Some links

10 02 2010

I’ve been pretty really preoccupied for the past week or so, so I’ve been unable to do a proper post.  I haven’t even been able to get the College Libertarians newsletter put together—something I’ll wrap up and send out tomorrow.  I’ve had a bunch of meetings, including the Michigan Economics Symposium last Saturday (an event I’ll probably do a Michigan Review article on, which I’ll be sure to post here).

Mostly, though, I’ve been studying for my exam tomorrow.  It’s for my Economics 401 class, Intermediate Microeconomics.  I’m not really sure why it’s “Intermediate” since I’m not required to take an “Advanced” class for an undergraduate degree, but whatever.  Essentially, it’s basic microeconomics with calculus.  Fun.  Surprisingly, perhaps, I’m actually putting in a good deal of time and effort into preparing and studying for this exam.  We’ll see what the return on my investment of time is after tomorrow, after which I can begin preparing for my Statistics exam and my trip to CPAC next week.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, mostly.

Since my time management skills can only take me so far, I wanted to share an interesting post by Doctor Zero at Hot Air in lieu of not posting anything at all here.

I’m not really sure who this Doctor Zero is, but he (she?) always has great economic insights.  Here, the oft-neglected time factor in economic “stimulus” is discussed.

It shouldn’t take long to read the whole piece, but here are some highlights:

Investment is a calculated risk, based on the investor’s confidence in his ability to predict and influence future trends. In a command economy, future developments are shaped by the personality quirks of political leaders, and the demands of powerful constituencies. Political influence becomes the most valuable resource a large business can purchase… while small businessmen can only hope they aren’t crushed by regulations, mandates, and policy earthquakes rippling out from Washington. No one grows into an uncertain future, especially when the ruling party makes it clear they will confiscate the “winnings” from exceptionally successful enterprises.

With the Obama Administration changing it’s stance on banks, profits, and enterprise on a seemingly daily basis, a businessman with long-term stability and growth on his mind probably has no idea what to do or think.  Should he bank on the so-called stimulus working and leading to real economic recovery?  Will his industry be the next to be targeted by a capricious group of pseudo-populist political leaders?  Economic paralysis is the result of this uncertainty.  Doctor Zero addresses this at length.

There’s one area I would disagree with Doctor Zero, however, though my issue is not with the general concept but rather semantics:

In a socialist economy, their best-case scenario is modest growth and profits, since windfall success will turn them into political targets. The worst-case scenario is economic collapse brought about by Obama’s manifestly incompetent team, and his primitive wealth-destroying ideology. This vision of the future will continue to depress corporate growth, and resulting job growth, no matter what Obama says he will do today.

None of this is inaccurate except for perhaps the use of the term “socialism.”  I’ve noticed this among Tea Partiers, libertarians, and the right at large as well.  What Obama, his Administration, and possibly most leftists in power are after is not really socialism.  It’s not communism either.

Socialism implies ownership and regulation of the means of production and distribution by society as a whole.  Communism is similar, but takes it a step further, adding societal ownership and control of all property as well.

Both of these ideologies are flawed and doomed to failure.  But I don’t think anyone in power really subscribes to those ideologies, because it (ideally, at least) means that they exercise no direct control over the means of production and distribution.

No, what we’re dealing with is corporatism, or the state control of large sectors of the economy—like banks, auto manufacturers, agriculture, and…health care.  This is sometimes called “state capitalism” or “crony capitalism.”

Socialism and communism propose to magically replace private economic functions with “societal” economic functions, or something.  Corporatism leaves the government in charge.  This, I feel, more closely mirrors what most “socialist” countries, like Sweden, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union seek to achieve.  It’s a flawed system also doomed to failure, but at least it is more pragmatic than stupidly idealistic attempts at achieving some type of stateless communist paradise on earth.

I realize that this is splitting hairs to most people, but it is important that we correctly identify the apparent ideology of folks like those in the current Administration before attacking it.

Oh, and I said “links” in the title, so here’s the second link.  Apparently, Britain, a jolly and crime-free land where private gun ownership (and the right to self-defense) is virtually nonexistent, has a bit of a problem with “feral youth” who like to terrorize poor old pensioners.  The story should depress you/make you furious.  Fortunately, for the time being, we don’t have to worry about this here in America.  Mess with retirees here and…well, you’ve seen Gran Torino

…let’s keep it that way.



One response

12 02 2010

Hi Graham:

I’m confident you did well on your exam! I really need to watch Gran Torino again. Maybe while I’m off next week. Anyway, I want to hear more about your trip to the State Capitol. I hope to see you tomorrow but I know you’re very busy.

Take care!

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