Don't Trust Cuban Health Care Statistics

Don't Trust Cuban Health Care Statistics

06/20/2018Ryan McMaken

We've long been told that Cuba's health care system is one of the greatest in the world. In spite of the fact that health usually correlates with wealth in national statistics, we're assured that Cuba's obvious poverty is offset, at least in part, by amazingly low infant mortality rates and life expectancy.

But in a new short article for the journal Health Policy and Planning, Gilbert Berdine, Vincent Geloso, and Benjamin Powell examine some of the ways that the data is being manipulated in Cuba to ensure better-looking health statistics.

For example, on the matter of infant mortality, doctors have been known to redefine dead infants as dead fetuses:

[There is] evidence that physicians likely reclassified early neonatal deaths as late fetal deaths, thus deflating the infant mortality statistics and propping up life expectancy. Cuban doctors were re-categorizing neonatal deaths as late fetal deaths in order for doctors to meet government targets for infant mortality.

Abortions of babies in utero who might die soon after birth is a tactic as well:

Physicians often perform abortions without clear consent of the mother, raising serious issues of medical ethics, when ultrasound reveals fetal abnormalities because ‘otherwise it might raise the infant mortality rate.’ ... At 72.8 abortions per 100 births, Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

The focus on infant mortality may have led to increases in other types of mortality:

[T]hese outcomes come at cost to other population segments. The maternal mortality ratio of Cuba in 2015 was higher than in Latin American countries like Barbados, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay ( Trends in Maternal Mortality 1990 to 2015, 2015). In terms of healthy life expectancy, Cuba ranked behind Costa Rica, Chile, Peru and Bermuda and marginally surpassed Uruguay, Puerto Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Colombia

Some factors that have led to a more fit population have nothing at all to do with health care delivery:

[C]ar ownership is heavily restricted in Cuba and as a result the country’s car ownership rate is far below the Latin American average (55.8 per 1000 persons as opposed to 267 per 1000) (Road Safety, 2016). A low rate of automobile ownership results in little traffic congestion and few auto fatalities. In Brazil, where the car ownership rate is 7.3 times above that of Cuba, road fatalities reduce male and female life expectancy at birth by 0.8 and 0.2 years

Forced exercise helps:

[Another factor includes] forcing the population to increase their reliance on more physically demanding forms of transportation (e.g. cycling and walking) (Borowy, 2013). In fact, local physicians attribute a strong role to the massive introduction of bicycles in order to explain the decrease in traffic accidents mortality

So does making the population go hungry:

During the ‘Special Period’ (the prolonged economic crisis caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union), there were ‘sustained shortages in the food-rationing system’ that led to reductions in per capita daily energy intake (Franco et al. 2007). Combined with the increase in the levels of energy expenditures due to the reliance on physically demanding forms of transportation, this led to a reduction in net nutrition...this crisis led to the halving of obesity rates and, although one has to be careful in causal terms, this likely contributed to important reductions of deaths attributed to diabetes, coronary heart diseases and strokes (there were also increases in the number of cases of neuropathy).

As Berdine, et al point out, a key factor here is the unseen opportunity cost of mandating that more and more resrouces be directed toward health care at the expense of other sectors of the economy. Cuban central planners have decided that large amounts of national income be devoted to health care so as to improve (some) national indicators on health. But, given the choice, would Cubans choose to devote so much to health care?

Many advocates for government-directed health spending like to claim that health and longevity are the most important factors. But ordinary human behavior makes it clear this is not actually true. People routinely spend money on non-essentials like non-basic automobiles, large houses, and costly vacations when they could save that money for medical emergencies. Even in countries with so-called socialized medicine often have options for private supplemental health insurance — which would expand and improve quality of care for the purchaser. And yet few elect to use this option. Clearly, living as long as possible is only one value balanced against many others.

In light of this, can we conclude the Cuban government is hitting the "correct" amount of health care spending? Since each person's value ranking differs, this is obviously impossible.

Nevertheless, the Cuban healthcare system is clearly geared toward hitting certain goals arbitrarily set by government officials. This can lead to abuse, of course, and also to unreliable data.

RELATED: "Life Expectancy: If Denmark Were a US State, It Would Rank Equal To or Worse Than Sixteen US States

YouTube Suspension for Mises Media Channel is a Good Reason to Subscribe to Rumble

11/16/2023Tho Bishop

Today, the Mises Institute was informed that our Mises Media YouTube channel is suspended for seven days due to two new content strikes, one for an unlisted version of Dr. Naomi Wolf’s Supporters Summit address and the other for a talk by Dr. Peter McCullough, "Modern Medicine's Great Controversy," which had over 100,000 views.

None of this is a surprise. The Mises Institute has long been aware that our content is a threat to many of the narratives that social media companies favor. In the past, we’ve had videos demonetized for criticizing foreign policy. Our first video taken down by YouTube was a 2020 lecture by Tom Woods on the lies used to justify covid tyranny with over 1.5 million views. These recent videos are a reminder that the censorship regime continues regarding the issue of medical freedom.

For those interested in seeing what YouTube is censoring, here is a link to Dr. McCullough's talk. Additionally, "The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State," is a talk by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty that we proactively kept from our YouTube page for fear of receiving a content strike. Tom Wood's "The Covid Cult" is available at this link.

This is a good time to remind our audience that we mirror our video content on many alternative media sites, including Rumble, Bitchute, and Odysee. Given the SEC’s attack on crypto-based media platforms, including its legal assault on Odysee’s parent company, Lbry, Rumble may be one of the better platforms for supporters to utilize for consuming Mises Media content. 

Click here to subscribe to our Rumble channel.

This is also why subscribing to the Mises Institute’s email list is so important. With social media’s ability to throttle content, particularly on Facebook, the ability to directly connect with our supporters is more important now than ever before. As Jonathan Newman recently noted, even Google search has been manipulated to make it harder to reach our content.

The ideas of the Mises Institute are more important now than ever before, precisely for the same reasons that make our content a target for Big Tech. We want to thank our donors who make our operations possible. Click here to become a Mises Institute member.

APEC and the "Transformation" of San Francisco

Anyone who has spent time in San Francisco can attest to the choking rush hour traffic, the ubiquitous presence of homeless people, and hordes of tourists on the Embarcadero. But thanks to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference this week, things have changed a bit.

The APEC gathering has turned much of San Francisco into an armed camp, complete with hordes of cops, everywhere, blocked off roads, temporary fencing and credential checks, and, of course, the presence of The Black SUVs that transport Very Important People. When my son and I picked this day to visit the city, it happened to be when President Joe Biden was in town.

The police presence changed traffic patterns and, more often than not, we crossed the streets facing very little traffic. Likewise, at the usual shopping venues, there were no lines because there were few tourists, something the city’s business owners had feared would happen.

Not that they didn’t try to make the city attractive. We saw a number of workers pressure washing the sidewalks, something I had not seen in my numerous trips to this place. More importantly, authorities have moved the allegedly immovable homeless camps, leading residents to ask why nothing had been done before.

All this is necessary, one supposes, in order to sterilize the city so that all of the police cars and the Black SUVs driven by men dressed like the Blues Brothers and carrying around the Very Important People can move without being forced to see something resembling the real world. Given that America’s Left Coast cities (other than San Diego and Carmel) are pretty much ungovernable and have vast numbers of homeless camps, at least is it somewhat possible to turn San Francisco into a Potemkin Village, unlike L.A., Portland, and Seattle.

Had APEC chosen the latter two cities, the attendees would have been forced to deal with the sheer ferocity of the Antifa protesters, who surely would have managed to disrupt the proceedings and send all of the dignitaries being shuttled about in Black SUVs to run for cover. Furthermore, Biden then might have been compelled to acknowledge that the Antifa folk actually exist.

The larger question to me is why they have these meetings in the first place, given that those present are impediments to trade and economic cooperation. The Asian countries represented didn’t move from poverty to wealth because their political bosses were shuttled around places like San Francisco in Black SUVs. No, their economic lot improved because their countries pivoted from earlier policies of prohibiting importing of capital to encouraging capital development. They liberalized trade, protected private property, and allowed more economic freedom.

While I was (thank goodness) not invited to the conference (thus depriving me of the opportunity to be ferried about in Black SUVs driven by men dressed like the Blues Brothers), nonetheless, had I been there, I doubt I would have heard anyone speak of how best to promote both freedom and wealth creation. Instead, it turns into the usual who-met-with-whom intrigue that promotes the false idea that the world economy is “administered” by Very Important People driven about in Black SUVs and piloted by men dressed like the Blues Brothers.

Of course, what conference would be without the president (Joe Biden this time) meeting with another head of state (Xi of China this time). Too bad Xi didn’t ask Biden why his administration was engaged in such destructive behavior with its massive and unsustainable borrowing and money creation, its protectionism and Biden’s unwavering support of the wealth-destroying Jones Act.

(Given Biden’s very real cognitive issues, one doubts that the two had any kind of meaningful discussion at all, even with the help of interpreters. At least one hopes that Biden didn’t wander off during their staged walk together in a garden outside the city.)

As for my son and me, we went to a very uncrowded Fisherman’s Wharf, ate clam chowder and sourdough bread (as one is supposed to do in that neighborhood), and took a boat to Alcatraz Island, home of what was one of the most notorious prisons in history. Perhaps that ride across the San Francisco Bay to one of the federal government’s former prisons was a fitting analogy, given the way that the plans the ruling elites being driven about in Black SUVs with men dressed like the Blues Brothers behind the wheel have for the rest of us with their Great Reset.

For all the “common man” and “equity” rhetoric that “Lunch Bucket” Joe Biden uses on the stump, the world of Biden and his fellow elites is one in which everything is sterilized. Everyone not in their circle needs to stand behind the barriers, watch the parade of Black SUVs driven by men dressed like the Blues Brothers, and happily accept whatever calamities they impose upon us.

As the CPI Eases, Economists Declare "No Recession" Because This Time Is Different

11/15/2023Ryan McMaken

The federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released new price inflation data on Tuesday, and according to the report, year-over year inflation continued to climb—although at the slowest pace since July of this year. According to the BLS, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose 3.2 percent year over year during October, before seasonal adjustment. That’s the thirty-second month in a row of price inflation above the Fed’s arbitrary two-percent inflation target. Month-over-month inflation was flat with the CPI rising 0.04 percent (essentially zero percent) from September to October. 

The continued growth in the CPI was driven largely by "food away from home" (up year over year by 5.4 percent) and shelter, which was up year over year, by 6.7 percent. Moderation in the rate of increase, on the other hand, relied largely on year-over-year declines in the price indices for gasoline (down 5.3 percent) and used cars and trucks, which were down 7.1 percent. 


It will grieve many ordinary people to note, however, that while food prices have somewhat moderated, the other most essential category within the CPI overall index—shelter—remains near a 35-year high when measured year-over-year. The shelter index rose 6.7 percent from October 2022 to October 2023. That is a similar annual increase to what we saw in mid-1977 and mid-1982. Meanwhile, the month-to-month increase from September to October was 0.3 percent. That's for all types of shelter. The situation is more grim when we looks just at renters. The index for "rent of primary residence" has been up for three months in a row and may be reaccelerating toward the 27-year high in monthly rent growth reached in September 2022. 


One noticeable oddity in the CPI report was a purported 34-percent drop in the index for health insurance, year-over-year. Those who actually pay premiums will find this rather hard to believe. The CPI report also showed a very suspect two-percent decline in the index for "medical care services," year over year.  As explained by Wolf Richter at Wolf Street, the index for medical services has been problematic for some time, understating month to month changes while overstating year-over-year growth. The new method has further created bizarre swings in the index, turning it into, as Richter says "chickenshit." 

Any ordinary person knows that medical care services are hardly falling, yet the index for medical care—which is a not-insignificant 6.3 percent of the full index—tells us prices are going down. On Monday, Bloomberg noted how the CPI index has become detached from reality on health services: "The health insurance index ... is currently at its lowest reading in nearly six years. But what Americans actually pay for coverage is a different story." Healthcare prices in the real world are rising rapidly, but you wouldn't know that from reading about the CPI, however. 

Moreover, in spite of claims that price inflation is now "falling" or moderating, real average earnings continue to go nowhere. Thanks to a 20-percent increase in the CPI over the past three years, the real average wage has increased a mere 23 cents since the eve of the Covid lockdowns. That, of course, is an average and understates the substantial losses (in real terms) felt by households at the lower end of the income scale—who have not seen as much income growth overall during the past decade. 

real wage

The news of some moderation in the CPI—which remains nearly 19 percent above the index as measured in January 2020— was interpreted by both Wall Street and much of the financial media as a great victory over price inflation and as evidence of the imagined "soft landing." 

The Wall Street Journal, for example, reported on Wednesday

The U.S. economy is approaching what most economists had thought either unlikely or impossible: inflation returning to its prepandemic norm without a recession or even much economic weakness, a so-called soft landing. ... “What we are expecting now is a soft landing,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We expect the economy to weaken quite a bit but it does look like we’ll avoid an outright contraction” in gross domestic product. ... Six months ago, the consensus among economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal was that the economy would enter a recession over the next 12 months. In October’s survey, the average forecast of economists was for no recession. 

The argument offered by most of these economists, however, amounts to little more than "it's different this time." Even the Journal concedes  "If they’re right, it would be highly unusual. In the past 80 years, the Federal Reserve has never managed to bring inflation down substantially without sparking a recession." 

By the BLS's own measure, CPI inflation remains well above the Fed's two-percent target even as numerous economic indicators point toward recession. Tax revenue, the yield curve, temp jobs, manufacturing activity, and the leading indicators index all point toward recession. 

What really matters in terms of stock prices and Wall Street frenzies, however, is the prospect for a return to easy money. Any decline in CPI inflation is interpreted as a sign that the Federal Reserve will once again turn very dovish and force interest rates lower. With price inflation now moderating, it is assumed cuts to the target policy interest rate will soon be in the cards, and Wall Street is getting excited. Unfortunately, the investment game is no longer about underlying fundamentals, but is about making money off the bubbles created by Fed-induced monetary expansion. 

Taxpayers Fume as Politicians Close Streets for Auto Races

11/15/2023Doug French

Formula 1 week has finally arrived this week in Las Vegas. After months and months of traffic annoyance for workers commuting to their jobs on the Strip and tourists attempting to walk or Uber from one property to another the end is finally in sight.

Once the racing begins, cars will roar down Las Vegas Blvd. (the Strip) weave over to Koval which will provide another long straightaway past the finish/start line then west on Harmon and back to the Strip. The race will go off at 10pm PST to show off the lights of Vegas for TV viewers, or maybe providing a convenient viewing time for European viewers. Three nights of practice, qualifying and the actual race will stymie traffic for the thousands who work at Strip hotels.

The Strip corridor will be shut down from 7pm to 2am during the three days of racing. The Strip is open 24/7 and employees must get to work. Dana Gentry wrote in Nevada Current, “That effort will be complicated by a lack of parking set aside for workers – only about 4,600 spots at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when the event will be ‘hot’ – closed streets, construction unrelated to the race, and a bus transit system that is expected to run on schedule 30% of the time.”

Strip properties are providing incentives for workers to show up during race nights. In one case, a drawing will be held for a new BMW.

The government owns the streets and claims this F1apolluzza will generate $1.3 to $1.6 billion for the local economy. Of course an F1 race is a private venture to be carried out on public streets blocking access to the very taxpayers that pay for these streets. Professor Walter Block, writing about the problem of parades in his book The Privatization of Roads and Highways,

The foregoing was a challenging issue only because there were private people contending for public space. There is no way to solve this under conditions of public ownership, since all private parties have equal standing under any legal system based on the rule of law. The only solution is to reject one of the basic premises—public ownership. Then and only then is there a reasonable resolution of the issue.

“The frustration, inconvenience and blatant disdain for residents living in Las Vegas is evident by the lack of information and coordination with everyone except the promoters of this exhibition,” a resident named Celeste, a Vegas local, told

Tourist David Foxx told Jalopnik, “Everything you read about traffic being a nightmare couldn’t be more true. Numerous lane restrictions on the Strip make it untravelable. The best pedestrian bridge in town is covered. My last night in Vegas, I always take a picture in front of the Bellagio Fountains, but now they are blocked by bleachers for the upcoming race.”

The entire Strip looks to be part of a massive model constructed with an erector set.

According to one Lyft driver, “everyone hates the F1 race. He picked up a woman leaving work at the Sphere last night. She paid two-hours’ wages to get home because the bus would have taken almost five hours with all the rerouting and traffic.”

Gabriel Roth (cited in Block) wrote of applying economic principles to roads and congestion,

“There is nothing new or unusual about these principles, nor are they particularly difficult. What is difficult is to apply them to roads, probably because we have all been brought up to regard roads as community assets freely available to all comers. The difficulty does not lie so much in the technicalities of the matter, but rather in the idea that roads can usefully be regarded as chunks of real estate.

“Someone here is making a lot of money off of this event, and it is not the residents of Clark County,” Celeste told Jalopnik. “We will have our pockets picked, paying taxes for the bill."

Someone who commented to Jalopnik anonymously said, “If the casinos don’t see a massive recurring profit that offsets the pain from construction and teardown, then this race will be dead. No one gives a crap about the sport. No one.”

Local politicians will not want to admit defeat. Let the resorts own the streets and they would decide, rationally.

Image source:

Rothbard on War

Today, wars rage in the Ukraine and Middle East. What attitude should libertarians adopt toward these wars? Is it consistent with libertarian principles to support whatever side you think has the better case? Can you urge that side to go all-out for victory?  Murray Rothbard, the greatest of all libertarian theorists, did not think so. And this is true even if you have assessed the conflict correctly. Let’s look at what he says in his great book The Ethics of Liberty.

As you might expect, Murray doesn’t begin his analysis by taking conflicts between states as the starting point. He asks what individuals involved in a conflict could properly do in an anarcho-capitalist society. Here is what he says:

“Before considering inter-State actions, let us return for a moment to the pure libertarian stateless world where individuals and their hired private protection agencies strictly confine their use of violence to the defense of person and property against violence. Suppose that, in this world, Jones finds that he or his property is being aggressed against by Smith. lt is legitimate, as we have seen, for Jones to repel this invasion by the use of defensive violence. But, now we must ask: is it within the right of Jones to commit aggressive violence against innocent third parties in the course of his legitimate defense against Smith? Clearly the answer must be “No.” For the rule prohibiting violence against the persons or property of innocent men is absolute; it holds regardless of the subjective motives for the aggression. lt is wrong, and criminal, to violate the property or person of another, even if one is a Robin Hood, or is starving, or is defending oneself against a third man’s attack. We may understand and sympathize with the motives in many of these cases and extreme situations. We (or, rather, the victim or his heirs) may later mitigate the guilt if the criminal comes to trial for punishment, but we cannot evade the judgment that this aggression is still a criminal act, and one which the victim has every right to repel, by violence if necessary. In short, A aggresses against B because C is threatening, or aggressing against, A. We may understand C’s “higher” culpability in this whole procedure, but we still label this aggression by A as a criminal act which B has every right to repel by violence. To be more concrete, if Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, Jones has the right to repel him and try to catch him, but Jones has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd. If he does this, he is as much (or more) a criminal aggressor as Smith is. The same criteria hold if Smith and Jones each have men on his side, i.e. if “war” breaks out between Smith and his henchmen and Jones and his bodyguards. If Smith and a group of henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause. But Jones and his men have no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of their “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance their pursuit, to conscript others into their posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of their struggle to capture the Smith forces. If Jones and his men should do any of these things, they become criminals as fully as Smith, and they too become subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality. In fact, if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him, or should kill innocent people in the pursuit, then Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft. Suppose that Jones, in the course of his “just war” against the ravages of Smith, should kill some innocent people; and suppose that he should declaim, in defense of this murder, that he was simply acting on the slogan, “give me Iiberty or give me death.” The absurdity of this “defense” should be evident at once, for the issue is not whether Jones was willing to risk death personally in his defensive struggle against Smith; the issue is whether he was willing to kill other innocent people in pursuit of his legitimate end. For Jones was in truth acting on the completely indefensible slogan: “Give me liberty or give them death” —surely a far less noble battle cry.”

Murray next argues that because you may never harm the innocent, nuclear war is always wrong, because there is no way of confining the damage these weapons do to legitimate targets. Murray makes this point unmistakably clear:

“lt has often been maintained, and especially by conservatives, that the development of the horrendous modern weapons of mass murder (nuclear weapons, rockets, germ warfare, etc.) is only a difference of degree rather than kind from the simpler weapons of an earlier era. Of course, one answer to this is that when the degree is the number of human lives, the difference is a very big one. But a particularly libertarian reply is that while the bow and arrow, and even the rifle, can be pinpointed, if the will be there, against actual criminals, modern nuclear weapons cannot. Here is a crucial difference in kind. Of course, the bow and arrow could be used for aggressive purposes, but it could also be pinpointed to use only against aggressors. Nuclear weapons, even “conventional” aerial bombs, cannot be. These weapons are ipso facto engines of indiscriminate mass destruction. (The only exception would be the extremely rare case where a mass of people who were all criminals inhabited a vast geographical area.) We must, therefore, conclude that the use of nuclear or similar weapons, or the threat thereof, is a crime against humanity for which there can be no justification. This is why the old cliché no longer holds that it is not the arms but the will to use them that is significant in judging matters of war and peace. For it is precisely the characteristic of modern weapons that they cannot be used selectively, cannot be used in a libertarian manner. Therefore, their very existence must be condemned, and nuclear disarmament becomes a good to be pursued for its own sake. Indeed, of all the aspects of liberty, such disarmament becomes the highest political good that can be pursued in the modern world. For just as murder is a more heinous crime against another man than larceny, so mass murder—indeed murder so widespread as to threaten human civilization and human survival itself-is the worst crime that any man could possibly commit. And that crime is now all too possible. Or are libertarians going to wax properly indignant about price controls or the income tax, and yet shrug their shoulders at or even positively advocate the ultimate crime of mass murder?”

Read the full article at

Bibi Netanyahu May Find Himself In the Dock, In The Hague

11/14/2023Ilana Mercer

If you know in advance that your actions will cause the death of thousands of civilians; attached to your criminal actions (actus reus) is a guilty mind (mens rea), which means malice aforethought, also known as intent, in Western jurisprudence and judicial philosophy.

The razing of Gaza and the ongoing murder of tens of thousands of civilians by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with western imprimatur, is a war crime. Strafing civilian populations and pulverizing entire neighborhoods to ostensibly “soften” the few embedded targets within—this violates natural law, international law, libertarian law and Just War Theory.

It was true when Genghis Bush dropped daisy cutters and cluster bombs on Iraqi civilians, killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of them; it was true when allied forces firebombed Dresden and Hamburg, and it was true when Harry Truman dropped atomic bombs on Japanese civilians.

Not that it helped his victims, but Truman icily expressed some “regret” for “the [beastly] necessity of wiping out whole populations”: “I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare,” Truman told an ardent supporter, “but I can't bring myself to believe that because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in that same manner.”

Likewise, the mildly sociopathic supporters of the war on Gaza’s civilians assert that Gaza can be “a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare,” to commandeer Truman’s elegant line. They say that the sympathies expressed by Gazans toward their neighbors, victims of the October 7 slaughter, are meager and grudging.

It is true that leadership in Egypt and Jordan is less than candid as to why they refuse to welcome Gaza’s refugees into their midst as the Polish welcomed the Ukrainians. In fact, the Egyptians have no intention whatsoever of allowing Palestinians, whom they view as a radicalizing element, into their country. Like President Hosni Mubarak before him; President El-Sisi is fearful of swelling the already-swollen ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Mubarak had periodically conducted mini-massacres against the Brotherhood—the organization that sired Hamas—with no particular outcry from the West.

Not that pro-war agitators know anything about the history of the region; but it is also true that, in 1970, King Hussein (ibn Talal) of Jordan massacred thousands of Palestinians for fomenting a coup against the Hashemite monarchy. The King then expelled the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and many thousands of Palestinians to Lebanon.

Inarguably, the West’s Disneyfied, angels-and-demons foreign policy meme, whereby Hamas is an oppressor of its people is a mirage. The Palestinian People had voted for the “Islamic Resistance Movement” (Hamas). In the last election, Hamas got a majority in all but two of the 16 districts in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to Mark Mellman, a pollster, “If new presidential elections were held with two candidates, Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would receive 37 percent of the vote, and Haniyeh would win in a landslide with 58 percent.” Substantial majorities in the West Bank and Gaza favor “armed conflict” over peaceful, political solutions to the conflict.

These uncomfortable facts do nothing to invalidate the libertarian axiom of non-aggression. Murder with majority approval is always murder, whomever the perpetrator. Whether it is committed by actors within or without the State; by the designated “good guys” or the “bad guys”; murder of innocent, non-combatant civilians is still murder.

Thus, the razing and ethnic cleansing of Gaza by Benjmain Netanyahu, abetted by Joe Biden and his Uniparty accomplices, in the course of which tens of thousands civilians are dying: This is murder with malice aforethought, a concept that includes “deaths resulting from actions that display a depraved indifference to life.” Further depraved indifference to life was Israel’s throttling of supplies of water, food and power to the millions of aid-dependent Gazans, as Israel knows full-well this will imperil civilians indirectly.

Silly soliloquies poured into our ears about “Hamas using civilians as human shields” amount to morally bankrupt non sequiturs. True: Hamas has invited the IDF to “come get us if you can find us among Gaza’s civilians.” The IDF and its handlers, however, have accepted Hamas’ invitation to pulverize communities of civilians.

In other words, Hamas’ culpability does not absolve Israel from blame. One agenda of wrongs doesn’t change another.

As to the utilitarian aspect of its mission; the IDF is handsomely equipped to fail. “To be very good at something inherently stupid,” said a great English novelist, “is not the mark of high intelligence.” In addition to betraying its own citizens by abysmally failing to defend their basic rights on October 7; the unthinking IDF has effectively bombed Gaza back to the stone age. This will do nothing to eradicate Hamas; to the contrary; it guarantees it recruits for posterity! Previous forays into the West Bank and Gaza signally failed to accomplish this mission.

Gazans, in an extremity of suffering, are instructed to “evacuate to the southern part of the strip.” That exhortation reminds me of Ivanka Trump’s counsel to men in hard hats, whose occupations had become obsolete: “Learn how to code.” “Evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza strip” is but a cruel meme, given that Gaza has been levelled. There is nowhere left to run.

Tragically, Israel has squandered much of the goodwill generated by the diabolical October 7 pogrom. In the end, Bibi has obliterated the memory of the October 7 martyrs by creating new martyrs in Gaza. Never did I think I’d say this, but Mr. Netanyahu may just find himself in the dock, in The Hague.

In October, Cost of National Debt Exceeds Military Spending, Medicare and Medicaid

After running the third-largest budget deficit in US history in fiscal 2023, the Biden administration kicked off fiscal 2024 with another big budget shortfall.

The US government ran a $66.56 billion deficit in October, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement. This was slightly lower than last year’s October shortfall of $88 billion due to record federal receipts as Americans impacted by natural disasters paid deferred tax bills.

The government took in $403.43 billion in October, a 26.7% increase over last October. It was the largest influx of October federal receipts on record. This was due to a surge in tax receipts from people in California and other states who were allowed to extend their annual April tax deadline to October as they coped with natural disasters. This resulted in a 70% increase in non-withholding taxes from individuals and a whopping 170% increase in corporate tax receipts.

This papered over a general downward trend in federal tax receipts through last year. Federal revenue fell by 9.3% in fiscal 2023.

The federal government enjoyed a revenue windfall in fiscal 2022. According to a Tax Foundation analysis of Congressional Budget Office data, federal tax collections were up 21%. Tax collections also came in at a multi-decade high of 19.6% as a share of GDP. But CBO analysts warned at the time that it wouldn’t last. And government tax revenue will decline even faster as the economy spins into a recession.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration blew through $470 billion last month. Federal spending increased by 15.7% compared to October 2023.

This underscores the fact that the fundamental issue isn’t that the US government doesn’t have enough money. The fundamental problem is that the US government spends too much money. Despite the pretend spending cuts, the debt ceiling deal didn’t address that problem. Even with the new plan in place, spending will go up. And it’s already historically high. That means big budget deficits will continue and the national debt will mount.

In fact, the Biden administration is already looking for more money.  The president recently proposed a $100 billion aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other “national security” priorities. No matter what you hear about spending cuts, the federal government is constantly finding new reasons to spend more money.

The national debt blew past $33 trillion on Sept. 15. Just 20 days later, it pushed about $33.5 trillion. In other words, the Biden administration added half a trillion dollars to the debt in just 20 days.

Most people seem to think the excessive spending, the growing deficits and the national debt don’t really matter, but somebody has taken notice. Last week, Moody’s Investor Service lowered its outlook on US government credit from “stable” to “negative.” This could be a prelude to a downgrade in the country’s AAA credit rating.

The Bigger Problem

This rapid increase in the national debt is happening during a time of sharply rising interest rates. This is a big problem for a government that primarily depends on borrowing to pay its bills.

Interest payments on the national debt grew by $41 billion year-over-year to $88.9 billion. This accounted for about two-thirds of the October spending increase. The only spending category that was higher was Social Security. The interest expense was bigger than the amount spent on national defense and the combined total of the government-run Medicaid and Medicare health insurance programs.

There is no relief in sight. There is currently about $26 trillion in outstanding Treasury securities. The average interest rate on that debt is up from 2.19% in October of last year to 3.05% today. At that number will likely quickly climb higher.

A lot of the debt currently on the books was financed at very low rates before the Federal Reserve started its hiking cycle. Every month, some of that super-low-yielding paper matures and has to be replaced by bonds yielding much higher rates. That means interest payments will quickly climb much higher unless rates fall.

Rising interest rates drove interest payments to over 35% as a percentage of total tax receipts in fiscal 2023. In other words, the government is already paying more than a third of the taxes it collects on interest expense.

If interest rates remain elevated, or continue rising, interest expenses could climb rapidly into the top three federal expenses.

Originally published at

Jesus Huerta de Soto: A Force to be Reckoned With

On the occasion of the 7th Annual Madrid Conference on Austrian Economics a festschrift collection of essays was presented in honor of Dr. Jesús Huerta de Soto. He first read Human Action as a teen in the 70s. He has proven to be a successful businessman, as he has been at the helm of one of the most important insurance companies in Europe. He is a deeply devout Catholic, happily married to Sonsoles Huarte, and has six children. At age 66, he is perhaps the most interesting and influential living member of the Austrian school of economics.

As a young man, through a series of coincidences, he managed to join the leading (and perhaps only) discussion group on praxeology and libertarian ideas in Spain. Life in Spain then was not what it is now. Dr. Huerta de Soto related to us that in his formative years during the Franco regime his household had to send the driver to Portugal for bread as often as every two days. He praised Salazar relative to Franco and encouraged us to read the biography of the former by Gallagher as he has done elsewhere.

He first met Hayek when he was 22 years old and managed to become the Mont Pelerin Society’s youngest member. He obtained undergraduate degrees in business & economics, law, and actuarial sciences. He met Rothbard when he was doing an MBA at Stanford in the 80s. He shared a train ride with Milton Friedman where he expressed his ideas and Friedman repeatedly retorted “nonsense!”

He obtained his PhD when he was 35 with a dissertation titled Socialism, Economic Calculation, and the Entrepreneurial Function. He started an academic publication, Procesos de Mercado, when he was 47. He started a graduate program in Austrian economics, which has had over 300 students, out of which over 50 have completed a PhD. He chaired most of those dissertations. He has published 12 books and has been the torchbearer of a camp in one of the most significant and fruitful internal controversies in the modern Asutrain school.

During my visit to Madrid for the conference, I had the fortune to attend one of his regular lectures and had several brief conversations with him. The lecture I attended was on statistics, math, and method. It was particularly instructive listening to him, who has a deep understanding of math and statistics because it is a core element of his business, explain the incompatibility with economics. In conversation, he lamented that the programs that have historically embraced the Austrian school are inching towards the mainstream and drying up, yet he is energetic and optimistic about the future.

I met several of his current and past students, as well as other professors who teach in the graduate program. The atmosphere he has managed to build is impressive. I felt culturally and intellectually at home in a way I have not before. Every economist and thinker with a connection to the Austrian school in Europe and Latin America has been directly or indirectly influenced by Dr. Huerta de Soto. He shares in the merit of the success of the ideas of liberty in Argentina and beyond. Huerta de Soto is Spain. Huerta de Soto is academia. Huerta de Soto is civilization.

Fewer Americans Are Interested in Fighting Wars for the Regime

11/10/2023Ryan McMaken

Good news: the Pentagon is having trouble meeting recruiting goals, and an increasingly small portion of the American public is interested in fighting wars for the regime. 

It's been apparent for several years now that the Pentagon is having serious trouble with recruitment. In September, the New York Post reported that "Much of the military will fall short of recruitment goals by as much as 25% this year." 2023 is the first time the Air Force has missed its recruiting goals since 1999

Moreover, a Gallup poll in June found confidence in the military declined for a sixth consecutive year, to 60 percent.

It doesn't look like a major war will induce most Americans to sign up either.  For example, Newsweek reports today

A poll by the research institute Echelon Insights of 1,029 likely voters, conducted between October 23-26, found that 72 percent of those asked would not be willing to volunteer to serve in the armed forces were America to enter a major conflict, compared with 21 percent who would. The remainder were unsure. The poll was conducted after Hamas led an unprecedented militant attack on Israel on October 7.

Note how the question is phrased. It's not asking people if they would fight to defend their communities. Rather, the question is whether or not one would be willing to volunteer to fight in "a major conflict."  Few are apparently interested, and why should they be? It has become abundantly clear over the past 25 years that the elective wars fought by the US regime have nothing to do with the defense of Americans or their communities. The US bombing of Libya and Syria has had nothing to do with keeping Americans safe. The multi-decade wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had nothing to do with keeping Americans safe.  After all, the US lost the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, with no invasion of the United States imminent as a result. In fact, those wars likely increased the danger to  Americans by destabilizing the region—the US invasion made ISIS possible—and making more enemies for the US around the world. 

Sadly, every American who died in those conflicts died for little except to enrich local warlord "allies" in those countries made rich by suitcases full of US taxpayer dollars.

In 2023, the "we're fighting them over there so they don't fight us here" slogan only works on the most gullible of Americans, and fewer than ever are falling for it. That worked well in 2001. Most have now caught on to the ruse. 

On the other hand, it's worth noting that a majority of Americans still say they'd volunteer to fight if the United States were actually invaded. Newsweek continues:

At the start of October, a survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted by J.L. Partners for the Daily Mail found that while an overall majority of Americans said they would die fighting for their country were the U.S. invaded...

Discerning potential recruits have figured out the reality which is that joining the military most likely means being shipped 10,000 miles away to do the bidding of wealthy arms dealers, White House officials, and uniformed politicians—known as Pentagon generals. At any time these political cliques could ask ordinary American soldiers to do any of the following: 

  • Provide security guarantees to the dictators of Saudi Arabia.
  • Fight to prop up the Ukraine regime, known to be one of the most corrupt governments on earth. 
  • Fight in a war against Iran because some Washington interest groups don't like that country. 

Of course, most service members won't ever be in combat. They'll spend their time doing more mundane tasks—such as computer programming or logistics planning—to justify a defense budget that now nears a trillion dollars per year. 

One thing that is clear to most, however, is that virtually none of this has anything to do with defending the United States from invasion, so most young people who have real talent, skills, and plans know they can contribute to the community is far more useful ways. Ordinary nurses, truckers, roofers, private-school teachers, and insurance salesmen do far more net good for their communities than any member of the military who spends his time guarding a hill of sand in Syria or protecting the dictators of Kuwait. 

There are other factors behind the lack of recruitment also, of course. A low unemployment rate is one of them. But it's also true the Pentagon recruiters have abandoned the usual fertile ground of middle-class and working-class right-leaning Americans, and turned to relentless promotion of "diversity, equity, and inclusion" (DEI) recruits instead. It seems to not have worked, if the Army's latest ad is any indication. While the recruiters spent 2021 promoting a recruit named "Emma" and her lesbian moms, this latest ad feels like something from 1989: a bunch of cisgendered men jumping out of airplanes. 

If recruiters think this will bring traditional recruits flocking back, the Twitter comment section—which is virtually 100% negative, mocking commentary on the Army—should disabuse the Army brass of any notion that people are falling for it. 

If the US military wants to see a return of enthusiasm for enlistment, there are some things they could do:

  • End all foreign deployments of National Guard troops, and make the National Guard a strictly domestic defense force controlled by state governments. (A return to what the Guard was before the 1980s.)
  • End all US military foreign deployment to any place where the US Congress has not formally declared war against the local regime. 
  • Stop fighting elective wars that have nothing to do with the defense of Americans in America. 

Of course, doing those things would put significant obstacles in the way of the regimes that seeks to ever expand an de facto American global empire that reserves to itself the right to invade or bomb any country on earth at any time for any reason. 

Image source:

Google Search Results Exclude Mises Wire Articles

11/10/2023Jonathan Newman

Having trouble finding an old Mises Wire article? It appears that Google has demoted and delisted content, especially if it is over two years old.

For example, try finding Ryan McMaken’s 2016 article, “Has the CIA been Politicized?” with a Google search. You will probably find webpages that have reprinted the article, and you may see some pages that mention the article, but you won’t find the article itself.

Google Search

Other search engines have no trouble providing the article at the top of search results.

Here is DuckDuckGo’s search results with the same search terms:

Duck Duck Go Search

And here is Microsoft Bing’s search results:

Bing Search

This is not unique to this article — many Mises Wire articles simply will not appear in Google search results, no matter how precise the search terms are.

The Mises Institute is no stranger to censorship; these actions have been anticipated.

YouTube videos of talks at our events, especially ones on the government’s covid propaganda, have been taken down. This is why Mises Institute video content is posted on a variety of video hosting sites, like Odysee, Bitchute, and Rumble.

In a presentation at Mises University this year, Lew Rockwell said that the work of the Mises Institute “is more necessary than it has ever been.” Censorship will always be an obstacle for truth-tellers, but censorship never works, especially in the long run. The more the establishment suppresses ideas like sound economics, freedom, and peace, the more people become interested in seeing what is being hidden from them.

Update, 11/13/2023: It appears that the article mentioned above is now appearing in Google search results, but others are still missing.