Power & Market
Could it be said that the Federal Reserve controls wages the same way they control the prices of goods and services? According to a CNBC article on Thursday, it seems the answer is “yes.”
A less than stellar August jobs report showed:
Average hourly earnings jumped 0.6% for the month, about double what Wall Street had been expecting, and the increase from a year ago stood at a robust 4.3%, up from a 4% rise a month ago.
Strangely, these stats make news headlines when it's fair to say the general public has no appetite to hear “average hourly earnings” increased by 0.6% for the month. These headlines provide little context and the general public has no idea where these figures come from, how they were calculated, nor what they mean.
The Fed also keeps various data about wages, such as the Average Hourly Earnings of All Employees, Total Private data set, with the average hourly earnings being $30.80 per hour. Consider geographic locations like New York City, Green Bay, or Honolulu, then think about how many different types of jobs are in existence. Whether a barista, construction worker, teacher, doctor, nurse, engineer, or president of a bank, one should question the usefulness of arriving at an average wage for an entire nation.
Nonetheless, statisticians and the Fed claim they have a way to calculate this.
The problem is how it is applied for planning purposes. According to the article:
Some voices on Wall Street expect the wage and inflation numbers to start resonating with Fed officials.
Like inflation data, it becomes concerning when wages rise too fast, requiring the Fed’s intervention in order to correct.
During Powell’s Jackson Hole address, he did say:
But if wage increases were to move materially and persistently above the levels of productivity gains and inflation, businesses would likely pass those increases on to customers, a process that could become the sort of "wage–price spiral" seen at times in the past.
While the Fed has long believed in a Deflationary Spiral, we can add a Wage-Price Spiral on the list of economic threats the Fed should monitor.
Despite not telling readers how the Fed can control wages, or elaborating on the notion of a wage-spiral, CNBC is quick to assure readers that the Fed will look at:
…potential pressures that could trigger a wage-price spiral, which economists consider “bad” inflation.
They attempt to add further depth of analysis by quoting the Chief Economist from Moody’s Analytics who tells us: “Powell and the Fed will be content with allowing wages to rise for now.” Concluding:
But so far, they’d say the wage growth they’re observing is more a feature than a bug.
It all seems somewhat haphazardly contrived, as if these economic slogans are being made up with no firm backing or theory behind them. Calculating the average wage is problematic. Add the idea that wages could rise too much or too fast, it would trigger prices to increase, causing the wrong type of inflation; the bad as opposed to the good inflation. These are all various steps in what amounts to a very big leap of faith. The only thing worse is the conclusion that, for now, the Fed is monitoring the situation.
The main reason we are seemingly so accepting of lockdowns and vaccine mandates is that we have been conditioned to view a pandemic or an epidemic as a war being waged on our society.
In wartime we naturally expect civil liberties to be suspended. Likewise, the reasoning goes, during a pandemic we need to act in a unified way under some central command to fight this viral existential threat. Individual rights and freedoms must be curtailed for the sake of the greater good.
But that’s a false analogy. A pandemic is not a war. It’s a natural disaster. (Granted, SARS-CoV-2 may not be so “natural,” but still, the virus is not an “enemy” waging a war on us.)
A natural disaster doesn’t intend to subjugate cities and countryside, take natural resources and wealth, rape women, or enslave men. The virus doesn’t intend any of this. It has no intentions whatsoever. Heck, it is not even alive.
The only similarity between a war and a pandemic, then, is that oftentimes many lives are lost in both cases. I say “oftentimes” because it is actually not the case that lives are always lost during war, even if the war itself is lost. The enemy may be so powerful as to take over the country without a shot being fired. In fact, war rarely aims to kill citizens for the sake of killing. Deaths are usually the consequence of one state trying to control another. Once control is achieved, the killing usually stops.
But not so with the virus. So far as we know, it just kills individuals mindlessly. It has neither the intention nor the capability of taking over the country or subjugating the people. Therefore, it is not a threat to the common good, only to many individual goods.
And that’s a major difference. It’s for the sake of the common good that, in wartime, we accept the sacrifice of the individual good. And, particularly if it’s a “just war,” the sacrifice is actually embraced by the individual. The hero may regret leaving behind wife and children but he is propelled to move to the front by the greater attraction of safeguarding the greater good.
Granted, human nature being what it is, wars are rarely just and individuals are rarely heroes, so the sacrifice often involves forced conscription. But still, we can have a sense of how things are supposed to be in time of a “good” war when all citizens are “good” and ready to enlist.
But a pandemic is clearly not like war. It does not bring forth the same motivations of heroic self-sacrifice and reactions of solidarity that a just war brings. If a heroic action takes place during a pandemic (and clearly such action does take place from the ranks of frontline workers) it is a self-sacrifice aimed at saving the lives of particular individuals and is therefore indistinguishable from peacetime heroic action, as when a person jumps into a torrent to save a drowning baby. It is motivated by the love of neighbor, not love of country (i.e., common good love), precisely because it is not the country nor its common good that is under threat.
This is particularly true of this covid pandemic which attacks individuals with such discrimination, generally sparing the young and healthy while slamming the old or those with metabolic or immune vulnerabilities. But discriminate destruction is, in fact, typical of natural disasters: It is the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Eastern Seaboard that are the target of the hurricane while the earthquake shakes California; Vesuvius was fatal for Pompeii, but hardly for the rest of Campania or for Naples; the flood affects those living on the plain, not the mountain dwellers; etc. It is not the common good that is undermined by the disaster, but only many individual material properties and many individual lives. War, on the other hand, aims at controlling the whole land.
That’s why lockdowns and vaccine mandates are so wrong. They are a kind of collective action that would be justified in wartime but is applied in actual peacetime.
And it’s easy to see the difference in effect: when the state mobilizes factories to build weapons to defend from the invasion, the good that results benefits everyone, since the threat itself is collective. But when the state shuts down restaurants and churches allegedly to save hospitals, while the Zoomocracy thrives, it has pitted one part of the nation against another, thus manufacturing winners and losers from within its own people.
And likewise with these horrendous vaccine mandates that overtly do violence to the unvaccinated who are plainly innocent of any wrongdoing. By coercing vaccination on one group to “protect” another group from the virus, state mandates treat some people as human shields for the benefit of others. Yet all are within the same commonwealth!
Our preconditioned way of thinking about pandemics in martial terms may unfortunately turn into reality. The virus may eventually recede but many common goods may not survive the response to the pandemic.
After it was announced that the administration would decree a nationwide vaccine mandate that could affect 100 million people, the Babylon Bee immediately put up a headline “Joe Biden Announces Civil War.”
It wasn’t fake news. Unfortunately it was not satire either.
Julie Ponesse, a philosophy professor specializing in ethics who until recently taught at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, has a moving video in which she protests the requirement at her university that she get a covid-19 vaccination in order to continue teaching. She points out that it is her absolute right to decide what substances are injected into her body, and that this should settle the question of whether the requirement is legitimate. In this case, there is also a supplementary argument to be considered. The evidence does not show the vaccine works, and there is reason to believe it has harmful effects. At the end of the video, she breaks down in tears over the prospect of being unable able to continue her twenty-one years of teaching. She was in fact fired.
Judy Shelton and Stephanie Kelton; one was denied a congressional appointment to the Federal Reserve because she asked questions, the other found reward by telling the establishment exactly what they wanted to hear. Last week Judy Shelton published an article in the Wall Street Journal that was nothing short of honest, aptly titled: Congress Needs to Rein In a Too-Powerful Federal Reserve.
Opening with a mention to banks, money managers, and other investors who hang on to every speech from the Fed, looking for clues as to what their actions mean for their portfolios. She quickly answers the question: What about everyone else?
But for people who live off paychecks rather than portfolios, the game of deciphering Fed officials’ intentions is a sideshow that leaves them further behind. This is no way to run monetary policy. Our nation’s central bank has become too prominent, too political and too powerful.
It doesn’t require a PhD to understand. When the Fed unleashes trillions of dollars into the market and holds interest rates low, the benefit goes to those who are able to get this new money first. This goes into the bond, housing, and stock market pushing prices up. The Fed has never clearly explained how they think this helps people working outside of the financial industry.
Shelton confirms the influence on assets and interest rates:
The Fed’s ability to purchase massive quantities of U.S. Treasury securities is the dominant factor influencing interest rates across the board and thus the valuation of financial assets… What would that benchmark yield reveal if Fed purchases weren’t distorting the market?
Her technical acumen is always impressive:
The Fed’s prominence not only undermines supply-and-demand interactions for accurately pricing the cost of investment capital; it also compromises the relationship between fiscal and monetary policy.
For a long time, the relationship between fiscal and monetary policy has been blurred. With Congress unveiling multi-trillion loans every few months, spending amounts well over tax revenues, there is no question that the Fed funds the nations’ fiscal policy through asset purchases.
Meanwhile, the Fed continues to accumulate those assets—its current $8.33 trillion balance sheet total equals 37% of U.S. gross domestic product.
What resonated most was when she discussed lower income workers and minorities. All too often the Fed mentions them as a talking point, noting their existence, but little else about the financial problems they face. Whereas Shelton gives the answer:
…Mr. Powell laments that “joblessness continues to fall disproportionately on lower-wage workers in the service sector and on African-Americans and Hispanics” …the Fed’s solution of buying Treasury debt and agency mortgage-backed securities seems ill-suited to the problem. It hardly improves the financial prospects of those not invested in rising equity markets. It doesn’t make today’s median-priced $374,900 home more affordable, even with rock-bottom mortgage rates.
Unfortunately, Shelton had her shot… But Republicans like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins voted against her appointment. She never had enough votes and was not appointed to the Fed’s Board of Governors.
Reading the quotes above, could anyone confidently stand up and say that they disagree with her ideas?
Of course, there is Stephanie Kelton. Ironic as just a few days after the Wall Street Journal article, Kelton was named as “One of the Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company. This is a magazine which caters to “progressive business leaders.” Her university published the article, where they discussed the Covid spending bills. Kelton noted the relief efforts of:
…$5 trillion with no problem and no tax increase.
In the article, Stephanie Kelton likened herself to an eye doctor who corrects people’s vision:
If I’m an optometrist, my job is to fix your vision… I just fix your eyes. That’s how I think of my role as an educator.
Makes sense. But where does one go when the doctor suffers from severe myopia of both economic history and reality?
About six months ago, I wrote an article here explaining that state preemptions of local government are a bad thing—even when Ron DeSantis does it. I vehemently stand by these principles. However, it is now time for Ron DeSantis to take that principle of decentralized control and run with it—against the Biden administration. Just as it is acceptable to see local governments passing laws in defiance of their state, it is now time for the states to pass laws in defiance of the federal government. This is because on September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced that all employers with one hundred–plus employees will be required to mandate vaccines or weekly negative covid tests.
Never in my lifetime has something occurred that was so egregiously opposed to Misesian concepts of liberalism and freedom. In fact, this is directly in line with perhaps the most opposite ideology to liberalism: fascism. Benito Mussolini said himself that “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” In today’s political discourse, people abuse the word fascism and sometimes even cite this definition of corporatism while stretching it somewhat from the truth. However, the state requiring that businesses require the vaccine from one of three large corporations that were propped up by the state is undoubtedly the merger of state and corporate power that Mussolini dreamed of.
In my earlier-mentioned piece criticizing DeSantis’s intervention remitting fines passed by local governments in regard to local covid regulations, I had two main issues with the order. First, was a preference for localism, citing the president of the Mises Institute, Jeff Deist, who claimed that “Insisting on universal political arrangements is a huge tactical mistake for libertarians.” This concern is even more true as it relates to Biden’s newest announcement, as this is simply another universal political arrangement, now expanding to the national level. My other concern was that the a sweeping universal political arrangement like this—even in the best-case scenario, when the decision is hypothetically good for everyone with no cost—sets a precedent that the central state now has authority over that issue.
Right now, take a moment to think of the issue that is by and far most important to you. We all have one. Then think of the politician that threatens that more than anything. Do you want that individual to have this precedent to rely on when he or she takes power one day?
Luckily, the solution to this was described by the great Tom Woods:
Nullification is the Jeffersonian idea that the states of the American Union must judge the constitutionality of the acts of their agent, the federal government, since no impartial arbiter between them exists.
Many businesses across the country will act in civil noncompliance, but that is simply not enough. If one wants to see this end, states across the country will have to undoubtedly reject this. I am not here to make any criticisms of the vaccine. I still stand by my initial piece that these bans on mom-and-pop shops wanting not to run the risk of interacting with unvaccinated individuals is a dangerous threat to liberty. However, I’d argue that any act of nullification at this point has little or nothing to do with the vaccine or the pandemic. We are now facing one simple question: Will we accept or reject a precedent for the merger of state and corporate power? If we choose to reject it, then the governors of the free state of Florida as well as New York, the governors of Texas as well as California, all these governors alike must stand firm against this tragedy.
All major problems can be fairly laid at the door of the government, particularly on the woke philosophy that energizes all too much of its behavior.
They take half the GDP away from us. Most of these funds are spent in wasteful ways: paying people not to work; welfare, which breaks up the family; subsidies to all and sundry. Worse, an awful lot of it is spent on inculcating regulations, licenses, dictates, which further reduces the ability of the private sector to create affluence. Maybe, without their "helping us," our prosperity could be quadruple what it is now. In sharp contrast, during the feudal days, the lord required the serfs to work on his lands only two days per week, for a grand total tax rate of about 28%. This compares rather favorably to our above 50% tax take. True, there were other onerous requirements imposed upon the serfs, but still, this gives us pause as to how far down the garden path we've gone.
What would we do with these great riches were we to have them at our disposal?
One thing for sure would be to invest in weather control. The Ida storm has wrought havoc in southern Louisiana and has led to death and destruction in a large swath of states to the north and east of the Pelican State. In a hundred years, maybe even fifty, cloud seeding technology could make this sort of weather outrage a thing of the past. What can bring this happy date a bit closer? For one thing, if we were much richer, a least a portion of that capital, human and physical, would be used for this purpose. For another, stopping affirmative action and going back to merit as the criterion for choosing our scientists, mathematicians, engineers, etc. would be a step in the right direction. Instead, wokester Harvard and its ilk are busily attempting to justify the quotas they impose upon very bright students who have the wrong skin color. The National Institute for Health is demanding that the laboratories of the nation "look like America" in terms of pigmentation if they want to be funded. Happily, the Mississippi Levies have not failed this time around, as they did during Hurricane Katrina. Then, they were under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of these flood protections to the present day. Had this portion of the economy been privatized, that would not have long endured. As philosopher-economist Thomas Sowell reminds us: "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."
Another avenue for investment would be the battle against COVID. The Biden administration is imposing all sorts of regimentation on the citizenry while not doing very much at all to stem the invasion of this disease from carriers flooding through our southern border. It is complicit, too, in undermining merit in terms of laboratory membership—the very people upon whom we rely to innovate our way out of this mess. Instead, the powers that be are focusing their energies on canceling naysayers, lifting their medical licenses. They supposedly rely on "science" to justify their ham-handed orders, but this is the opposite of open-ended inquiry.
One of the problems in this regard is the doctor shortage. We hear tales of heroic physicians working around the clock into exhaustion. This is admirable. But why do we have so few people in the medical field? This problem, too, may be laid at the door of the government. They support and are complicit with the American Medical Association's vicious practice of restricting entry to this sector of the economy.
Then there is the debacle of Afghanistan. The U.S. poured billions in treasure, and thousands of precious lives, into an attempt to turn that country into an Asian version of New Hampshire. They learned nothing from the failure of the French, and then our American forebears, to accomplish something similar in Vietnam, nor from the Russian decades-long failure in Afghanistan to impose institutions that are foreign to the Afghans. The U.S. military, instead of focusing on preparedness, turned its attention on a whole host of mission-irrelevant politically correct social justice concerns. Perhaps that is all to the good if it lessens U.S. adventurism abroad. Unfortunately, this is not bloody likely. This institution is like a small weak boy who is mouthy and derisive: not a good combination.
What is the best way ahead? Less social justice. More plain old ordinary justice. Then reduced statism. "That government is best which governs least" is a truism for a good reason: it is tried and true.
On August 26, this headline was splashed across the front page of the Toronto Star newspaper:
If an unvaccinated person catches it from someone who is vaccinated, boohoo, too bad. I have no empathy left for the willfully unvaccinated. Let them die. I honestly don’t care if they die from COVID. Not even a little bit. Unvaccinated patients do not deserve ICU beds. At this point, who cares. Stick the unvaccinated in a tent outside and tend to them when the staff has time.
Below the headline, and below the fold, the Star notes in fine print “Selection of recent posts on Twitter.” Presumably this explains the use of alternating bold text, to distinguish the various Twitter posts. But this does not lessen the inflammatory nature of the headline.
While the necessity of hate speech laws is debatable, the fact is that (a) such laws exist in Canada, and (b) the Star broke those laws with its headline. But that is not what prompted me to write this article. Instead, what grabbed my attention was the fact that the headline did not generate any criticism from Canadian political leaders, or from other mainstream media outlets.
Conversely, if an obscure media company published a hateful, but inconspicuous (page 28), headline directed toward any ethnic minority group, or the LGBTQ+ community, politicians and mainstream media outlets would be tripping over themselves to see who could be the first to condemn such hateful, divisive, journalism. So why are they silent about hate speech directed toward the minority group of unvaccinated people?
In contrast to the silence from Canada’s political leaders and the mainstream media, many readers complained about the headline, thus eliciting a backhanded apology from the Star, which we are supposed to interpret as “We made a mistake, and if we could go back, we would not run that headline.” That is doubtful. Editors choose their front-page headlines carefully. Think about it. The provocative headline is prominently displayed on the front page, but the actual story is found on page two, under a different headline that reads, “When it comes to empathy for the unvaccinated, many of us aren’t feeling it.” This headline is more palatable, and it is a much better description of the content of the story, but the Star made a conscious decision not to use it on the front page.
Instead, the front-page headline represents the Star’s compilation of various Twitter posts neatly arranged in a way that promotes a hateful, inflammatory narrative that is all too common in social media. This is blatantly obvious. It did not happen by accident. Why the Star printed the headline is open for speculation, but the headline itself was not an oversight, and the editors probably had their so-called apology prepared in advance. This reminds me of a scene I saw recently in a television program, where a reporter refused to submit her story because it would cause unnecessary harm to several people, and her editor told her that she would never be promoted until she learned that scruples have no place in journalism.
Ironically, on the same day the Star ran that headline, they also published an article bemoaning Canada’s “hate crime crisis.” The Star is either the pot or the kettle; take your pick.
It seems that politicians and the mainstream media condemn hate speech only when it is directed toward groups with whom the government wants to curry favor, and unvaccinated people are not one of those groups. As Canadian politicians tighten the noose with their imposition of vaccine passports, perhaps it is becoming fashionable to direct hate speech toward unvaccinated people.
Will the promotion of this hateful narrative by a mainstream Canadian media outlet—which gets a free pass from Canada’s political leaders—encourage some people to commit violent acts against unvaccinated Canadians, on whom they previously only wished death. After all, if the Toronto Star’s narrative gets a free pass … ?
The deep political and moral divisions between Americans were plainly exposed during the controversy over the police sparked by the death of George Floyd. The Left further radicalized, while conservatives dug their heels deeper into the status quo, staunchly defending what appeared to them a hallmark institution of Western civilization. Calls for “defunding the police” became mainstream on the left, while the slogan “Blue Lives Matter,” represented by a black American flag with a thin blue line (henceforth referred to as Thin Blue Line or TBL), soared to great popularity among conservatives. Many libertarians sided with the Left on this issue, seizing the opportunity to score political points and scavenge for a few more votes from disaffected “socially liberal” voters.1 According to them, the Left in this instance was advocating a libertarian policy and the Right was showing its statist side. However, libertarians who threw their support behind the Left failed to recognize the intellectual foundations of each position. If their misunderstanding persists, it could have disastrous results vis-à-vis the future establishment of a free society.
At first glance, it appears that libertarians should side with those calling for “defunding the police” over those wishing to increase taxation (the alternative to defunding is increasing funding) and enhance the authority of the state. However, the intellectual divide between libertarianism and all properly leftist ideologies is so profound that it necessitates their dissociation. The disagreement centers on the concept of property rights, a theory of which must form the foundation of libertarianism.2 The significance of this disagreement is underscored by the fact that any definition of the terms “liberty” or “aggression” ultimately falls back on a definition of property. Consider what a leftist would think about a man who beat up someone robbing his store. They would see the store owner as the aggressor, because, according to a common rationalization for looting, “destroying property is not violence.”3 But the true aggressor is the robber; the store owner merely defended what was his. Leftists either completely reject the libertarian concept of property or theorize it in an antilibertarian manner.
If libertarianism is contradictory to the theoretical foundations of nearly all strands of leftism, then how can the apparent similarity between their positions on policing be explained? This apparently confusing fact is due to two misunderstandings, the first of which is the belief that the United States is a completely free market nation. This myth is treated as fact by the majority of people on both the left and the right. However, the very existence of tax-funded police, not to mention innumerable other socialistic American institutions, makes it impossible for the United States to be a purely capitalist nation. The fact that the United States is one of the most capitalist nations on the planet does not imply that it is fully capitalist. Belief in this myth is widespread on the left; after all, it allows them to promote various statist programs and then simply blame the issues caused by the programs’ inevitable failures on capitalism. This myth is also commonly accepted on the right, and is exhibited most clearly in the talking points of mainstream conservatives, who like to call the United States capitalist but cannot even define the term. The falsity of this myth is implicitly recognized by many conservatives when they make such statements as “The country has been ruined by X.” But when they go on to defend every aspect of the United States, they seem to return to the belief that their nation is nearly perfect.
The second misunderstanding is the failure of TBL conservatives to recognize the distinction between natural law, which derives from man’s nature and upholds his inherent notion of justice, and positive law, which is legislated and enforced by the state.4 Natural law is discovered; positive law is imposed. This explains why many conservatives will simultaneously raise TBL and Gadsden flags and see no contradiction. Police, as agents of the state, are enforcers of positive law. But if there is no distinction between positive law and natural law, then any law enforced by the police is just, and the police become the embodiment of justice. On the other hand, libertarians contend the state commits numerous and severe violations of natural law, and that it is the very institutionalization of injustice.
Due to these two misunderstandings, both the Left and the Right have mistakenly associated capitalism and private property rights with the police. Both sides see the police as the enforcers of the capitalist order; if police were abolished, the country would supposedly be chaotically overrun by socialists and criminals.5 This idea accounts for the failure of the Left to ask, “Who will enforce redistribution of wealth?,” and for the Right to ask, “Who will enforce gun control laws?” The police are the answer to both questions, and recognition of this should impel each group to reconsider its stance on the police. The police are not enforcers of natural law or private property rights, but of positive law and the edicts of the state. They will act in accordance with the incentive structure created by a state-run monopoly. Even when local police happen to resist federal edicts, it is only because the state or local governments have created a stronger incentive in the opposite direction, not because they are inherently enforcers of justice. If TBL conservatives can see this, they may reconsider their unquestioning faith in the agents of the state.
We now must ask who is the greater enemy of the free and just society: those who claim to uphold liberty and private property rights yet fail to see the role of the police in suppressing those values, or those who reject private property in the first place? I contend that the first group is more aligned with libertarianism. While there is surface-level agreement between libertarianism and leftism on the issue of police, this is not based on shared theoretical foundations but on two less profound misunderstandings. The contradictions in the TBL conservatives’ position should be pointed out, and hopefully will impel some of them to reconsider their views. However, we must recognize that, on the broad spectrum of political ideologies, American conservatives are closer to libertarians than it might appear, while leftists, who hate our very civilization and values, are becoming irredeemably distant.
- 1. Some even threw their support behind the Black Lives Matter movement and its slogans. For example, see the Twitter post of 2020 Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen, who wrote, “It is not enough to be passively not racist, we must be actively anti-racist.” Interestingly, these are the words of Ibram X. Kendi, a man who calls for a “department of antiracism” to be created in the United States government which will deem racist anything which produces “discrepancies,” i.e., any result other than complete equality of outcomes, while recommending measures to enforce such total equality. See also the Twitter post of the official Libertarian Party, which wrote, “Remember Michael Brown.” Michael Brown is the man who was said to have been shot while his hands were up, prompting the popularization of the phrase “Hands up, don’t shoot.” It was later shown that this was false; Brown assaulted the officer, attempted to take his firearm, and never had his hands up.
- 2. See Murray N. Rothbard, “Justice and Property Rights,” in Egalitarianism as a Revolt against Nature, 2d ed. (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2000), pp. 89–114.
- 3. These are the words of Nikole-Hannah Jones, popular leftist author and creator of the infamous 1619 Project, who said, “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things… I think it’s really not moral to do that.”
- 4. See Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, 2d ed. (New York: New York University Press, 1998), chap. 3.
- 5. See the mission statement of the Thin Blue Line Foundation, which claims, “The Thin Blue Line represents the men and women of law enforcement that stand between good and evil, order and chaos. The black stripe above the blue line represents the law abiding community and the bottom black stripe below the blue line represents the criminals who want to cause destruction and chaos.”
Supporters of the state often point to the idea that the "state is the oldest institution in human history" as a defense of the state’s existence. This is an insanely false claim debunked expertly by the Institute’s own Ryan McMaken at this year’s Mises University. The actual oldest institution in human history is the family unit. Even Neanderthals, the biological evolutionary predecessors to Humans, who lacked the complex civilization of us homo sapiens, had family units that were critical to their survival as a species. Even other apes that exist today, such as chimpanzees, have family units comparable to our own.
The family is an important part of the survival of humans and even remains a crucial part of human survival today. From the day we are born our parents, whether biological or adopted, are our caretakers and the primary influencers of our moral principles and outlook on life. This is the role they take on and their service to children as the main authority for guidance, punishment, and catalyst for success.
At least this is how it is meant to be in the natural world. With the advent of the modern state, the natural order has been upset by the appropriation of the purpose of parents. Thanks to the state’s alliance with the intellectual and academic class, as described by Murray Rothbard in Anatomy of the State, this is made possible as “intellectual” arguments are made for the state and taught to the public.
This alliance’s effects are seen through the public education system’s widespread and encroaching takeover of the narrative in the battle for the minds of our children through their pro-state narratives on history, economics, and politics. Our children are increasingly raised and taught by those outside the family unit. Kids, on average, start primary school as early as 6, but with the popularity of pre-School, the introduction of the state’s narrative is starting as early as 3 years old.
Children have begun spending more and more time in government schools than at home, interacting with their parents less and less. This has caused teachers and school staff, not parents, to become the ones instilling values and beliefs in children. Do you think any of those would be towards questioning or even opposing the state?
This trend is not only troublesome towards combating the state but the actual success of our children. Even academic literature admits that parents play a crucial role as children’s primary educators and catalysts for success. It is no wonder that our educational output has been getting worse as the state has grown as a part of children’s lives.
Yet state-funded education continues to move further and further towards policies that cut parents out of the picture. Contrary to Public Education advocates narrative, Education spending by the federal, state, and local governments has been increasing according to the numbers they provide on the issue. As previously established despite the constant increases in spending educational output still has been getting worse. This is exactly because the expansion of the Education system is not actually about facilitating success for students but further subverting the role of the family and further implanting the idea that the state is necessary and good in the minds of the public.
The greatest evidence for such lies in the emphasis placed on secondary education. More people than ever are attending college now, with attendance rates increasing every year despite continual price increases. Many educators will push this as the “only option” or the “only good option,” even integrating it into the curriculum through Senior college essays and other programs. The reality is that they are wrong about it being “the only option” as several others exist, such as trade jobs that can often yield higher incomes than jobs out of a college degree.
The system itself can be supplanted by putting students directly into the jobs of the desired career as Economist Bryan Caplan explains in his book The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money. He establishes that the main purpose of all schooling, especially Secondary Education, is to prepare individuals to be good employees by creating a signaling device, a degree, that says that person shows up, does what they are told, and shows some level of competence. What Caplan points out though is that jobs themselves are signaling devices that show this and are more efficient by actually creating goods and services and giving career-specific knowledge rather than generalities and theoretical ideas.
This inefficiency is not one of incompetency, but a purposeful one that directs the public away from private institutions, such as the family, to state institutions to do as Rothbard described “make the arguments for the state’s existence”. This is something that could not be accomplished if the family was not subverted from early on by funneling children into what can only be described as an “educational prison” that the intellectual and academic class use to disseminate pro-state arguments that make them valuable to the state.
This is the reality of the bloated education system which encourages dependence on the state. Something it has had immense success in as expansions of government authority has become increasingly popular among younger people in the form of socialism or progressivism. A purposeful tactic that is no better seen than a perfect representative of the state and Intellectual class’s relationship in Karl Marx who wrote on the need to “abolish the family” and how the state “did the job for them.” and is doing as we speak.
What does a few trillion dollars get you these days in war efforts and reconstruction projects? Unfortunately not much, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). In the recently published report, What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction, the numbers are abysmal. Starting with the largest:
U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan over the last two decades are estimated to be $6.4 trillion.
(The cost of Afghanistan was about one-third, estimated to be $2.3 trillion as noted by Brown University.)
The executive summary in the SIGAR report opens with the U.S Government spending:
20 years and $145 billion trying to rebuild Afghanistan, its security forces, civilian government institutions, economy, and civil society.
$145 billion was specifically for reconstruction efforts and excludes the $837 billion the Department of Defence spent on warfighting. As follows, we find strange occurrences and a recurring theme of capital destruction. The list is long. But here are some noteworthy causes:
$9 billion on counternarcotics efforts since 2002, in part due to concerns that narcotics trafficking funded Taliban activities. Despite the investment, the cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan has trended upward for two decades…
Incredible how the war on drugs extends beyond America’s borders in a major way. It’s fair to say that no one would dare make the argument that if the narcotics budget was only slightly larger the war on Afghanistan’s drug production would have been won.
When imposing a system of western courts, the government failed remarkably:
$1 billion on rule of law programming in Afghanistan, with approximately 90 percent of that funding going toward the development of a formal legal system. That system, however, was foreign to most Afghans, who favored informal, community-level traditional dispute resolution mechanisms, where an estimated 80 to 90 percent of civil disputes have always been handled.
This is both sad and ironic as the US still has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
As for infrastructure projects:
In 2021, SIGAR audited a sample of 60 U.S. infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, and it found that $723.8 million, or 91 percent, had gone toward assets that were unused or abandoned, were not used as intended, had deteriorated, were destroyed, or some combination of the above.
And what may very well be the biggest, and unintentional, universal basic income experiment of all time:
$300 million a year was spent paying salaries to nonexistent personnel in the Afghan security forces.
The report is quite lengthy and details other government missteps such as the duplicate ordering of $195.2 million of cargo trucks or $488 million to support a mining sector, which appears non-existent at the moment.
For all these government investments, the country is not left with much to show for it. As Reuters recently reported, due to the recent events in Afghanistan:
Apart from illegal narcotics, the country has no significant exports to generate revenue, and aid, which accounted for more than 40% of economic output, has abruptly disappeared.
There is a shock effect of reading about government waste, seeing figures so large one can hardly fathom beyond a stat; however, the lesson here is to always follow the money.
All this money came from somewhere. Sure, some may be taxpayer funded. But debt funding cannot be overlooked. Specifically, if the Fed was barred from owning $5.4 trillion of US treasuries, who would pay for these doomed-to-fail projects?
At least for a few trillion dollars, a government backed bridge to nowhere would give us a place to drive, whereas this war effort constitutes nothing more than a fleeting moment in American history. All that remains becomes a monument, at best, to commemorate the dead. Such is the society in which we’ve found ourselves, with us the majority (who don’t need them) versus them (the minority in power who always need us). Not one person will be held accountable for these atrocities; only worse, we’ll build presidential libraries in their names or give them tenure at prestigious universities for never speaking up against the known dangers of central banking.