Saturday, June 27, 2009

Converting Manna to Gall

And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent brought.


                — John Donne, “Twickenham Garden”

In the last few years it has become obvious that we are living in the twilight of the Western democracies.

As I write this, the U.S. House of Representatives has just passed the “American Clean Energy And Security Act of 2009”, a.k.a. “Waxman-Markey”, a.k.a. “Cap-and-Trade” — and which also might as well be known as the “Economic Destruction of America Act”.

This bill is not popular with the American people. Its alleged long-term benefits are far outweighed by the massive economic damage it will do to our country within the next few years. In the short term it will benefit no one except the already bloated federal government and its parasitic private entities. No major business stands to make a killing from it. No congressman who voted for it enhanced his chances of re-election by doing so.

The Ranting ManSo why in the world was such a monstrosity ever passed? Why would democratically elected representatives come out so strongly against our national well-being, our commercial interests, and public opinion?

Cap-and-Trade is hardly an isolated instance. Politicians all across the West are jostling one another to see who can be first to leap over the nearest available precipice, whether the issue is political correctness, mass immigration, capitulation to Islam, ruinous levels of taxation, or environmental orthodoxy.

Rather than examine the particular debacle that was just passed by the House of Representatives, I’d like to examine a more general question:

Does democracy carry within it a poison pill that guarantees its own eventual destruction?

The modern democratic state — be it a constitutional republic, parliamentary democracy, or constitutional monarchy — has only been in existence for about 320 years, dating from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when King James II of England was deposed and the power of the monarchy constitutionally limited. Or, if the Dutch Republic is taken as the benchmark, another century can be added to democracy’s pedigree.

The Althing in Iceland has governed continuously for more than a thousand years, but the Icelandic model is somewhat different from the rest of the European democracies, and is not the ancestor of any of the others. So, for our purposes, the Age of Democracy covers the last four hundred years — and may well be drawing rapidly to a close.

The fact that all modern Western democratic states are exhibiting varying degrees of the same morbid symptoms compels one to suspect that the disease is inherent in democracy itself, and not its particular forms, or the quality of its political leaders, or which countries it holds sway in.

Since I’m more familiar with the American system than any of the others, I’ll use it as my primary example. However, the same symptoms are well advanced in virtually every other democracy in Europe and the European diaspora.

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The United States began in 1787 as a constitutional republic, with the powers of the federal state carefully circumscribed and insulated from the possibility of easy tampering by demagogues and would-be tyrants.

However, the passage of time wore down the safeguards put in place by the Founders, and after the Civil War our system gradually morphed into a direct democracy, and then after 1945 into government by television poll. At the moment we seem to sliding rapidly through a brief phase of Social Democracy on our way to becoming a full-blown Union of North American Socialist Republics.
- - - - - - - - -
James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the other architects of the Republic did their best to forestall the dystopian fate that now awaits us. The strict enumeration of federal powers, the Bill of Rights, the three separate branches of government — all of these were intended to check the unbridled power of the majority and so prevent a democratically-elected tyranny.

But, in the end, they failed.

For the last seventy-five years or so we have been governed extra-constitutionally. The instances of blatant usurpation of the sovereign power of the States and the people have increased dramatically in recent years. Virtually every important bill passed by Congress would be struck down by a conscientious president or a dutiful Supreme Court, if the system still functioned as designed.

Yet all these changes occurred within the rule of law, enacted by democratically-elected representatives of the people, and with at least the passive acquiescence of the electorate. No tanks rolled down Constitution Avenue to install a Pelosi junta. Barack Obama did not seize power through assassination or coup d’état.

The United States is racing past Europe in its haste to remove the last vestiges of accountability and popular sovereignty, but there is no sign that voters are ready to roll back what they have tacitly allowed for the last three generations.

Why?

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The rule of law and civil society are the crowning political achievements of European civilization. They existed before representative government, and were a necessary prerequisite for it. First came the King’s peace and a stable law-based state, then democracy was grafted on top of it.

MinutemanPeople who have just shaken off the yoke of violent tyranny tend to be vigilant about the rule of law when they finally live under it. That’s why formerly communist states like the Czech Republic are resisting the EU’s slide into post-democratic dictatorship — they’ve been there and done that, and they’re not ready to go back just yet.

A peaceful and prosperous civil society is a rare gift. Those who have only recently attained it are more likely to understand how precious it is, to safeguard it and be ready to defend it.

But peace and prosperity induce somnolence and amnesia. The current state of affairs comes to seem natural and normal. It is taken for granted, instead of being known for the fortunate anomaly that it actually is. We are living in a brief golden interlude of history: the normal state of human affairs is one of brutality, bloodshed, and barbarism. It will be all too easy to return to the old patterns as our vigilance wanes.

The democratic state begins with liberty as its ideal, the base on which all the other social and political structures grow. Peace and prosperity are the natural consequences of success in this endeavor, yet their accustomed presence induces a desire for security and a lack of conflict.

Eventually the warm cocoon of the omnipotent and omnipresent State becomes preferable to liberty itself.

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The current political degradation of the United States could not have occurred fifty or sixty years ago. Back then children were still required to take civics classes and study the Constitution with a close attention to detail. The common responsibilities of a citizen of the Republic were better understood by the average citizen.

But the decline of education and the atomization and degradation of popular culture have eroded the average person’s ability to understand the nature of self-government. The idea of the federal government as a parental protector and bountiful source of life’s treasures is too entrenched to remove.

“Aha!” you say, “I know the reason for that — it’s a result of the rise of Socialism and the success of the Frankfurt School, which has entrenched itself throughout the major institutions of the West.”

And indeed this is true. Without the pernicious siren lure of Socialism, the body politic would not have been so easily and thoroughly corrupted.

But Socialism is not something extraneous to democracy. It isn’t an opportunistic virus from the outside that invaded the West and overcame its defenses.

Where do you think Socialism came from?

Africa? China? Mars?

Socialism was born in European democracy and gained its momentum by extending the democratic ideal to accomplish new goals. Socialism played on the principles of democracy by elaborating them into a metastasized fantasy of what human beings are or could become.

Socialism is inherent in the democratic impulse. If Karl Marx had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him.

The proponents of Liberty said, “All men are created equal.”

The Socialists asked, “Why then are all men not equally wealthy?”

The proponents of Liberty said, “Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Socialists asked, “What about all the other rights, such as the right to a job, the right to an adequate income, the right to a good education, and the right to the best health care?”

The proponents of Liberty said, “Freedom is the highest aspiration of mankind.”

The Socialists retorted, “No one can be truly free unless all are equally well-off.”

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All Western democracies are now Socialist states in varying degrees. In just under a century, the overweening State has assumed most of the responsibilities that had hitherto been undertaken by the people themselves. The State guarantees your income, treats you when you are ill, takes care of you when you are old, and “educates” your children — assuming that you bother to have any.

The State determines what will make you safe and healthy, and then forces you to engage in those activities. The State decides how your house will be constructed and what sort of vehicle you must drive. The State requires you to sort your garbage. The State decides what terminology you must use when describing people of a different race or sex.

The State takes care of you from cradle to grave — or, as Willard Scott put it, from Pampers to Depends. The State is that big warm fuzzy friendly cookie monster who envelops us in its strong arms and forces us to brush our teeth and take our castor oil.

The all-pervading State is a consequence of the feminization of democratic society. The requirement that society be safe, all-inclusive, and free of conflict is a quintessentially feminine notion. Liberty — a quintessentially masculine notion — takes a back seat when women start to drive the democracy bus.

But, once again, feminization is the natural and inevitable result of sustained peace and prosperity. It is inherent in the democratic process. When violence and brutality resume their time-honored course, the feminized superstructure of our culture will be discarded quickly enough. Until then, everybody has to drink their milk, play nice, and share their toys.

Or else!

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Above all else, the State extracts wealth from its compliant subjects.

The democratic process leads inexorably to the modern welfare state, and the smothering blanket of social welfare requires ever-increasing amounts of money to redistribute to its clients.

Human nature being what it is, the more the State gives out in “free” benefits, the more outstretched hands there are eager to grab the goodies.

Without the need of children to take care of them in their old age, people have fewer kids.

Without the need to hold a job to prevent starvation, fewer people work.

A decrease in the productive portion of the population requires higher and higher taxes.

Sometime in the next quarter-century the promises made to retired people, the disabled, the unemployed, and other beneficiaries of the State will have to be broken. Taxes could rise to 100%, and the revenue would still not be enough to pay for all the Social Security, universal health care, and social welfare programs for the non-productive half of the population.

The current system cannot sustain itself. It will break. It has to break.

Socialized America will fail.

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We’re facing the unavoidable endgame of democracy. It’s not a pretty sight.

But the demise of democracy does not necessarily mean the demise of Western civilization. Nations have formed and flourished without democracy in the past, and not all of them were brutal tyrannies. In fact, some of them offered more freedom and opportunity than citizens of Western Europe and the United States enjoy today.

Western culture is about to be transmuted into something else, something new, but not entirely different from what we know. The process of transformation may become unpleasant and deadly. Our task, as Fjordman has often pointed out, is to preserve what is good and valuable and true about the civilization we have inherited, and to leave something worthwhile for those who come after us.

You will know changes soon.

65 comments:

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

So why in the world was such a monstrosity ever passed?

Because Goldman Sachs is already poised to make a killing from it (here is Tabbibis article from Rolling Stone.

KG said...

Brilliant! One of the most lethally accurate descriptions of what ails the West I've read.
We've put up an excerpt and a link back to here at Crusader Rabbit.

BeltainAmerica said...

Great post!!!

I have added you to my followed blogs on my site as well.

Keep up the good posts.

http://usually2theright.blogspot.com/

Orlando said...

The passage of this Cap and Trade bill has especially stoked the fears I've been having for the past two years. At some point the Federal fairy tale is going to meet the ugly reality and I don't think it will be pretty.

"It can't happen here" no longer applies to this country in any context whatsoever. From tyranny to guillotine, I fear the worst.

j.s.kern said...

I’m afraid you’ve missed the main reason the western democracies are failing: Their populations have become predominantly Secular Humanist; no more do they believe in the sovereignty of God. Post-Christian means non-Christian; non-Christian means anti-Christian; anti-Christian means pro-Satan ("He that is not with me is against me." Matt 12:30). It is no surprise that our conquerors will be those who worship the antithesis of Christ; Allah.

We are in the End Times, friends, and it’s too late to save your nations. You can, of course, take advantage of Christ’s Salvation as individuals. I pray you do so…soon.

Shalom in Yeshua,
j.s. kern

Henrik R Clausen said...

I'm reading up on economics and monetary systems these days, and am finding some quite scary material. My take is that this cooked-frog experiment in socialism started with the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which gradually has given the US government (primarily - others, including the IMF, emulate) unlimited access to 'money', from which their power flows.

Scare quotes, for money should be honest, earned by work, production and trade. The gold standard ensured that, and was a great international currency from the 1870's to WWI. What passes for 'money' now is only so by habit and mutual trust. When that trust is betrayed, the monetary system might fail.

The way to prevent that from happening is for the states to balance their budgets and the central banks to stop inflating the money supply (AKA printing money). Don't hold your breath, though...

James Higham said...

This bill is not popular with the American people. Its alleged long-term benefits are far outweighed by the massive economic damage it will do to our country within the next few years. In the short term it will benefit no one except the already bloated federal government and its parasitic private entities. No major business stands to make a killing from it. No congressman who voted for it enhanced his chances of re-election by doing so.

Dire situation indeed for civilization.

Ilíon said...

"James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the other architects of the Republic ..."

[pedantry]
Jefferson was in Paris (thank God); let us put to the much maligned, and unjustly so, Alexander Hamilton, rather than Jefferson, in that slot.
[/pedantry]

lbertarian said...

Great post, but one glaring omission as per J.S.Kern above: abandoning God has got a lot to do with our decline.

Also, the transmutation of democracy into something else is a relatively benign outcome - if we were alone on the planet. The presence of aggressive Islam will make it impossible.

thll said...

Every flower fades. It is part of the cycle of things - or maybe that should be the spiral of things. And so it is with cultures. The Western culture is on the wane - in fact the 'civilisation' that concerns you Baron is an indication of it; 'civilisation' is a characteristic of the maturation of a culture. And we all know what follows maturation, don't we? The system that we know as democracy is in the process of morphing into dynasty and it will eventually formalise into a caste system - already those at the pinnacle of political power in the West see themselves as infinitely superior to 'the people', or coolies.

You say 'Socialized America will fail' - fail from who's point of view?

Henrik R Clausen said...

Every flower fades. It is part of the cycle of things.

Nah. It all depends on us as citizens. If we stand up for what's Right and stop what's Wrong, civilized society can continue with no end in sight. We may have to consume less, though.

You say 'Socialized America will fail' - fail from who's point of view?

I guess those citizens who look forward to socialism to fix their lives, provide them with wealth and security? Much like the Soviet Union failed, also in the field of environment protection. Baron?

Afonso Henriques said...

The problem with democracy is the quality of a people. The quality of those who vote. Some extra thoughts:

"the Age of Democracy covers the last four hundred years"

Not quiet sure about that. You see, democracy is suposed to be A MEAN to ACHIEVE AN END, that of governing a State/People.

Today, that notion has been perverted and democracy itself is seen as an absolute vallue.

Also, once upon a time we had a National aristocracy. Where is it? Today, our elites (not to mention that they can hardly be called an elite) are just a bunch os Internationalist leftists. This we can't deny.

So, the current democracy is different because of the emergence of these two topics:

1) Democracy is an absolute vallue on itself. Democracy is not here to serve the people but the people must serve democracy.
2) We have no elite or National Aristocracy that vallue highly the people or the Nation. (The E.U. and the ONU are more important for "our elites" than our very own Nations, States and Peoples as long as it does not threathen their own power)

So Baron, when DID THIS DEMOCRACY born?

Afonso Henriques said...

"Post-Christian means non-Christian; non-Christian means anti-Christian; anti-Christian means pro-Satan ("He that is not with me is against me." Matt 12:30)."

Very interesting.
But actually, post-Christian is not the same as non-Christian. It's a Christian in the cultural sense and some fifth of a Christian in a religious sense.
Much of the (crypto-religeous) vallues of the post Christians are exactly that: Christian.

There are post Christians who are more Christian than many Christians. Can you get it?

And I bet the intrepertatio of the Catholic Church is that that line is for Jews only, that is, for all those who have rejected the words of Christ (or was it God? If so, that's really for its chosen people only, right?) and that it has little to do with Hindus, muslims, etc.

According to your logic, those words would of course be directed to anti-Christians (those who have rejected Christianity) instead of post-Christians.

Interesting stuff actually...

Afonso Henriques said...

"The gold standard ensured that, and was a great international currency from the 1870's to WWI. What passes for 'money' now is only so by habit and mutual trust. When that trust is betrayed, the monetary system might fail.

The way to prevent that from happening is for the states to balance..."

Henrik, me too thinks all this system is deadly flawed. But I haven't all that knowledge in Economics. In fact, what surprises me is that I have three friends who have just finnished their first year in the best Faculty of Economics of the country. The girl is a deranged leftist, but then the boys are normal. They don't agree with my vision that the system is flawed and they know more than I do. It's bad because we cannot convince eachother. One of the boys used to agree with me in virtually everything in economics... untill he went to University although he still can not convince me.

And actually, because Gold is beyond my reach, I thin the solution is the small agricultural garden of my grandmother, her chickens and her rabits.
The problem is that I like rabbit as much as the Arab likes pork...

Really, get gold or start farming.

Of course I will not cease to waste money in things I like as if I was upper middle class or something... Nor will I stop saving hundreds of €uros as if it was tens of thousands.
Ah the youth years! ... where we can rely on your parents for everything and in your grandparents for crises... even if they have no money whatsoever.
In sum: when you have no true liberty, few rights and little responsabilty.

Baron Bodissey said...

Ilíon --

So do you mean that Thomas Jefferson had no influence whatsoever on what ended up in the U.S. Constitution?

Baron Bodissey said...

thll --

You say 'Socialized America will fail' - fail from who's point of view?

From the point of view of its architects. Not just in the USA, but in Europe and Canada, too.

The socialist edifice will collapse of its own weight. The absolute (systemic) limit is about twenty-five years; in reality it will probably be much sooner.

When the system collapses, many of the elites who constructed it and benefit from it will be brought down with it. Some may manage to ride out the tsunami and assume positions of power in whatever system replaces it, but there's no guarantee. We are heading into a period of chaos, and nobody, no matter how exalted, can be certain that he will make it through intact.

Incidentally, the 25-year limit is based on the demographic crunch. If you look at the numbers for the next two decades, you see the upward indicators -- pensions and socialized medical costs -- and the downward indicators -- population and productivity increases.

Automation has given us almost the productivity juice we can expect, so the declining native (i.e. productive) population can't be offset by increased efficiency of production -- there just isn't enough room left for that much expansion.

At the same time, all the recent advances in medical technology have guaranteed a huge expansion of the geriatric population, all of whom must be maintained at state expense.

Social Security for that future is completely unfunded, and much of private pensions are also underfunded. When the pension-drawing population doubles, and the supply of productive workers halves, obviously we will be headed into FAIL mode.

The immigration craze is a symptom of all this, a misguided attempt to forestall the inevitable. Somehow, against all the evidence to the contrary, the Powers That Be seem to believe that they can turn unskilled Third World arrivals from a net drain to a net gain for the welfare system.

They can't, and the system will eventually fail. THEIR system -- the one that was intended to preserve them and their successors in perpetuity.

They are human, and fallible, and no smarter on average than you and I are. They thought they had a great idea and that it would last forever, but it won't. It's doomed.

Rocha said...

Well democracy is a poison, the founding fathers knew that, that's why they choose a REPUBLICAN form of goverment, a republic is not a democracy and vice-versa. The Greek and Roman republics in their fall had already fertilized most of europe and there are constant rises of rhese ideas throght european history, the italians republics, the doomed french revolution, the american revolution...the only thing who could destroy the possibility of this happening again is if we destroyed our genetic quality by immigration and disgenics. I'm beguinning to think that Nazi germany would be a more fertile ground for a truly republican form of goverment (though insurrection) than our future west. I hope i'm wrong...

Zenster said...

Cap-and-Trade is hardly an isolated instance. Politicians all across the West are jostling one another to see who can be first to leap over the nearest available precipice, whether the issue is political correctness, mass immigration, capitulation to Islam, ruinous levels of taxation, or environmental orthodoxy.

Wise shepherds―at least, those with adequate weapons or firearms―knew well enough to shoot the Judas goat before it led their entire herd over a precipice.

heroyalwhyness said...

Afonso Henriques said... "The gold standard ensured that, and was a great international currency from the 1870's to WWI. What passes for 'money' now is only so by habit and mutual trust."

Indeed. Consider
"China is the US’s largest creditor. All told, the People’s Republic has $700+ billion in US Treasuries. However, if you account for other dollar denominated investments, China is believed to have 70% of its $1.7 trillion in foreign reserves sitting in green backs."

Quietly, China has diversified it's acquisitions concentrating on natural resources for some time.

Feb.10, 2009: China buys Oz Minerals, the world’s second largest zinc miner for $1.7 billion

Feb. 12, 2009: China buys $20 billion worth of Rio Tinto, one of the three largest iron ore producers, giving it the potential to raise its stake to 19%.

Feb. 24. 2009: China buys 16% of Fortescue Metals an Australian iron ore company.

April 1, 2009: China buys $46 million worth of Terramin Australia’s lead and zinc supplies in Algeria.

April 15, 2009: China buy 51% of Ontario’s Liberty Mines: a nickel producer.

June 25, 2009 CHINA Sci-Tech Holdings shareholders have approved the investment group buying OZ Minerals' Martabe gold project in Indonesia for $263 million.


"The Chinese government has proved adept at buying assets below the radar via foreign holding companies and other complicated business structures. Informal accounts posit that China has in fact scooped up even more natural resources and mines via these methods today. . . Unlike paper currencies, natural resources and commodities cannot be reproduced ad infinitum by central banks. Thus they are inflation proof. In addition, natural resources actually offer a direct benefit to China’s economy whereas an investment in a foreign currency (the dollar or otherwise) is merely a means of parking cash for a return. "link

Henrik R Clausen said...

Afonso Henriques:

Henrik, me too thinks all this system is deadly flawed.

The flaws are catching up with real life these years.

But I haven't all that knowledge in Economics.

Actually, it isn't all that difficult to aquire. I started out fairly blank less than a year ago, aquired some books, and started to connect the dots. Key to the game is the unrecognized inflation that keeps the Undeserving Elite in power. As long as they can conjure up more 'money', it will remain up there.

For those who have the chance to save up money, gold (or silver) are good choices. As is investing in non-US stock in farming, mining, energy, and, well, weapons. Otherwise, it's good to be in a recession-proof trade. Like farming :)

Back to the subject: economics.

I've been reading mainly the Austrian School, whose book catalog is available for free here. If you get your hands on Economics in One Lesson, you'll be able to identify the obvious fallacies of Keynes and his theories. In other words, arm you good against your university-indoctrinated friends :)

Am currently reading Americas Great Depression by Murray Rothbard. It demonstrates, number by number, how the 1929 crash was created by incompetence and irresponsibility on part of the newly-created Federal Reserve - the implications of this are enormous.

Real economics isn't as difficult to understand as most university-educated persons want to make it look like.

It's actually quite logical, and once the fundamentals are understood, it becomes quite easy to identify the fallacies presented as 'stimulus' or 'bailouts' by our politicians.

Rocha said...

The Problem with gold is that is limited in avability and of it's usefulness. Gold is overvalueted thing but the ideas behing a gold standart are not. We can have and should have money backed in things we can barter, alluninium, silver, iron, even wood.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The Problem with gold is that is limited in avability.

That's a virtue, not a problem. You can't just produce more gold, and there's little enough of it that it will hold high value. Try the same with aluminium, for one :) Of the choices you suggest, only silver is usable as well, because of its reasonably limited amount. The others are out.

Gold is overvalueted.

If you check out a 5- or 10-year chart at Goldprice.com, you'll find something interesting: Until around 2 years ago, the gold price was rising exponentially. Since then the price has been surprisingly steady. I think the gold price is just fine these days.

Further, if the value of gold was to match the value of all assets (houses, cars, roads, airplanes etc.) worldwide, gold price would multiply by 20. I don't think that's going to happen, and certainly not overnight, but there's a lot of upside in gold relative to fiat currency.

Afonso Henriques said...

Heroyalwhyness,

It was Henrik who said that. I only happened to agree with him.
Also, the Chinese are many things but stupid they are not. Watch out for China, indeed.

Natalie said...

The current political degradation of the United States could not have occurred fifty or sixty years ago. Back then children were still required to take civics classes and study the Constitution with a close attention to detail. The common responsibilities of a citizen of the Republic were better understood by the average citizen.

This absolutely shocks me. How our education has degraded over the years. I have never studied the Constitution in depth at school.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik, thanks.

I just want to share a eye opening documentary(?): Money as Debt. It really opened my eyes to a question the (literally) Communist teacher of Economincs at high school could never really answer properly.

And really, from the little I have study Economics, it is rather simple. Mathematics is the difficult annoying thing...

It's only a pitty they don't teach you "pure economics" this day. It already comes with a handfull of indoctrination. I don't know about University level however. I only attended one class and it was pretty pure.
But we here have "highly respected" professors of Economics that are leaders of anarchist parties (10% of the vote for the Euro elections) who proclaim:
Capital is not Wealth.

P.S. - I also tryed to read the Welth of the Nations by Adam Smith, I think.
I just read one page and never touched in it again. But I think it's probabily an interesing book that can fiil the blankets of very basic and complex things as well.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Afonso, most welcome :)

I watched Money as Debt as well, and found it well worth my time, even though I strongly disagree with its conclusion. It is one (of several) points where my understanding advanced materially.

Two flaws, one minor, one major, in Money as Debt:

Money does not equal debt, it is the mirror image of debt. Thus:

Money = Debt: Wrong
Money = - Debt: Right

That was the minor one. The major flaw is at the end, where it is claimed that the gold standard would lead to hoarding of gold, and thus is useless. That is patently untrue, as the gold in the world, when used for trade, will be passing all around to those who have something of value to offer.

Also, the idea that we should replace our current money with 'work certificates' is doubly broken. First, it's still another form of fiat currency - paper money. Second, it can be fudged endlessly. AFAIR, they also advocate the abolishment of interest rate, where I hold the diametrically opposite opinion: We need - as in NEED - to increase interest rate in order to stop the inflation and dismantle the crisis.

Wealth of Nations (I didn't read it yet) is supposed to be a great book, and sets out a philosophical framework for free trade - free of government intervention, that is. Must read like an utopian novel these days :) I did read the similar book "Wealth and Poverty of Nations".

I encourage to go more directly to books about economics, and not let yourself be deterred by your over-read friends at the university. You'll find lots of stuff to annoy them with - much of what is taught is based on some fairly obvious fallacies, easy to see once they're spotted. Let me take an example, the Broken Window Fallacy:

It has been thought that breaking a window stimulates the economy, for the owner of the window will have to hire a glazier to install a new one, thus increasing GNP. This is false, for the money used there will then not be used for something else, like a new coat, nor will it be saved for investment. Additionally, the resources used to install a new window (glass, glaciers' time etc.) could have been used for some other purpose, but now doesn't. The 'stimulus' of breaking a window and repairing simply doesn't add up.

The article I'm linking to above gives some good points about the Austrian School of Economics, too.

Baron Bodissey said...

Natalie --

In my eighth-grade civics class (in about 1964) we all took turns reading the Constitution out loud, every word of it, including all the amendments. Then we were tested on our knowledge of it.

DP111 said...

Two very informative reads

This passage of this bill does not signify any great “green revolution” or “growing” climate “awareness” on the part of Congress. Instead, the methods and manner that the Pelosi led House achieved final passage, represents nothing more than unrestrained exercise of raw political power, arm-twisting, intimidation and special interest handouts.

The House of Representatives passed a bill it did not read, did not understand. A bill that is based on crumbling scientific claims and a bill that will have no detectable climate impact (assuming climate fear promoters are correct on the science and the bill is fully implemented – both implausible assumptions).


Climate Depot Editorial

Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can't repeal that reality.

The Cap and Tax Fiction

We in the UK are seeing energy bill skyrocketting, while unemployment is increasing rapidly.

So now I can make a prediction - man-made hysteria or Anthropogenic carbon hysteria (ACH) definitely raises the global political temperature, leading to rising taxes, unemployment and general insanity.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik,

"The major flaw is at the end, where it is claimed that the gold standard would lead to hoarding of gold, and thus is useless."

I agree with you.
However I didn't see it as a flaw. I remember that they came up with many ideas to replace the current order but I got that most of those ideas were so stupid that they were presenting it in the like of "it would be better if we do this instead of the current system". At least, it was what ended up in my mind.

"our current money with 'work certificates'"
"abolishment of interest rate"

See? Cool but utopian.

Also, about the broken window fallacy. I've never heard about it as such but even I sometimes advocate it (ups).

However, we here have an "Iberian" pay per view documentary channel named Odisseia in which I saw a documentary when I was rather young about the war in Yugoslavia. Raw, tugh and without the exotism that acompains much wars. The mensage was that it could happen in Europe and North America as well. It focused hard in "War Economics" and I was surprised by the simplicity of it. I can still remember the Castillan locutor: "A tank costs in average 10 million dollars. An anti tank bullet capable of destroying a tunk, few hundred dollars. A buller costs around 20 cents but when it is fired, it kills, or it rarely makes a damage of 20 cents or less."

I was inocculated to that falacy. Of course it does not creates wealth. But what is behind is that it actually accelerates the "dynamics" of the economy. Which is worthless in the long run because no wealth is actually created.
Also, it is the basis of luxury.

What I don't get is your
money = - debt thing.

Is that minus there for an inverse proportion?

Money as debt said for that each x monetary factor that is created, 90% is created out of nothing and that 90% will be available to new borrowings being a circle that does not even the devil could remember.

Henrik R Clausen said...

What I don't get is your
money = - debt thing.

Is that minus there for an inverse proportion?


The minus is there because money is the opposite of debt, just as an electron is the opposite of a positron. If the two meet, they annihilate each other. "Money as Debt" uses a sleight of hand to lead the viewer to the conclusion that money, as we know it is bad, as the direct equation leads to the association that money enslaves people.

Money as debt said for that each x monetary factor that is created, 90% is created out of nothing [...]

Actually, it's worse...

Here comes a brief primer on Fractional Reserve Banking.

It depends on the reserve required to be held by banks. If, for instance, the reserve is to be 10 % of outstanding obligations, a bank can lend $ 1000 based on a reserve of $100. That money ($ 1000), in turn, is usually deposited in another bank (or the same, for that matter), permitting that bank to lend $900 - again creating new money.

This leads to an asymptotic increase in the money supply based on the initial reserve. The total amount created will approach (but never quite reach) $ 10,000.

There's another kicker: The original money is backed by - nothing. It used to be based on gold, but that was abandoned in the 30's, where we instead chose to trust our central banks and government to administer the money faithfully.

When I explain this, many assume that I'm talking against it, because it looks fraudelent. I don't think it is, but it needs to be understood and respected better than it is today, or it will be misused.

BTW, I forgot to mention before: The Austrian School of Economics is quite low on matematics. It explains the correlations in more general terms, but refuses to quantify much of them. The reason is that they consider economics to be basically a social science, a science of human valuations and exchange, not a hard science.

Other schools of economics (Keynes, Chicago) have attacked the Austrians for this, but the prediction power of the Austrian School has vindicated their approach.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik, from your link:

"If the broken window really produces wealth, why not break all windows up and down the whole city block? Indeed, why not break doors and walls? Why not tear down all houses so that they can be rebuilt? Why not bomb whole cities so construction firms can get busy rebuilding?"

But that's exactly what the Spaniards have done!
People here liked to say that Portugal has been richer than Spain during most of the XX century and were shocked that Spain growth exponentially and Portugal not that much.
I've explained: Spain hit the bottom with the Civil War, it had to built itself all over. The aeternal boom in Spanish construction comes from this and has only now stopped.

So the window fallacy is not really about creation of wealth as much as it is about economical dynamics like growth and trade.

Henrik R Clausen said...

But that's exactly what the Spaniards have done!

OK. How about you emulate them? Tear down a lot of houses, send a lot of people to build news ones, and see how much richer you become from that?

I think it won't help you much :)

The Civil War is generations ago. I think the inflow of rich pensionist from all over Europe (Denmark included) fueled the boom, not the civil war.

Ilíon said...

Baron: "So do you mean that Thomas Jefferson had no influence whatsoever on what ended up in the U.S. Constitution?"

Baron,
I mean that a couple of years ago I read biographies of several Founders who were *not* Jefferson -- but, of course, Jefferson played a part in those biographies. And the overall impression of the man is that he makes Clinton look a piker.

Rocha said...

Henrik,

Let put it straight! There's enought gold for how many countries? That is my point, there's so much wealth today to gold support it properly in a world basis.

I know the problem with allumium or wood but the fact is everything can be used to diversifiy from gold not as a substitute, even food. You can protect you currency with meat if you want if you constantly sell and buy. The important thing is to backup your currency with something prefferenbly with many things.

Gold is overevaluated because there's not much uses for it, there's the fame of gold and not much else.

I'm pro gold i just think there are others things that can be used like it specially if you think global.

Henrik R Clausen said...

our current money with 'work certificates'

There are certain properties that good money should have. One list is found at the Online Library of Liberty:

1. Utility and value.
2. Portability.
3. Indestructibility.
4. Homogeneity.
5. Divisibility.
6. Stability of value.
7. Cognizability.

Item 6, Stability of value, is the trickiest. If money can be created out of the blue, it endows the creator with undue power, and disempowers all those that held money before the creation took place. Inflation always empowers one interest group (typically state and bankers) over others.

The proposed "work certificates" fails in that test, as well as item 4, as 1 hour of work from unskilled person A is not equivalent to 1 hour of work from super-lawyer B.

abolishment of interest rate

This is a most interesting mistake - and one that our central banks are actively committing these days by near-0 rates, further destabilizing our monetary systems.

Interest rates represent the difference in value of having something now, or having it later - by economists called Time Preference. It is intrinsically a civilizing behaviour, as postponing ones' desires for later is a key component of civilized behaviour.

And it is a key organizing principle in economics, as high interest rates encourages saving and thus provides capital for credit and investment.

There also seems to be a natural law that profits in the market tends towards the current interest rate. Thus, a lower interest rate (which stimulates the economy) actually damages the prospect of turning a profit in the market.

I believe higher interest rates would be good for our economy - in the long run. If racked up immediately, it would lead to mass bankruptcy.

Elisabeth said...

Nathalie,
back when I attended junior high school in the mid-eighties in Chicago I had to study the Constitution in depth and pass a test, otherwise I would not have been able to graduate from grade school.

I could not understand why I as a non-American had to study the Constitution when I knew nothing about my own one. I still don't know much, if anything, about the Austrian constitution; however, having a thorough understanding of the US constitution makes me appreciate the First Amendment much more, wishing that we had one as well. In addition, my knowledge makes me fight for our basic freedoms more than I probably would otherwise. I tell my US college students to fight for the Constitution (much to their thoroughly leftist, Obama-loving professor's chagrin!)

Henrik R Clausen said...

There's enough gold for how many countries?

That depends entirely on - the value of gold :)

Gold can simply increase in price, or paper money depreciate to the point where gold is seen as the only stable form of money.

Or silver, for that matter. By Executive Order 11110, the President is actually empowered to issue silver-backed money, though it doesn't actually take place. We used to have silver-based money in Germany, Denmark and elsewhere. Works OK, but it's kindof bulky :)

I don't think moving directly to a gold standard is anything near feasible today. Some countries, like Portugal, would be come immensely rich overnight, while others would be bankrupt.

A better alternative is to lift the ban on using gold as payment in international trade. Then the gold would enter the marketplace again, as it was used before WWII. Unfortunately, IMF has issued a ban on that practice.

Protecting your wealth by dealing with commodities is interesting. I'd call it investment, not saving, though, for it requires constant attention. But it's a worthwhile activity that enables companies to run with greater fiscal stability, while providing opportunity for profit.

Rocha said...

Afonso,

I was listening some jokes today and i remembered that you wrote that the best comedians in Brazil comes from the northeast. Did you ever listened Ary Toledo? He is a old paulist comedian. Very good, but dosen't appear much in the tv nowadays. Find something about him in emule but be carefull most of the stuff in the net is very dirty.

Afonso Henriques said...

Damn, the Austrian school is that crazy?
I need to study a little more about it but last time I checked economics was a hard science, or was it not? Hm...

"he minus is there because money is the opposite of debt"

I understand now what you're saying. Still, when "we" create money this way, we are still creating debt. It's like ying and yang but there should be only one of them. The system is this bad.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Did you ever listened Ary Toledo?"

Probabily not, I'll chek it out. I've checked out and I haven't heard of him. However I remember one Brazilian that surprised me very, very much in thise field. He was Brazilian, I guess he was from Rio but I can't remember his name or find anything about him, unfortunetly. If I hapen to find, I'll tell you man.

"be carefull most of the stuff in the net is very dirty."

Great. Also, if you like the style "simple, dirty and effective", check out Fernando Rocha. He's from Northern Portugal and proud of it so he uses many regionalisms I am not sure you will understand many.
But he's effective as hell (untill you get sick of his style).

Henrik R Clausen said...

Social science :)

Afonso Henriques said...

@ Henrik:

Yes, tourism has helped Spain a lot since the late 60s but it has simply not stopped since the 40s.
And don't forget that Madrid is now one of the biggest cities in Europe while in 30s it had not that status at all. So the Spaniards themselves have found a nice dynamics on their own.
You also have places that are not that important like Galiza and Bilbao that have grown steadly.
The Civil War was years ago but Spain was still rebuilding what was destroyed in the 60s... this while Portugal spent all that time pouring money to Africa.

You're right that it's not an ideal but it is beyonde doubt that the broken window thesis dynamises one economy.
I do believe we are in agreement over this, despite everything.

Henrik Ræder said...

It is beyonde doubt that the broken window thesis dynamises one economy.

No

I do believe we are in agreement over this, despite everything.

Nope :)

There is one point to be made for it, though: If the alternative is complete lazyness, perhaps fixing a few broken windows is better :)

But I note this:
This while Portugal spent all that time pouring money to Africa.

Instead of investing the money at home, right? The 'broken windows' in Africa didn't exactly make you rich.

It's OK to disagree. We can leave it at this.

j.s.kern said...

Sorry to comment and run (again)…

Afonso Henriques “But actually, post-Christian is not the same as non-Christian.”

Perhaps not in dictionaries, but in the context of the historical events discussed in Baron’s post, these terms are synonymous. We see this by the, ahem, fruit produced: The denial of the sovereignty of Christ in our countries.

Democratic nations in the Post-Christian Era are governed as secular nations where the leaders owe nothing to Christ, but everything to their electors. And, for the most part, this is just fine with the governed. A person that truly holds to the Metaphysical Monarchy of Christ cannot honestly condone the secularization of his government. The warnings against this are legion throughout the Bible.

What is the Post-Christian secularization of the western democracies but “the rejection of Christianity” (Anti-Christianity by your definition) on a massive scale?

You say, “And I bet the intrepertatio of the Catholic Church is that that line is for Jews only, that is, for all those who have rejected the words of Christ (or was it God? If so, that's really for its chosen people only, right?) and that it has little to do with Hindus, muslims, etc.


The “for me or against me” line of Christ is, like many things in the Word of God, for both the audience at the moment and the audience of the future. He meant “everyone” who is not for Him is against Him (Or God: they are one and the same, remember?); and we all experience the truth of this statement, for good or ill.

Talleyrand said...

I would argue that the rebublican form of government is actually much older then you describe in your introduction.

Republics and Democracies are not the same thing. Republic comes from Latin, Res Publica, which means the public thing. There is not clear form of a republic, but it always a mix between the tree classic good forms of governments: monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. (The Executive represents the monarcical element, power in the hand of the one; the Parlament represents the aristocratical element, power in the hands of the few; while the democracy is the means by which the first two are determined, power in the hands of the many.) And all of it stands on the foundation of the law and legitimacy.

That mix makes a republic much more stable then a democracy. already Plato complained, that a democracy is bound to fail, as demagogues would always succeed at some time to push the democracy over the cliff, and thus leading to anarchy. (In the Periclesian Athens that demagogue was Alcibiades)
Later republican thinkers such as Livy, Machiavelli, Montesquieu or the Founding Fathers came to the same conclusion in their own times and words, and thus advocated the republic as the best and most stable form of government. That's also why in the 18th and 19th century virtually all thinkers had much more compassion for Rome or Sparta, as they were seen good models of mixed governments, while the Periclesian Athens was seen with horror, as it lasted barely 100 years and eventually lost its glory, its wealth and its freedom. The Res Romana lasted 500 years, while Sparta got 800 years old.

The Founding Fathers in their time argued around that line. Thats is probably also the main reason why they advocated limited voting rights in opposition to Universal Suffrage.

In our time it seems as if the Western governments are not able anymore to address the most important issues of their populations, and as a result of this, they undermine the legitimacy of their/our republican governments. It is in desperate times such as ours, when demagogues have an easy game by lurking the democratic element into their arms with ever grander promises to fix everything and to enrich everyone.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik,

I think we truly are in agreement. Sure, it is better not to brake windows.
But, if you brake your old window, you can get one better window. Spain and Portugal both created entire new infrastructures in the XX century. But while Spain build Spain, Portugal build Angola and Mozambique, especially Angola.

The Pink Map came out at the turn of the XX century and it ended up Portuguese pretensions to unite both African colonies and turned possible for the English to built their Cape to Cairo train rails.

This advent was massive in Portugal. It culminated with the overthrown of the King and the establishment of the Republic (Despite England has always been our most loyal and prestive ally, the current National Hymn derives from a song from an act in the National Theatre that said: Against the Brittons we shall march, we shall march! Today, we have replaced Brittons for cannons).
The Pink Map also made clear that if Portugal wanted to maintain its empire, it had to colonise the lands.
In the XIX century there were some Portuguese families in all Portuguese held Africa but the bulk of the colonisers were adventurous seek males and one or another cupple running from Portugal.
Since the 1910s the government sponsored the colonisation of Africa, mainly Angola hard.
Salazar's government, after the Second World War invested heavily in Angola, where there was a better quality of life, and it offered insentives for Portuguese to go settle in Angola.

Angola was 11% white, only South Africa had a bigger European population (and perhaps Algeria) when it gained independence. There was one million Portuguese living in Africa by 1974, it's 10% of the Nation.

So I don't think we just broke windows in Africa. Like Brazil, we built it and then let it go away.
The colonisation of Angola was such that the main cities were majority (a great majority) white and Portuguese.
We'd actually be rich if we had our colonial empire, that's why the fascists fought 13 years over it and were not going back because of the ONU or Mr. Kennedy's lack of support.

Today, we are a lost Nation, living of the E.U. because we have little agriculture, little industries, some tourism and that's it.
We've been living from our empire since 1415, it was "the longest, the latest to fall, and for much time the biggest European Empire outside Europe".

And I truly believe we are in agreement over windows my frind ;)

Rocha said...

"This while Portugal spent all that time pouring money to Africa."

I have read about this argument being used about spain not in the 60's, 70's war but about the Spanish American war, that is the resources used investing and fighting in Cuba after the war went to the spanish homeland permitting the development of the catalan industries. If that is true then Spain actually went better off losing that war.

The african wars were an imense strain in portuguese economy and maybe Portugal's mistake was fight in every front. Was Macau, Goa, Timor and Guiné so important? On the other side it appears that like Vietnam the war was almost over when the carnation revolution happened. If not by it Angola and Moçambique could still be portuguese.

Rocha said...

Opa! Alto lá! =]

About Brazil, Portugal didn't create it and left it go away! Portugal made the same mistake here that it made on Africa. The Land was not colonised it was almost empty untill the arrival of the royal family! Brazil had 3,4 million people in 1800 and half of it were slaves only the coast, the northeast, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio were really occupaid. Then the royal family arrived and realy created a country between 1808 and 1821 when she left Portuguese politicians tried to downgrade Brazil to a colony again and this only this made we declare independence. Be sure of one thing in 1822 Brazil didn't want to become independent!

Henrik Ræder said...

Yes, I do think we agree about windows :)

Thanks for the historical details!

And for sure, better windows are nothing to scoff at. I'm getting new ones this very weekend. Will save me heating costs during the winter.

Afonso Henriques said...

Well Kern,

At least I tried to convert you to my relatively relativist position.
But it's better to be an unconditional Christian than an unconditional atheist.

However, I agree that much of our governments are in fact anti-Christian rather than merely post-Christian.

David said...

As far as Money goes, I rather enjoy Francisco's speech from Atlas Shrugged which explains in sickening detail exactly what's going on right this second with this thing we call money.

Afonso Henriques said...

Rocha, we clearly won the war in two fronts: Angola and Mozambique. Our real problem was in Guinea. Macau was peacefully with us untill 1999 when he returned it to China as we have agreed to do so in... 1499 I think. The Chinese were that kind back then as to "offer" us the port. Timor was a shame. Portugal rulled there with a small percentage of colonists. Then, Japan invaded it during the Second World War killing virtually all Portuguese and many, many Timorese. Portugal did nothing.
The very least we could do was to declare war against Japan after Nagasaki so that we could enter the winning side. We didn't even do that.
After the 1974 revolution, the Indonesian troops invaded Timor and only in the late 90s we, with the precious support of the Australians, cared again about that people. Untill this day, Timorese are Catholic and 20% of them speak Portuguese; And they have a rulling class of some half Portuguese people with half Australian children...

I don't see Guinea as important but Cape Verde would be interested to keep as islands.
But of course, once they are mostly Africans, they diserve their own Nation and auto determination. Cape Verde is a very nice place with some interesting culture. I only pitty that so many of them coming here behave like... well, you know it.

Lastly, Goa.
We lost Goa in 1957. The Indian army took Goa back then. Salazar ordered the Portuguese in India to "die untill the last man" but we were so badly outnumbered that the Indians won that little war easily. The locals didn't opose the Indians also. Some of the generals who surrendered to the Indian troops had to face severe punishments in Portugal. Few Portuguese were killed, roughly the same... Wikipedia says 31 Portuguese killed and 34 Indians killed with 3000 Portuguese made prisioners. We didn't have a chance there.

Now concerning the...

"Opa! Alto lá!" (lol) question:

You are right in what you say. How can I defend myself...
The Kings made Rio de Capital of the Portuguese Empire when Napoleon invaded us and then they did not wanted to comeback!
D. Pedro was a disaster! He was a far-leftist free mason who traded Portugal for a colony down South and then even had the guts to invade us and fight his younger Traditionalist brother and force us a Constitutional Monarchy that was only wanted by a tiny urban burgoise class.
The Nobility, the Church and the vast majority of the people was against it.

It was the beggining of the de-Portugalisation of Portugal. Our bigger problems became the internal ones instead of the external ones (1755 earthquake, Napoleon, etc...).

And we even lost our better colony and the only place where we could actually replicate some of ourselves: Brazil. Brazil is half a continent, man!

Sorry, but in my position I cannot defend yours. And for God's sake, Brazil was a Kingdom!! inside Portugal but it was a Kingdom!

We did for Brazil a lot. I'd say we actually are one quarter or one half (let's say one third) of Brazil!

However, I don't understand what you say with "Be sure of one thing in 1822 Brazil didn't want to become independent!" and am so curious I'd kill to know more.

Ilíon said...

You know that saying, "time is money" -- well, it's backwards. In truth, "money is time."

Money (and trade, in general), is how we trade time with one another ... and through the magic of increased efficiency, we "create" more time.

So, taking a person's money (much less his wealth), whether through taxation, or inflation, or straight-forward theft, is taking his time; it's taking a part of his life away from him.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks, David! I'm in the process (yes, it's a process) of reading Atlas Shrugged, but didn't get that far yet. It fits snugly with the Austrian School of Economics.

Afonso: Thanks for the exchange! A cousin of a friend of mine was chopped to death in East Timor by a Muslim mob. We really should do better at helping friends (Christians in particular) anywhere.

Sleep tight :)

Rocha said...

Afonso,

Brazil was happy with the elevation to kingdom; the country was growing economicaly and we had even elarged it a little bit with the cisplatine (uruguay) invasion and anexation, we had no republican moviments and after the Haiti massacre brazilians became very conservative about any revolution. Masons wanted the independence but who else? Then the liberal revolution of 1820 happened and Portugal become tyrannical out of the blue! Pedro became a mason shortly before the independence as a way of gathering the forces that were beguinning to gather against Portugal.
If the royal plan went ok in case of Brazilian independence Brazil would become a Kingdom and after Dom João VI death we would reunite.

Then the liberals in Portugal downgraded Brazil (they even didn't wait to the brazilians delegades come to vote) to a colony again that was their fatal mistake Dom Pedro refused to go back to Portugal and in 7 of setember of 1822 we declared independence. After some pressure of the Brittish, Brazil decided not to try to conquer the portuguese colonies and Portugal itself.

Brazil chose a Portuguese monarch, paid a indenization to Portugal and only after the loss of the cisplatine war (due to brittish intervention) did public opinion that was turning agaisnt Pedro I decided agaisnt a reunion.

"We did for Brazil a lot. I'd say we actually are one quarter or one half (let's say one third) of Brazil!"

Ah if you are speaking of ethnicity i agree with you! 90% of the brazilians mestiços have portuguese blood, and for the whites about half of the whites in Brazil are portuguese-brazilians (myself included, of my great-grandparents just one is a white colonial brazilian tracing his ancestry to XVI century portugueses, my daughter poluted =] her blood with polish blood)
and these portuguese and their descendents builded Brazil in the XIX and XX centuries.

laine said...

The Baron's summary is dead on. We have long passed the tipping point and are on the down slope of a civilization for which we have not been worthy guardians.

We have let the Left win in the marketplace of ideas with the most crack-brain, dishonorable and what should have been completely illegitimate notions were history properly heeded.

We have let the Left infest and centralize our public education system into a Ministry of Propaganda that spits out non-thinking near illiterate (behind Romania in international testing) bots who elect the dog's breakfast the media feeds them when they can be roused from their eating and electronic screens.

We have allowed ourselves to be shouted down as racists, bigots, "mean", "evil" and a host of other pejoratives or have donned the PC muzzle to avoid being called these names.

We have not conserved what we were handed by our forefathers.

It's human nature when gloom gathers to admire some thing of beauty still. Thank you to David for the Ayn Rand Money speech reference. It is an intellectual tour de force. Rand was a prophet over fifty years ago, a true genius.

Obama the socialist attack dog snarling at capitalists is elegantly described in this quote: "Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it".

And the "money" quote (pun intended) that rings our death knell is:

"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed".

Producers now need permission to produce from government parasites who produce nothing, then lose over half their labor/time/life to be redistributed by the government parasites to buy votes in their parasite consituencies.

What is the ratio of parasites to producers at which the system collapses? At half the population not paying taxes, we must be perilously close.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Producers now need permission to produce from government parasites who produce nothing.

Sounds like the system we've had in the European Union through 40 years.

During that age, it consumed prosperity that people at large could have benefitted from. Today, it produces a huge deficit that treatens to destabilize the European states. No worry for the Union, for their income is guaranteed. That also provides them with extremely loyal para... - eh, civil servants.

It used to be that we had respect for engineers, entrepeneurs and traders, those who did the hard work and took real risks. We need it back.

David said...

Thanks, David! I'm in the process (yes, it's a process) of reading Atlas Shrugged, but didn't get that far yet.

It is. It really is, heheh.

I'm still in the process of reading it myself. Good book, scary accurate, but it has a few issues that has forced me to actually put the book down for awhile and return to it at a later date.

Several who frequent this blog know of what and who I'm about to describe...I will try to do so vaguely so as I don't spoil too much. I do believe it needs to be said, however...especially the whys concerning why I had to put the book down for awhile.

Last thing I need is the behaviors of a modern western girl thrown in my face in the manner in which this book does. I'm already forced to deal with it, and will likely die without seeing its resolution. However, to see a character like that, act like that...almost as if it were RIGHT and JUST...one nearly looses their lunch.

Henrik R Clausen said...

David, I agree :)

It's not a Conservative book, not by a long stretch, and certainly not a complete recepie for a good life.

The central theme of the book, however, is urgently important.

eatyourbeans said...

Good diagnosis, Baron. But I'd add that in the case of the USA the metastatic growth of the Federal Government isn't the whole story. Let's look at the "The Company" ,an entity to which until quite lately you gave your loyalty and obedience in exchange for a paycheck for life. For generations it has turned citizens into employees. It brought us the good life and broke our spirit, ingraining in us habits of submission, dependency and deference to whoever is higher on the company org chart. I said "turned citizens into employees", no, make that: "turned citizens into courtiers and palace eunuchs".

So part of me is cheerful about this new Depression 2.0 we're in. The status quo was killing us.

Afonso Henriques said...

Rocha, sorry for the long time tooken to answer you.

I tell you that I probably have to study that situation a little more but you talk as if Brazilian's independence was reactionary. It was not, as far as I know.

And... and... the 1820 Revolution was a Liberal one! Supported by the Brazilians, er... D. Pedro.

"If the royal plan went ok in case of Brazilian independence Brazil would become a Kingdom and after Dom João VI death we would reunite.
Then the liberals in Portugal downgraded Brazil (they even didn't wait to the brazilians delegades come to vote) to a colony again that was their fatal mistake Dom Pedro refused to go back to Portugal and in 7 of setember of 1822 we declared independence"

See, D. Pedro was the main liberal. And after D. João's death, he was the one who was in such a situation that he had to opt between Portugal and Brazil and he opted for America.
He ended up invading Portugal and putting the Brazilian blue in our flag against the will of the majority of the people.

About your last paragraphs, indeed!
You people should get some frame like WASP in America. You say that half of the white Brazilians are Portuguese and that the rest are half Portuguese, that is true!

Not only did the Portuguese-Brazilians built it in the XX and XIX century as we also had been doing it since the XVI century.

Most Brazilians get shocked when someone says this but before the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, there was nothing there. And 50% of Brazilians (whites) are colonists so they should be thankfull for that.

Regards.

Morris Priddy said...

Fundamentalist Christian response-
You are missing the larger philosophical point. But hit on it a few times.

Please understand the Jews in Dueteronomy were instructed to elect leaders of the tens, fifties and hundreds. Able men to govern-- chosen by the governed. This verse excited the enlightenment thinkers like Jefferson, because it could be used to gain the support of Christians. And indeed it was. Black Robed Regiment sound familiar??

The first thing to fall with the Israelites was rule of law- as the theme of Judges is "Each man did what was right in his own eyes." When they begged the prophet Samuel for a king instead of a Judge, God told Samuel not to take it personally, but that the people had rejected God, not Samuel.

Make no mistake socialism is NOT inevitable outcome of a democratic Republic. It happens because idolizing any good thing God made is the overall tendency of mankind.

Socialism is simply about a government becoming an idol.

Every thing in creation is GOOD. Including government. The only thing that makes anything bad is when it has its boundaries removed. When a finite thing becomes infinite as it where, spiritually, morally, it usurps the place of God in the mind of the worshipper, as the ultimate source of meaning, security, comfort, happiness etc.

The outcome in reality, as opposed the imagination of the idolator is that the thing itself ceases to be as its essence determined it to be. When this happens the idol becomes EVIL. The Old Testament describes that when an idolator turns AGAINST his idol- the usual behavior of idolators, who don't like bondage anymore than God fearers-- Well what happens? It is then that he himself is destroyed by the idol. Why? Because the thing God created IS GOOD. To reject any element of God's creation has a disasterous effect.

The solution is to return Government to its natural boundaries, return to rule of law, and return God to his place in our minds as the Ultimate Provider.

To use an old fashioned word- REPENT.

I don't think the end is at hand. But we are long overdue for an intermediate period of God's Judgement. The land is filled with the blood of innocent babes. Our God has determined that blood cries out from the ground for Justice. If justice is not given, the defiled land spews out the occupants. I believe this to be an incontrovertable truth. Read the Book. God is not a man that he should change his mind. He didn't even hold back in punishing his Chosen, but said he punished them Worse than Sodom who were simply overthrown in one day.

We must forgoe the covering of figleaves, spiders webs, and filthy rags and be covered in the Blood of Christ. "Let his blood be upon us and our children." Only our magnificent God can turn a curse into a blessing.

Morris Priddy said...

Fundamentalist Christian response-
You are missing the larger philosophical point. But hit on it a few times.

Please understand the Jews in Dueteronomy were instructed to elect leaders of the tens, fifties and hundreds. Able men to govern-- chosen by the governed. This verse excited the enlightenment thinkers like Jefferson, because it could be used to gain the support of Christians. And indeed it was. Black Robed Regiment sound familiar??

The first thing to fall with the Israelites was rule of law- as the theme of Judges is "Each man did what was right in his own eyes." When they begged the prophet Samuel for a king instead of a Judge, God told Samuel not to take it personally, but that the people had rejected God, not Samuel.

Make no mistake socialism is NOT inevitable outcome of a democratic Republic. It happens because idolizing any good thing God made is the overall tendency of mankind.

Socialism is simply about a government becoming an idol.

Every thing in creation is GOOD. Including government. The only thing that makes anything bad is when it has its boundaries removed. When a finite thing becomes infinite as it where, spiritually, morally, it usurps the place of God in the mind of the worshipper, as the ultimate source of meaning, security, comfort, happiness etc.

The outcome in reality, as opposed the imagination of the idolator is that the thing itself ceases to be as its essence determined it to be. When this happens the idol becomes EVIL. The Old Testament describes that when an idolator turns AGAINST his idol- the usual behavior of idolators, who don't like bondage anymore than God fearers-- Well what happens? It is then that he himself is destroyed by the idol. Why? Because the thing God created IS GOOD. To reject any element of God's creation has a disasterous effect.

The solution is to return Government to its natural boundaries, return to rule of law, and return God to his place in our minds as the Ultimate Provider.

To use an old fashioned word- REPENT.

I don't think the end is at hand. But we are long overdue for an intermediate period of God's Judgement. The land is filled with the blood of innocent babes. Our God has determined that blood cries out from the ground for Justice. If justice is not given, the defiled land spews out the occupants. I believe this to be an incontrovertable truth. Read the Book. God is not a man that he should change his mind. He didn't even hold back in punishing his Chosen, but said he punished them Worse than Sodom who were simply overthrown in one day.

We must forgoe the covering of figleaves, spiders webs, and filthy rags and be covered in the Blood of Christ. "Let his blood be upon us and our children." Only our magnificent God can turn a curse into a blessing.

rebelliousvanilla said...

The US has been governed extra-constitutionally since 1865, actually. Anyway, this thread actually misses the point. Up until the early 20th century, all the political decisions have been taken in Europe by a certain class - the aristocracy. Which are the descendants of the warrior class of the Middle Ages. And in America, the WASPs pretty much called all the shots.

The Frankfurt school is merely the favorite pinata of Americans who don't want to look into a mirror and like to deflect blame, especially on the multiculturalist front - it's like somehow the Frankfurt school directed birth of a race or brainwashed people to make slaves citizens or made the founding fathers say that Muslims can come to America and practice their religion, among other fruity things.

Also, the problem in America isn't really that people stopped believing in the government, it's that Americans were already pretty much a new people. Sure, electing your reps works as long as you don't have universal suffrage and you can't become citizen just by breathing. Political equality is just as idiotic as economic equality. The proponents of 'liberty' and socialists are mere cousins, actually, in terms of political ideology.

Also, democracy is a horrid form of government, so good riddance. I'd like to point out that there's nothing intrinsically good about democracy, unless you are a bleeding heart(and all the retards voting matters to you). Otherwise, you see a form of governance as means to an end and the end to which democracy leads is a disaster. Afonso is right on this.

j.s.kern, I see the current secular Europe, quite moved by Christian beliefs. Where do you think universalism, egalitarianism, atomization of society and so on come from? It's pure Christian ethics without a God.

Henrik, you are putting the horse before the carriage. A decaying people institutes the Federal Reserve, not the other way around. Just like a corrupt government is a mirror of a corrupt citizenry, not vice versa.

And real economics aren't that easy to understand - if you want to know more than what happens in an ideal system. For example, most libertarians ignore transactional costs(e.g. externalities or decision costs). So it's not exactly THAT simple. Also, economics have a ton of flawed premises like that men are rational. I will give you an example. Let's suppose Baron would give me $100 if I can convince someone to agree to split the money with me. Most people would reject offers that are uneven, even if they'd be better off even if I offered them $1 and I got to keep $99. There are a lot of other premises just like this.

Rocha, money has to be a store of value and scarce things store value. And gold can be $5 million an ounce. Doesn't really matter how much gold is there.

rebelliousvanilla said...

Afonso, money as debt is a stupid movie made by people who don't get economics. I can't really explain here how the banking system works though because I need to draw things. Actually, dollars are liabilities of the Fed to their holders with the assets on the balance sheet of the Fed as corresponding assets. There's also deposit money, which complicates matters, but meh, too lazy to explain all of this. To explain Henrik's -debt, it's like this. Let's ignore all the commercial banks and suppose you take out a loan of $1 to buy my car and you use your house as collateral. Basically, my dollar is an asset to me and a liability of the central bank TOWARDS me and the bank acts like an intermediary in this accounting scheme. Hence why currency is an unit of account. If you want, when I will be in Portugal, you can buy me a drink and I will explain it in detail. :)

Henrik, you have to understand that Money as Debt is made for people who also watch Zeitgeist and are probably the worshipers of the neo-communist Venus Project.

And you are wrong about what you told Henrik. There's a difference in between Fed dollars and deposit money created by commercial banks. All commercial banks need to have the 10% ratio of reserve notes to deposit money(this is why banks charge you if you borrow and want cash - they need to give you reserve money). So you don't have that pyramidal scheme of things(another thing that is wrong in all these movies). The trick is actually that the bank creates a corresponding account on the balance sheet of your loan. Blah, this is too complicated to explain without being able to draw things. To make it easier, I will use a real example. If you borrow money from bank A and buy my washing machine and I have an account with bank B, bank A will have to transfer the sum you paid to me multiplied by the fraction to bank B.

Rocha, you can't back your currency by food because food gets spoiled. Might as well back your currency by slave girls, which are depreciating assets. lol. And you can't say that there isn't enough gold to do it and that gold is overvalued in the same time. They are mutually exclusive statements. :)