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SWITZERLAND, NOT SWEDEN

I reserve the right to be wrong.



Go Swiss! Not bad advice at all. The most successful and prosperous country in Europe deserves a decent hearing as to how it is so successful. Perhaps all that economic freedom malarkey is something worth looking into after all. The map at the end of the second link is pretty cool. If you're a hella empiricist the Cato Institute currently runs several terrific projects on the efficacy of economic freedom.

Perhaps the greater overall economic freedom enjoyed by the Swiss would make a beter North Star for reform-minded Pommies and Yankees, rather than bloody Sweden. In any case, Sweden was in fact an exemplar of free-market liberalism for decades before it had its little dalliance with socialism after the war (particularly in the 60's and 70's, if I recall correctly). Stefan Karlsson lends his voice to the argument that Sweden doesn't owe its success to Socialism as well.

Freedom over slavery, 'bub.



Still, I reserve the right to be wro…

DYSON SPHERE IN THE UK!

I reserve the right to be wrong...



Engineering is the UK's deliverance, says James Dyson of fabulous vacuum-cleaner fame. While I would agree with the broad brush-strokes of his argument that the UK education system produces too few engineers, I cannot subscribe to a world-view like his that accepts the present-day production-line model of education.

Dyson sees his company's problem - a paucity of engineers - and ascribes national calamity or salvation to the next few years' engineering graduation rates. More will lead to glory, less or the same number to ruin. I have to take issue here.

First of all, the UK as a whole is not an economic actor in its own right. Hell, the nation doesn't even exist except on paper and in people's minds. It's a load of people with more power than sense who shape policies that we all have to live in accordance with, lest we incur the wrath of officialdom.

Secondly, the government decides educational priorities and ultimately shapes…

CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

I reserve the right to be wrong...



Thomas Piketty caused quite a stir with the publication of his tome 'Capital in the 21st Century'. Chris Giles, writing in the Financial Times, finds fault with the data used by Piketty to proclaim a return to 1910 levels of income inequality. What kind of errors? .

Robert P. Murphy goes over exactly what's going on and shows the feebleness of the data that have come out of Piketty's analysis.

This is on top of the easy answer we Austrians had even back when we believed the data themselves. If inequality was as historically high as claimed then it was because of inflation brought on by central banks printing money and giving it to those financiers close to them. With government, proximity is everything.

So I'm in no hurry to pooh-pooh Piketty's data. It simply turned out to be wrong. As for what's right, I'll side with Bob Murphy again and wait and see. Certainly no grand challenge to freedom has been made here. Sorry …

HE BITCOINED OFF MORE THAN HE COULD CHEW

I reserve the right to be wrong...



BitCoin grows apace, as Jeffrey Tucker reports, being accepted by ever more physical merchants in cities throughout, presumably, the USA.

Also, however, a Fed insider has supposedly spilled the beginnings of some beans on Fed modelling of the future of BitCoin as a currency. Grant you, this person seems to think that the Fed losing control of people's money is a bad thing, but then can you blame abused children who know nothing but that abuse when they are frightened by the prospect that it could all come to an end? What on Earth could possibly be next?

I guess the march toward BitCoin being accepted as a unit of account is finally underway. You'll know you're winning when the government starts accepting BitCoins and LiteCoins themselves as tax revenue. Even then, Leviathan is no shoe-in for the control of humanity's future. After all, as people more and more see the pointlessness, meanness and stupidity of government expropriation, t…

AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS VS THE MAINSTREAM

I reserve the right to be wrong, but Walter Block doesn't have to!



Ceteris paribus, both parties to a trade are better off afterwards than they were before. Walter Block neatly explains what's up with praxeoloy and how things like a theory of value are arrived at praxeologically.

Praxeology is the deductive, logical method taking in a starting point of unlimited human desire versus limited resources.

The trade example above is the subjective theory of value at work, that each party subjectively feels like they have made a profit from the exchange. Maybe that's why both parties say 'thank you' afterwards!

And so, to progress!

BASTIAT

I reserve the right to be wrong.



One of the best things ever is What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen by Frederic Bastiat. It's this work which addresses the fallacy of the broken window, something subsequently taken up by Henry Hazlitt in Economics In One Lesson.

Bastiat is probably one of the greatest economists you've never heard of. Why haven't you heard of him? Well, he is a Frenchman who favours freedom over statism. That's pretty much enought to get him whitewashed out of history along with the Austrian School.

So, read him! Read him and be more complete!

THE CHILDREN ARE OK

I reserve the right to be wrong, but...



seriously. The kids are OK! It's hit the news that Bolivia, one of the bastions of Latin American leftism, recently changed its labour laws to permit 10-year-olds to work if self-employed, and 12-year-olds if working as employees of someone else.

Is this wise? Is this not the very height of immorality? Are children not so precious that they must be shielded from the ravages of the labour market? You'd think that would be exactly Evo Morales' line. Perhaps that why the Bolivian President wasn't around when this legislation became law.

The Morales government has always been far less interesting to outsiders than that of the late Hugo Chavez, principally because Morales has tended toward a gentler socialism than his Venezuelan amigo.

Nevertheless, permitting child labour does seem somewhat in keeping with the admissions even of other Socialists, notably David Harvey in A Brief History of Neolibralism - an  insipid book, scarcely wor…

PERSONIFYING THE UNREAL

I reserve the right to be wrong.



We tend to personify things with no will of their own. I grant you a lot of fish, swimming together for protection, may seem possessed of a shared will. But it just seems that way. The group does not have a mind of its own. For all the group-think in the world, there are no known group-minds.

And so to some examples;



THE CORPORATION

A voluntarily sustained legal fiction. PepsiCo can sue and be sued in turn despite not being a living being. There are a load of buildings and equipment owned by this fiction, and the decisions of the fiction are made by a bunch of appointed individuals.

The bank account may have the company name on it, but that account is handled by a person, ironically someone paid from that same corporate bank account.



THE GOVERNMENT

Another legal fiction, this time maintained by force of arms and threats. In more recent years the government has introduced some tasty carrots along with its sticks, in particular taxpayer-funded welfare sy…

ANOTHER MATT BLOG?

I reserve the right to be wrong.



I am contemplating starting another blog with more specialised posts called something like "How Hard Can It Be?" which would look at exactly what red tape gets in the way of what human activities...

Shall I do that? ANSWER ME!

PEACE, JUSTICE, ORDER

I reserve the right to be wrong.



PEACE = Absence of violence or aggression.

JUSTICE = People getting what they deserve.

ORDER = Rule of law.

Is it just me or are peace, justice and order three descriptions of the same thing? And are they not the parent and child of the condition called liberty?

That is to say, the condition of complete rights (freedom, power) over everything that you as a person - as a moral agent - own. That logically means that you do not own anything that other persons - other moral agents - own and so have no freedom or power over what others own.





PEACE

Peace and liberty? Peace seems to be about the simple quiet of the non-initiation of violence of any kind. Perhaps the courtesies and forms of politeness and avoidance of conflict are the peaceful part of our social activities.

Liberty might promote peace insofar as living in liberty makes it disadvantageous to do violent things, where today it is often advantageous to be aggressive or cruel, such as when people ri…

THE GREAT ABROGATION

I am wrong or right or neither.



THE NON-AGGRESSION PRINCIPLE

Aggress not, lest ye be aggressed upon in turn. I wouldn't want to be ostracised by the society I lived in. That's an anxiety that many people do experience now, though not I, since my responsibility to not be a dick has been somewhat abrogated by the structures of power around me. But then what is society, what's wrong with how it's constituted now, and if something is wrong, what should be done?

Surely society is the product you get from letting two or more humans interact, however fleetingly or rarely, but generally in a context where they can engage in exchange; of news, stories, advice, solace, intimacy, or material trade.

I wonder what might imbalance that dynamic...

The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) is simply a statement that to aggress against others is immoral. Most libertarians, whether they are classical liberal, minarchist, or anarchist, take the view that aggression is any wilful act that infrin…

THE TRUTH ABOUT POVERTY

I reserve the right to be wrong.



Stef attack, baby! This feeds yet again into the point of the Live in Liberty argument which I intend to put across through this blog over the rest of this year.



On the next Ecomony Blogtime; Mister Matthew seduces Jeffrey Tucker and they fly together to the moon and play among the stars.

CHICAGO vs. AUSTRIA DEATHMATCH!!

I reserve the right to be wrong.



David D. Friedman and Robert P. Murphy debate the efficacy of the Chicago vs. Austrian schools of economics.

I sympathise with the Austrian School and not the Chicago one. There is an exception, though, namely Public Choice Theory. This Chicago School theory takes in the study of rent-seeking in the public sector, as opposed to the usual point of economics, which tends to study the profit-seeking behaviour of people in the private sector, and doesn't really study government in detail.

But that's another story.



On the next Ecomony Blogtime; why can't fusion reactors consist of solar panels facing inwards toward the plasma? Is that not a way to produce electricity that can be stored or sold onto the grid?

MARXIAN MAYONNAISE - LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE

I reserve the right to be wrong, but this post is right.



Without the labour theory of value, there's no class struggle, no oppression by capital... and thus no rationale for any government action that limits the free action of moral agents/people.



On the next Ecomony Blogtime; Matt twerks morse code and adopts an Austrian accent!

DEGREES OF LIBERTARIANISM

I reserve the right to be wrong.



What would make Libertarianism's internal divisions clear? Perhaps a simple exposition of degrees of Libertarianism is in order. The degree to which different Libertarians reject elite monopoly power - whether it's a system built for a small fixed caste (oligarchy) or for the rich (plutocracy) - is important to recognise correctly so as to know what it is that people actually want the world to be like.


First, a definition of terms.



State - Metaphysical entity that is governed by an elite/government who are appointed either by themselves, the population at large or by sortition. Responsible for agreeing to and abiding by international treaties.

Courts - Arbiters in deciding which parties in a disagreement are right on a case by case basis.

Supreme Court - Arbiter in cases involving the body of laws itself.

Policing - Legally-empowered enforcers of laws.

Defence - Peeps with guns of various sizes for discouraging armed incursions by other nations…

ACTION

I reserve the right to be wrong.


Humans act to satisfy present desires. Are humans rational in seeking ways to satisfy their desires? Well, they do rationalise, but this rationalisation takes place in a context. That context is; people respond to incentives.
This means our choices of what actions to take will vary depending on the consequences of each possible action. Mainstream economics, dealing with human action to satisfy present desires using scarce resources, includes the actions of collectives of people.
This is a gigantic fallacy in the mainstream approach to rational action. This is a problem with people - including me in the near past - misunderstanding what it means to act. Rational action to satisfy present desires can only be undertaken by a moral agent, one who actually has desires.
A company, bowling club, or government no more desires anything than a forest or a building. These are associations of people and so exist only as ideas in our minds, regardless of whether o…

THE SOCIAL (LACK OF) CONTRACT

I reserve the right to be wrong.



I feel obliged to link to this. It's a nifty explanation of why government laws are not contracts. Put simply, if your signature ain't on the piece of paper then it's not a contract. It's not an agreement of any sort in fact. It's just an exercise in tax farming or livestock regulation.

Hope you enjoy being livestock as much as I do.

THE AUSTRIAN SCHOOL OF HUMAN ACTION STUDIES

I might be wrong, you know.



The Austrian School is that school of study (-logia) that uses the methods of praxeology and catallactics to arrive at statements of fact about human action in response to the incentives and disincentives that the world puts in front of us in the course of our many various lives.

This makes the Austrian school one of philosophy as much as economics, not to mention sociology and political science. So we have one school that takes in both the Humanities and the Social Sciences! So why not try to describe the various things about Austrianism that make it different from say, Keynesianism or the Chicago School?

Chocks away!



PRAXEOLOGY
Praxis means action in Latin. So, study of action. This is a method used to explain only the action of humans. You are doing praxeology if you assert that humans act - that is, do something in the present to achieve a goal in the future, whether immediate or remote.

You are methodical in hashing out how a course of human actions w…

MY HOMESTEAD IS MY TRUEST RIGHT

I might be wrong here... warn me if I am.



Striding eager and brave Roderick Long pleads with the world to...
Consider a village near a lake. It is common for the villagers to walk down to the lake to go fishing. In the early days of the community it's hard to get to the lake because of all the bushes and fallen branches in the way. But over time the way is cleared and a path forms – not through any coordinated efforts, but simply as a result of all the individuals walking by that way day after day. The cleared path is the product of labor –not any individual's labor, but all of them together. If one villager decided to take advantage of the now-created path by setting up a gate and charging tolls, he would be violating the collective property right that the villagers together have earned
I have some reservations about the above interpretation of the homestead principle. Since there won't be a government to turn to, people will sign up to DRO's / Arbiters / Parishes to r…
I reserve the right to be wrong. Dunno if he does.




Is taxing BitCoin good, bad, expedient, problematic?

This video neatly sums up some basic economic realities, such as why we use money.

However you feel, comment below, let me know!

THE FAMILY HOMESTEADING PRINCIPLE

I reserve the right to be wrong.



If you mix your time and labour with something that nobody owns you gain ownership of it. This process starts in the womb and in the first couple of years after birth as you homestead your body while learning to move, speak, think and so act*1.

Later on in life, one can homestead anything that isn't owned. Sadly this does not usually include squatting, as whatever edifice is being squatted usually has an owner. If it is owned, you are trespassing.

Your right to property is the exclusive right to use whatever the thing is that is your property; whether your house, clothes, furniture, computer. This right can be argued to exist because we have free will, desires, and a world that we act in, both alone and in concert with others. You smash all that together and people need clear lines to tell who gets to use what and where, and what land they can claim.

Humans don't like conflict and violence because it introduces them to the risk of harm. They…

FEET, WALLET, OR BALLOT... HOW DO YOU VOTE?

Wrong!



FEET

Humans vote with their feet. It is the single most important, and most egalitarian of realities confronting us today or in any age.

But the single biggest exercise in voting with one's feet is also the most literal; moving from one home to a new one, for whatever reason - job, safety, the view, anything. If your move takes you out of one nation state / tax farm and into another one then congratulations! You're a migrant!

In general the vote with one's feet is at work when you choose what interests to pursue, since by making any serious choice in life you are removing the chance to do something else, time being limited by your own mortality. We vote with our feet not to listen to the ravings of conspiracy theorists, except for a laugh.



WALLET

We vote with every purchasing decision we make, including a decision not to purchase anything just now. This vote, voting with our wallets, tells those we trade with what we will and will not abide, and if they do not adapt…

STEPPING TOWARD ANARCHY

I reserve the right to be wrong.



Progress in the human civilisation sense is the progress from primitive pastoralism to modern relative affluence and onwards to absolute affluence in the future, a time that will resemble The Jetsons or Star Trek. Let's look today at some ways in which anarchy has always been with us, and some encroaching ways in which we are discovering its fruits and its merits. First, let's lean out...



LEAN AS ANARCHIC BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT

So, Lean. It's a way of organising an enterprise to eliminate waste, and redefines waste to mean anything that doesn't add value for the end user / customer. By funny coincidence the condition it creates, that of increasing business responsiveness to changing demands, makes the lean enterprise just a little more anarchic than the non-lean enterprise.

Responsiveness is an anarchic quality, as evidenced by the yawning gap in responsiveness between, say, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs on the one hand, an…

WHAT IS LIBERTY?

Oh my god, you like, don't know how wrong I am right now!



HOW MUCH FREEDOM?

Freedom is the condition or situation in which a moral agent, or person, can act upon themselves and their environment without being prevented by outside factors. Different people enjoy different degrees of freedom for many reasons, but to simplify a little, people's own time and property are respected to different degrees depending on the country they're in, the social caste they belong to, and whether they are doing time in prison, on death row, or are a powerful bureaucrat or politician.

How much freedom is too much, and how much is too little? The Liberal tradition gives us a nifty logic from which to defend this crazy thing called Liberty against the Divine Right of Kings.

Too little freedom might be the condition of, say, a worker in North Korea having to submit to forceful re-education, or a Chinese farmer having to give up their land since they are afforded no private property rights over …

I AM AN AUSTRIAN

Is it so wrong? Really? Just humour me, dudes and dudettes.



I am an Austrian. I am a Libertarian. I am an Austro-Libertarian. I'm evidently also a hypocrite, as I've used most of these words without capitals in past posts. Oops.
I've made Austrian economics my home because it accords better with certain concerns of mine; why have a subjective theory of value and then lump desires and capacities into aggregates? Why declare that economic facts can be gleaned from the movements of particular markets at particular times in the past?
Rothbard sums up the problem with both phenomena in a way that no mainstream economist ever would, since to do so would be to admit that there are entire fields of modern economics that are, at best, pointless, and at worst, harmful.


NOT MAINSTREAM?
Why is Austrian economics not mainstream? It rejects the efficacy of aggregates and mathematical formulae to arrive at economic truths. According to the Austrian worldview, any data showing one result…

MISSING THE POINT?

I may be incorrect, bucko.



The Adam Smith Institute's Julian Morris is kinda barking up the wrong tree here. What policies produce the greatest or least of an aggregate of whatever factor is a far less important yardstick than morality. It is immoral to talk down to adults as though they are children.

And legislation governing behaviour, or advertising, or packaging, or anything that connects parties in voluntary exchange is immoral precisely because it is an exercise in talking down to people. That is to say, it is paternalistic.

I already have one dad. I do not need another.

BANKING CRISES

I reserve the right to be wrong.


Go there. A neat demonstration that financial regulation creates, rather than prevents, banking crises.
Soon I will do a post comparing central banking to free banking, but you can kinda see where my case will be leading in this ASI post anyway!

ECON 3a THE ECONOMY AS NATIONAL OR GLOBAL SYSTEM

I reverse the right to be wrong. Yes I did spell it that way. Help me...



The national economy... the global economy. Hmmm. Economics is the study of production and exchange between people against the background of scarcity of resources and scarcity of time. But even so, does that really require that we personify the sum of all the economic actions taking place within a geographical area over a period of time?

Is the 'economy' we get out of this any more real than taking two random surveys of people to see who believes in fairies, then comparing the two and deciding whether belief in fairies is increasing or decreasing? Who's to say... well, besides Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard and so on.



AN ECONOMY

Measuring an economy as an entity in its own right is a practice which found mainstream favour in the 20th Century, especially with the 1936 publication of John Maynard Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. We call this …