Sunday, February 25, 2007

Conversations with a statist, part I

One reason I haven't been blogging as much is that I'm working a little later than usual, and though it's only an hour or so later when I come home, that's a significant amount of time to do other things, and it leaves me even more tired than I already was.

Another reason is that a friend of mine has been e-mailing me a lot. He's Filipino, so English wasn't quite his native language, but I still cannot excuse his false recollections of certain things I've said. So, he's taken it to e-mail where we'll have things in writing.

This and my next few posts will be what we've been talking about, because it illustrates the fallacial thinking of so many Christians today: it's not just the erroneous faith in government as having the power to do good things, but the damning (I say that in a literal sense) belief that it's morally acceptable to tax people and give to others. There's also a bit of economic discussion, where my friend has completely misunderstood things I've said in the past. This is sort of jumping into the conversation halfway, but you can get the gift of what's being discussed.

Part of my disillusionment with the Christian church is how so many self-professed Christians think it's just fine, even necessary, for government to forcibly take money from the successful and redistribute to others. That, right there, is not only supporting theft of others' property, but the very worship of government. True Christians, it is written, cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Mammon, nor can you worship both God and the very forces that put Jesus to death.

That said, his comments are indented, and mine follow. Some things will be double-indented, which were my earlier comments he was replying to:
I have listened, Perry, and understand what you are saying. Second, your definition of economics is . . . is so constructed, one is forced to agree. No argument but that is not the question I have asked repeatedly. What is the purpose of Economics? It is you who have chosen to avoid the question, a question so fundamental.
How can you not understand what I have said all along? Your "economics" goes beyond the original scope. You're not even dealing trade deficits, interest rates, trade patterns or business cycle theory. You're saying how things ought to be, i.e. your agenda, which is politics.
Ah, maybe a point of agreement. Maybe. If you mean that Credit in an economy can never be destroyed, I agree. Now, if you mean that the money supply never shrinks when there is debt deflation, we differ. I never read Bastiat. But, the money supply does shrink as debt is collected. He must be talking about a long gone era when gold was currency.
I'm speaking relative to the money supply. For example, whether you're dealing with gold, stones or paper, a 50% cut in the money supply will tend to result in a doubling of prices.

But adjusting for such changes, if someone earns a dollar, no matter how it is ultimately valued, that dollar is never lost, regardless of how that person saves or spends it. You need to read Bastiat.
Human economic activity will continue regardless of central bank actions, even when a central bank goes bankrupt. But, Bernanke is not childish. He just following the norms of neo-liberalism. Now, I don't believe in a natural rate of unemployment because the practiced policy is to whip interest rates up when inflation increases instead of creating more production.
Bernanke is no neo-liberal, even in the confused sense in which you use the term. Bernanke is an interventionist. Now, if he were wise, the solution to rising inflation is not to raise interest rates, but to slow the increases in the money supply.

The problem isn't really the belief that there is a balance point between unemployment and inflation. The problem is what was done with it. In my Austrian way of thinking, I believe markets (including labor markets) are always in a state of flux, and there is no "right" level of unemployment at any time. You might find that a certain economy, at a certain time, might have a specific unemployment rate that happens to have a stable level of inflation. I say, so what? Economic conditions, and therefore the new NAIRU, could and probably will change next month. Why bother to force its duplication at other times, then?

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, 6% unemployment in the U.S. was considered normal. Then in the prosperity of the late 1990s, a 5% rate started to be seen as normal. Some even said 4% and change.

Who is right? No one is. Let the free market work itself out.
And, when that money goes into Treasury Bills and lies idle. No one benefits. Except them. Why do you think we have an inverted yield curve, huh? There just too much of it going into the financial sector and little going into the real economy.
Actually, the money does not lie idle. Do you really think nothing happens to it? The treasury of any government (state, federal or foreign) issues bonds, gets money, and then spends the money however it sees fit.

Don't put so much stock in an inverted yield curve. We haven't noticed enough of them to figure out what they really mean, if there is in fact an underlying meaning. Some say inverted yield curves are impending signs of a recession, but that hasn't happened yet. Some say it's because people have different expectations of short-term and long-term inflation. I think it's partially that, and because foreigners are preferring long-term U.S. bonds more than short-term, because they have increased confidence in long-term U.S. economic growth.
He lives in a dream world. Income inequality is a reality that is getting worse. At a certain point, if it is allowed to continue, you will see rioting. That is the world you want.
There you go again, putting words into my mouth. Why do you say that is the world I want? All I say is that people have no right to riot because they want others' property. If they want it, then they can provide goods and services to earn it.

For the rest of the world, there may be income inequality, but Reynolds is talking about the U.S. Do you not find it strange that the people who earn the least are those who tend to work only part-time, and the households in the top 10% of income have two wage earners?

In your demented vision of society, you would have hardworking people like my aunt and uncle be taxed down until they're equal with a Harlem woman with six babies and a part-time job at McDonald's.
Did you know that Jesus reminded us that the poor would always be with us? Now how is that for economics?
Totally illogical. And, taking him out of context, is almost blasphemous. He continues by telling us to take care of the poor and needy. Now, don't regurgitate the your "stealing" argument. It's not stealing. If your economics is good enough, maybe, you will see elected congressmen repeal all tax laws. I doubt it though.
Your "Totally illogical" is nothing short of your mundane vacuous arguments, but I expect nothing less (or more) from you.

Now, your invocation of Jesus to justify taxation is not blasphemy? How can you accuse me when you have never read that particular verse in your life? You don't even know what "the context" is. Go crack open a Bible, find that verse, and give me your own explanation -- not what some sodomy-driven priest told you.

The fact is that Jesus said there will always be poor people. You and others of your ilk, no matter how noble you claim your intentions are, will never be able to solve this "inequality," nor should you. There will always be inequality because different people produce different things of different value.
The world will always be full of inequality.
And, I am willing to do something about it.
Why do you believe I wish to do nothing about it? Just because I believe government should not do something doesn't mean I believe it shouldn't be done privately.

The difference is that you worship government, not God's works, as the solution. I say, set an example by being more charitable on your own.
There are some who produce more than others. Why do you and I earn more than janitors and food preparers in our building?
Because we are more educated. We have more in life.
Because you and I produce things that, to those who "buy" the products of our labor, are more valuable.
No, because we have had more opportunity. We are more educated. We have had more in life.
It's not just opportunity. We have been given additional abilities. Some people are more intelligent, more charming, more physically able, based on the gifts God gave them. Such is life, and it is unfair to force others to be "equal" with those who are less successful.
You completelyignore, or is it that you forget, that "Man acts to improve his condition as he sees it, and "People respond to incentives."
Why do we earn more than a janitor? Because people respond to incentives???!!!??? SAME PARAGRAPH, TWO SENTENCES AWAY. Illogical.
You are ignoring that I am talking about different things, albeit in the same paragraph. Why do you think the same paragraph must be restricted to a single line of thought?

[Additional note: actually I probably confused him here, talking about Austrian/libertarian concepts in the same thing. But the fact is that incentives matter when it comes to economic production. If I made no more than a janitor, then why would I want to do my job?]
Voluntary charity is a fine thing and a bedrock principle of most religions, but you want to force people to be "good" according to your ideals.
Again, this a rehash of your stealing argument. Different words, same "forced" idea. You are truly brainwashed.
This is merely your vacuous, repetitive argumentation again. I could easily counter that it's you who's brainwashed, courtesy of a 1600-year-old church that has perverted the Gospel, in no small part because it doesn't realize the differences between church and government. The difference is that you are again saying nothing of actual substance, and I would be correct.

I am saying it bluntly: you want to use the force of government, of "law," to make people "good" according to your ideals. Someday, I hope, you will be enlightened with the principle of freedom of conscience.

Get your congressmen elected. Then you can force your ideas on the rest of us.
Funny how you don't think beyond the policies you espouse. We will end up in the same "forced" situation.
Do you not realize the stupidity of your claim there? When 49 people out of 100 have more than the rest, of course the other 51 will vote for someone who will tax those 49 more. That is how politicians get elected, by promising the majority that they will give them things, paid for by the minority.
Perry, stop using "stealing", "forced", whatever. It's the system you have to live with. In all forms of government. Especially in your ideal economy. There is a must for elected officials. There are just too many people involved.
There is a "must" only because you define it that way. And yes, there are too many people involved, the majority who want to take from the minority.
If you care so much about the poor, why are you not out there helping them?
How is that so? Where are your own charitable works, or do you have so few (if any at all) that you must side-step the challenge?
Why do you choose the easier path, the one leading to destruction, whereby you coerce others into doing what you think are "good" things?
Here we go again. . . add coerce to my list above.

Set an example for others, but do not force them to escape damnation for their own actions or inaction. And don't damn yourself by submitting to force.
You are truly on the road to hell, but you want to call it heaven.

> > *What is the purpose of Economics? By your silence on this essential
> > point, I take it that it has none except the accumulation of
> wealth. *
Not the definition of, the purpose of. Do you have an answer?
[Note: he had here removed where I explained, for the millionth time, how Austrian economics defines economics.]

Do you not understand that that is the purpose? Economics is not about the accumulation of wealth, as you falsely accuse me of believing -- an accusation which "a friend" ought to know better than to make.

Once more for the class: economics is the science of human choice and its consequences. Therefore, its simple purpose is to study human choice and its consequences. Why do you insist on making it more complex than it has to be?

Then again, you're Catholic, so I apologize. Your entire religion is based on making faith and salvation more complex than they have to be.

By the way, I missed something you said before. Why is it wrong to make a profit? Without profit, we are merely scraping out livelihoods.

On the other hand, when we make profits, and those evil capitalists reinvest the profits back into the businesses, that expands the businesses and creates jobs. Why do you think that is a bad thing?

When those evil capitalists spend the money on landscaping, fancy dinners, luxury cars and jewelry, that creates jobs. Why do you think that is a bad thing?

When those evil capitalists save the money, the rest of us borrow it in the form of mortgages, auto loans, and loan capital for our businesses. Why do you think that is a bad thing?

None of those are bad, because profit is not inherently bad. That we make greater and greater proportions of profit only means that we are creating more and more wealth. Why do you think wealth is such a bad thing? I'm not talking about "the rich man," which I'm sure you'd otherwise have been quick to cite. I'm talking about prosperity that allows us to live better lives with each generation.

The reality is that those who spur the creation of most wealth (note that it is different from physically creating the wealth) do so because they can make a profit. If they are greedy in their intentions, what is that to you? You are not their judge. God is, and God will judge you for being a busybody in their lives. Intruding into others' lives is conduct which I presume even Catholic scriptures warn against, because you are being nothing more than a modern day Pharisee.


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