Open Source economics

This announcement is very cool:

I am pleased to announce that the entire Mises.org website is going open source. We are releasing everything you need to run a complete copy of Mises.org. This includes all the books, all the media, all the journals, all the source code, and the complete database behind mises.org.

This is not a one time release – I have created a public repository so you can get the latest version of everything as soon it hits the site.

Nice to see IP opponents continuing to put their material where their mouths are. And what a fantastic resource! I’d encourage everyone who subscribes to the Austrian school to consider hosting a prominently displayed book or two on their blog. I plan to make a few downloads available here, starting with Thomas C. Taylors’s Introduction to Austrian Economics, and, of course, Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression.

Conspiracy or collapse

Gary North favors the latter thesis:

The senior rulers of the United States — I do not mean politicians — have watched in horror as institutions that had survived since the mid-19th century went down: investment banks. These were banks that did not take deposits from the general public. They pooled large quantities of capital from private, wealthy investors. Within a matter of weeks, that business model collapsed. The investment banks scrambled to restructure their legal operations so as to be defined as commercial banks and therefore become eligible for the federal bailout money. Meanwhile, huge commercial banks almost went bankrupt. They did not go bankrupt only because of government intervention and because larger banks absorbed them. Wachovia went down. Washington Mutual went down. The share prices of the two largest banks in the United States, Bank of America and Citigroup, are still close to penny-share status.

Anyone who does not understand the magnitude of what is taking place is an economic ignoramus. I have plenty of these ignoramuses contacting me, telling me it was all planned by the insiders. The conspiracy has won again! In their worldview, the conspiracy always wins. That is because they believe that the conspiracy has the attributes of God. It is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

Here is their intellectual problem: they do not believe in the free market. They cannot conceive of a social institution based on voluntarism that can break the backs of government planners and central bankers. They will believe anything but this. They think of themselves as defenders of the free market, but they do not grasp the power of the free market to enforce consumers’ decisions.

The conspiracy of well-placed insiders is now tottering. The whole structure of the national American political system has rested on the solvency of the largest American banks. These banks have all been called into question. They are now gutted.

The thought that commercial-bank insiders actively demolished trillions of dollars of their own equity as part of a conspiratorial plan is so imbecilic, so outrageous, so ludicrous that I am convinced that these conspiracy worshippers have lost whatever remained of their minds.

I’m sympathetic to North’s view here, but one thing that history also teaches is that there is not one massive conspiracy weaving itself throughout the governments of Man. Instead, there are dozens of conspiracies, scores of seen and unseen alliances that merge and diverge according to the momentary circumstances. I have no doubt that the present rulers of the USA are in disarray, but I also have no doubt that there are others who foresaw this situation, perhaps even helped bring it about, and at the very least will attempt to take advantage of it. It’s certainly interesting to see how quiet the global governance lobbyists so noisy back around the turn of the century have fallen….

Of course, it’s becoming increasingly hard for anyone to seriously argue that the principles of continuing globalization are going to bring about a higher standard of living for anyone anymore. Which presumably leaves them with little more than the fake science of global warming to justify continued centralization. Anyhow, I don’t think it’s necessarily the binary situation that Mr. North posits here.

No note, no mortgage

It’s quite interesting to see what was once considered borderline economic conspiracy theory in the New York Times:

Kathy Lovelace lost her job and was about to lose her house, too. But then she made a seemingly simple request of the bank: Show me the original mortgage paperwork.And just like that, the foreclosure proceedings came to a standstill.

Lovelace and other homeowners around the country are managing to stave off foreclosure by employing a strategy that goes to the heart of the whole nationwide mess. During the real estate frenzy of the past decade, mortgages were sold and resold, bundled into securities and peddled to investors. In many cases, the original note signed by the homeowner was lost, stored away in a distant warehouse or destroyed.

No note, no mortgage. And since this isn’t necessarily a foreclosure-related issue, I suspect the mortgage banks may find themselves in even deeper water than anyone suspected. Remember, we should expect to see more and more frauds and scams uncovered as the contraction continues.

Bill Moyers: Fairy Hunter

Somehow, it’s totally unsurprising to learn that of the most despicably sanctimonious members of the liberal media elite was a professional character assassin:

Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members.

Moyers is playing forgetful, of course, but it’s obvious from this 2005 Wall Street Journal article that he remembers exactly what he did. Given the surprising number of extant examples, from Robert Byrd’s KKK membership to Bill Moyers’s queer hunting, it’s pretty clear that when white male liberals accuse conservatives of being intolerant, they’re psychologically projecting and inaccurately attributing political opposition to personal issues akin to their own.

It’s delightful to know that the fact that these revelations were made in the Washington Post will not only permanently taint the reputation of the self-proclaimed St. Moyers, especially in PBS-listening circles, but Moyers knows it will. And it’s more than a little ironic that people who make personal judgments based on religion and ideology tend to assume that someone like me, who quite happily worked with an openly gay music label, is intolerant or even hateful, while the man who was paid to hunt out closeted gay men and destroy their careers is a paragon of tolerance.