(We took this information from Breitbart, where Ben Shapiro adds his own cogent comments.)
On July 25, 2014, Senator Elizabeth Warren propounded, to an applauding audience, her “11 Progressive Commandments”.
They constitute the CREDO of a contemporary Democrat: “I believe …” (Though as a passionate collectivist, she prefers of course to say “We believe …”.)
Here they are, with our interpretations and comments:
“We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”
Wall Street supports Warren’s Democratic Party more than the Republican Party. So she won’t actually fight it, though she postures as a Joan of Arc leading an army to glory or death. What she means is that, true to her collectivist ideology, she wants government to control the economy.
“We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”
Interpretation: We want you to believe that without government (preferably world government) controlling everything you do in your everyday lives, earth will turn into a raging furnace or the seas will rise to cover the land and then you’ll be sorry.
“We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”
We hate the fact that there is currently an area of freedom which government can’t control. We must get control over it somehow or other.
“We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”
We’ll force employers to pay more, whether the labor provided by their employees is worth more or not. If jobs are lost as a result, we’ll blame the employers.
“We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.”
What an inspiring declaration of human vision and courage! It will surely ring down through all the ages to come. (We make no apology for our sarcasm. It wells up irresistibly when we’re dealing with this shrill, blustering, trivial-minded demogogue.)
“We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.”
And if you don’t, you’re a nasty person.
“We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.”
Ditto last comment.
“We believe — I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work.”
Ditto again, and you’re also a sexist.
“We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.”
Well anyway it’s true according to Aristotle’s law of identity, A is A.
“We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.”
She wants amnesty for all the illegal immigrants now living in the US, and all those likely to cross the southern border from this day forth and even for evermore.
“And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!”
Joan of Arc again! Fighting for the world to recognize that “corporations are not people”. Huge odds against her there! Untold thousands have risen throughout the land to defend the notion that corporations are people.
And as for women having a right to their bodies – whoever heard of such nonsense? Whatever next!
And that’s enough fun for today, folks!
Believe it! There really is such a thing – and has been for nigh on 20 years – called the Commission on Global Governance. It is of course a bureau within the headquarters of evil, the United Nations.
This is from Canada Free Press, by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, an authority on the UN’s baleful Agenda 21:
The UN Commission on Global Governance reported in 1995, “The concept of national sovereignty has been immutable, indeed a sacred principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation.” (United Nations, Our Global Neighborhood, The Commission on Global Governance, 1995, Oxford University Press).
It seems that our national sovereignty is yielding quite fast on the southern border without Congressional input, under the guise of a socially engineered humanitarian crisis. They could not erase national sovereignty fast enough in the name of “environmental cooperation”.
The progressives’ social engineering projects implemented around the world are not limited to just destroying national sovereignty, language, and cultural identity. Those who grew up under communism are familiar with the Soviet style, mass movement of entire villages to high density urban areas.
Social engineers had decided that land was better used in co-operative farms owned by the communist government. Private homes located on farm land were bulldozed and people were moved into densely populated cities with grey concrete apartments of 400-500 square feet, mushrooming practically overnight. They could not build them fast enough. Often it necessitated moving two families into a 600 square feet apartment, sharing the kitchen and the bathroom. …
In this country, city planners who oppose urban sprawl and begrudge the average 2,300 square foot homes as environmental destroyers of the planet, have designed and built living units of 140-200 square feet, called aPodments in Sammamish, Washington. Resident Judy Green “shares the kitchen with seven other tenants on the second floor.” To get to her loft cubicle, she must climb six flights of stairs. Because of non-existent global warming, cars and elevators are not allowed. The “micro-units” are smaller than a hotel room and rent for $600-900 per month. I checked with my favorite hotel chain – their average hotel room is 375 square feet. The average jail cell is 6 feet by 8 feet.
The “eco-progressives” use local government zoning to impose their ideas of “sustainable urbanism”, “sustainable communities”, and “equitable communities”, by changing the counties’ desired low density character and scale to high-density crime-ridden slums.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission are crafting a plan to place Lilliputian slum dwellings in every area of the county. The Residential Studio Units (RSUs) will have a total surface of 220-320 square feet. Each high-rise will contain 75 such units and one parking space per unit. Locals object to the plan because it will reduce property values, change neighborhoods, increase population density, exacerbate the existing traffic congestion, and increase crime under the guise of “affordable housing” for the poor, low wage workers, and “diversity.” …
Reality television is now indoctrinating Americans into accepting the idea of micro-dwellings with the July 2014 debut of “Tiny House Nation” on the FYI channel. According to their website, “renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, travel across America to show off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them, as well as help new families design and construct their own mini-dream home in a space no larger than 500 square feet. From a micro-apartment in New York City to a caboose car turned home in Montana to a micro-sized mobile home for road tripping – this is a series that celebrates the exploding movement of tiny homes”.
Perhaps “extreme downsizing” is the dream of retired people or the reality of young Americans who live with several roommates or in the basement of their parents because they cannot afford to buy a normal home on low wages driven by a mismanaged economy. What I do know for sure, this not an “exploding movement of tiny homes” and it has nothing to do with “financial independence”. Most Americans have never heard of such tiny dwellings, love their spacious homes, and are not remotely aware that they are an intricate part of a larger plan of social engineering [to take] people off the land, out of suburbia, and into inner cities.
It is certainly not the new American dream; it is the new forced reality as envisioned and carefully planned by the elite’s UN Agenda 21.
A book titled Utopias Elsewhere (in America, The Wilder Shores of Marx in Britain), by the wise and witty writer Anthony Daniels, chronicles his travels in five communist countries shortly before the Iron Curtain came down in 1991 – the year the book was published. One chapter is about Romania, the land of Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh’s birth, where she lived under totalitarian oppression. It is a book which should be read by anyone who doubts that life under communism is unimaginably poor and miserable. We guarantee it as a cure for those afflicted with leftist ideology. A decent education in the West would include it as a permanently prescribed text.
In the chapter on Romania, Anthony Daniels notes that in villages that were “systematized” (ie where the villagers had been evicted from their houses and the houses swept away) -
Uniform blocks of apartments – of the same design throughout the country – had been built, in earnest of the Ceausescu dream of a nation living in bugged, ill-lit, cold, waterless yet damp cells, in total dependence on the state for everything they consumed.
As the UN’s Agenda 21 dream for the world continues to be realized, the cells in America will not be quite as bad as that. Though they will be bugged, and not very well-lit or well-heated, they will almost certainly have some (rationed) water and they might not be damp.
But if the dream agenda is fully implemented, the tenants will be dependent on the World Government for everything they consume.
Whether the earth is getting a wee bit warmer, or a wee bit cooler, or staying much the same in this wee bit of time in which the present generations live, is of no importance. None. What is important is that a few thousand people are trying to undo our civilization, return the human race to the life of savages (“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, as Thomas Hobbes described it), or even wipe it off the face of the earth*. And all to preserve the planet, they say. For whom? For what? They are obsessed madmen, religious fanatics. (Yes, environmentalism is a religion.) And they are winning. They have the ear of Western governments. They command government agencies. Some of them – such as the despots of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have immense power. Their word is law.
Of the tactics they use, the one that is working best for them and worst for their victims, is stopping Western technology spreading to the Third World, thus keeping poor countries poor, and allowing disease to kill millions upon millions, year after year.
Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable”. Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral. Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle”. Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.
We quote an article by Paul Driessen at Canada Free Press:
Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change”, Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.
Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious”, as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands. …
They are demands which – we ardently hope – will rebound in their green faces.
In fact, the rebounding has begun.
India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security”, noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.
The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.
Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.
Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity …
These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.
The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.
As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the US discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”
Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? …
Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO [garbage in, garbage out] computer models. …
Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.
In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale.
Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.
Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.
But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.
India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.
* See our posts: The evil that Greenpeace does, January 16, 2010; The vast left-wing conspiracy, January 18, 2010; The blind cruelty of Greenpeace, January 20, 2010; Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.
Children and young mothers with babes in arms are streaming into the US over the Mexican border. They have come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, a distance at the very least of well over 1,000 miles. Reports say they are walking. What would you expect young girls and boys, little kids and burdened women to look like after walking 1,000 miles in the summer heat, apparently carrying little or no sustenance for the journey, and passing through territory controlled by criminal gangs? The news pictures of them arriving in Texas and Arizona show those who reach their journey’s end looking quite healthy and fresh (though it is said that they have brought infectious diseases). We guess they did not walk, but rode on wheels. We guess there is organization behind the vast migration. Transportation has been provided – paid for by whom?
It is in the interests of adults to send the children ahead to the US, and to take all necessary measures to see that they get there safely. Their local news media have told them that “undocumented” children, once in the US, will not be deported, and that the US authorities will reunite them with their parents. Which suggests that parents will be not just allowed in, but brought in to the US.
Where did they get that from? Who or what has lured the children from Central America to the United States?
Diana West writes at Townhall:
It isn’t that the barbarians are at the gate. The barbarians control the gate. I don’t know what else to call a president and attorney general who have opened the US border to literally tens of thousands of “children” – some described as “sexually active” teens, some even suspected of ties to gangs. This not only breaks laws, it breaks trust. Opening the border this way also opens the most outrageous front to date in what increasingly looks like a kind of war aimed at “fundamentally transforming the United States of America“. And the people’s elected representatives do nothing.
Children are usually just children, but when 130,000 of them are expected to storm the border in the coming year, they more closely resemble an advancing column, a kind of foreign legion of child-mercenaries raised abroad with cynical promises of booty in the form of cradle-to-grave taxpayer charity.
But who will fight “children”? This is the audacity of this latest Obama “crisis”: Trojan horse as “humanitarian crisis”. …
Of course, there is an undeniable genius to this form of border attack. All “the kids” from the rest of the world (do you really think Central America is the end?) have to do is serve as pitiful proxies of the assault. Once vanquished by pangs of conscience, however false, we’ll support them forever. We’ll have to. Have you taken a look at your local police department’s massive and bristling military hardware lately?
Just shut up and watch as this newfangled children’s crusade turns our border, the concept of nationhood itself, into dust. Welcome to Obamaland.
Of course, even the 17-year-old gangbangers among the youngsters aren’t the masterminds or generals. Like American citizens, they are pawns, dupes, lured by promises which Washington may indeed extract from Us, the People. “Go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away,” one Guatemalan mother told a radio station in the Rio Grande Valley. She is right. Come one, come all.
Once they are over the increasingly irrelevant line, Obama officials welcome the invading junior armies, shepherding them straight into an enfolding and enlarging federal safety net from which they may never have to emerge. These are just the newest wards of a brave new state that bears no resemblance to the republic as defined by those antique documents kept under glass in the dim light of the National Archives.
Meanwhile, “the kids” have hit the jackpot – that jackpot of socialist programs that separates today’s “new Americans” from our forefathers. Not so long ago, immigrants came for liberty and opportunity, not tax-supported handouts.
We are witnessing the betrayal of that nation of liberty and opportunity because there are so few in power with the courage to lawfully oppose it – not just rail about it all as a mere columnist.
Meanwhile, American citizens are footing the bill. Living costs aside, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama administration – i.e., We, the Taxpayers – will be providing attorneys for the legions of “unaccompanied minors”. Holder’s non-specific language is telling: “We’re taking a historic step to … protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” he said. Historic step is right – Legal Aid for the world. He continued: “How we treat those in need … goes to the core of who we are as a nation.”
OK, so who are we, Mr. Attorney General, as a “nation”? The Western Hemisphere?
Once upon a time, the U.S. staged the Berlin Airlift, mounting an astounding 200,000 flights in one year to keep Soviet-blockaded Berlin supplied with fuel and foodstuffs. Today, a more modest Central American Airlift would do to return these runaways to their families. One thing at a time, though. How about calling out the National Guard? It would even be of some comfort if someone in Congress went to the floor and told peoples of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the rest to stay the hell home.
So long as all of the government remains complicit or silent, this is nothing less than an unopposed invasion – an unopposed war, in other words, even if waged by the most unconventional means and by the most unlikely and unarmed “soldiers”.
Worst of all, though, it is a war that is being encouraged, if not led, by our own president while no one with all of the appropriate Constitutional powers vested in him is doing anything to stop him.
The Left is intensely immoral, as unabashedly unscrupulous as a wild beast. It will shamelessly blacken the name of anybody it perceives as a danger to it with baseless lies. Example: Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, publicly announced that the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008, Mitt Romney, had not paid his taxes.
The Left will sacrifice any number of people, destroy their hopes, their health, their lives, if in their calculation doing so might give them an advantage. Example: Far-left President Obama is drawing tens of thousands of children over the Mexican border – to become, he hopes, future voters for his Party – by announcing that children who are in the US as illegal aliens will not be deported. All the children suffer. Many are ill. Some die.
The Left will deprive a law-abiding citizen, with armed force, of everything he has striven for in the name of some new oppressive regulation it has suddenly launched with a dim ideological end in view such as “environmental protection”. Example: A man who made a pond is being fined $75,000 a day by the EPA for doing just that, on the absurd grounds that the little stretch of water on his property is contaminating a river miles away.
These are just three examples, picked at random from the top of our composite editorial head, of present-day Leftist immorality in America. (How to choose from among the misdemeanors of the Clintons? An embarrasment of riches!) ) The theme of the Left’s iniquity is so vast that volumes could be written about it, and have been. In other countries, Leftist powers have committed mass-murder on an unimaginable scale by poison-gas, firing-squad, torture, overwork, and deliberate starvation.
And what compounds the evil and swells the monstrousness of it all is that they do it in the name of compassion. Their aim, they claim, is to better the lot of the the underdog. They will make the poor richer by taking riches from the rich and giving them to the poor until all are materially and socially equal. They do not want the only form of equality that is just – equality before the law. It offends them, they say (even the richest among them, and most of them are rich) to see inequality between the richest and the poorest.
With them, equality is not a moral principle but an aesthetic one.
They call the ideal of it “social justice“.
Justice has always been understood in our tradition as justice for the individual, qua individual. When a person goes to court, either in a criminal or a civil case, our system strives to provide him with a result that is fair given what he has done or failed to do. This is what we understand justice to be. Thus, when we say that justice should be blind, we mean that it should be rendered without regard to a person’s social status and without regard to the demands of this or that social agenda.
If justice is an individual-centric concept, then there is no room for the concept of social justice. The pursuit of social justice may lead to action that is consistent with justice, for example a non-discrimination statute. But the concept of “social justice” isn’t required to justify such a law; nor is it invoked to do so, since arguments for simple justice are always more persuasive (for example, the sponsors of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 took pains to assure the nation, probably disingenuously in some cases, that the law would preclude racial preferences).
The pursuit of social justice may also lead to action that is inconsistent with justice, such as granting racial preferences or expropriating someone’s property for “the greater good”. Such action is not justice, but rather justice’s antithesis. Thus, we should object when it is marketed as “social justice”.
In sum, the concept of social justice has no value. In the first scenario, it is superfluous; in the second, it is false advertising.
[Peter] Wehner argues that “any society that fails to dispense some measure of sympathy and solicitude to others, particularly those living in the shadows and who are most vulnerable to injustice, cannot really be a good society”. I agree. But vulnerability to injustice can be countered by the rigorous pursuit of simple justice. And sympathy and solicitude can be dispensed under these labels, rather than as a form of justice.
Wehner recognizes this when he concludes: “Whether this effort travels under the banner of social justice or some other name, to do justice and to love mercy is what is required of us, as individuals and as a society”. But the banner under which the charitable project travels matters.
When it travels under the banner of social justice, it gains extra moral authority that it does not deserve. The genuine tension between our desire to do justice (as commonly understood) and to be merciful is elided because justice is subsumed under mercy.
The result will be confusion and mischief, such as the aforementioned racial preferences and expropriation of property for “the greater good”. If rationalized as “social justice”, such components of the redistributionist project become entitlements, not favors to be granted, if at all, in small doses and under limited circumstances.
As [Friedrich] Hayek, who (as Wehner notes) deplored the concept of social justice, understood, therein lies the road to serfdom.
Besides, we cannot believe that devotees of the Left (once grown out of the ignorant idealism of adolescence) give a fig for “sympathy”, “solicitude”, or “mercy”. If they did they would take pains to find out what economic system really does better the lot of the poor (namely, the free market); and they wouldn’t repeat as they do that “the end justifies the means” – their excuse for sacrificing any number of their fellow human beings.
In fact many of them have dropped even the pretense of sympathizing with human beings. The victims of their “compassion” were first the proletarians. Then, as the proletarians in the Western world became too prosperous (because they had a degree of freedom) to qualify as pretexts for vast destruction, they focused on the lumpenproletariat. That class also became too well-off to care about. So then they moaned about the lot of “women” – by which they meant feminists – and people of unconventional sexual preferences. Many of them moved on to animals. But their ever-restless avant-garde did not stop there. They are now working to sacrifice more people than ever before on the grounds that it will be good for the wilderness, for rocks and stones, and even the vast, spinning, molten-cored planet - the ultimate victim of “social injustice”. (See our post, Fresh wild raw uninhabited world, January 2, 2012.)
It would be enormously laughable as a theory, if it wasn’t colossally tragic as historical and contemporary reality.
Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (see our review of it, The Savior of Socialism Proves the Worth of Capitalism, under Pages) has been found to contain serious errors by the Financial Times.
Their findings confirm the unfavorable verdict pronounced on the book by both our reviewer Don L and, in comment, by our in-house economist Burro.
We quote from the FT article by Chris Giles:
The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets …
The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.
Prof Piketty … provides detailed sourcing for his estimates of wealth inequality in Europe and the US over the past 200 years. In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.
Now we see nothing wrong, in any case, with income or wealth inequality. (Piketty confuses the two.) We have observed that, in open societies, wherever the rich are richest, the poor are least poor.
It is the Left that wants economic equality, and wherever it has tried to establish that impossible condition it has not just failed, it has created hell on earth.
The Left swooped on Piketty’s obese compendium of wishes and errors, as a vindication of socialist theory. (See for example the encomium by the leftist professor Paul Krugman here. He thinks Piketty has made a “masterly diagnosis” in his “superb book”.)
So we hail the FT’s revelations with more than a touch of unapologetic Schadenfreude.
In a comment today under our post The savior of socialism proves the worth of capitalism (May 20, 2014), Burro writes:
A great leap forward has just occurred!
No less than the Financial Times of London has right on it’s front page today, Saturday, an exposé of Pick-your-number’s book and the loony numbers it contains. It then proceeds to demolish most of the Socialist conclusions on page 3. …
[Piketty] has been shown to have attended the “Al Gore” school of statistics, and not only made errors of transcription, ie putting numbers in the wrong place which surprise, surprise was beneficial to HIS thesis but not the opposite, but “the [FT] investigation found numerous mistakes in [his] work: simple fat-finger errors; sub-optimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing; unexplained use of different time periods; and inconsistent uses of source data”. …
Picketty says he is “…happy to change my (ie his) conclusion” should such numbers be incorrect. …
Burro does not believe Piketty will change his conclusion or his mind. He wrote the book because he believes with fixed certainty that socialism is good.
Today we post, in our Pages section, a review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty.
The review, by Don L, is titled: The “Savior of Socialism” Proves the Worth of Capitalism. (To go there, click on the title under Pages, at the top of our margin.)
Here is an extract :
Piketty’s Marxian monster is one nonsensical – and previously discarded – economic notion after another. He doesn’t grasp that there is no distribution of income, favorably or negatively, in a Free Market Capitalistic system. All wealth is allocated by consumers … they are kings and queens of an economy and of a truly JUST society. They determine what producer satisfies needs and wants most successfully. It’s consumer meritocracy! Nobody from General Foods ever shows up at the door with a threat of imprisonment if you don’t buy. Further, Piketty holds to the long-ago-tossed idea that capital is homogeneous. Capital is heterogeneous, and it is the putting together, by an entrepreneur, of the right combination of capital to serve consumers’ demands, in an uncertain environment, that determines profit or loss. Remember, an entrepreneur pays wages well in advance of sales revenue. There is absolutely no such thing as a guaranteed or certain rate of return on capital such as Piketty chronically and erroneously incorporates in his formulations. …
Mr Piketty’s book, except for unintentionally proving that government causes income inequality, is worthless, and his endeavor is doomed. Piketty fails to comprehend that inequality arises when government economic intervention distorts free exchange into an unnatural 3-party, buyer-seller-government, lose-lose-win by coercion, framework. He just doesn’t understand that there can never be a sufficiency of data, nor a mathematical model, by which you can emulate the free and willing, person-to-person, win-win interaction of hundreds of millions of people making trillions upon trillions of decisions about what they think is best for themselves as they allocate dollars/wealth through exchange. Governments cannot legislate or impose a false reality.
“Socialism fails because it’s based on the emotion of SHOULD.
Free Market Capitalism succeeds because it’s based on the reality of IS.”
Ludwig von Mises
The author supplies a very useful list of books at the end of the review.
The economy is in the doldrums primarily because of the socialist wealth-redistribution agenda of the Obama administration. Socialism kills prosperity.
The Pope, who is directly informed by an omniscient god so that what he utters is infallibly right, recently demanded world-wide redistribution.
Milton Friedman argues brilliantly against the idea (rotten whether invented by mortals or divinity) of redistribution in general.
And against 100% inheritance tax in particular:
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the great Austrian economist and political philosopher, F.A.Hayek.
This tribute to him comes from Investor’s Business Daily, by Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr., senior fellow at the Cato Institute:
Hayek’s work, whether on economics, politics or law, focused on the ineluctable problems of uncertainty and incomplete information. In economics articles going back to the 1930s, he analyzed the price system as a mechanism for communicating information to buyers and sellers about the intensity of preferences for goods and their relative scarcity. He concluded that the information does not exist anywhere in its entirety and could not be centralized. … Socialist (really communist) societies relying on centralized planning would be characterized by gross economic inefficiencies.
Hayek was vindicated by subsequent events. The power of this argument is lost today on policymakers engaged in “planning lite,” attempts to allocate credit to favored industries and pick winners.
The Great Recession was in large part the consequence of such a policy. The Fed’s balance sheet is loaded up with housing finance paper. In “Ben Bernanke Versus Milton Friedman,” historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel argues that the Fed has evolved from monetary authority to a credit allocator.
Hayek first began evolving his information argument in his monetary analysis. In 1932, he questioned whether deliberate monetary management could avoid economic fluctuations.
Friedman later developed the argument against discretionary monetary policy in a series of articles that detailed the information problems confronting a central bank. His argument later became encapsulated as the “lags” in monetary policy — i.e., the unpredictability of when the effects of monetary policy actions will be felt. Monetary policymakers give lip service to Friedman’s arguments, but ignore them in practice.
Hayek deftly summed up his argument on information in his 1988 book, The Fatal Conceit:
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
A market economy is a complex order, the outcome of societal evolution that confounds efforts to redesign it. The central tenet of classical liberalism was summed up by George Smith in his brilliant book, The System of Liberty:
Laissez faire in all spheres, personal, social and economic, was the fundamental presumption of liberalism — its default setting, so to speak — and all deviations from this norm stood in need of justification.
In America, by linguistic legerdemain, progressives transformed the meaning of liberalism into nearly the opposite of what it originally meant. Progressives became liberals, and true liberals lost their identity. Hence, we have the peculiar use of conservative to denote in America what had once been liberal thought.
So when Hayek wrote a famous essay on “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” he confabulated some American conservatives. He was not attacking American conservatism. Instead, he was combating the transplantation to America of a “European type of conservatism, which (is) alien to the American tradition.” That European conservatism upheld tradition and status over liberty and innovation.
Hayek argued there, and elsewhere, that liberalism must be the political philosophy of principles. Its central principle is individual liberty. …
Hayek provided a much-needed program for American conservatives today. They must stand for free markets and free people. Free markets and free trade must be seen as the economic core of an opportunity society that provides hope for all. …
Hayek was born in Vienna at the high point of the global liberal economic order comprising free markets, free trade and capital movements, and the classical gold standard. That glorious edifice ended with World War I. So for decades he was arguing against the tide of history. Yet he lived long enough to be vindicated. His words, written over the course of much of the 20th century, constitute a message for today.
On the centenary of Hayek’s birth, May 8, 1999, Barun S. Mitra wrote a tribute to him, published by the Liberty Institute, India.
We quote from it:
Today, a wide range of people has acknowledged his contribution all over the world. From philosophers like Karl Popper, Robert Nozick … to political leaders like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Vaclav Klaus, to Nobel laureate economists like Milton Friedman, James Buchanan … and countless others. As the iron curtain was being built in the aftermath of World War II, Ludwig Erhard, the finance minister of West Germany turned to Hayekian ideas to rebuild his country. Half a century later when the iron curtain collapsed, leaders in many countries in Eastern Europe again turned to Hayek in their attempt to rebuild their societies. And Hayek is reportedly available on the bookshelf of even the Chinese Prime Minister.
If today, the world is witnessing a perceptible change in thinking, it is in no small amount due to the legacy of Hayek. …
No wonder commemorative events are being organised in London, Paris, Vienna, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Eastern Europe, and Central America. The Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom has named him the man of the century. …
Hayek was more than a Nobel Prize winning academic. He was an intellectual giant, who was also a gentleman to the core. The man, who went on to become one of the greatest champions of liberty, had begun his life as a young soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and sent to the Italian front in 1917. An academic, whose “controversial ideas” were eventually recognised by the Nobel committee in 1974, Hayek was also an activist who was among the founders of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1948. This was an organisation dedicated to pursuing the intellectual battle against all forms of authoritarianism and tyranny at a time when it was fashionable to call oneself socialist. Today, it has hundreds of members, including many Nobel laureates, spread across all the continents. He inspired many to take up intellectual activism like the late Sir Anthony Fisher, the British businessman who founded the Institute of Economic Affairs in London in 1955. Over the years, IEA, an independent think tank, has produced countless policy papers and books on contemporary issues, and is recognised to have contributed to changing the popular perception that made the Thatcher revolution possible in Britain in the 1980s
Hayek was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 8, 1899, to August Edler von Hayek & Felicitas von Hayek. Even as a teenager, he was interested in philosophy, economics and ethics. But his studies were interrupted as he was called for military duty in 1917, and saw action on the Italian front. On his return from service he went back to college. In the 1920s Hayek was part of that heady circle in post-war Vienna, a group which featured some of the greatest minds of the century. He earned two doctorates, one in law and another in political science. He studied economics under Ludwig von Mises, one of the greatest exponents of the Austrian School. He left for England in 1931 worried about the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Hayek mainly taught at the London School of Economics, but had short spells at universities around world including, Cambridge, Chicago, Stanford, Tokyo, and Freiburg.
Hayek was one of those few fortunate people who lived to see the tumultuous events that shook the socialist empire, and be vindicated. In a letter written in 1989, he noted, “the ultimate victory of our side in the long dispute of the principles of the free market.” He must have been saddened at the enormous cost, both human and material, that was paid in pursuit of a doomed experiment.
Hayek died in Freiburg on 23 March 1992.
In the 1930s, Hayek was the principal opponent Keynes. In various scholarly publications - Monetary Theory of Trade Cycle (1933), The Pure Theory of Capital (1941) – he had pointed out that business cycles are caused by monetary mismanagement in [government]. This contribution of Hayek was noted by the Nobel committee. Subsequent events have completely vindicated Hayek. Concerned about the stability of value, he wrote a radical essay in the 1976, “The Denationalisation of Money”, where he argued that it was a serious mistake to allow governments to monopolise the legal tender. He called for the freedom of the individuals to trade in whatever media of exchange they thought best. …
Hayek emphasized that division of labour and division of knowledge were complimentary. Every individual possessed some specialized and local knowledge that was particular to his situation and preferences. Yet, the market, through the competitive price system, successfully coordinated all these bits of knowledge. Prices provide the incentive to invest in certain areas, and the information regarding the possible opportunities. Hayek explained, “We must look at the price system as such a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function… … The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates, or how little the individual participants need to know in order to be able to take the right action.” …
Hayek also developed the idea of “spontaneous order” to describe the progress of civilizations. Language, customs, traditions, rules of conduct, have all evolved without any conscious design, and without that freedom societies may not have evolved beyond primitive levels, he held. Advancement of society was dependent upon no one overall “plan” being imposed over the actions and plans of the individuals making up the society. Building on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, Hayek showed that planning need not necessarily lead to order and lack of a guiding hand need not degenerate in to chaos. …
It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess, and because each individual’s use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends, that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.
This characteristic of the market where order seemed to develop quite spontaneously, along with dispersed nature of knowledge, raises one of the most fundamental questions on the utility of government intervention in the economy to achieve a particular end. The institutions created by government decree to provide direction to such intervention would under the best of circumstances simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of knowledge that they will need to process.
In contrast, the market routinely brings to order millions of evaluations undertaken by each individual participant. Hayek showed that progress arises from a continuous process of “discovery” wherein a variety of producers and consumers experiment with a wide range of possible opportunities to make profit. Most such experiments fail in the marketplace, and the innovators bear the cost taking the risk. But some succeed, and the benefits are enjoyed by all. That is the reason why in a free market, voluntary trade creates a win-win situation for all participants. …
The Road to Freedom
Hayek also published works more accessible to a wider public, which included books such as The Road to Serfdom (1944) and The Constitution of Liberty. The former has been nominated by journals like London’s Time Literary Supplement as one the noteworthy books of this century. Dozens of unauthorised editions of it were known to be in circulation among the underground activists in the Eastern block during the cold war. This book has now been published in many languages across the world. …
Then Mitra, looking at Hayek’s ideas from an Indian perspective, points out that India would have done well to have learnt what he taught:
We are concerned that after fifty years of independence, poverty is so wide spread, and as a measure to speed up the process of redistribution of wealth, we thought it prudent to abolish right to property as a fundamental right. Hayek had cautioned all those years ago that “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.”
We want “social justice”, while Hayek warned that “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal”, and to attempt otherwise would only contribute to social collision. “Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict which each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time”, wrote Hayek.
The world has had a bitter experience in the 20th Century. The dreams of a socialist-collectivist utopia were shattered by economic collapse and degenerated into tyrannical police states. According to historian Thomas Sowell, if one was to mark the time when the intellectual tide began to turn against the ideal of socialism then it was with Hayek’s [The Road to] Serfdom. …
While the world is marking his centenary now, the next century could well belong to him. And ideas do change the world. Let us hope that the intellectual tide in favour of Hayek will become a tidal wave in the next millenium. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom may actually help pave the road to freedom for all of us.
The government should issue bonds that will never be repaid. Not simply replaced with new bonds as at present — never repaid ever.
We quote from an article by Hunter Lewis at Townhall:
In her speech at the New York Economic Club on Wednesday [April 16, 2014], Janet Yellen said it is “quite plausible” the economy will reach full employment in a couple of years with just the right amount of inflation, which to her mind means 2% a year.
If the economy surprises her, the Fed will “systematically respond to unforeseen economic developments”. But what exactly does this mean? How will the Fed respond?
The Fed has already made loans available to New York and foreign banks at negative real interest rates and created trillions of new dollars — all without support from either history or theory. What other steps could follow?
Here are a few of the radical ideas floating around the halls of the Fed and associated Keynesian economics departments:
1. Take a leaf from Japan by forcing banks to lend in return for Fed support.
2. Require banks to charge negative interest. This means that depositors would lose money if not used. Ms. Yellen voiced support for this idea in 2010. Some supporters of NIPR (negative interest rate policy) would like to eliminate cash entirely, because electronic money is more easily controlled.
3. Hold interest rates down but simultaneously drive inflation up to as much as 5-6%. With real interest rates at negative 5%, borrowing will soar. What isn’t clear in this scenario is why lenders will want to lend, but this idea is supported by leading lights of the Harvard economics department, and let’s not let reality intrude.
4. Create even more money and use it to buy corporate bonds, stocks, real estate, anything that can be bought, which will flood the economy with money.
Some of the ideas waiting in the wings are not monetary. They include:
5. The government should set an annual borrowing target for the economy. If it isn’t being met by the private sector, government will itself step in and borrow to achieve the target. In this proposal, it doesn’t really matter how the borrowing is used. Quantity, not quality, of spending and investment is all that counts.
6. The government should issue bonds that will never be repaid. Not simply replaced with new bonds as at present — never repaid ever.
7. Employers should have to seek government permission to lay off or fire a worker. This idea of Paul Krugman’s is already true to a large degree in France, with the result that employers are very reluctant to hire anyone.
What all these Keynesian ideas have in common is the belief that a crash caused by too much bad debt can be cured by more debt. They also assume that the very government price controls and manipulations that have caused massive unemployment can be used to undo the damage.
Unfortunately these are precisely the ideas guiding Janet Yellen and the other Keynesian PhD’s guiding world economic policy today.