Power & Market
Psychiatry possesses a built-in capacity for abuse that is much greater than in any other area of medicine. Politicians realized that and abused psychiatry for blaming their opponents as mentally sick, retarded and dangerous. It was happening all around the world but was mostly prominent under authoritarian and totalitarian socialist regimes. Now it became a part of the arsenal of the political Left here which is completely crazed about the counterrevolutionary results of the last presidential elections.
Following the tradition of Hitler, Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao and Brezhnev “27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts” including Noam Chomsky and Gail Sheehy, who are as much of being psychiatrists as I am an Emperor of China, published a political pamphlet “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (by Bandy X. Lee, Robert Jay Lifton, Gail Sheehy, William J. Doherty, Noam Chomsky, et al).
It is the exactly same type of abuse of psychiatry as was condemned by the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA). The Section 7, of APA’s Principles of Medical Ethics says:
On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement”. Known as the “Goldwater principle” it is fully shared by the American Psychological Association.
In gross violation of APA’s Principles of Medical Ethics Anti-Trump political activists masquerading as “scientists” can just “diagnose” someone based on prepared speeches, tweets and TV appearances. Fanatics of the Left see no end in their crusade to trash, defame and remove President Trump from office. Bandy Lee apparently can evaluate someone she’s never met and conclude that Trump is mentally unstable, with the potential of turning violent, even though he’s never demonstrated any of such symptoms.
Diagnosis “in Absentia”
During the Nazi era and the Soviet rule political enemies were labeled as “mentally ill” and subjected to inhumane “treatments”. In the period from the 1960s up to 1986, abuse of psychiatry for political purposes was reported to be systematic in the Soviet Union, and even internationally renown Nobel laureates like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov were all declared paranoiacs and schizophrenics. The fame of the chief KGB psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky who gave the diagnosis of sluggish schizophrenia to numerous “enemies of the people” in absentia including Nobel laureates Andrei Sakharov, Joseph Brodsky and concluded that they were worthless. The prevalence of Snezhnevsky’s theories directly led to a broadening of the boundaries of disease such that even the mildest behavioral change could be interpreted as indication of mental disorder1. His numerous followers in the West definitely include Bandy X. Lee, Robert Jay Lifton, Gail Sheehy, William J. Doherty, Noam Chomsky and other 22 American “psychiatrists” who never met or examined Trump but “diagnosed” his disdain of socialism as a mental disease.
The practice of incarceration and torture of political adversaries in psychiatric hospitals in Eastern Europe, PRC, and the USSR damaged the credibility of psychiatry as a science in these states and internationally. I was blessed to know a great psychiatrist Tom Szasz who led a movement against psychiatry as it was and still used by Bandy Lee and her ilk as another form of coercion and violence against us. I recommend his “Idleness and Lawlessness in the Therapeutic State”to everyone to read as it is a classic of our time. Political abuse of psychiatry taking place in the US today should be condemned; otherwise all of us can discover ourselves restrained in psychiatric wards.2
Last night the Senate passed the Republican proposed tax plan, a major political victory for Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.
At the Mises Wire, we have featured numerous articles pointing out many of the fallacies involved with the general debate on the issue of "tax reform." For example, the absurdity of "revenue neutral" reform, the danger of raising rates through eliminating loop hopes, the fallacy of trying to address the deficit through eliminating deductions on state and local taxes, and the general notion that tax breaks can be equated to tax subsidies. While the Republican bill does fall for some of these traps, the result of the bill as a whole is a genuine reduction in the tax burden for the majority of Americans. That is always something worth celebrating.
There are additional benefits to be found within the bill as well.
For example, the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate is a small, but significant, step to improving the American healthcare system. As I noted in March, when Paul Ryan's attempt at Obamacare reform failed, the rise of direct primary care and other market solutions meant that the best thing the GOP could do is simply provide as much freedom as possible for Americans to opt out of government-managed insurance markets:
Given that this is happening naturally on the market already, the legislative focus for those in Washington concerned about American healthcare should be preventing any future laws and regulations that would destroy this model going forward. Further, rather than trying to completely overhaul Obamacare, simply eliminating the individual mandate tax and allowing Health Savings Accounts to be used for healthcare membership would be subtle ways of empowering the market to revolutionize American medicine. This should be coupled with real tax cuts, not “revenue neutral reform” to help Americans keep their own hard-earned money to help pay for it.
The tax bill is also a significant step forward for American's looking to opt out of government education. A provision, spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz, expanded 529 education savings accounts so they could be used for K-12 schooling, and not just college tuition. While we have frequently seen Republican education reform packages expand the role of tax-funded charter schools, this measure is the rare victory for true private schools - such as Bob Luddy's Thales Academy - that are able to educate without the strings of the state attached.
Now of course, for all the good the bill does do, there is one thing that it doesn't do: cut spending.
As we've noted over, and over, and over again, we will never see the true benefits of reducing government revenue if we don't couple it with a reduction in what the government consumes. A growing national deficit will have to be paid one day, one way or another. As American history is filled with reminders on the difficulty politicians face in raising taxes, this means we are likely to see the difference made up either by inflation or another form of default. (This likely outcome is why I plan to invest a portion of my tax savings in alternatives to Federal Reserve Notes.)
There are also a number of giveaways that were rewarded in order make sure the everyone fell in line for the vote. Given the track record of Republican moderates like Susan Collins, just about anything she gained from the deal is a loss for the rest of us. Further, tis the season for a number of terrible bills to be passed through DC in the coming week and a half as Washington continues its century-old tradition of eroding your freedom under the cloak of the holiday season. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes.
So while this tax plan isn't a silver bullet for all that ails the US economy - and is certainly no sign that the swamp is truly being drained - anything that allows Americans to keep more of their pay check, enables more choice in healthcare, and boosts private competition to government schools is a victory worth celebrating.
The Trump administration recently announced it was considering a partial reversal of the Obama administration's designation of new national monument lands in Utah. The lands in question were already federal lands, but Obama's move heightened restrictions on the usage of the land, and lessened the likelihood the lands would ever be transferred to state control.
Trump's announcement brought overreactions from many, some of whom implied that the Trump administration was somehow privatizing the land. This is not at all the case, and there's little reason to believe that the federal lands in questions will stop being federal lands any time soon. See: "Trump's Action on Federal Lands is Not Privatization."
The Blaze called me for some additional comments:
“There seems to be an overreaction, from both sides, in looking at this as a major change,” [McMaken] said.
From the start, McMaken was irked by the misconception that the issue was being framed as a situation in which public lands were being privatized. Mainstream media organizations “acted as if this was a situation in which public lands were going to be sold off into private hands, and that’s not the case,” McMaken said...
“There’s an assumption among many Americans people in Eastern states that it’s either federal land or it’s private land,” McMaken said. “But when you look at a lot of these Western states, they have lots of state parks and if you poll the local population, what you’re gonna find out is that people love their public land.”
McMaken added: “It’s not a situation where land is being de-federalized. It was federal land, and it’s going to continue being federal land.
“There is a common misconception that federal lands are the only type of public lands,” McMaken said. “This, of course, is not the case. Even if the Trump administration were to turn some federal lands into state lands, the state legislatures in those states would then face enormous pressure from voters to keep those lands as public lands for the use of residents. It is by no means a safe assumption that any lands that cease to be federal lands will become privatized.”
Political scientist John Mueller is not convinced that nuclear weapons are the driving force behind the lack of major wars in recent decades. His article "The Essential Irrelevance of Nuclear Weapons" in International Security (Fall 1988) offers a informative contrary view to the often-bland assertion that nuclear weapons — and not the highly destructive nature of conventional wars — are what keep world powers away from new wars.
In the case of the deterrence offered by the United States, Mueller is especially unconvinced, especially since the potential military power of the US government if far greater than anything any other single state can muster.
It's not just fear of American nuclear weapons that's a deterrent, Mueller notes. It's American economic power that really matters. In discussion of post World War II deterrence against the Soviets, Mueller examines how American economic power inspired fear:
[E]ven if one accepts these assumptions [i.e., the assumption that American nuclear power restrained the Soviets in Western Europe], the Soviet Union would in all probability still have been deterred from attacking Western Europe by the enormous potential of the American war machine. Even if the USSR had the ability to blitz Western Europe, it could not have stopped the United States from repeating what it did after 1941: mobilizing with deliberate speed, putting its economy onto a wartime footing, and wearing the enemy down in a protracted conventional major war of attrition massively supplied from its unapproachable rear base.
The economic achievement of the United States during the war was astounding. While holding off one major enemy, it concentrated with its allies on defeating another, then turned back to the first. Meanwhile, it supplied everybody. With 8 million of its ablest men out of the labor market, it increased industrial production 15 percent per year and agricultural production 30 percent overall. Before the end of 1943 it was producing so much that some munitions plants were closed down, and even so it ended the war with a substantial surplus of wheat and over $90 billion in surplus war goods. (National governmental expenditures in the first peacetime year, 1946, were only about $60 billion.) As Denis Brogan observed at the time, "to the Americans war is a business, not an art."
If anyone was in a position to appreciate this, it was the Soviets. By various circuitous routes the United States supplied the Soviet Union with, among other things, 409,526 trucks; 12,161 combat vehicles (more than the Germans had in 1939); 32,200 motorcycles; 1,966 locomotives; 16,000,000 pairs of boots (in two sizes); and over one-half pound of food for every Soviet soldier for every day of the war (much of it Spam). It is the kind of feat that concentrates the mind, and it is extremely difficult to imagine the Soviets willingly taking on this somewhat lethargic, but ultimately hugely effective juggernaut. That Stalin was fully aware of the American achievement-and deeply impressed by it-is clear. Adam Ulam has observed that Stalin had "great respect for the United States' vast economic and hence military potential, quite apart from the bomb," and that his "whole career as dictator had been a testimony to his belief that production figures were a direct indicator of a given country's power." As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff put it in 1949, "if there is any single factor today which would deter a nation seeking world domination, it would be the great industrial capacity of this country rather than its armed strength."Or, as Hugh Thomas has concluded, "if the atomic bomb had not existed, Stalin would still have feared the success of the U.S. wartime e~onomy."
After a successful attack on Western Europe the Soviets would have been in a position similar to that of Japan after Pearl Harbor: they might have gains aplenty, but they would have no way to stop the United States (and its major unapproachable allies, Canada and Japan) from eventually gearing up for, and then launching, a war of attrition.
In his book Wartime, Paul Fussell briefly examined the industrial nature of the Second World War.
[W]hat counted was heavy power and it is the bulldozers, steam-rollers, and the earth graders of the Seabees that constitute the sppropriate emblems of the Second World War. "Perhaps there was a time," says Geoffrey Perrett, "when courage, daring, imagination, and intelligence were the hinges on which wars turned. No longer. The total wars of modern history give the decision to the side with the biggest factories." And in Europe as well as the Pacific, the industrial basis of "victory" was even more clear. As Louis Simpson puts it in his poem "A Bower of Roses," in one battle near Dusseldorf:
For every shell Krupp fired,
General Motors sent back four.
...One Canadian has remembered: "I knew we were going to win the war when I saw the big Willow Run aircraft factory outside Detroit. My god, but it was a big one."
Thus, for those states, like the United States that benefit from immense capitalist-fueled wealth, global deterrence is built in. Mueller even concludes that a standing army and a ready navy are not even especially important. It is the potential for mobilizing large amounts of warmaking machinery that poses the real deterrence to foreign threats.
Nuclear weapons however, remain relevant since they level the playing field for small states.
Not all states — or, more importantly, not even all alliances of small states — can access an enormous industrial output that the North Americans can.
As Mueller explains, those states are already deterred from making war on large wealthy states. Large wealthy states, however, are not deterred from making war on smaller, poorer states.
Thus, for small states, nuclear weapons do have importance as a defensive weapon. North Korea, for example, can't possibly hope to ever win a war of attrition with even a small industrial power. However, if it can deter attack on itself with even a small number of nuclear warheads that can be delivered to the urban centers of its enemies.
Naturally, this only works from a defensive point of view. Nuclear weapons offer no offensive advantage:
Both defensive and offensive realists agree, however, that nuclear weapons have little utility for offensive purposes, except where only one side in a conflict has them. The reason is simple: if both sides have a survivable retaliatory capability, neither gains an advantage from striking first. Moreover, both camps agree that conventional war between nuclear-armed states is possible but not likely, because of the danger of escalation to the nuclear level.
While it's true that maintaining nuclear weapons is somewhat expensive, it's quite cheap compared to maintaining a large conventional navy, air force, and industry from which to produce conventional weapons.
Ultimately, though, what really grants a state or group of states true power to deter attack and invasion is access to large amounts of capital.
Lenin wasn't imagining things when he looked around the world and saw that the capitalist powers of the world were waging multiple wars. He was wrong, of course, that capitalism causes war. But, there is no denying the wartime capability is greatly enhanced by the wealth created through the trade, productivity, and wealth generated by capitalists. Unfortunately, this defensive capability has come with vast offensive capability as well.
Anyone who claims there's too much democracy in the United States needs to keep in mind that American law and policy is ultimately decided by five millionaires at the Supreme Court.
This week, we're being reminded that the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments in the case of a small-time baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. This, apparently, is a matter of such importance that it requires the intervention of the federal government and its court system to decide for whom a tiny small business shall be forced to bake desserts. In other words, the court's majority of five people will decide for 320 million people what is mandatory for anyone who wants to open a small business in the United States.
The fact that Americans regard this sort of thing as perfectly natural and legitimate illustrates just how thoroughly Americans have abandoned all notions of self government and any opposition to rule from distant, powerful elites.
Opponents of Donald Trump may be wringing their hands about the rise of populism, but the public's continued deference to the Supreme Court illustrates quite well that populism in the United States, far from growing out of control, is quite timid and of no threat to anyone currently in power.
In the discussion of the Court's decision to hear the case, we're reminded of two important issues:
1. The Supreme Court's ability to decide the Constitutionality of every law in the United States — from local ordinances to federal statutes — is based on a fanciful myth.
2. The American legal concept of "public accommodation" essentially abolishes property rights. The proper remedy is to restore property rights — and to steer clear of endless and pointless debates about religious freedom or freedom of speech.
On the first point, see:
"The Mythology of the Supreme Court" by Ryan McMaken - A discussion of how the Supreme Court jealously protects its political power and encourages an aura of manufactured majesty with measures such as prohibiting television cameras in its chambers.
"Abolish the Supreme Court" by Ryan McMaken — in the wake of the death of Justice Scalia, we examined how appointments to the court have always been political appointments, and often have been done for purposes of political payback and pandering to certain special interests. Judges are not, and never have been, lofty legal scholars who steer clear of partisan politics.
"Scalia's Fate" by Jeff Deist: Deist reminds of of several important points about the Court:
Culture wars should not be legal wars. As Ron Paul explained time and again during his years in Congress, the public remains deeply misinformed about several key points:
- The concept of judicial review is a fabrication by the Court, with no basis in Article III.
- Constitutional jurisprudence is not constitutional law.
- The Supreme Court is supreme only over lower federal courts: it is not supreme over other branches of government.
- Congress plainly has constitutional authority to define and restrict the jurisdiction of federal courts.
And on the matter of public accommodation, we've taken a look at the several ways that micromanaging the actions — and even the imagined intent — of small business owners has long been an especially pointed assault on private property orchestrated by the Courts and Congress.
"The Trouble with Public Accommodation" by Ryan McMaken - if we're worried about the availability of resources for disfavored minority groups, the answer lies in more freedom, not less.
"'Discrimination' Isn't About Religion, It's About Private Property" by Ryan McMaken - framing a baker's of photographers as a matter of "religious freedom" ignores the fact the issue is really just about property rights.
Should you ever be taxed on “income” that is not, in any meaningful sense, yours?
This is the fundamental question facing Congress in deciding whether to eliminate the deductibility of state income and local property taxes from federal taxable income, a policy change proposed by President Trump. Unfortunately, this question is unlikely to become part of the debate over tax reform. Instead, those who support the president focus on issues that are completely beside the point.
Some are arguing people living in higher tax states “benefit more” from the current system of state and local tax deductibility than people in low tax states. Those who point out this discrepancy often go on to claim this justifies the elimination of the deduction because these differentials between states actually constitute an “unfair subsidy” to those living in high tax states — New York, Connecticut, and California, for example — by those living in lower tax states like North Carolina, Texas, and New Hampshire.
But to call this deduction a subsidy of one set of taxpayers by another is putting the cart before the horse. The first question that needs to be answered is, is it appropriate, from either an ethical or economic efficiency perspective, to tax the revenue used to pay state and local taxes in the first place? If it is not, then any talk of subsidization of one group by another as a result of not taxing these revenues is irrelevant. Plus, in a tax setting, to subsidize means either to directly take income from some and transfer it to others or to benefit some categories of taxpayers by allowing them to operate under a different set of rules than all other taxpayers. The deductibility of property and sales taxes does not fit either of these categories.
Supporters of this change also argue the current system encourages higher taxes at the state and local levels. First of all, it’s not clear why this would justify taxing revenue that, from an ethical or economic perspective, shouldn’t be taxed in the first place. Once again, the cart is going before the horse. But what makes this a rather bizarre argument, particularly for conservatives, is that their remedy is to expose more of a person’s income to taxation at the federal level. They are, in fact, arguing for a transfer of taxing power from state and local governments to the federal government. So much for federalism.
So again, the question that goes begging is, should you be taxed on income that you are not allowed to take ownership of? As a question of morality or tax fairness, it is difficult to see how the answer could be yes. I don’t think anyone would claim that it is morally justified for an individual to be taxed on someone else’s income. But this is exactly the case with income that goes to paying state income taxes and property taxes. It is income we are forced to give up all rights to, with no enforceable promise of anything in return. Morally, as opposed to legally, this money is not our own, i.e., we have no choice about how it is allocated. Therefore, to not allow state income taxes to be deductible from federal taxes is the moral equivalent of taxing people on income that is someone else’s. In this case, it belongs to the state or local government.
One of Cordato's best observations here is that — even if one is okay with the idea of taxation in general — it is totally inappropriate to tax income that the taxpayer is being forced pay as taxes. Income that is taxed is never really income at all. It's just money the taxpayer must hand over involuntarily without being able to save it, spend it, or do anything other than watch it go straight out the door to the government. To call this money "income" is thus absurd. But this doesn't stop that advocates for the elimination of the deduction on those taxes. A good sampling of their demands for more taxes can be found in their response to my article on the topic. They're so fired up about the imaginary "subsidy" that the deduction creates, they want to tax "income" that isn't income at all.