Do you really want to give up your freedom and become a serf?

What could possibly go wrong with giving a leader the power to fix all our problems? There is a great chance said leader will use that power to force people to fix things. You could wind up being told in microscopic detail every single thing you can do.

That would merely cost you your freedom and make you a serf.

In musical terms, that might be called, oh, perhaps something like Serfdom USA:

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More comments from winner of this year’s Nobel award in economics

Cover of Prof. Deaton's book, used under fair use, courtesy of Amazon.com

Cover of Prof. Deaton’s book, used under fair use for this review, courtesy of Amazon.com

Prof. Angus Deaton won the 2015 Nobel award in economics. Mentioned this earlier. (Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

His contribution to expanding the frontier of economics knowledge is to study development and poverty from the consumption side instead of income side. This approach looks at what can people buy instead of what income they have.

Fun article talking about some of his ideas was in the Financial Times on October 12: Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton shares 3 big ideas.

Inequality

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Capitalism undermines feudalism and offers economic freedom to Dalits

Capitalism does a better job providing freedom and equality than any other system. It is a far better option than feudalism.

Capitalism has been allowed to flourish in India since 1991. The results have been to release large numbers of Dalits from bonded labor. Previously those individuals were restricted to the most dirty, dangerous jobs.

Check out the results in this article by Swaminathan S. Ankelsaria Aiyar, writing at Cato Institute: How Capitalism Is Undermining the Indian Caste System.

(Cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

Article is reprinted in full under a Creative Commons license granted by the author: (more…)

I celebrate this Independence Day by using my freedom of speech and freedom of religion

Thought about putting on my blogs some cool patriotic visuals to celebrate the 239th anniversary of the greatest country in the world that has provided more political, economic, and religious freedom to more people than any country anywhere anytime. There are lots of nice looking things available on the ‘net.

Also thought about pulling up some photos of flags I’ve taken over the years and creating a visual celebration.

I decided to do something completely different.

Of the large number of freedoms that we humans have because we exist, which are also recognized by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, I particularly cherish freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

So yesterday (which was the federal holiday), today (the actual anniversary), and tomorrow I exercise those freedoms.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

Freedom of speech

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Which disgustingly rich “robber baron” single-handedly saved all the whales?

Eventually I want to revisit the reputation of those horrid men who built the American economy at the end of the 1900s. They gave us massive breakthroughs in economic development.

Until I can write some extended articles, I’ll accumulate tidbits as I go.

Got to thinking about this when Bruce Oksol of Million Dollar Way pointed out

…that Rockefeller and Standard Oil single-handedly saved the whales from extinction

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Graduation advice that applies to absolutely everybody

Your future is up to you.

That’s the message from Ted Nugent in a column where he provides comments To The Graduating Class of 2015…

Here are a few highlights:

1.Life is not fair. Get used to it.

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Why I chose a gun. Evil exists.

General Peter van Uhm is the Netherlands chief of defense. In the following TED presentation, he explains why he chose a gun to make the world a better place. Others choose a pen or brush.

He intentionally picked up a gun.

I’ve not talked about my military service on my blogs. His presentation is a superb proxy for why I took my turn carrying a gun, especially one that held frightening power.

Here’s the reason in one phrase: (more…)

“I, Egg”, or, how many millions of people have to cooperate for you to boil one egg?

Check out Exxon-Mobil’s commercial. Try to take a completely wild guess how many people are involved in getting one egg to your house and the number of people and millions of dollars of investment to get a bit of natural gas to the stove:

 

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In addition to gracious help from Indians, what moved the Pilgrims from starving to thriving?

The first winter for the Pilgrims was terrible. Between starvation, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, about half died.

The second winter was terrible, again with little food. Those who survived the first two winters only did so by the goodness of the Native Americans who graciously shared their food.

The third winter was far better, with plenty of food. In a few years, there was enough abundance that the Pilgrims had paid off their debt to those who financed their trip. They were alive, thriving, and free of debt.

Those are a few highlights of the Pilgrims’ story told by Karl Denninger in his article from 2006, which is reposted at Market-Ticker:  The Truth About Thanksgiving.

What caused the change from starving to thriving is the part of the story I never heard growing up.

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At its core, capitalism is moral

At the most foundational level, capitalism is moral.

The only way to succeed in the long-term is to treat customers well and honestly. That will provide money to the company to continue paying staff and vendors as well as leaving a profit for owners.

If a company does not deliver a quality product or service that customers value with higher utility to them than the cost to provide by the company, then the company won’t be around long.

At the core level, it is moral to satisfy your customers with profit left over.

CPA Ron Baker makes this point more eloquently than me in his LinkedIn article, Are Corporations Socially Responsible?

By the way, the answer is yes.

(Cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

If a corporation provides value to customers, both the company and customer will be better off after the transaction than before. That is a positive social value.

Doing so, within the framework of the law (as Milton Freidman points out) is the duty of a business and it is also highly socially responsible.

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Why do we study economics? Because of the suffering of people left behind in poverty.

Many countries around the world have seen their economies grow and enjoy the improved nutrition, health care, comfort, and consumer goods that go along with growth. Other countries, locations, and people groups have been left behind.

Why should we care about growth?

Consider a billion people struggling in India while a billion people in China have a per capita GDP today that is equal to what we had in the U.S. back in 1972.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update. The question I’ll ask here: Is it moral that the policies that let a billion people move out of grinding poverty in one place were not applied to lift up a billion of their next-door neighbors?)

The Economist explained the issue this way on 5/24:

The increase in (China’s) average annual GDP per head from around $300 to $6,750 over the period (of the last 30 years) has not just brought previously unimagined prosperity to hundreds of millions of people, but has also remade the world economy and geopolitics.

That’s great. I am sincerely happy for the people of China. The next sentence asks us to consider a billion people who got left behind:

India’s GDP per head was the same as China’s three decades ago. It is now less than a quarter of the size. … India’s economy has never achieved the momentum that has dragged much of East Asia out of poverty.

So what, I hear some say.

Consider the human cost: (more…)

How did we get to the place where we can ask “Why Does 1% of History Have 99% of the Wealth”?

Why we are so much better off than 200 years ago? Explained in 3 minutes. Check out the video by Prof. Dierdre McCloskey:

(Cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

Here’s my 200 word summary of the video:

Until 1800, the average person made the inflation-adjusted equivalent to $3 a day. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Starting in 1800, a graph of average income looks like a hockey stick, going almost straight up after being flat for thousands of years.

Why?

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What strange, mysterious, magical force is loose that increased US production of both oil and gas by one-third in six years?

Is it targeted federal subsidies?  Breakthrough law from the Congress?  Socialist industrial policy?  Keynesian monetary policy?  Blockbuster documentary from Hollywood that changed minds across the country?  More support for college loans? A landmark special on network TV? Quantitative Easing?

No. It’s none of those things.

Barron’s is pondering the question as well:  The Secret of U.S. Energy Success.

Federal subsidies have produced a substantial increase in some things. The editorial provides a partial list. Subsidies have given us…

..our national surpluses of grain, milk, unemployment, nonprofit companies, disabilities, and mortgage debt.

Those subsidies didn’t produce the massive increase in oil production in Bakken and Eagle Ford.

The best paragraph from the editorial: (more…)

Happy Thanksgiving! – “The true patron of this holiday feast – property rights”

The story of how the Pilgrims went from starving to plenty that I didn’t hear in school. In William Bradford’s own words:

The video title is The Pilgrims and Property Rights: How our ancestors got fat & happy.

Communal property was not acceptable to the married menfolk or the womenfolk. Especially the young, unmarried men. What do you suppose made everyone industrious?

Quote in the title above is from the video.

From Reason TV. Hat tip: Cafe Hayek. Cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change.

Looking for the cause of poverty? It isn’t capitalism. Look for some other Cs – corruption, collusion, and cronyism

It’s not capitalism that has crushed millions of people into the dust of poverty across Africa and many other places and times around the world. Capitalism lifts people out of the dust.

What keeps the poor in grinding poverty?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger’s column Capitalism’s Corruptions discusses the real causes of poverty (more…)