Tag Archives: economics

The Private Sector Should Handle Social Issues, Not Government

This was a weird week. I actually saw supposed libertarian Rand Paul talk about “fair” in a Senate hearing. This was weird because traditionally, libertarians have been all about what is true, right, or just—these terms, while still not exact, are far more meaningful in an adult life than the concept of fairness. The libertarian position for decades has been, “Children whine about fair. Adults care about what is just.” And this is because we were all told that “Life is not fair” as children, or, at least, I thought we were. But there is some other odd things about these actions from the supposed libertarian.

To put this in context, these comments came during the hearings for Secretary of Education nominee Miguel Cardona. Paul asked if it was fair to have biologically male transgender students compete in athletics against female students. Cardona pointed out that not allowing students to compete can be equally unfair, politely held to the Biden administration line of enforcing discrimination laws for this aspect of public education, and Paul kept hammering on this being unfair.

Now to be fair, this is not the easiest situation. In an ideal world, biology would never mix up and make the brain set for one gender and the body for another. But life isn’t fair. Nor in a perfect world would people be ignorant and need education. But, again, life isn’t fair. And these aren’t things we can’t fix with the wave of a magic wand. We can, however, in addition to attempts of medical solutions, mitigate some of the hell of having your brain and body not agree by trying to be tolerant and accepting of people and judge them only on their character and merit.

But instead, we choose to argue should the government force transgender girls to not be allowed to compete against biological girls or will the government force natural girls against transgender girls. Either way, the government is forcing something.

Wacky idea. Why don’t we stop the government from forcing people to do things? Why don’t we stop paying for this crap in general?

Hear me out here.

In the great lands of socialism known as Europe, sports are pretty much a private venture. Yeah, there’s some basic P.E. education in school, and I’m sure there’s an exception somewhere, but all actual sports like football or rugby are clubs paid for by those who participate or by revenue from fans. I know it’s weird, in America, supposedly the land of capitalism, where we taxpayers pay to train the players in high school and then college and then pay to have stadiums built in our cities (and there are other ways taxpayers are bilked by professional and non-professional sports)…but in most other countries it’s the private sector that pays for sports. I realize that the U.S. has a long way to go to be number one on a listing of economic freedom, but this is just so egregious that it boggles the mind.

So why don’t we do that? Spin-off all competitive sports away from taxpayer-funded schools and rather let the private sector handle it. Private league and clubs would be formed. And not only would they cost less because suddenly it’s not the haphazardness of spending other people’s money, but every league spending its own hard-earned money. I’m sure there would be leagues that allow transgender athletes, and I’m sure there would be ones that wouldn’t, and I’m sure there would be ones in between that regulate hormone levels in the blood or something. And I most certainly trust that the leagues that are filled with bigots would not be popular and not get private funding and die very quickly because as we’ve seen by Parler’s death and a certain moron’s twitter account, the private sector can be a more effective in squashing hate than the government can. We as the public just have to let them know that we support businesses that have nothing to do with hate.

It’s a shame there wasn’t a libertarian there to bring this up.

Now some people are hating the private sector right now. And wouldn’t trust a set up like this. But they also hate that a private company is telling them what they can and can’t trade on that private company’s app. They hate that some companies are telling them what they can’t post on that private company’s program. There are still the fools who hate if a business decides if they want to bake you a cake or not.

They’re all wrong.

We should be praising private companies for being able to decide how they want to do business.

This last couple of weeks has shown that there are huge problems with some of these trading apps and that they allow idiots hellbent on burning the system down. Still, we also see that the apps and brokerages in question quickly responded in ways that would prevent them from having to declare bankruptcy (and probably to avoid being considered a co-conspirator) in what the SEC may decide is malicious and illegal market manipulation. The government would just have let a company they rango bankrupt and then bail it out with our taxpayer money (the names Fannie and Freddie come to mind for some reason).

While the government doesn’t understand that speech has to be free except when it presents a clear and present danger to public safety (specifically when you have a party that wants to silence companies that don’t agree with them while at the same time telling a crowd of lunatics to engage in a coup). Social media companies finally realize they can shut idiots up, and they don’t have to host them. And as it’s not the government, they can do that.

But while you might not be personally thrilled with the policies Robinhood, Facebook, or Twitter, you have to admit that if the government was in charge of these, they wouldn’t be a tenth as effective or a millionth as responsive.

And most importantly, those companies followed their terms and services. No one will be able to sue Robinhood or Facebook, or Twitter because we all agreed to their terms and conditions. What they did was all there to see if we looked.

And that is probably the one thing the government should be forcing other private companies to do.

If you’re a baker who doesn’t want to bake gay wedding cakes, it is better for people to see out front of the store on a large sign.

If you’re a private Christian school that doesn’t want to hire a homosexual teacher, that better be in the big, bold letters in the want-ad.

If you’re a private sports league that doesn’t want transgender athletes, you have to make it clear in the paperwork that the public can see and decide if they want to do business with you or not.

And once you announce you are a bigot you will lose business and once you announce you are against bigotry you will be in a safe place and only have to worry about the usual economic issues.

And I’m more than happy to not only make that kind of disclosure be public…but to make the violation of this not just some sort of fine for breaking a civil code or something you can be sued for…no let’s make not publishing this kind of thing fraud. A full-on criminal violation. So people will have three choices engage in the market and sell or work with people you don’t like, announce you’re a bigot (and hopefully go out of business), go to jail. The only government force here is ensuring truth in the market place, one of the actual functions that any libertarian would approve of.

But again, why would we ever look to the free market to fix things when we can go round and round in pointless squabbles for the camera.

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An open letter to Joe Biden

Thank you for helping to remove Donald Trump from office. The last four years have probably been the most dangerous since the Civil War. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say I support your call to be the President for everyone, free from all parties, not just there for the people who voted for you.

However, if we’re going to start restoring correct political norms that will benefit everyone, one of the first norms from the public has to be that we can not give in to a cult of personality and that we have a duty to oppose those in power, and especially those whom we voted for.

I voted for you, not because I agree with much of the policies you proposed, but because you seem to be a decent human being and that is what we need right now (I’d prefer a decent human being who has the correct policies, but I didn’t have that as an option this time). And I think that many of the people who voted for you are in the same camp. We are moderates, a few practical Libertarians, and Never Trump Republicans. We didn’t vote for you to expand the ACA or tax the rich or bring about the Green New Deal, but because we needed someone to restore sanity to America. And that milquetoast victory speech that was more boilerplate than substance is not a good start—I can admit that a victory speech may not be the best time to pick a fight and it might be a tactical choice to wait until January 20th before picking fights, but there did seem some missed opportunities there, but again, I will write it up as a tactical choice.

Now, I hope that you are looking to be what we hope you would be, but I’m going to state what I think most of us believe, and hope that at least the ideas presented here will reach you in some form.

First off you need to bridge the gap with conservatives, real conservatives, not the populist hacks that have taken over the PR functions of the party. That means there should be three to four Never Trump Republicans in your cabinet. Just one token Republican in the Department of Transportation won’t do it. You need to make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle and find the best people for every position. It might be a bit too much to hope that you put Paul Ryan in as Secretary of Treasury, but something that blatant is needed. Further, you need to reject BOTH extremes, obviously the Trump wing of insanity must be rejected, but so must the Warren/Sanders/AOC wing of your own party—if you want to heal this nation then these illiberal extremes must be given exactly zero power—the illiberal left is just as dangerous as the illiberal right. To embrace the far left is just as bad as Trump’s embrace of populism, it is an illiberal philosophy that has no place in America and if you tolerate it, then your words of hope, opportunity, and healing are only words. Also, if you’re going to go after Trump and work on reforming the police through legal federal means, you’re going to need a Republican AG to avoid making it look like a liberal crusade—I have no idea who, but a conservative AG would deflect most the criticism from all but the Alex Jones crowd (and there was never any hope of getting their support).

Second, you need to calm the worries over the Supreme Court. The left is justifiably angry over McConnell’s court-packing and the right is worried about court-packing from the left (whether that’s rational or not, that’s what governing for all side is, you have to calm as many fears as possible, even the irrational ones). My suggestion is you go to Justices Thomas and Alito, who are both in their 70s and might want to enjoy the end of their lives instead of dropping dead waiting for another Republican president. Come up with a list of Libertarian/moderate justices who believe in abortion and LBGT rights but in limited government in all other things (those first two are about limited government as well so it would be looking for actually consistent justices) and work with them to find a pick they can agree that they will retire if you appoint that pick. This calms the left and the right, defends the most important right you care about, and restores faith in the Court for all sides.

Now let’s come to your goals. First and foremost you need to re-establish our place in the world. That means a heavy use of diplomacy, of not just reestablishing free trade but pushing it (rejoining TPP, ending the Jones Act, quickly getting a new trade agreement with the UK, rolling back all of Trump’s tariffs, and challenging China in the legal format of the WTO). Free trade is an absolute good, and it needs to be encouraged no matter how much the illiberal sides of both parties hate it. And while Trump has done a lot of stupid stuff, don’t compound the stupid by just reversing his idiocy—for instance moving the embassy to Jerusalem was silly, moving it back would be just as silly and petty. Don’t be petty. And while we need to re-establish our relationship with the world let’s not be groveling and begging forgiveness. The world wants the US to be the world cop and the stable one in the room they can all look to for support, that does not involve going around and groveling (like your former boss did). We can admit that Trump was wrong without acting like America is always in the wrong.

Next, you must establish limits on the Executive branch. You need to push for a Department of Internal Affairs that can investigate every president and every elected official and which is free from partisan politics. Presidents are not above the law and this needs to be made clear. A president who breaks the law needs to know that he or she can be arrested and hauled out of the Oval Office in handcuffs. If you don’t push for some kind of way to limit criminal behavior in the executive then you’ve missed what the mandate you were given was.

Further, you need to limit the capricious dictatorial power of the Presidency. A president who refuses to work with Congress and just says “I have a pen and a phone” and rules by fiat is not a president but a wannabe tyrant. This can no longer be tolerated from either side. You are the president, if Congress is being obstructionist, you have the bully pulpit and your job is to convince the people to push Congress to act. Now, part of this must be using that bully pulpit to push Congress to return power to committee created legislation and not just letting the House and Senate being the fiefdoms of the Speaker and Majority Leader respectively. I know full well this is a long-term project that you will not see the end of, but it has to start sometime, and the sooner the better.

In terms of economics, again: Free trade. You’re not going to bring manufacturing jobs back, because even if a company moved production back to the US it would be done by machines. But what you can do is open up more trade which will create more opportunities in new fields. I’m fine with more investment for vocational training and retraining but we are never returning to a 1950s manufacturing economy, and I have to hope your rhetoric on this point during the campaign was simply a pragmatic realization that right now you weren’t going to win without that voting bloc. But now act in that voting blocs best interest and bring them jobs for the future, not lying to them about bring back the past.

In terms of taxes. Don’t raise taxes. Just get rid of the myriad of stupid deductions that exist. You know all those loopholes that Trump uses to avoid taxes. Get rid of all of those. The smaller the tax code the better. And if the upper and upper-middle class can’t just deduct all their income then tax revenues will increase.

It goes without saying that immigration needs to be reformed. But it needs to be said again and again that there is no power given to Congress to regulate immigration. NONE. Any laws that try to limit immigration are unconstitutional along with evil and economically idiotic. ICE needs to be ended and the borders need to be opened.

The CIA needs to put anything they can into Putin’s water that will speed up his Parkinson’s.

Finally, there needs to be a return to a semblance of honesty, reality, and humility. Real daily press corp briefings, hold the White House Press Correspondents dinner and demand they do a full roast of you (I get there is a pandemic, but this is a norm that needs to be restored).

Of course, there is a plethora of other things that need to be dealt with, but let’s focus on these.

Now, Mr. President-Elect, you could be all talk, and like your former always willing to give into bitter partisanship, always foolishly throwing gas on a culture war fire, always only looking to play to the most infantile of your base…but I, and I think most of America, is hoping you’ll be better than that.

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Movies that understand economics #20 and 21: Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead

Review of Atlas Shrugged Part ISomehow I would be remiss not to mention the movies based on Ayn Rand’s novels when discussing movies about economics. The problem here is that while the movies, like Rand herself, have a solid understanding of the broad strokes of economics (liberty, limited government, low taxes and regulation lead to innovation, adaptation and prosperity), they don’t seem to actually get why this actually works. Rand’s understanding of economics is a lot like most people’s understanding of how the CPU of a computer works (“uh…uh…there’s some ones and zeroes and, and, and it translates into ons and offs and…um…uh…it just works. Why do I need to know why it works it just works.”) And, granted, that could make Rand seem really ignorant…but keep in mind that there are people who don’t even get that it works. How stupid do they have to be? (Krugman, I mean you and your mentally challenged drivel.)
But for all of her flaws she does have some correct ideas.
Probably because they seem to be having one problem after another with Atlas Shrugged (I am holding out zero hopes for part three, so I hope I won’t be disappointed…) it might be best to turn to The Fountainhead. Where, though somewhat shorter than in the book, the case for intellectual property is made in very clear terms. (It’s particularly interesting that some modern libertarians seem to be against the very necessary protection of intellectual property rights.)

Howard Roark: Thousands of years ago the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light, but he left them a gift they had not conceived of, and he lifted darkness off the earth. Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision. The great creators, the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors, stood alone against the men of their time. Every new thought was opposed. Every new invention was denounced. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered, and they paid – but they won.
No creator was prompted by a desire to please his brothers. His brothers hated the gift he offered. His truth was his only motive. His work was his only goal. His work, not those who used it, his creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things, and against all men. He went ahead whether others agreed with him or not. With his integrity as his only banner. He served nothing, and no one. He lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.
Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Howard RoarkBut the mind is an attribute of the individual, there is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot not be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others. It is not an object of sacrifice.
The creator stands on his own judgment. The parasite follows the opinions of others. The creator thinks, the parasite copies. The creator produces, the parasite loots. The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature – the parasite’s concern is the conquest of men. The creator requires independence, he neither serves nor rules. He deals with men by free exchange and voluntary choice. The parasite seeks power, he wants to bind all men together in common action and common slavery. He claims that man is only a tool for the use of others. That he must think as they think, act as they act, and live is selfless, joyless servitude to any need but his own. Look at history. Everything thing we have, every great achievement has come from the independent work of some independent mind. Every horror and destruction came from attempts to force men into a herd of brainless, soulless robots. Without personal rights, without personal ambition, without will, hope, or dignity. It is an ancient conflict. It has another name: the individual against the collective.
Our country, the noblest country in the history of men, was based on the principle of individualism. The principle of man’s inalienable rights. It was a country where a man was free to seek his own happiness, to gain and produce, not to give up and renounce. To prosper, not to starve. To achieve, not to plunder. To hold as his highest possession a sense of his personal value. And as his highest virtue, his self respect. Look at the results. That is what the collectivists are now asking you to destroy, as much of the earth has been destroyed.
I am an architect. I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built. We are approaching a world in which I cannot permit myself to live. My ideas are my property. They were taken from me by force, by breach of contract. No appeal was left to me. It was believed that my work belonged to others, to do with as they pleased. They had a claim upon me without my consent. That it was my duty to serve them without choice or reward. Now you know why I dynamited Cortlandt. I designed Cortlandt, I made it possible, I destroyed it. I agreed to design it for the purpose of seeing it built as I wished. That was the price I set for my work. I was not paid. My building was disfigured at the whim of others who took all the benefits of my work and gave me nothing in return. I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim. It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing. I came here to be heard. In the name of every man of independence still left in the world. I wanted to state my terms. I do not care to work or live on any others. My terms are a man’s right to exist for his own sake.

As I said she gets the broad strokes. That liberty, limited government and the human mind should be valued. But anything more detailed than:

My name is John Galt. I live in a place we call Atlantis, and I think you’d fit in there. It’s a place where heroes live; where those who want to be heroes live. The government we have there respects each of us as individuals and as producers. Actually, beyond a few courthouses there isn’t much government at all. Bottom line, Mr. Wyatt; if you’re weary of a government that refuses to limit its power over you, if you’re ready at this moment to claim the moral right to your own life, then we should leave, and I’ll take you there. I’ll take you to Atlantis.

And you’re really pushing it. She understood capitalism and individualism worked and any form of collectivism and socialism didn’t. And if you’re looking for a moral pick me up, her quotes can work quite well…if you’re looking for a technical answer as to why they work…you might want to dig into other economists and movies.

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Movies that understand economics #17, 18 and 19: A few movies with only a couple lines of understanding

 

 

Okay so there are a few movies with a brief glimmer of understanding about economics that I wanted to cover.  It’s not that the rest of the movie doesn’t understand economics…it’s that it really isn’t an issue so it felt better to just lump them all together.

 

 

#17 The Count of Monte Cristo

Count of Monte Cristo Cavill CavizelWhile digging out of the Chateau Dif Edmund Dantes is taught among other things, economics, which results in this little bit of banter:

 

Abbe Faria: Define Economics.

Edmond: Economics is a science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities.

Abbe Faria: Translation?

Edmond: Dig first, money later.

 

It’s not a lot, but it has both the technical and the pragmatic side of economics, and most importantly, that nothing is free…so dig.

 

 

#18 The Dark Knight Rises

dark-knight-rises-cast-1920x1080

The Dark Knight Rises, in fact the whole series, has some wonderful things to say about ethics, politics, sociology, and human nature…but it doesn’t often deal explicitly with economics, except in this one place, right after Bane has taken over the Gotham Stock Exchange.

 

Exchange Security Chief: You’ve gotta get in there!

Foley: This is a hostage situation.

Exchange Security Chief: No! No! No! This is a robbery! They have direct access to the online trading desk.

Foley: I’m not risking my men for your money.

Exchange Security Chief: It’s not our money, it’s everybody’s!

Police Officer: Really? Mine’s in my mattress.

Exchange Security Chief: You don’t put these guys down, that stuffing in your mattress might be worth a whole hell of a lot less.

 

It wonderfully takes on the idiocy of the mentality that economics isn’t a massive single thing.  That what happens in one place doesn’t happen elsewhere and that what affects one sector is completely unrelated to others.  Economics is a single mass where everything is connected, and to think that isolationism or just hiding your money in your mattress (both equally stupid) are going to protect you is absolutely foolish.*

 

#19 Casablanca

Casablanca Rick's Cafe

Again a great movie more for politics than for economics, but which in one brilliant moment understands economics than most of Washington D.C.

 

Woman Selling Her Diamonds:  But can’t you make it just a little more…?

Buyer:  Sorry, madame, but diamonds are a drag on the market:  everyone sells diamonds; there are diamonds everywhere …Two thousand four hundred.

Woman Selling Her Diamonds:  All right…

 

I love this scene because it shows something very realistic.  Nothing has intrinsic value.  Diamonds are only as valuable as they are rare (and that is only because the cartels keep the supply very fixed).  But if the market is suddenly flooded the price of diamonds, or gold or silver or anything valuable, drops. One only has to look at the massive inflation in Spain during the days the Conquistadors where they were shipping gold back by the ship-full to know this.

 

And if one were very intelligent they would know that this is why just basing currency off precious metals or stones would be foolish.  Any new discovery of a large mine could cause massive inflation, any industrial need for that metal could cause a massive shortage that would in turn result in massive deflation (which can often be worse than inflation).  Anyone who has read Friedman and Schwartz’s A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960 knows that the gold standard was no guarantee against inflation or deflation (and often the cause of it) and thus anyone who argues returning to such practices knows nothing about basic facts of monetary policy.

 

And it’s all shown in that little moment where diamonds are not worth as much as they were a few years before.

 

*Okay what this movie does with Wayne’s stock trades makes no sense, but I’ll forgive it because it was something required to move the plot forward.

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Movies that understand economics #15: Dune

Arrakis. Dune. Wasteland of the Empire, and the most valuable planet in the Universe. Because it is here and only here, where spice is found. Without the spice, there is no commerce in the empire, no civilization. Arrakis. Dune. Home of the Spice, most valuable treasure in the universe. And he who controls it, controls our destiny.

DuneNow before we begin I’ll fully admit that a lot of this discussion will be shaded by a knowledge of the book that it is based off of.  I will also be confining my comments to the 2000 sci-if channel miniseries and not pulling anything from the 1980’s film…why?  Because pulling from a miniseries with some questionable production values but where the writers have actually read the book is far better than pulling from a movie that comes off as a bad acid trip that not only makes you wonder if the writers ever read the book, but if they even speak any of the languages the book has ever been translated into.  Also the movie doesn’t seem to understand any of the economic implications of the plot whereas the mini-series did.

For those of you not familiar with the story, shame on you, this is one of the greatest novels of the last century, go read it. But fine, I will give a brief summary of the events of the story.  Over 10,000 years in the future human beings have spread across the galaxy.   A galactic empire is maintained through commerce and the emperor’s elite personal military. Society has regressed into a form of feudalism with noble houses having control of whole planets. And all of this is maintained by faster than light travel made possible through the use of a chemical known as the Melange, or simply referred to as Spice. Without Spice faster than light travel becomes almost impossible, the empire will fall apart and humanity will fall into a new dark age. And Spice can only be found on one planet in the whole galaxy, the desert world of Arrakis. Better known as Dune. And this inhospitable world is populated only by the people who mine the Spice and a group of religious fanatics who live in the deep desert, the Fremen.  (Unless you’ve read the book you have no idea how much I’m leaving out just so I can focus on the economics.)

The fact that the entire universe is dependent on this one planet and its resources make it a contention point for every feudal house to desire control over Arrakis, for as the movie and book make quite clear, he who controls the Spice controls the universe.

So just to recap the entire universe is dependent on a single resource only found in a desert surrounded by religious fanatics. So for all the complicated sci-fi elements it’s just a metaphor for oil, and the stranglehold it has on our economy.  The Spice allows the economy of the future to run, just as our economy is based on cheap energy.  Without either the economy falls apart.

Now one should keep in mind that when this was written in the 1960’s a far greater portion of the world’s oil came from the OPEC cartel when they had the power to act almost as if they were a monopoly. And this is one of the things dealt with time and time again in Dune, the problems of monopolies.  There are lots of monopolies in Dune.  The emperor’s monopoly on military power, the Spacing Guild’s monopoly on interstellar travel, the Arrakis monopoly on Spice.  Lots and lots of monopolies throughout the universe.  And the problem is that when you have monopolies on essential items and services the entire system becomes very unstable. So unstable that one genius and/or lunatic with the power and will to destroy one of these could demand complete obedience from all the other parts—such is the hero of Dune.  But these downsides to monopolies are the ones you learned in high school, the ones designed to make you think the government was supposed to break up monopolies.

Of course what Dune makes clear, that your high school economics class did not, is that monopolies can’t exist without the presence of government power helping to sustain those monopolies and keeping competition down. That there are relatively few natural and permanent monopolies, and even they need government to sustain them.  All that is needed to break monopolies are the pressures that are usually provided by a functioning free market.    In reality most monopolies only come into existence with government help and are only sustained by government intervention.  The railroad of the 1800 are often touted as monopolies that needed to be broken up, but they were heavily subsidized and protected by the government in the early day.  Had the government not been involved at all no monopoly would have formed and no justification for government intervention would ever have been present. Even then you don’t need government to break up monopolies, the market will do that for you.  Just look at AT&T.  In the 1980’s it was broken up because it was one those terrible monopolies…the silly point about this is that as we now knew cellphones were just around the corner and would have destroyed the telephone monopoly on their own. OPEC exists only because a group of tyrannies and a few nations they bully hold a large portion of a needed resource…guess what, they over played their hand so much that we developed an efficient way to get at shale and now the US is the world’s largest producer of oil (sorry Saudi Arabia, but you’re still in the running for leading producer of fanatics…).

The fact is that for all the problems they create, monopolies are easily defeated by an unfettered free market. Even in Dune (if you read far enough) it is competition, not government mandates and regulations, that create alternatives to Arrakis, the Spice, and the Spacing Guild.   (In fact the universe is shown to do much better when there is no central empire but rather just free planets dealing with each other on a free market.)* If a market is so desirable that someone would want a monopoly, then by nature I will show you a field where there are multiple competitors who will prevent that very thing from happening. You show me a monopoly and I will show you a string of government acts and interventions that helped to create it.

The movie Dune, and more so the books, show among many basic economic principles** that not only are monopolies terrible things that cause problems but that they are due to the lack of free markets which create competition not because of them.

*Okay yes, the books also make it clear that organization is key when facing large scale evil, like an all encompassing evil empire bent on universal tyranny…but no sane person said the military wasn’t a just function of any government.

**There are at present 17 volumes in the Dune series with at least 4 more expected.   You could probably write volumes on any one of them about what they can show about politics, economics, ethics, psychology, sociology and a slew of other fields.

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Movies that understand economics #8: Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby

Characters who take risks.

No it’s not the title that has anything to do with economics. While all of Clint Eastwood’s films have a strain of conservatism running through them, this tale of a father-daughter relationship in boxing understands two key concepts in economics: Risk and Incentive.

The issues of risk comes into play with Eastwood’s character Frankie Dunn shows both the sides of risk. Early in the film he is afraid to take risks. He holds back fighters from title fights, fearing that they might get hurt, that they aren’t ready, that if something goes wrong they will lose their one chance for success. Because of this refusal to take risks he loses one fighter after another for his whole career. And he had failure time and time again. Economics tells us that real economic growth only comes from taking risks…anything else will just lead to hundreds of year of stagnation. Of course while growth and success can only be accomplished by risk…the film also shows that risk, comes, with, well, risk. In this case tragedy when Frankie’s fighter Maggie Fitzgerald Hillary Swank is paralyzed and ultimately dies.

Frankie Dunn: It wasn’t fault. I was wrong to say that.
Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris: You damn right. I found you a fighter. You made her the best fighter she could be.
Frankie: I killed her.
Eddie: Don’t say that. Maggie walked through that door with nothing buts guts. No chance in the world of being what she needed to be. It was because of you that she was fighting the championship of the world. You did that. People die everyday, Frankie – mopping floors, washing dishes and you know what their last thought is? I never got my shot. Because of you Maggie got her shot. If she dies today you know what her last thought would be? I think I did all right.

But the movie makes it quite clear that risk and the tragedy that may come of it, are better than stagnation.

How does it really drive this point home? Through a look at Maggie’s family. The embodiment of welfare trash.

Maggie: Not anymore. It’s all yours, Mama. For you and Mardell and the kids.
Earline (Mother): Mary M., you bought this for me?
Maggie: Yeah, all yours, free and clear. Darling….
Mardell (Sister): There’s no fridge. No stove neither.
Maggie: They’ll be here before you move in.
Earline: How much money did this cost you?
Maggie: Never mind that.
Earline: You shouldn’t have done this.
Maggie: You need a decent place.
Earline: You shouldn’t have done it. You should’ve asked me first. Government’s gonna find out about this, they’re gonna stop my welfare.
Maggie: Mama, no, they ain’t.
Earline: They are. You’re fine, you’re workin…but I can’t live without my welfare.
Maggie: Mama, I’ll send you money.
Earline: What about my medicine? Medicaid gonna cut me off. How am I supposed to get my medicine?
Maggie: I’ll send you more money.
Mardell: I hope you don’t expect J.D. to move in with us. He’s getting out, you know.
Why didn’t you just give me the money. Why’d you have to buy me a house?
Maggie: I didn’t have to Momma, but it’s yours. You want the money, sell it.
[…]
Earline: Find a man Mary M. Live proper. People hear about what you’re doin’ and they laugh. Hurts me to tell you, but they laugh at you. [Laughs]

Her family has no aspirations, has no drive, no goals, no virtue, and no redeeming characteristics. I would like to say they are merely a bad caricature of welfare dependency…sadly they are a far too accurate depiction of a far too common truth. When you have no incentive to do better because welfare and Medicaid and a dozen other programs can get you up to the income of about $45,000 a year, why would you even bother starting minimum wage job only on the hope (the risk, if you will) that through hard work, personal sacrifice, and long hours you’ll get something better. When people have no incentive to do better (and no one is going to pay you $45,000 out the door) it’s only human nature to not want to work that hard.

Even then, it is only that Maggie has a different incentive other than money that drives her to push herself, self respect and happiness. It is the incentives for these things that push her, making her not an exception to the idea that incentives are what drive people, but rather stark proof of this economic fact.

Maggie: Momma, you take Mardell and JD and get home ‘fore I tell that lawyer there that you were so worried about your welfare you never signed those house papers like you were supposed to. So anytime I feel like it I can sell that house from under your fat, lazy, hillbilly ass. And if you ever come back, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

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Movies that understand economics: #7 Morning Glory

Morning Glory

“Daybreak needs what I need, someone who believes that it can succeed. Trust me, I know you don’t have any reason to believe in me, but I work harder than anyone else. I’m in first, I’m out last. I know a shitload more about the news than someone whose daddy paid them to smoke bongs and talk semiotics at Harvard and I devote myself completely to my job. It’s what I do. It’s all I am. I… You can ask anyone.”

At this point I’m pretty sure you think I’m losing my mind (or that I am really desperate to find movies with economic premises)*–how is a silly comedy (that has a romantic subplot, but not enough of one to call it a romantic comedy) going demonstrate economics? Just trust me that I do know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t know the film, Rachel McAdams plays Becky Fuller an inexperienced executive producer who has been given the very undesirable job of bringing the worst morning news show in history up in the ratings…and her genius idea is to bring a veteran hard news anchor, played by Harrison Ford, who doesn’t want to be there, on to the very light news morning show. Hilarity and infighting ensues. But buried in this pure entertainment story are a few economic truths.

innovation

On the left are industries that live under the rules of adapt or die. On the right are organizations that don’t live with that fact…see the difference.

The first is the most basic of all economic principles at the heart of capitalism: adapt or die. The entire central plot is about brining up a failing TV show in the ratings. And the only way this happens is by throwing out old rules and changing the format of the show. This includes more sensationalism, making deals with celebrities that no other show would ever make, having the anchors bicker on air because it brings in more ratings. Adapt or die. Every company on earth (when they’re not being bailed out by morons who don’t understand capitalism) faces this basic principle. And it’s a good thing. As shown in the movie it forces the people on the TV show to adapt, to innovate, to come up with new things that work. It forces the show and the people, people who had previously given up, to come up with new ways of doing things, to be better and create things that work. Adapt or die, it is what turns $50,000+ worth of equipment in 1985 taking up probably half a ton of mass, into your smart phone that cost you $300 and about a pound of mass.

And this ties to the last two movies and the idea of creative destruction. As most companies try to avoid being the victim of creative destruction they have the choice to grow and not die. Which the show in this movie does. It is what drives a healthy economy, the need to survive forces us to grow and produce better and cheaper products.

And tied to this is this principle of adapt or die is the idea of being a leader. No organization or person can grow without being willing to make decisions.

One of the best descriptions on leadership goes as follows:

The difference between a good administrator and a bad one is about five heartbeats. Good administrators make immediate choices … [that] usually can be made to work. A bad administrator, on the other hand, hesitates, diddles around, asks for committees, for research and reports. Eventually, he acts in ways which create serious problems … A bad administrator is more concerned with reports than with decisions. He wants the hard record which he can display as an excuse for his errors … [Good administrators] depend on verbal orders. They never lie about what they’ve done if their verbal orders cause problems, and they surround themselves with people able to act wisely on the basis of verbal orders. Often, the most important piece of information is that something has gone wrong. Bad administrators hide their mistakes until it’s too late to make corrections … One of the hardest things to find is people who actually make decisions.—Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune

jimmy carter sex offender

The movie covers the importance of reporting the truth when others won’t.

And the character of Becky Fuller displays this trait perfectly. Within minutes of taking her new job she is bombarded with not only a huge amount of choices but also a grossly inept employee…but rather than saying things like “I’ll get back to you” and consult others she makes choices right there based on her own judgment. And rather than deal with a clearly toxic and useless employee she just fires him because he is absolutely worthless. She makes judgment calls and works with the fallout rather than blaming others. No company, no organization, no individual can progress without this; making immediate choices and working with the fallout. No economy can survive or grow without such leaders. A shame we don’t have anything like that on Pennsylvania Avenue.

*both may be correct to one degree or another, but that doesn’t negate my point about this film.

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Movies that understand economics # 2 The Terminal

The Terminal

 

 

The Terminal.  Given the writers, director, or lead actor, it’s quite frankly a miracle that this movie understands even that money is used to buy things let alone the numerous economic principles it does seem to get.  I’m chalking this up to one of those monkeys at typewriters moments.

 

But one of the clearest moments that this movie demonstrates economics is with the concepts of incentives, opportunity costs and comparative advantage.  Yes I know your brain is probably already trying to run away…but stay with me for a second.  In the film Victor Narvoski is held in the terminal of JFK airport because of a snafu in regulations.  He has no money, but can’t leave. But he finds that there is a system in the airport whereby returning a cart for luggage to the dispensers where they originated will give a quarter for each cart.  The quarters are offered as incentives to perform this mildly annoying task (the same reason your salary is an incentive to do all the parts of your job, even the parts you don’t like).  However, to most of us, a quarter isn’t a big incentive, thus we have no reason to waste our time putting the thing back for just a quarter (this is opportunity cost, the idea we can use resources only once, in this case, time, and we will probably get more satisfaction out of reading, or sleeping or just resting than we will out of a quarter).  However, Victor has a huge incentive to get quarters, because quarters mean food.  Also, because he doesn’t have anything else to do, whereas most people in an airport do, he has a comparative advantage over them, he can spend time getting lots of carts and returning them, whereas other people do not.  Incentives drive everything, if you don’t have the incentive to do something, it won’t get done…which is probably why Welfare shouldn’t offer about 45,000K a year in benefits…because if you do offer that much in benefits no one has any incentive to work if they can’t make more than that.

One of the things that The Terminal implicitly understands is the incredibly harmful nature of government, bureaucrats and arbitrary rules. The movie literally begins with a group of Chinese immigrants with fake passports being captured (why were they running…probably because China is a despotic hellhole, what will happen when they’re sent back?  Well if they’re lucky, death. Real refugees are seldom so lucky from a nation that has actually crucified people in the last century.)  This is what governments do, they hurt people. (Let’s not even talk about how ICE’s primary function seems to be keeping refugees and qualified workers out of the country while ensuring that welfare seeking illegals and cartels can get through.)  Of course this whole movie is about one power hungry bureaucrat making a man’s life a living hell…because they can.  And if you think such a mentality just exists in movies, ask the millions of people who are now without health insurance because one brainless bureaucrat believes she doesn’t work for the American people. What does this have to do with economics?  Everything.  Governments are needed for  economies to maintain a civil and criminal court system; to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate criminals who violate the rights of others; to maintain contract laws; to ensure a bare minimum of regulation to ensure a functioning economy…but when bare minimum use of power needed to make the system work ceases to be the goal, and it switches to power for the sake of power (which is what every petty bureaucrat wants) then economies cease to work.  Case in point back to the quarters for carts things…the idiot in charge of the system would rather pay someone (at New York City union rates, which is probably more than anyone who reads this earns) rather then let a man earn money for food.

 

The film is filled with examples or stories of people’s lives being ruined by bureaucrats. And it should be noted the general sense of fear that everyone has towards them.  (Luckily there is also a scene that explains exactly what you should do to all bureaucrats.)
And this whole situation is caused by the fact that no one anywhere in this bureaucracy was willing to use common sense for an unusual situation.

 

One final point I would like to make about economics shown here is the seeming nature of chaos in an economy.  Most people look at economics, at the flow of money, of stocks, of property, goods and investments…and see chaos.  It’s much like the terminal of an airport.  It seems like pure chaos.  But the fact is everyone in that airport is going somewhere with a plan, a departure time, and a destination.  It has the appearance of chaos but there is a very well defined order, it’s just that the normal limits of the human mind can’t see it.  The same is true of economies…lots of people see economies and see only chaos and disorder and believe since it is so disordered there needs to be more control to make it run better.  Let me ask has DHS and the TSA made an airport better?  The same is true of economies—just because you can’t see the order doesn’t mean it is not there, and your attempting to control chaos that doesn’t exist will always, always, always backfire.

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Movies that understand economics #1 Bedazzled

Elliot Richards: “This doesn’t prove anything. I could have done this myself. I even had to pay for it.”
The Devil: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Now unfortunately the nature of Hollywood and the fact that it exists on a different plane of reality (one where the economy is run by unicorns and movies that make 50 million above cost somehow were losses) a lot of the economic facts of this series are going to be more accidental truths stumbled upon by the writers and directors than intentional bedazzledmoves to show us how real economics works. However, I might be able to say that director Harold Ramis, who brought us Groundhog Day with its clear understanding of the idea that all skills can be learned with time and effort or what is really valuable in life, and Ghostbusters with its very insightful moments that the EPA is populated by dickless idiots and correct observations like, “You’ve never worked in the private sector, they expect results.” But who knows, maybe I’m reading intent where there was none…regardless, the movie Bedazzled, the story of a hapless loser who sells his soul for seven wishes from the Devil, does offer us some excellent economic lessons.

1. TANSTAAFL
Anyone familiar with Robert Heinlein’s classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress should find the acronym above very familiar. TANSTAAFL. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s one of the most basic lessons of economics. EVERYTHING has a price. Even if you don’t pay for it now or even ever…someone will pay for everything.

Our clueless hero, Elliot Richards, in Bedazzled learns the hard way that just wishing for things doesn’t work (despite the Devil warning him very clearly that there is no such thing as a free lunch).

Everything you want comes with a cost. And whether it is time, effort, blood and sweat…or just your soul…every cost will be paid. And I think this movie is very clear about this.

Richards: I don’t want another wish. […] I really don’t want it.
The Devil: What do you mean you don’t want it, you get seven wishes.
Richards: Well there are things that I want but nothing you can give me.
The Devil: What is that supposed to mean?
Richards: Well um last night when I was lying in jail I was talking to this guy. I realized that wishing just doesn’t work. All my life I’ve wished to be better looking, to be richer successful, talented, whatever. And I always thought wouldn’t it be great if someone could just wave a magic wand and make that happen. Well, I realized that it just doesn’t work by magic.
The Devil: I think I’m going to be sick.
Richards: I’ve been starting to think it isn’t really how far we go in life anyway, it’s how we get there that really matters.

Everything comes with a cost. And any time you think that there is something without a cost that you are getting something for free…be very worried because that is where the costs are the highest. Because it is often either being paid for by someone else…or it is taking something away from you that is more valuable (but less tangible) than just money or property. And, in the long run, the soul pays all debts.

Even with charity. Someone gave you a hundred dollars out of charity…it still costs them a hundred dollars and the loss of the opportunity to spend it on something else…now they may get paid back in the psychological happiness that comes from personal charity, but they will get paid back. And you will pay the cost of feeling either indebted to that person or to be worthy of the act of charity. (It’s why a welfare state is so dangerous, it strips the act of charity of all the psychological benefits and costs and merely costs the middle class their money to pay people who will not work for a living.) and thus will never “earn” anything or appreciate it and they will in the end be the bigger looser.

There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

2. Contract Law is Sacrosanct (and always read the contract)

deal with the devil

This is what a deal with the Devil looks like.

Modern society and economics is based on contract law. Be it anywhere from the social contract to your cell phone contract. And, all pun intended, the Devil is in the details.

The Devil: “Let’s look at your contract.”

It is part of the joke that the contract for Elliot’s soul is a 2,000+ page legal document printed in small font legalese. (Pro tip…anytime any kind of legal document is 2000+ pages it is the work of the Devil and should not be signed or passed).

Obamacare regs

This something worse than a deal with the Devil.

Contracts are so important that even the Devil has to abide by them, as there is an escape clause in Eliot’s contract, and as much as she hated it, she had to obey it. (Another pro tip: don’t trust anyone who fails to honor contracts; they will screw you any chance they can find.) That’s how important contract law is, even the Devil follows it. Modern economics are based on contract law and to all the anarchists out there who think you can run an economy without contract law necessary to enforce it, you’re beyond stupid. Anarchy at it’s best.

The other point here that the movie makes clear is that you should always read the contract. If you don’t read the contract and just wait to see what’s in it only after you have entered into it, you will always, always, always get burned….as Elliot finds out in how badly his wishes turn out…and as America is finding out right now.

3. Trade is only an exchange of value for value.

The Devil: Seven utterly fabulous wishes for one piddling, little soul?
Richards: […]“If it’s so useless then how come you want it so much?”

One thing to understand about modern economics is that in any legal, consensual exchange both people must receive what they consider an exchange of value for value (in fact an exchange only take place when both parties feel they are improving their situation). And if people want something, or are willing to give you something, then that means you are exchanging something of value.

True this is a variation on the free lunch principle, but it needs repeating.
If someone is willing to give you free phones or food or promises of healthcare you may want to ask why they’re giving you these things and what they want in return…and what the long term consequences of such an exchange are.

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Basic Math for Liberals

I am tired of arguing with idiots about unemployment numbers.  Stupid people (liberals) seem to think that so long as the unemployment numbers drop that this shows the economy is growing. Now I know those of you who know something about economics and statistics are about to have an aneurism over how stupid that is, but let me go over the basics of how we get unemployment numbers…and what you should really be looking at.

Minimum WageNow I’m going to try and use round numbers to help make this as simple as possible (and I’m going to gloss over a few complexities so we can get to the heart of the matter).

Let’s say you have a population of 200,000 people.

100,000 people want a job.  That means you have a job participation rate of 50%.

Now let’s say that 95,000 of those people looking for a job have a job, and 5,000 of those people don’t have a job.  That means your unemployment is 5%.  And let’s say of those 95,000 employed, 5,000 (5% of the those in the work force) of those are working at part time jobs but want full time jobs.  These people are called underemployed. The underemployment rate is the unemployment rate plus those who are underemployed.  (Under employment is usually calculated as the percent of underemployed plus the rate of unemployment, but to keep the numbers separate and simple we won’t add them together here).

Now, what idiots look at is the unemployment rate.  This is dumb, and let me explain why.

Let’s say the government does something monumentally stupid (so, status quo) like raise the minimum wage.  This will cause employers to pull back on hiring.  The first thing that will happen is that employers will either through firing the most inept or through simple attrition (when somebody leaves you don’t fill their position).  This will cause the unemployment numbers to go up.  Let’s say that there are now only 94,000 jobs, or an unemployment rate of 6%.  And idiots will be rightfully concerned…but not for long.

Why?  Because the first ones hit by minimum wage increases are young people who, without experience aren’t worth the higher wage the employer has to pay, and older people. Those who have a business are not willing to put in the money for training as it will not work as a long term investment.  And since these groups know they can’t get a job they will either continue living with mom and dad or go live with their kids and just stop looking for work.  Let’s say 2,000 people just give up looking for work. So that now means you have 98,000 looking for work, and 94,000 with a job.  Guess what unemployment is DOWN TO 4.1%  !!!! Isn’t that great! Raising the minimum wage lowered unemployment from 5% to 4.1%!!!  Of course since the participation rate dropped form 50% to 49%, that means that 1,000 fewer people are employed now, but the unemployment number dropped!

And then it gets worse. The rise in minimum wage causes inflation (as it always does) and that means companies that aren’t employing minimum wage positions will have to lay off employees or use attrition practices.  So they lay off 1,000 employees. Now we’re at 98,000 looking for work and 93,000 employed.  Back to 5.1% unemployment.  But don’t worry those 1,000 will soon find minimum wage jobs and kick out 1,000 other less qualified people from those jobs. So now you instead of 5,000 people underemployed, you now have 6,000. Underemployment has jumped from 5% to 8.8%!  But don’t worry because another 1,000 people are probably going to give up looking for work (probably more actually but let’s keep the numbers nice and round).  So now only 97,000 want to be employed.  Oh look unemployment back to 4.1% and underemployment is now only 6.1%.  It’s a miracle the unemployment numbers and underemployment numbers dropped.  Things must be doing great!

But no.  In this situation while the unemployment rate started at 5% and dropped to 4.1%, that masks the fact that there are 2,000 fewer jobs. And a 1,000 more people are earning less than they would like.  (And let’s ignore the inflation that’s going on and the fact that most of the other employed people probably aren’t getting raises – but their personal costs just went up.)

So we can see the unemployment rate is very misleading and what is important, first and foremost is the participation rate and followed by that the underemployment rate.

So when Obama touts the unemployment numbers are down keep in mind a few things.

The participation rate is at its lowest level since 1978! From a peak of just over 67% we are down to just over 63% (a 4% drop, keep in mind my example only included a 1% drop).  And this drop in participation does not seem to have come anywhere near to an end. 

 

Second keep in mind that underemployment (this is the calculation of both those underemployed and those unemployed) has gone from 7.0% in 2000 () to 17.4% (a 10% increase, and my example only had 1.1% increase).

So don’t tell me that the economy is doing well because the unemployment number is down. It’s not.  It’s doing terribly.

And it’s not just raising minimum wage that does this (and yes raising minimum wage always does this)…it’s regulations and taxes and oversight and red tape.  All government action increases the factors that make employers want to hire fewer employees. And this may be not so great for depriving people of income, hope, and jobs….but as we’ve seen it can be great for getting the unemployment numbers down. I mean if everyone would just give up looking for work, we could have 0% unemployment.

 

 

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Capitalism: The ONLY hope of Mankind

Capitalism is the only system that has been shown to raise people out of poverty. It is the only system that benefits the rich, the middle class, and the poor. It is the only system that can bring a nation out of destitution. It is the only system that works long term. It is the only system compatible with human nature. It is the only system of economics that is ethical. It is the only system of economics that is sustainable because only capitalism creates and encourages the innovation and imagination needs to deal with the constant slew of problems that life brings.

You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts.











Let me say again…You can either be in favor of Capitalism or you can be an idiot who knows nothing about economics, history, psychology, philosophy, ethics, human nature, politics, reason, logic or facts. That is all.

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No matter how destructive Obama is, I see no reason to give up on America

So it becomes very clear from the State of the Union either due to incredible arrogance and idiocy or just vile evil Obama and his ilk are out to destroy this nation.  Yeah let’s raise the minimum wage, that only ever lowers employment and hurts the economy.  Let’s spend more and tax more, because that always works.  Let’s pay only lip service to the problems abroad.  We’ve got problems in education let’s throw money at it, that always works.  Even his best example, the return on the Human Genome Project, has a bizarrely overblown number attached to it…and oh, that’s right, the private sector did better on spending and results in their concurrent research.  And gun control I’m sure that will make us all safer. Either intentionally or through idiocy, it really doesn’t matter,  Obama’s plans seem to be putting us on a one way course for economic ruin, the expansion of tyranny the world over, and the contraction of freedom and prosperity everywhere.

Flag of the United StatesSome people, clearly not the masses of idiotic liberals, but some rational people are worried about this. There is a lot of depression out there lately.  From the people who see a coming economic collapse (but the stock market is really high…yeah because a lot of long term investors just got out and this bubble is being fuelled by day traders and emotional buyers…you know just like it does before every crash…when you look at the fundamentals we’re in for some pretty bleak moments) to those who are seeing a revolution coming (not a desirable outcome by any stretch of the imagination but certainly one that will happen if this idiot were to actually make the move against private ownership of guns he seems to be suggesting).  Any honest look for the long term outlook of this nation is worrisome. And many are worried.

 

But I’m not.

I know liberals, and probably libertarians as well, have a problem with this, but there is something truly special about this nation.

This nation has been knocked down over and over again.  This nation has not just beat but defied odds, defied likelihood, defied certain destruction.  We have come so close to death so many times, and each time like a Phoenix risen from the mess we have created.

 “Some people believe that our Declaration and Constitution were written by very brilliant men, others believe that they were divinely inspired when they wrote it—I believe it was a bit of both.”

Go on name for me one other time there were as many great minds in one place?

Go on name for me one other time there were as many great minds in one place?

The documents were written by men, albeit brilliant men, but men nonetheless, who were capable of error and thus you could not claim absolute perfection in their documents…but also the beliefs and ideas in these documents represented an immeasurable leap forward in human society and that at some level the hand of God was present.  Name for me a time when you would have an Adams, a Jefferson, a Washington, a Franklin all in the same room together.  History provides few men of such insight, intelligence, and character (not that they were perfect, but they were certainly ahead of their time by massive steps); occasionally you get two of them together at the same time; at very special moments you get three together at once…at both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention you had whole rooms of these men.  Please tell me of another time in history when you had such a grouping (and to see it happen twice in one generation).  To a group of men who believed in ideals of right and true being more important than their personal fortunes (a good portion of the signers of the Declaration went broke, many were tortured all of them suffered for signing that document…not one recanted their signature.)  How do you not see the hand of providence in that?

If more divinely inspired words have been written, I do not know about them.

How do you not see it in:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Please tell me which passage of the Tanakh, the New Testament, the teaching of Buddha, the Gita, the Tao or any other holy book surpasses that passage in its understanding of the relationship between God and man (that we are given free will and liberty by our creator with the expectation that we will use them), that understands the teleology, the purpose, the end of life (to achieve Happiness), and how men should treat one another (not violating the rights of others, but setting up a society to protect them from those that do seek to violate those rights).  The heart of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics answered correctly in one sentence.  And you don’t think God had anything to do with that?  Do you see the hand of God in anything?

And then you look at our history.  Time and time again, if Vegas odds makers had existed from the 1750’s to today, you would have bet against the survival of the U.S. over and over again.  Yet somehow we’re still here.  The history of America is often the history of convenient accidents.  Convenient in that reinforcements were mistakenly diverted from helping General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, letting the Americans win when they most needed a win.  Convenient that when Lee, a general of unquestionable skill, was a week’s march from capturing D.C. he has the 3 dumbest days of his life at a little town in Pennsylvania.  Convenient that all of our carriers were out of harbor on December 6.  Convenient that we found the Japanese Navy almost by chance at Midway.  To name a few, there are so many others.  In science, in economics, in politics, we have been blessed with having the right people in the right place in the right time over and over again.  You can believe in chance, I don’t.

I don’t believe in chance and I don’t believe we get all these lucky breaks just because…

We make mistakes, and dear God have we made some abhorrent ones.   Liberals love to point out all the evil things we have done, ignoring that at anytime in history, we didn’t even rank in anything but the top third of what the rest of the world was doing at that time.  Oh and I know pointing that out is wrong, because that’s their culture.  Oh that’s right anyone else does something worse than America and it’s racist to hold them to the same standard…but we have to hold America to the standard of perfection (which, ironically, shows that even liberals believe in American Exceptionalism, otherwise why hold it and it alone to such a standard).  We’re not perfect, no one is.  But we have always been the beacon that sings to the best in humanity, not the example that speaks to the worst.

We’re the nation that fought to create a republic where the haves and have nots gave equal measure.  We’re the nation that fought our own citizens to free slaves.  We’re the nation that pioneered capitalism and law that gave liberty and opportunity and progress to more people than any other country in history.  We’re the place where “tired, the poor, the huddled masses” come to be energetic, successful and stand on their own feet.  We’re the country that conquers whole nations so that others may be free then tries to rebuild them and then leaves without tribute or power.  If you don’t think we’re the “shinning city on the hill” you don’t know history, philosophy or human nature.  We’re not perfect, we’re not always right, but we are consistently the nation that calls for the best in humanity to put down the worst.

Too often I think people forget that this is a nation where people still regularly risk their life to get to.  America-or-die isn’t a slogan it’s a fact of existence.  Whether you were born here or came here you should take more than just a day out of every year to remember what a blessing this country is.  Of course there are some ignorant jackasses out there, who don’t seem to understand this blessing who say “I didn’t sign up for a country that’s the rest of the world’s police, I just happened to be born into it.”

And these ideas are important.  This is a nation founded on the purest, most noble ideas yet to grace the face of the Earth and even though we waver we always come back to them.  And that is why I think we see the hand of Providence, yeah I said it, in our history.  This country should have fallen by now, but it hasn’t and one or two times you could put it up to the American nature of not giving up and our ingenuity.  But time and time again everything has lined up just right for us, in ways I can’t see for any other nation in modern history.

For some reason we have been pulled back from the brink, and I believe it is because of the truth and righteousness of our ideals. And we haven’t lived up to them yet.  We haven’t spread them over the world.  We haven’t finished being the shinning city on the hill.  So I can’t see why we would have been pulled back all those other times and simply let go this time.

I have faith that some higher power has a purpose for America that has still yet to be completed, so I am not worried too much over the next few years.  Yes I know they will be terrible, but I know that something better is on the other side.  That what I fight for and strive for is not in vain and that I will not witness the end of this nation and its ideals, but rather see them rise again, stronger, brighter, more just and right than they ever have before.

And yes you can whine about how I’m believing in faith, and God, and something you don’t believe in.  But odds are you’re one of the people I’m fighting against, so I don’t really care for anything you have to say about my faith.

And for those of you who do have faith but are having a hard time to have hope…do you really believe that the ideal this nation stands for would be abandoned after all this time?  I doubt it.

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