FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #86: “Smug, all-knowing condescension camouflages a vacuous philosophical basis.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 4th, 2011

Did the Ivy League make George W. Bush an Idiot?  And, if so, is Barack Obama also an Idiot?

Have you ever been belittled by a liberal?  After getting pulled into a conversation, say, about George W. Bush?  Or Ronald Reagan?  I have.  And often.  So often that I avoid these debates with liberals anymore.  Because you can’t debate with liberals.

I remember after George W. Bush won reelection.  Two liberals were having a discussion near me at work.  They just couldn’t believe how stupid the American people were.  One was a fifty year old hippy who still dressed like she was 20.  The other had a love affair with France.  Even loved Napoleon.  Funny.  As she hated George W. Bush for waging war.  And he didn’t wage half the war Napoleon did.

Anyway, I piped up.  I said why are Americans so stupid?  For reelecting George W. Bush?  They said because George W. Bush was an idiot.  I asked them to elaborate.  They did not.  Apparently, there was nothing more to say.  No specific examples.  No discussion of underlying philosophies.  Just that George W. Bush was an idiot.  Case closed.  An idiot, I might add, that was educated in their beloved liberal Ivy League.  The same Ivy League that educated Barack Obama.  And the majority of the power players in Washington.

Liberals know Everything and can Say Anything no matter how Silly and Asinine it Is

Of course, it didn’t end there.  Because I didn’t accept ‘he’s an idiot’ as an intelligible response to my question why were Americans so stupid, guess what?  I was stupid.  I was one of the great uneducated masses who should not be allowed to vote in their preferred world.  Then the ridicule came.

Their only response to my question was name calling.  Of the president.  And the American people.  No ideological discussion whatsoever.  And they laughed at me with that all knowing condescension.  They were liberals.  They knew everything.  And could say anything.  No matter how silly and asinine it was.  And because I question them I hated the poor.  I was a warmonger.  And a fascist.

The last was rather amusing.  Because I was a conservative.  Still am.  And conservatives hate fascism.  Or corporatism.  Big time government involvement in the private sector economy.  Like they want.  Making them the fascists.  Not me.  From what I could glean they were in favor of the state redistributing wealth.  Taking from the rich to give to the poor.  Like the hippy protestors of the Sixties.  They just wanted to stick it to the man.  Have sex (the old hippy had a bumper sticker saying something about being proud to be an ex-porn star.  I don’t think she was.  She just liked being provocative.  And having lots of sex.  Based on the conversations she had within earshot).  And, of course, decriminalize pot.

Liberals hate Corporations, Bankers and Republicans

They were your quintessential liberals.  Ignorant.  They hated Republicans because they want to take their freedoms away.  Because it’s Republicans that keep drugs illegal.  It’s Republicans that want to criminalize abortion.  Take away your welfare.  Who refuse to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.  Who let people get rich.  And refused to confiscate rich people’s wealth when they get rich.

They hate Republicans because they are too friendly to corporate America.  Who think more of their shareholders (the corporation owners who hire people for the express purpose of making a profit for them).  Than the American people.  And enslave the American people to maximize profits.  By charging high prices for expensive goods.  Charging interest on loaned money.  And tricking American people into living beyond their means and accumulating debt.  That they charge interest on.

Liberals hate corporations.  And Republicans.  They would like to abolish interest.  And all debt.  From sovereign debt.  To credit card debt.  Just make it go away.  And let the evil bankers just write it off.  They would like to have free health care for everyone.  And a minimum living wage for everyone.  Whether they work or not.  That’s their kind of freedom.  Of course, to have it they’ll have to bring back the institution of slavery.

Liberals Created an Aristocracy for themselves by Taxing the Productive People to Excess

Yes, you heard right.  Their freedom is another’s slavery.  For they want a welfare state.  Where the poor get everything they could ever want from cradle to grave.  And how do you pay for all of this free stuff?  By taxation, of course.  Before the government redistributes any wealth someone has to create it first.  People with jobs.  Or who own businesses.  People that have value that trade with others who have value in the free market economy.  We are traders.  And you can’t trade with someone who doesn’t produce anything of value.

Money came into being as a way to make this trading things of value easier.  People traded their things of value (goods and/or services) for money.  Then traded that money for other things of value they wanted.  It made going to the market a whole lot easier.  You didn’t have to find people to trade with who had what you wanted while having what they wanted.  You simply found what you wanted.  And paid for it.  With the money you had from selling your things of value.

Government grew from taxing these productive people.  At first just enough to provide the public goods of society.  Then liberals created an aristocracy for themselves by taxing the productive people to excess.  For liberals don’t create anything of value.  They get worthless college degrees and get worthless jobs.  In the public sector.  Or in the private sector that survives on public sector funding, i.e., crony capitalism.  They are parasites.  Living off of the productive people.  Who pay for the welfare state.

Houses are Built when Productive People Trade different Sets of Skill for Money

So let’s play make believe.  Let’s say the liberals get their way.  Like the old hippy and France lover.  Let’s say they take all the wealth from the rich.  They abolish all debt.  Make it a crime to loan money.  What will that do?  Make home owning a thing of the past for one.  Because most Americans could never buy a house without a mortgage.

Wait a minute, the liberals will scream.  That won’t happen.  Because government will just give houses to the people.  Really?  But who will build them?  If people can’t get a mortgage to pay a builder, how will the builder pay the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, etc., who build these houses?  People don’t work for free.  You see, these skilled trades trade their skills (carpentry, electrical, plumbing, etc.) with builders.  Builders trade their skill (financing and construction management) with skilled trades.  Banks trade their skills (mortgage banking) with builders.  This is how people build houses.  Productive people trade different sets of skill for money.  The end result is that people can get a mortgage and buy a house.  With the money they earn from trading their skills.

So if the liberals get their way and get rid of the things they hate then there is only one way to build houses.  Slavery.  Forcing carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc, to work for the state.  For free.  Like a slave.  So the state can redistribute their wealth (i.e., their skill) to others.  Because people won’t willingly give their skills away for free.  That’s why they join unions.  To get the best deal they can get for their skills.  Which is another thing liberals will have to get rid of to live in their utopia.  Unions.

Liberals are about as Ignorant as they Come and have no Understanding of Basic Economics

Liberals have a smug, all-knowing condescension for people who don’t share their views.  In their minds they are brilliant people.  Because they parrot what other liberals say.  Because in their minds they think that makes them sound brilliant.  But they’re not.  They are about as ignorant as they come.  They have no understanding of basic economics.  And their pretentious airs only camouflage a vacuous philosophical basis.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #39: “Socialism is easier said than done.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 9th, 2010

Capitalism vs. Socialism

Socialism as a political/economic theory is pretty involved.  With an involved history.  And if you’re suffering insomnia one night I recommend reading some of it with a glass of warm milk.  Should put you right to sleep.

Let me simplify it a bit.  To begin with, by ‘socialism’ I mean any form of collectivism (socialism, communism, fascism, statism, social democracy, etc.).  They’re all similar.  Just variations on a theme.  And they all suffer the same defects.  Three of which I summarize here:

  • Public (instead of private) ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange
  • Put the common good before individual wants or desires
  • Equality of outcomes

That’s not everything.  But it’s the 3 big reasons why socialism fails.  Basically, socialism is the opposite of capitalism.  In fact, socialism was created to defeat capitalism.  The East-West rivalry during the Cold War was the final showdown between the two systems.  And we know how that turned out.  (In case you don’t, capitalism won).

Public (instead of private) ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange

Mikhail Gorbachev asked the great Margaret Thatcher how she fed her people.  Her reply stunned him.  She did nothing.  The Soviet Union was struggling to feed her people with their socialist command economy.  And they couldn’t do it.  They who had great tracts of some of the most fertile farmland in the world.  And yet they still had to import grain from their arch nemesis.  The United States.  To keep famine at bay.  The free markets of capitalism didn’t have to struggle to feed her people, though.  The United States had food to spare.  And even though Great Britain is an island nation that had to import much of her food, there were no famine fears in Great Britain.  The socialist just couldn’t understand how that was possible.

One of the problems with socialism is that it ignores market forces.  And perverts the economic decision making process.  In a free market, market forces maximize the use of scarce resources that have alternative uses.  The market does this through the laws of supply and demand.  And prices.  Things high in demand but low in supply have high prices.  This ensures there is enough of that supply available for those who really need it.  Anyone who pushed a car to the gas pump during the gas shortages in the 1970s understands this.  When the Nixon administration kept prices artificially low, everyone bought and used gas until the supply ran out.  If we had let prices rise to their true market price, those who didn’t absolutely need gas would have cut back on their purchases, leaving gas available to those who really needed it and were willing to pay a high price for it.

When the state takes over the economy, politicians make economic decisions for political reasons.  They ignore the ‘invisible hand’ of the market place.  In the Soviet Union, the state boasted about its industrial output and filled stores with tractor parts no one wanted to buy.  Meanwhile, people stood in line for hours in hopes of buying soap or toilet paper.  And no matter how hard they tried they just couldn’t increase the yield of some of the world’s most fertile farmland.

Put the common good before individual wants or desires

Doing what’s best for the common good sounds noble.  And easy to do.  We all agree our children should be safe.  And should have enough to eat.  And that our schools should serve them breakfast each morning.  And teach them about contraception.  Well, okay, it’s not that easy to do.  Because different people want different things.  And different people think different things are better for the common good.

This is the problem of putting the common good before our individual wants or desires.  Few can agree on what the common good is.  We know our own wants and desires.  But we have no idea what other people want or desire.  Unless we ask them.  But does that even help in determining the common good?  Get a group of your friends and family together.  Make it at least 10 people.  Now get the ten of you to agree on a movie to see.  You know what will happen?  First of all, you’ll waste a lot of time saying, “I don’t care.  What do you want to see?”  Then people will start suggesting movies.  And for every one suggested, someone will vote it down.  This will go on until you finally arrive at a movie that no one wants to see.  But because it’s the movie everyone hates the least, everyone’s willing to settle for it.

Now imagine that little exercise with a thousand people.  The agreeing process will be even more difficult.  In fact, it may be impossible.  It is very unlikely that one thousand people will agree to anything.  And if they try they will waste an enormous amount of time in the process.  No.  Someone will have to decide for the group.  Someone will have to weigh everyone’s opinion and decide what is best for the common good. No matter how many people disagree with this one person’s decision.  F.A. Hayek wrote a book about this.  The Road to Serfdom.  He said socialism ends in dictatorship.  Because there’s no efficient means to determine what’s best for the common good.  He predicted this would happen in Germany with their creeping state socialism.  And Adolf Hitler proved him right.

Equality of Outcomes

If a business has a good year, they tend to be more generous at the holidays.  Let’s say a business owner wants to give out some Christmas bonuses to thank her employees for all their hard work.  She goes to her accountant.  Asks what’s the maximum she can give out without giving herself any cash-flow problems at the beginning of the new year (taxes, insurance, etc.).  The accountant crunches some numbers and says $50,000.  If she has 15 employees, that’s about $3,300 each.  Which should make for a pretty Merry Christmas.  Now, let’s say she has 125 employees.  That works out to a $400 bonus per employee.   Which won’t be quite as merry.

The lesson learned?  The more people included in the getting of something, the less each one gets.  And so it is with socialism.  The only way to get equality in outcomes is to give everyone less.  Sure, we can afford to give Congress people a Cadillac health insurance plan.  But we could never afford to give the same coverage to everyone.  To be able to give coverage to all the people, each person will have to get less.

And they will continue to get less.  As costs go up, it is difficult to maintain the same level of government benefits.  Eventually, they’ll have to raise taxes to cover the higher costs.  And when they can’t raise taxes anymore, they’ll have to reduce the amount of benefits.  Or, in other words, they’ll have to ration benefits.  A bureaucrat will have to decide who should get what.  Which could easily turn health care into politics.  A political opponent needs an expensive cancer treatment?  So sorry.  We’ve already reached our quota this year.  Try again next year.

Socialism is Slavery

What it comes down to is this; socialism really fails for one reason.  It goes against human nature.  It only works when we sacrifice our wants and desires so that others may have their wants and desires.  It’s not trying to keep up with the Jones.  It’s helping the Jones get ahead of you.  It’s living your life to serve others.  And there’s another word for that.  Slavery.  Hence the title of Hayek’s book.  The Road to Serfdom.  For socialism to work, the state must become a dictatorship.  And we must become its slaves.  But few willingly volunteer for servitude.  So, given the choice, we will ultimately choose to make socialism fail.

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LESSONS LEARNED #2 “The international community prefers liberals over conservatives because it’s easier to fool a naïve idealist than a wise realist.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2010

EVERY GENERATION HAS had naïve idealists.  Even the founding generation.  Thomas Jefferson was an intellectual.  Kind of quiet and shy, he found solace in his books.  He knew more than most of the Founding Fathers.  But he was an idealist.  He saw the world more as how it should be than how it was.

Jefferson would become the leader of the opposition party…while serving as Washington’s Secretary of State.  The main split was between Jefferson and the Secretary of the Treasurer, Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton was smart like Jefferson but wasn’t quiet or shy.  And, unlike Jefferson, he understood commerce and capital markets.

They had two different views of America.  Hamilton saw a rich manufacturing base while Jefferson saw farmers.  Jefferson thought Hamilton’s views were too British and called him a monarchist.  He didn’t trust him or his financial schemes and opposed them at every opportunity.

Hamilton admired the British Empire.  He wanted an American Empire, using the British as the model.  Jefferson hated all things British.  He also owed a fortune to British creditors, another reason to hate both Great Britain and things financial.

When trouble brewed between the British and the French, Hamilton wanted to side with the British.  Jefferson with the French.  Washington wanted to stay neutral.  And did.  But when that neutrality clearly favored the British, Jefferson was furious. 

America’s interests, though, clearly aligned with Great Britain.  America’s trade had always been with Great Britain.  As a British colony, she was there to provide raw materials to the mother country.  During the Revolutionary War, there was limited trade with France, but she didn’t throw open her markets to American goods.  Then there was the British Fleet.  It ruled the seas.  An infant nation just couldn’t take on the British Empire and restore her economy.

Jefferson was a great philosopher.  But he wasn’t a great executive.  Idealists rarely are.  He was both governor of Virginia and president of the United States.  He put neither of these accomplishments on his tomb stone.  Even he knew.  He was a thinker of great thoughts.  He wasn’t a doer of great things.  The British leaning neutrality provided peace and prosperity while much of Europe was embroiled in the Napoleonic wars.  He was wrong on this one.

IN GERMANY THERE was National Socialism.  In the Soviet Union there was communism.  In Italy there was fascism.  And in the United States there was the New Deal.  They all shifted control of business to the government.  They all rejected capitalism.  They all favored state planning.  They all favored putting the collective good above individual self-interest.  And they all had charismatic leaders.

These charismatic leaders, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Roosevelt (FDR), were elitists.  They shared a condescending contempt for those who clung onto the old, unenlightened ways.  It was an era of progressive state power.  And through their will and charisma they were building a new world order.

War would make fascism and National Socialism enemies of the United States.  But FDR still had ‘Uncle Joe’.  He had a hot and cold love affair with Stalin.  It was hot until 1939.  It turned cold when Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non aggression pact and invaded, conquered and partitioned Poland.  It turned hot again when Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union.

Roosevelt refused to hear criticisms of Stalin.  He knew Stalin.  He could work with him.  He could charm him.  Just who was charming who, though, was a matter of debate.  Soviet spies where everywhere in Roosevelt’s administration.  And, when they met to discuss post war policy, against advice, Roosevelt foolishly lodged at the Soviet embassy which was bugged (he wanted to show Stalin that he trusted him).  The Soviets listened in on all private discussions of the American delegation.  Stalin played him like a piano. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.  Roosevelt gave away Eastern Europe and condemned them to the misery that was life behind the Iron Curtain.  And that was just the start of the Cold War.  Communism, as an ideology, would be responsible for more deaths than any other despot or empire the world has ever known.  And Stalin was the architect of most of that.  If not personally, his style of harsh communism known as Stalinism.  And FDR, in his naïve idealism, was there in the beginning to help him on his way.

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