"Wherefore We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong, that We may point out...as they really are, men who are badly disguised." Pope St. Pius X, September 8, 1907, Pascendi Dominici Gregis


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Market & The Curse of Material Prosperity

We have much to clarify as we delve into the substance of this post. Certainly we are not suggesting that material prosperity is a curse per se. What is missing is a healthy indifference to materialism.

The real curse is socialism. Why won't it go away? No system has been tried so many times and failed so many times. It should be, and is at least intellectually, a forgone conclusion that it does not work. Yet, it remains an answer to a question society repeatedly asks itself: what are we to do with all this wealth the market has created?

This is the question that underlies nearly every discussion made by proponents and detractors of the market. The argument nearly universally advanced is the market creates the most wealth. And this much is true. But it is merely a side-effect of the market, and not the justification for the market per se.

The free market is a set of institutions that first emerged during the Middle Ages which recognized self-ownership, responsibility, private property and the morals of Catholicism as norms. The market is truly a moral order first, and to smear it with crediting to it the material benefits it produces alone is a crime. The free market is a moral good, per se. And it is fitting that it should produce a prosperous society. But the prosperity is not to be desired for its own sake. This will always lead us to socialism, wherein those who have not achieved certain standards of right action are nevertheless materially rewarded as if they had. If we desire the effect of material prosperity absent its moral aspects for everyone, socialism must result.

Thus, the curse of modern man is his lack of indifference to the wealth that surrounds him. The more he focuses on the wealth itself, the habits and institutions that produce it will disappear. The free market and its fruits are first and foremost an institution of right character and not pure materialism.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Political Left Is Ugly; The Political Right Is Ugly Too

It's fun to watch the liberals meltdown. That's when you keep your eyes on the conservatives.

A timeless lesson from Ron Paul.



It's tempting as someone who values some sense of order to jump on the liberal lambasting bandwagon. Just look at those poor pathetic fools, dreaming of their long discredited socialistic paradise, a world where all incentives to act in a civilized manner are destroyed, and no one is sure what gender he even is.

That's when you have to keep your head above the fray. As we've outlined before, popular conservative figures in America have the function of power consolidation, instead of overturning the liberal attacks on society as you might think (or hope). So, you get to make fun of liberals for four (or eight) years, but you still end up in a country where all incentives to act in a civilized manner are [a little more slowly] destroyed, and [an increasing number of people are not] sure what gender they even are.

 "The Radical Center" is the ultimate, more hidden source of the West's oh-so-slick, glossy and eloquent self-decapitation at the hands of what appears expedient for a brief moment in history, while the destruction of all the West ever meant continues unabated. There's nothing conservative about this at all.

It's great to see Ron still at his finest in this most recent YouTube video.

If you are concerned by this dynamic, the posts of Charles Burris at LRC Blog are apropos:

Michael J. Glennon’s book on the dual nature of the American government, National Security and Double Government, is one of the most disturbing and disconcerting I have ever read. He posits that there is the “Madisonian” public government of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches found outlined in the Constitution, operating under the rule of law, with separation of powers, checks and balances, and openness and transparency.  This is contrasted with the “Trumanite” clandestine deep state, established by the National Security Act of 1947 during the Truman regime. On every page he uncovers virtually unknown material in intricate detail and in such depth as I have never encountered before.

The section in the book concerning the federal judiciary absolutely blew me away. In particular how he detailed the “Trumanite” background of Supreme Court appointees and how they were vetted for their deferential views on “national security” while the establishment media presstitutes focused upon diversionary “hot button” issues such as abortion, women’s and gay “rights,” gun control, etc. I believe it to be the most powerful section in the book.

When the formal review process for the next Supreme Court justice is underway, it is imperative that the American people not acquiesce their grave responsibility but forcefully press their elected Senators and the news media to question and hold fully accountable the nominee for their viewpoint on vital national security issues such as the Constitutional power to declare war, Habeas Corpus, warrantless detention, warrantless surveillance, torture, rendition, national security letters, and the constitutionality of Continuity of Government (COG) and covert operations of the intelligence agencies.
Does the judicial nominee hold that the Constitution established a federal decentralized compact or republic of sovereign independent states granting explicit delegated powers to the general government for specific purposes while retaining their reserved powers for themselves? Or does the United States simply pose as a sham elective democracy but is in fact a militarized despotism with actual power residing in the hands of a secret oligarchy that is arbitrary, capricious, and unaccountable, a tyranny lacking transparency, justice, or restraint?

You could always share these sentiments with your Senator, who will vote on whether to confirm the nominee.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Question of Usury Finally Addressed



As Guido Hulsmann explains, the category of usury applies more to a corrupted form of commerce operating outside the norms of the free market [like the one we have today], than the market itself. With private property and other elemental matters of justice upheld, usury becomes a non sequitur. Guido makes this clear within the very Aristotelian-Thomistic framework the Church has long championed.

A little overdue, but, Brian McCall please call your office. - Not that McCall is critically wrong in his analysis itself, but this should alleviate some of his confused antagonism towards Tom Woods and the like.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Social Atomization Is A Process of Statism, Not Capitalism


What social phenomena account for the increasing loneliness and psychological disconnectedness of modern society? This is actually a very simple question, but as is typical of modern ‘teaching birds to fly’ so-called intellectuals, the canned answer propagated is both the inverse of the truth and the one that soothes the status-anxieties of intellectuals who like to blame all social ills on the very system that most readily alerts the rest of humanity to the lack of remunerable talent the typical intellectual has to offer.

Capitalism has very little to gain from increasing societal atomization. In fact, most businesses would benefit from dealing with people in groups. One need not go much further than looking to the discounts provided to larger volume customers – insurance companies for instance provide group pricing discounts that demonstrate their preference for dealing with people in groups rather than as individuals. Groupon has turned this into its specific business model. This type of efficiency can be found throughout all industries. Any business dealer would prefer a larger volume of purchases combined with the reduction in interactions that customer-groups entail. It shouldn’t matter if we are talking about tribes, extended families, nuclear families, clans, church groups or spontaneous flash mobs, assuming they are peaceful customers, business owners will realize time, cost and volume efficiencies in dealing with organized groups rather than individuals.

Here the socialist-minded intellectual will interject, in Freudian slip fashion, that this ignores the labor side of the equation. Businesses would prefer a world of single men and women who compete for jobs ruthlessly against each other, no consideration given to family or relational concerns. But there are ample replies to this contention. For one, if society cohered more of groups as we discussed in the last paragraph, then there would be in general less need for, at a minimum, sales labor in the first place. Second, unlike the cartoonish account of society given by socialists, entrepreneurs and business owners are not a stratified class of “capitalists” “at war” with working people. These capitalists, small time bourgeois among them, are themselves customers, laborers and members of the groups in question in turn, if not concurrently. Few are the capitalists that think of labor as something to be broken down and reconstructed; more common are those who will themselves place their group and social identities as higher than their position as capitalist, unless incentivized from the outside to do otherwise. And this brings us to the most fundamental point: the norms of capitalism do not allow big businesses to forcibly tear down the family, or uneconomically provide the types of functions that have long been and are more effectively provided at the group level. If private property rights are upheld in the broadest and strictest sense, limiting the spheres of state coercion, there is little capitalists can do to change familial and group relationships, and anything they endeavor will, as above, come as a cost to the business rather than tend to increase profits.

We can admit in capitalism there are no clear incentives to the destruction of the family and other social groups. The multiple effects of the destruction of the family will play out in different ways, favoring and disfavoring various parts of various businesses as it goes.  That capitalists themselves will come from and remain parts of various groups from the start will serve as inertial force against any business that would attempt to parlay profits into some kind of social project. And businesses themselves increase their profits in general by dealing with people in groups rather than individually.

The state, on the other hand, as an entity that by its very nature claims a monopoly of some form of minimal allegiance from the people within its geographic area of operation, would have many reasons to oppose in near paranoid fashion the formation of potentially competing groups. The state will often attempt to separate groups to its liking; those that show a willingness to cooperate within the state’s parameters are often granted tax and other legislative benefits, while those groups that demonstrate a willingness to remain aloof, independent or even attempt to displace the state by providing similar “services” are often ruthlessly destroyed. Moreover, the state is the only social entity that claims it can "legitimately" take resources from other social groups without their permission. If there is any truth to the assertion that the largest capitalists benefit in terms of labor cost from increasing social atomization, it would be hard to see how we have arrived at our present predicament without state subsidized education, welfare and child support benefits offered by the state to “single” mothers, social security, Medicare and Medicaid. Functions that any natural society long placed in the hands of groups – usually extended families – have slowly but surely by legislative means been handed over to the state – education of the young, support for the elderly and infirm, even providing for children have all been increasingly monopolized by the state to the disadvantage of groups of all kinds.

The evidence abounds – complete social atomization is and can only be a product of statism. While businesses themselves rely on other functional social entities at some level for their own continued existence – customers, suppliers, investors, etc. – the state is the only institution that can monopolize all of these functions crowding out all other groups and creating a “society” that exists only of itself. Today, the state even compounds this, in that it attempts to alienate from itself, already attempting to monopolizing the entire social sphere, anyone who demonstrates any compunction contrary to its campaign of increased social atomization. It's mantra seems to be: all are acting in concert to be atomized, so we would tell you to get out if we weren't demanding that you stay in. Truly this is institutionalized social pathology.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

America To Finally Trade Ex-Dividend?


At the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s there was much expectation that benefits would accrue to the East and the West. And while many of the nations of Eastern Europe received their peace dividend, successive administrations of Bushes, Clintons and Obamas ensured the United States would not withdraw her worldwide military presence nor receive her share of the post-Cold War savings. 



That is until now, if there is any truth in this. According to Max Keiser, Trump is planning to finally deliver the long overdue peace-dividend advocated by staunch conservative voices like then Congressman Ron Paul by “reduc[ing] defense spending to pare the huge US debt.” To make the title clear generally when an investment trades on the market “ex-dividend” pre- existing shareholders become entitled to a payout. If Trump successfully arranges a withdrawal from our unnecessary overseas military presence, his plan includes “allocat[ing] part of the defense-spending-cut dividend to stimulus programs, pushing credit opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises and infrastructure spending.”


And while we’re sure Congressman Paul would have preferred straight up tax cuts to leverage-inducing “credit opportunities,” we could all rest assured that the world will have taken a step back from things like unnecessary nuclear confrontation.


The RT article indicates “cutting the Pentagon budget in half will cut the stock market in half and cause a short and sharp recession in the US.” This is certainly possible given the amount of excess liquidity in the system today. But an economy is more than stocks and numbers like “GDP” are just that – numbers, subject to all sorts of gimmicks and distortions.


Keynesians too would predict a massive recession with the end of government spending on World War II in the late 40’s and early 50’s, but while this happened on paper, the average American experienced nothing but boom times. This Mercatus article explains:


In 1944, government spending at all levels accounted for 55 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). By 1947, government spending had dropped 75 percent in real terms, or from 55 percent of GDP to just over 16 percent of GDP. Over roughly the same period, federal tax revenues fell by only around 11 percent. Yet this “destimulation” did not result in a collapse of consumption spending or private investment. Real consumption rose by 22 percent between 1944 and 1947, and spending on durable goods more than doubled in real terms. Gross private investment rose by 223 percent in real terms, with a whopping six-fold real increase in residential- housing expenditures.

The private economy boomed as the government sector stopped buying munitions and hiring soldiers. Factories that had once made bombs now made toasters, and toaster sales were rising. On paper, measured GDP did drop after the war: It was 13 percent lower in 1947 than in 1944. But this was a GDP accounting quirk, not an indication of a stalled private economy or of economic hardship. A prewar appliance factory converted to munitions production, when sold to the government for $10 million in 1944, added $10 million to measured GDP. The same factory converted back to civilian production might make a million toasters in 1947 that sold for $8 million—adding only $8 million to GDP. Americans surely saw the necessity for making bombs in 1944, but just as surely are better off when those resources are used to make toasters. More to the point, growth in private spending continued unabated despite a bean-counting decline in GDP.


While vested interests always attempt to scare Americans into thinking any government spending cut will spell economic shrinkage, the truth is just the opposite. A decrease in government spending can free up resources to entrepreneurs and consumers, who if they act prudentially can begin to grow the economy in ways that benefit everyone not just arms-dealers and politicians.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Good, The Bad and The Pretty

Central banks take themselves a little too seriously. The gargantuan accounting irregularities that are considered today to be merely part of our system, take future social security outlays for example, are enabled by a fraudulent fractional reserve banking system that has never had to be fully reset. While the Fed may have itself fooled into thinking it keeps the con-game going in a highly contrived media spectacle, in which so-called pundits hang on every change in syllable that emanates from the august Eccles building, the actual confidence lies in the petro-dollar system. Economic "growth" has always enabled once again the remains of our off-kilter system each time natural market processes have, overcoming Fed manipulation, attempted to reimpose some semblance of reality. The gimmick in this whole thing becomes clear when we realize that much of the economic "progress" that has taken place during the last 100 years was not "growth" at all. Growth implies an overall increase in the availability of resources, usually made possible by technology, which in short allows us to create more with less. The enlargement of our production activities during this timeframe, however, has mostly come about because we are depleting resources, such as easily accessible oil. As energy becomes harder to come-by, even marginally, "accounting magic" will tend to fail sooner and sooner.

While the techno-narcissists in Silicon Valley seem to be betting on technology to save us, and even those more circumspect among us tend to agree, it will not allow us to live in the highly contrived, artificial ways we do today. Driving everywhere, treating everything and everyone as disposable, including our own God-given gender, requires an expenditure of resources that nature would never put up with in the long run.

There seem to be two competing trajectories. One, the sociopaths at the top of many of our current institutions will succeed in getting a great portion of humanity to buy into its self-destructive narrative, tending towards a greatly impoverished, if not outright culled broader population allowing a psychopathic remainder population to live high on the hog [robot?] an entirely empty, hedonistic and artificial lifestyle devoid of trust, beauty, and strength.

The other way is that all of the excesses of the past 100 and especially 50 years give way to the more normal human experience that prevaled before energy become the largest factor in our economic situation. Men will lead families again. Families will largely care for themselves. Small-scale agriculture will re-emerge and the leviathan states which have been the biggest culprits in blowing through the Earth's most valuable capital stock, easily accessible hydrocarbons, in their futile quest for omniscience and totalitarian control will subside and be replaced by self-governance and local governance.

The truth is, and we have Our Lady's word for it, a period of peace will be granted to the world. At some point, when a critical contingent of society realizes the jig is up, the music has stopped, and it's time to go home, they will do just that. And America in the 21st century will resemble more closely the America of the 19th. What transpires between now and then will likely be a LOT of volatility.

Just as Russia is slowly returning to her own more traditional culture in the aftermath of mass-socialism, what remains of the West will one way or another face the same music on the other side of the cultural-Marxist collapse. Until then, you can take our entire way of life with a grain of salt.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Free Markets Are Built Only With Faith


While the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union took many, if not the leading Austrian economists, by surprise, perhaps the greatest surprise is the continuing triumph of dialectical materialism in the West. While Communist tendencies in the East were instated wholesale via revolution, the haphazard process in the West, where purer forms of capitalism are transmuted by incremental reforms after each economic crisis into a greater socialism, has continued by piecemeal to the point today where the realization of a totalitarian socialist, cash-free republic seems but one or two more crises away.

While Marx incorrectly saw these "crises" as inherent in capitalism itself, the internal logic of free markets with robust property rights presents a highly stable regime. See Nassim Taleb, for an example of mathematical, non-Austrian confirmation of this fact. Instead, Western governments and central banks have served as the instigators of such crises in order to off-balance what started as the best functioning system.

This cohesion of the free-market, this internal logical consistency between the nature of human beings as capable of reason, capable both of realizing their prioritizable needs and the benefits of peaceful, decentralized cooperation takes no small intellectual effort to understand. While there exist few great economists who can explain in detail why the free market works, it should be clear that the vast majority of the populace will need to adopt free market practices not out of the fullness of intellectual understanding of their functioning, but on faith alone. As we have argued previously, any renewal of prosperity and robust free marketism will require an equally resurgent universal faith and Church, as was required when the foundations of Western freedoms were laid over the preceding 1500 years.

While the apriorisms of the Austrian school are demonstrated to be logically rigorous, modern philosophy has posed that final challenge to simple rationalism which rationalism itself cannot overcome. Why should we believe that reason, internally consistent as it is, is any real reflection of the world itself? What is there that vouches for reason being anything other than an internal mirage. Reason, as the Church has always reminded us, then, is not sufficient. Only reason and faith are. Faith is necessary to believe, a minimum, that supernatural powers created man's reason as a true reflection of reality to enable his success in this world [and the next]. This supernatural power, then, is good in itself and desires also the good of man. Without this foundation, it is impossible to know reason as anything other than a mere guess on an exam where the answer sheet, external to one's own mind, is never provided.

As the capitalism of the West becomes ever less itself, and ever more pathological, let us recall that the only true foundation of market interaction is bona fide.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

For All Eternity, Only One Victor

All you enemies of the Church, 

Christendom will be again.

 

"In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Open Source Political Strategy



The value of most intellectual work is, in terms of marketability, inherently low. The structure of reality dictates, viz., it is inherent in natural law that, once an idea is created it can be nearly infinitely duplicated at minimal cost in the minds of men. This would be the ‘brushfire in the minds of men’ concept to which political commentators like Alex Jones often point.

The Austrian economists have often addressed this fundamental nature of intellectual work. A pattern both Mises and Hayek explicated was that in order to support themselves in relative comfort vis-à-vis the general population those engaged in so-called intellectual work (though not always exclusively), from elementary school teachers to university professors to broad political strategists to certain econometric and social work, must find demand for their labor from the state. Most of the work of the intellectual is superfluous idle speculation except to a state which, an unnatural institution according to the Austrians, requires constant intellectual rationalizations to apparently (re-)justify its bungling existence. Moreover, to any extent that the intellectuals, especially those engaged in specialized statistical studies, converge towards a provision of near-objective empirical knowledge about society at large, the gathering of such data is really duplicative of the market process itself, which already embodies much of the actionable side of such data in a way already fully integrated to the structure of production by the action of entrepreneurs. Any use of data derived beyond that already embodied in market processes sets us on the dangerous path to Hayek’s fatal conceit, in which such data is used to undermine the very processes which gave rise to the conditions such data are meant to faithfully represent. The Austrians have explained elsewhere why such an outcome is undesirable, we merely highlight this fundamental flaw in the use of intellectual work remunerated outside of the natural constraints of the market.

Real value creation is more often in relationships, networks and production behind the embodied representations of such ideas. For example, it may occur to me that the Democrat Party in the United States is rife with corruption, internal divisions and failed political strategies which plague it for the foreseeable future. One possible approach very discreet conservatives and libertarians could take at this time, as a radical alternative to the SJWs and Bernie-types would be to fund more traditionalist-oriented democrat challenger candidates whose primary interests lie in ends that dovetail with those of the so-called Tea Party right, ending corporate handouts both monetary and monopoly supported by legislation, making American foreign policy more subdued, a credo of peaceful pan-racial relations, pro-Tenth Amendment, and where do-able, anti-abortion and even pro-gun sentiments. Implementing such a strategy would require not just such abstract knowledge, which is rather simply provided in the sentences above, but concrete legal, accounting, and fundraising skills beyond those the author has. Should those with such ideas then remain in idle speculation, or should they provide their ideas openly and without expectation for recognition and remuneration to those in a position to actually act on them?

We have seen that attempts to legally exaggerate the claims creative types have over their work tend towards fewer avenues for creation in the future. Patents and copyright laws are being positioned to squash competition and development rather than promote it. Matt Drudge points us to a time when the Supreme Court will rule that ideas themselves belong to the major corporate media. It is no stretch that patent law in the hands of Google, Facebook, Apple et al can be used to achieve the same ends in the physical realm, wherein those technologies necessary to modern communication are monopolized in the hands of a few corporations, creating an effective monopoly on who can build and control internet-like systems in the real-world. For more details on the lack of natural justifications for IP law, we highly recommend the work of IP lawyer Stephan Kinsella.
We already have, like it or hate it, many paradigms of the imminent success of intellectual movements which embrace inherent low-cost accessibility to intellectual content rather than curtailing it. The Mises Institute, intellectual force behind the rise of the Ron Paul movement, distributes the work of its luminaries at no-cost online. Wikipedia is entirely voluntarily organized. Wildly successful Alex Jones incessantly repeats that the otherwise obscure knowledge supporting his analysis is all openly available in the publications of elites. 

Until recently, Twittter, Facebook and YouTube relied also on the voluntary creation of its users to supply the content of its platforms. This is changing, as it becomes clear they’re beholden to certain ideological interests bent on de-platforming particular noteworthy users. We argue this is a painful and costly blessing in disguise. The ultimate defeat of the large tech media monopolists would be a parallel internet created, funded and maintained by decentralized third-parties. YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux, Alex Jones and others have already pointed to the need to build infrastructure that operates like that of YouTube but independent from Google’s operation in order to ensure the continuity of new media operations. While YouTube censorship and demonetization will be costly in the short run, the long run impetus to build systems even further removed from Google’s control is the only viable solution.

A parallel consideration in the age of the Information Apocalypse, so named by Steve Pieczenik, will become the authenticity of information. As AI algorithms, especially those acting in ways not immediately reviewable by human actors, are able to produce in real time facsimiles of imagery, video and audio output, that may or may not correspond accurately to what is happening in the - what shall we call it? – organic realm, any non-organic source of information becomes questionable. Terming it an apocalypse may not be the exaggeration it first appears. To the extent that peaceful social relations, the division of labor and complex social networks are dependent upon our ability to trust the information we receive and those who provide it, when the sources and content of digital information become so easily manipulated and pervasively comprehensive – the fake story can pass as easily as truth as the truth can – the existence of civil society itself, at least in the non-organic realm, will come into question. 

Two fully stable solutions will present themselves. In some cases it will be necessary to return to the organic realm entirely. And while a particular human sense can be deceived under certain special cases, such deception can be offset by data obtained by other direct means in the organic realm. The digital realm will remain in constant flux as innovations in the various techniques and technologies of disinformation and information dispersion favor different entities at different times whose incentives to use them for truth or falsehood will themselves fluctuate with time. In such a tiered system wherein the information distributed by entities have varying levels of fidelity to the organic realm it will not be possible for even those in actual possession of the highest fidelity information to be sure that they are, for there is always the consideration that an even higher level tier, or entirely separate but equally situated tier with access to even greater fidelity information exists, as well as the consideration that rogue actors have successfully manipulated the otherwise impregnable tiered structure of information dissemination effectively for their own purposes. As the rate at which such manipulation can take place and the costs of verifying the fidelity of information increases, the only solution in the digital realm seems to be a fully transparent, decentralized, voluntary block-chain system, where all data can be openly verified by anyone at any time and there is at least no centralized authority in charge of the data that can exploit a unique position to manipulate it, even if small-time fraud remains ongoing. 

Looking to the future, transparent blockchains will eventually face the same clamoring that all market-based systems do. The ability of small time criminals to make small time mischief with an otherwise stable system will lead to governmental entities demanding a monopoly of control over blockchains which instead incentivizes systemic abuse. The key to remember is that the decentralized blockchain is immediately verifiable to all participants. Any centralized blockchain can never be so verified and falls prey to the vagaries of the information apocalypse. Decentralized blockchains will have to be marketed with this endgame in mind from the beginning in order to best attempt to avoid such an outcome.

The decentralized blockchain solution has the double benefit of completely transcending all forms of spying, intrigue and surveillance since its entire point and effectiveness comes from utter transparency. If the forces that want to use falsehood to achieve their ends continue to push forward effectively, we must see a two-tiered world emerge where personal interaction is either formatted in a way where transparency is mutually comprehensive enhancing all participants’ fidelity to truth, as with the blockchain, or in situations where full transparency cannot be arranged, communication with actors whose trustworthiness is unknown is conducted in a way that is as little separated from the immediate, organic realm as possible in order to preserve opportunities for self-verification.  Everything else will be subject to the delusional effects of the information apocalypse.