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Keynesian Political Economy Is Theft – Monty Pelerin’s World : Monty Pelerin’s World

Keynesian Political Economy Is Theft – Monty Pelerin’s World : Monty Pelerin’s World.

FEBRUARY 28, 2014

keyneshayekimages (2)The plague of our time is Keynesian economics. It has destroyed the economics profession and enabled the political class to obtain powers never intended.

Keynesian economics provided the intellectual cover for the criminal class we politely call “government” to plunder its citizenry. In the beginning, clear-thinking, independent economists (not dependent on government largess) expressed objections to this “new economics.” There was little new in Keynes’ work and many errors that had been debunked decades before Keynes was even born. Bastiat’s parable of the “broken window” in 1850 is probably the best-known refutation, although similar arguments preceded Bastiat by a century or more.

In the 1930s leaders were desperate and willing to try anything. Keynes General Theory was published in 1936, during the middle of the greatest depression the world had ever experienced. Politicians, more so than economists, welcomed his ideas as a new approach.

The Austrian economists  represented by Mises and Hayek saw the fallacies in this new approach immediately. Some of the Chicago School (Knight, Simons, Viner) did also. Ludwig von Mises, never one to mince words, described Keynesian economics in the following manner:

What he really did was to write an apology for the prevailing policies of governments.

Mises likely was one of the few who saw the full ramifications of what Keynesian economics would provide for government. Most early criticisms were in terms of the economic unsoundness of the theory.

To contrast the blatant differences between proper economics and Keynesian prescriptions, the following two prescriptions were offered early in this century:

austriankeynesian

It was proper that one of these men should have won the Nobel Prize in economics. It just happened to be the wrong one.

buchananeconomy-1986-1

JAMES BUCHANAN, NOBEL LAUREATE

In 1977 James M. Buchanan and Richard E. Wagner wrote “Democracy In Deficit — The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes” (available online). It was the first comprehensive attempt to apply public-choice theory to macroeconomic theory and policy. According to Robert D. Tollison:

The central purpose of the book was to examine the simple precepts of Keynesian economics through the lens of public-choice theory. The basic discovery was that Keynesian economics had a bias toward deficits in terms of political self-interest.

From Buchanan and Wagner came this judgment regarding Keynesian economics:

The message of Keynesianism might be summarized as: What is folly in the conduct of a private family may be prudence in the conduct of the affairs of a great nation. (p. 3)

This fundamental confusion was responsible for the political acceptance of Keynesian economics. Politicians saw the potential for themselves in this new doctrine which advocated central control of the economy and fiscal irresponsibility as a necessary and patriotic thing. Giving them this gift was like providing matches and gasoline to an arsonist. (“I don’t want to spend money, but I have to otherwise the economy will tank.”)

Once government took control of the economy, they needed economists to provide the analysis and justifications for their new policies. Many in the economics profession were procured in similar fashion used with prostitutes. Money and power were heady incentives for a profession that had rightly been consigned to a section in their own ivory tower.

Justifying what government wanted to do and was doing was the only requisite. But, in order to qualify, it became necessary to convert to Keynesianism. Other branches of economics condemned government policies, at least on economic grounds.

Economists more than most understand incentives. When the payoffs increase, some men in any profession find it easy to modify ethics and integrity.

Buchanan and Wagner knew the damage that Keynesian economics had already inflicted and knew its potential was much greater. Thirty-seven years ago they commented:

What happened? Why does Camelot lay in ruin? Viet Nam and Watergate cannot explain everything forever. Intellectual error of monumental proportion has been made, and not exclusively by the ordinary politicians. Error also lies squarely with the economists. (p. 4)

They answered their own question:

The academic scribbler of the past who must bear substantial responsibility is Lord Keynes himself, whose ideas were uncritically accepted by American establishment economists. The mounting historical evidence of the effects of these ideas cannot continue to be ignored. Keynesian economics has turned the politicians loose, it has destroyed the effective constraint on politicians’ ordinary appetites. Armed with the Keynesian message, politicians can spend and spend without the apparent necessity to tax. “Democracy in deficit” is descriptive, both of our economic plight and of the subject matter for this book. (p.4)

Now, thirty-five plus years later, one may judge the merit in this book. Prescience, while not limited to them alone, was amazing.

One must also marvel at the continuation and acceleration of the ruinous policies. Whether Buchanan and Wagner imagined things could go on for so long and to such an extent is not known. However, to appreciate these changes, this graph from Zerohedge shows the effects of Keynesianism and what it has done to governments around the world:

keynesian legacy

The deterioration in fiscal discipline was astounding and in line what they predicted.

As this false economic theology known as Keynesianism runs its course, the following conclusions are probable:

  • Regardless of whether this generation escapes or not, we have impoverished our children and grandchildren.
  • Politicians now control most of the economy, including what passes for acceptable economics.
  • No honest economist can work for government; nor would one want to.
  • The tipping point for reversing this condition has long past.
  • Politicians have no incentive to stop the process underway.
  • Markets (and perhaps societies and governments) will eventually collapse, ending this terrible period of economic madness.

When this flawed paradigm is finally exhausted, the world may enter a better place in terms of economics and limited government. Without this shift, poverty and misery will grow along with wars used as political diversions.

One can only hope that the world avoids an Economic Dark Age when the collapse occurs.

Keynesian Political Economy Is Theft – Monty Pelerin's World : Monty Pelerin's World

Keynesian Political Economy Is Theft – Monty Pelerin’s World : Monty Pelerin’s World.

FEBRUARY 28, 2014

keyneshayekimages (2)The plague of our time is Keynesian economics. It has destroyed the economics profession and enabled the political class to obtain powers never intended.

Keynesian economics provided the intellectual cover for the criminal class we politely call “government” to plunder its citizenry. In the beginning, clear-thinking, independent economists (not dependent on government largess) expressed objections to this “new economics.” There was little new in Keynes’ work and many errors that had been debunked decades before Keynes was even born. Bastiat’s parable of the “broken window” in 1850 is probably the best-known refutation, although similar arguments preceded Bastiat by a century or more.

In the 1930s leaders were desperate and willing to try anything. Keynes General Theory was published in 1936, during the middle of the greatest depression the world had ever experienced. Politicians, more so than economists, welcomed his ideas as a new approach.

The Austrian economists  represented by Mises and Hayek saw the fallacies in this new approach immediately. Some of the Chicago School (Knight, Simons, Viner) did also. Ludwig von Mises, never one to mince words, described Keynesian economics in the following manner:

What he really did was to write an apology for the prevailing policies of governments.

Mises likely was one of the few who saw the full ramifications of what Keynesian economics would provide for government. Most early criticisms were in terms of the economic unsoundness of the theory.

To contrast the blatant differences between proper economics and Keynesian prescriptions, the following two prescriptions were offered early in this century:

austriankeynesian

It was proper that one of these men should have won the Nobel Prize in economics. It just happened to be the wrong one.

buchananeconomy-1986-1

JAMES BUCHANAN, NOBEL LAUREATE

In 1977 James M. Buchanan and Richard E. Wagner wrote “Democracy In Deficit — The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes” (available online). It was the first comprehensive attempt to apply public-choice theory to macroeconomic theory and policy. According to Robert D. Tollison:

The central purpose of the book was to examine the simple precepts of Keynesian economics through the lens of public-choice theory. The basic discovery was that Keynesian economics had a bias toward deficits in terms of political self-interest.

From Buchanan and Wagner came this judgment regarding Keynesian economics:

The message of Keynesianism might be summarized as: What is folly in the conduct of a private family may be prudence in the conduct of the affairs of a great nation. (p. 3)

This fundamental confusion was responsible for the political acceptance of Keynesian economics. Politicians saw the potential for themselves in this new doctrine which advocated central control of the economy and fiscal irresponsibility as a necessary and patriotic thing. Giving them this gift was like providing matches and gasoline to an arsonist. (“I don’t want to spend money, but I have to otherwise the economy will tank.”)

Once government took control of the economy, they needed economists to provide the analysis and justifications for their new policies. Many in the economics profession were procured in similar fashion used with prostitutes. Money and power were heady incentives for a profession that had rightly been consigned to a section in their own ivory tower.

Justifying what government wanted to do and was doing was the only requisite. But, in order to qualify, it became necessary to convert to Keynesianism. Other branches of economics condemned government policies, at least on economic grounds.

Economists more than most understand incentives. When the payoffs increase, some men in any profession find it easy to modify ethics and integrity.

Buchanan and Wagner knew the damage that Keynesian economics had already inflicted and knew its potential was much greater. Thirty-seven years ago they commented:

What happened? Why does Camelot lay in ruin? Viet Nam and Watergate cannot explain everything forever. Intellectual error of monumental proportion has been made, and not exclusively by the ordinary politicians. Error also lies squarely with the economists. (p. 4)

They answered their own question:

The academic scribbler of the past who must bear substantial responsibility is Lord Keynes himself, whose ideas were uncritically accepted by American establishment economists. The mounting historical evidence of the effects of these ideas cannot continue to be ignored. Keynesian economics has turned the politicians loose, it has destroyed the effective constraint on politicians’ ordinary appetites. Armed with the Keynesian message, politicians can spend and spend without the apparent necessity to tax. “Democracy in deficit” is descriptive, both of our economic plight and of the subject matter for this book. (p.4)

Now, thirty-five plus years later, one may judge the merit in this book. Prescience, while not limited to them alone, was amazing.

One must also marvel at the continuation and acceleration of the ruinous policies. Whether Buchanan and Wagner imagined things could go on for so long and to such an extent is not known. However, to appreciate these changes, this graph from Zerohedge shows the effects of Keynesianism and what it has done to governments around the world:

keynesian legacy

The deterioration in fiscal discipline was astounding and in line what they predicted.

As this false economic theology known as Keynesianism runs its course, the following conclusions are probable:

  • Regardless of whether this generation escapes or not, we have impoverished our children and grandchildren.
  • Politicians now control most of the economy, including what passes for acceptable economics.
  • No honest economist can work for government; nor would one want to.
  • The tipping point for reversing this condition has long past.
  • Politicians have no incentive to stop the process underway.
  • Markets (and perhaps societies and governments) will eventually collapse, ending this terrible period of economic madness.

When this flawed paradigm is finally exhausted, the world may enter a better place in terms of economics and limited government. Without this shift, poverty and misery will grow along with wars used as political diversions.

One can only hope that the world avoids an Economic Dark Age when the collapse occurs.

charles hugh smith-Theft Is Deflationary–Especially the Crony-Capitalist/State Kind

charles hugh smith-Theft Is Deflationary–Especially the Crony-Capitalist/State Kind.

Monopoly power in all its forms–in our system, crony capitalism and its partner, the neofeudal state–enables theft on a systemic scale.

If a monopoly forces its customers to pay more for low-quality goods and services because they have no choice, how is that not theft?

If the Mafia raises the price of “protection” on small businesses (another case of monopoly and no other choice), how is that extortion not theft?

When a local government raises junk fees to fund its cronies’ excessive (i.e. non-market-rate) salaries and pensions, how is that monopoly power to extort more money from those with no other choice any different from Mafia extortion/theft?

If a pharmaceutical company extends a patent on a costly medication by changing the dosage slightly, how is that not theft via regulatory capture? If a government contractor charges the Pentagon $1,000 for a hammer (all those overhead charges, tsk-tsk–lobbying corrupt politicos costs a lot, you know), how is that not theft of taxpayers’ money?

When the Federal Reserve drops the yield on savings to near-zero to funnel all that stolen wealth to its cronies on Wall Street, how is that not theft?

Monopoly power in all its forms–in our system, crony capitalism and its partner, the neofeudal state–enables theft on a systemic scale. When crony capitalism and the state are essentially one system, the propaganda organs of the state and mainstream corporate media combine to persuade the stripmined populace that their theft is not theft, it’s “capitalism and democracy at work.” This is known as The Big Lie. What we have is systemic theft, predation and exploitation.

Calling things what they really are would upset the apple cart of systemic exploitation.Let’s Call Things What They Really Are in 2014 (January 15, 2014)

Correspondent Jeff W. explains that all this systemic theft is inherently deflationary:

All forms of stealing are deflationary. Stealing cuts into the average citizen’s disposable income, it reduces how much he can buy. Because there are now fewer dollars chasing more goods, deflation is the inevitable result. Stealing is actually worse than a zero-sum game. Society loses more than the thief takes. In addition to losses from theft, a victim often has to spend more on security measures. Theft also has a chilling effect on capital investment and commerce in general.Consider how many different kinds of theft the American citizen is exposed to: street crime, sickcare industry ripoffs, legal system ripoffs including huge fines for traffic violations, high taxes, interest earnings on his savings that amount to ZIRP, a corporatist state determined to suppress his wages by any means necessary, unending victimization at the hands of predators enabled and protected by the state. If he owns a small business, he has to deal with a corrupt regulatory state, higher taxes, and an enlarged menagerie of predators. Today there are thieves everywhere.

So one big deflation trend is theft. As theft increases, deflation increases. As society collapses and thieves start roaming freely all over the landscape, a deflationary collapse can be expected—absent a determined and persistent campaign of money printing.

Exhibit A for the case that stealing is deflationary is the Dark Ages.Stealing was rampant in the Dark Ages. How did people react to that? By “going medieval.” They wore clothing that made them look poor so as to avoid attracting the attention of thieves. Their dwellings looked poor for the same reason. If they had cash, they would bury it in the ground; no one could be trusted. Unless one was an insider who could get protection from the state, no one’s property was safe.

Capital investments were much too risky, and out of the question. What were the price characteristics of the Dark Ages? Wages were low. Real estate valuations low. Prices of manufactured items (such as they were) were low. Only food was expensive. People can cut back on clothing and shelter, but there is a limit to how much they can cut back on food. In the Dark Ages, people really hunkered down and just focused on basic survival.

Exhibit B is Detroit. Detroit for many years has been a high crime area, i.e. it had lots of thieves running around. What are the price characteristics of Detroit? Wages low. Real estate valuations low. There is very little manufacturing being done inside the city limits today because of high property taxes and crime. There is also very little capital investment for the same reasons.

There is a vicious circle at work here. 1) Thieves control the government; 2) Which results in increased stealing; 3) Deflation results from that; 4) Which gives the thieves a reason to print money and give it to themselves; 5) Which enriches the thieves some more; 6) Which gives them more resources they can use to consolidate their control of the government; 7) Back to step 1.

Many people seem confused about how there could be deflation in the paper (or digital) money era. If they would recognize how much stealing is going on, and if they understood the powerful deflationary effect of stealing, then perhaps they would not be so surprised to observe price decreases, particularly in wages and the prices of manufactured products.

Thank you, Jeff, for explaining the causal connection between systemic theft and deflation. To all those terrified of deflation (for example, central bankers and their cronies holding trillions of dollars in phantom assets and illusory collateral), the solution is obvious: get rid of systemic theft. But since those terrified of deflation are at the top of the monopoly-power thievery pyramid, that is asking the impossible: for the thieves to relinquish their power to steal.

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Financial System Doesn’t Just Enable Theft, It Is Theft

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Financial System Doesn’t Just Enable Theft, It Is Theft.

 

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