the facts that contradict their beliefs, but then, AA is mistaken in assuming that this is necessary to either of the arguments I described. Nor am I surprised that he describes what is a systematic breakdown of the steps of an argument as a mere numbering of things, as it’s evident that the notion of a train of logic is foreign to him. And then, of course, there is his fundamental misstep, namely, assuming that I am a conservative.