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“There is a right way and a wrong way, always choose the right way.” Abraham Sabrin (1914-2001) “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future!” Niels Bohr
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, (sic) promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Preamble to the Constitution
Every Wednesday at 11:05am talk show host Gary Nolan and I discuss the economy and politics.
The Mises Circle will meet in Fort Myers, November 4th. I will be one of the speakers.
I am a guest on Point/Counterpoint hosted by Jessie Frees, Sunday, October 15, 10am, wmtram.com.
There are two ways human beings can acquire wealth. Murray Rothbard’s review of Franz Oppenheimer’s The State highlights how economic freedom creates prosperity. In contrast, government coercion is anathema to liberty and abundance.
“In essence, he [Oppenheimer] said, there are only two ways for men to acquire wealth. The first method is by producing a good or a service and voluntarily exchanging that good for the product of somebody else. This is the method of exchange, the method of the free market; it’s creative and expands production; it is not a zero-sum game because production expands and both parties to the exchange benefit. Oppenheimer called this method the ‘economic means’ for the acquisition of wealth.
“The second method is seizing another person’s property without his consent, i.e., by robbery, exploitation, looting. When you seize someone’s property without his consent, then you are benefiting at his expense, at the expense of the producer; here is truly a zero-sum ‘game’–not much of a ‘game,’ by the way, from the point of view of the victim. Instead of expanding production, this method of robbery clearly hobbles and restricts production. So in addition to being immoral while peaceful exchange is moral, the method of robbery hobbles production because it is parasitic upon the effort of the producers.
“With brilliant astuteness, Oppenheimer called this method of obtaining wealth ‘the political means.’ And then he went on to define the state, or government, as ‘the organization of the political means,’ i.e., the regularization, legitimation, and permanent establishment of the political means for the acquisition of wealth.
“In other words, the state is organized theft, organized robbery, organized exploitation. And this essential nature of the state is highlighted by the fact that the state ever rests upon the crucial instrument of taxation.” (emphasis added.)
Another name for the political means is statism, or in current political rhetoric, big government. Statism is the belief that the State must “guide, oversee, regulate, control, and intervene” in virtually all aspects of human activity. Another name for this economic system is fascism, or the Welfare-Warfare State, which has expanded markedly in the 21stcentury.
Thus, the typical “left-right” political clash is misleading. The real philosophical divide is between statism and liberty. In short, the political means versus the economic means. And both Republicans and Democrats are firmly entrenched in the political means camp.
The political class (both Rs and Ds) and their media allies would argue that America is a “middle-of-the-road” society with a much needed “safety net” for poor families. In addition, Social Security and Medicare programs are vital for low- and middle-income families to provide them with a source of retirement income and help pay their medical costs in their golden years.
The truth is entitlement programs have created a false sense of economic security and has made America a “nation of children.” For tens of millions of Americans taxpayer funded programs are crucial for their survival. This reveals the failure of the welfare state. Financial independence has taken a back seat to collectivism.
Collectivism is the foundation of the mixed economy and socialism, the failed philosophy that the State must “own” the means of production so human beings can thrive—with “free” education, healthcare, and other human needs.
But s Frederic Bastiat pointed out in The Law,
“Socialism, like the old policy from which it emanates, confounds Government and society. And so, every time we object to a thing being done by Government, it concludes that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of education by the State — then we are against education altogether. We object to a State religion — then we would have no religion at all. We object to an equality which is brought about by the State then we are against equality, etc., etc. They might as well accuse us of wishing men not to eat, because we object to the cultivation of corn by the State.
“How is it that the strange idea of making the law produce what it does not contain — prosperity, in a positive sense, wealth, science, religion — should ever have gained ground in the political world? The modern politicians, particularly those of the Socialist school, found their different theories upon one common hypothesis; and surely a more strange, a more presumptuous notion, could never have entered a human brain.”
In other words, socialism is incompatible with human nature, and therefore should be criticized mercilessly for it is an anti-human philosophy that suppresses individual initiative and liberty and causes widespread poverty. (I witnessed subsistence conditions in Cuba several years. The good news is that free markets were emerging in agriculture and the retail food sector.)
This brings me to the most virulent “collectivist” attitude of some people—antisemitism. In other words, hatred of Jews or any other religious, racial, or ethnic group, reflects an unwillingness to judge individuals by their character and values. In short, bigots are idiots who hate for the sake of hating.
The hatred of Jews has a long and sad history and reached its apex in the Holocaust. And the Austrian Jewish economist Ludwig von Mises made this observation in his 1944 book, Omnipotent Government, about the consequences of antisemitism,
“The present war would never have originated but for anti- Semitism. Only anti-Semitism made it possible for the Nazis to restore the German people’s faith in the invincibility of its armed forces, and thus to drive Germany again into the policy of aggression and the struggle for hegemony. Only the anti-Semitic entanglement of a good deal of French public opinion prevented France from stopping Hitler when he could still be stopped without war. And it was anti-Semitism that helped the German armies find in every European country men ready to open the doors to them.
“Mankind has paid a high price indeed for anti-Semitism.” Indeed, it has.
Even before the State of Israel was created Jews were attacked in Palestine. With the brutal Hamas attacks inside Israel a week ago, are we witnessing another episode of unconscionable antisemitism coupled with the goal of Hamas and its allies of destroying the State of Israel? Hamas has made it clear one of its objectives is the destruction of the State of Israel.
The Israeli government will use all its resources to thwart any attempt to destroy it. And if Hezbollah attacks Israel from Lebanon and Syria, will the Biden administration effectively declare war on the terror group?
We thus could be on the precipice of a much wider war, which could lead to World War III. This is the danger facing the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Mises’s 1944 claim that antisemitism is a pretext for war is ringing true again 80 years later.
Israel is facing an existential threat to its existence and has the right to defend its people from attacks. Nevertheless, can there be a political settlement or accommodation with Hamas or other representatives of the Palestinians so everyone in the region can live in peace?
This is the conundrum the Israeli’s find themselves in. If an Israeli invasion of Gaza kills hundreds or thousands of civilians, the Netanyahu government would lose the moral high ground in its war with Hamas.
As one military-geopolitical strategist wrote in a privately distributed email the other day.
For the World to be drawn into the escalatory spiral that Israel- Palestine is- shows how profoundly the populace- as it was in the ‘Pandemic’ can have its base nature tapped into and be manipulated.
A bunch of old, ill-informed and corruptly incentivized people with horrid track records with NO SKIN IN THE GAME are dictating this situation.
This is idiotic.
The people of Palestine- who have suffered under the yoke of Hamas- are beyond sad and terrified.
This is literally their worst nightmare.
Newt Gingrich and others say ‘We’ got attacked and Gaza should now look like Dresden or Nagasaki in WWII.
He is literally talking about either killing millions of people or driving millions of people into Egypt destabilizing the region on a profound level.
Rubio is talking about wiping Palestinian people off the Face of Earth.
We have done all of this before and only spread Islamist radicalized terror all over the World.
How will this be a different result?
We all may want to eliminate things- the HOW makes a difference.
War fever is increasing by the minute in Washington DC on both sides of the aisle.
Would the American people support another military intervention so soon after the 20-year debacle in Afghanistan? And with hundreds of young Middle Easterners having entered the US at our southern border during the past three years, we cannot discount the possibility of terror attacks that could dwarf the death and destruction of 9/11.
My essay on the economy was published in Fortune, https://fortune.com/2023/03/27/ -2023-layoffs-tech-finance-unemployment-outlook-fed-rates-murray-sabrin/ This is an update of my 2021 forecast, https://fortune.com/2021/12/09/next-recession-heres-everything-bubble-markets-2021-2022-covid-murray-sabrin/
Murray Sabrin, PhD, is emeritus professor of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Dr. Sabrin is considered a “public intellectual” for writing about the economy in scholarly and popular publications. His new book, The Finance of Health Care: Wellness and Innovative Approaches to Employee Medical Insurance (Business Expert Press, Oct. 24, 2022), and his other BEP publication, Navigating the Boom/Bust Cycle: An Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide (October 2021), provides decision makers with tools needed to help manage their businesses during the business cycle. Sabrin’s autobiography, From Immigrant to Public Intellectual: An American Story, was published in November, 2022.