Bad ideas blown away by Milton Friedman 19

A young idealist has a formula for ending poverty and achieving economic equality: 100% inheritance tax  and redistribution of wealth by government. He thinks – as the Left does – that there is a fixed quantity of wealth in the world – “the capital” he calls it . (Why can’t or won’t the Left understand that wealth is created?)

Milton Friedman explains how the formula would destroy a society.

And here he talks – inter alia – about the importance of limiting government power to preserve the freedom of the individual.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, education, Socialism, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, November 23, 2013

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Saved from Communism – and flourishing 4

“Stalin was a banner of creativity, of humanism and an edifying picture of peace and heroism!” declared Salvador Allende during a eulogy in 1953 to the Soviet mass-murderer.  

Allende became the Communist president of Chile in November 1970. Fortunately, he was thrown out of power on September 9, 1973.

Now the triumph of capitalist Chile needs to be celebrated, and its economic ways emulated throughout the world.

This is from Investor’s Business Daily, by Monica Showalter:

By the looks of the bright, shiny Chilean capital, where it’s possible to shop at Starbucks, H&M or Banana Republic, dine at globally ranked restaurants … or marvel at the world-class architectural engineering of the continent’s tallest skyscrapers that escaped Chile’s 2010 8.8-scale earthquake unscathed, it’s hard to believe that 40 years earlier Chile was a tottering democracy in ruins, well on its way to becoming a Soviet-Cuban satellite.

The country changed course by a legislatively ordered military coup in 1973, which to this day remains globally reviled as if it were a destruction of democracy that came out of a vacuum.

But the hard fact is, the military action led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet on Sept. 11, 1973, effectively turned back the global ambitions of an emboldened Moscow-Havana communist axis, which sought to take over South America as an enfeebled U.S reeled from the Vietnam War.

That strategy was to create a sort of “red sandwich” on the South American continent, with Cuba in the northeast and Chile in the southwest, and both sides training terrorists and revolutionaries to move inward and northward until they could reach the final prize: Mexico.

Pinochet turned it back … He [eventually] stepped down as promised … 

Yet, instead of being seen as a hero who saved his country from a totalitarian fate, both the global and Chilean establishment, taking their propaganda cues from an embittered Cuba, continue to paint Pinochet as a villain and his action to save his country as a tragedy.

In reality, Pinochet was, as historian Paul Johnson noted, “the most misunderstood man of the 20th century”.

See, Chile’s story might not have ended in skyscrapers, OECD membership, a per capita income of more than $18,000, the region’s highest transparency, lowest infant mortality, least corruption and negative net debt had Pinochet just sat there and held the fort. And even that would have been a huge improvement over communism.

But besides blowing out a communist beachhead, Pinochet instituted the world’s first genuine free-market reforms. They effectively transformed his country from a messy Latin American semi-democracy into a first-world country with a booming economy.

Years before Reagan and Thatcher began their earth-shaking revolutions, which finished off communism as a cause and put even leftist politicians on the defensive around the world, Pinochet turned his nation’s fiscal matters over to a group of young economists trained by Milton Friedman.

Known as “Los Chicago Boys”, they had the decree powers of a military regime but the ideas of free markets. Using both, they effectively privatized state-owned industries, broke up crony capitalist cartels, enacted airtight property rights, cut red tape, opened Chile’s markets to the world — bringing its wines, seafood, fruits, timber, copper and, now, high-tech to the West in quantities never before seen — reformed social security, and, after a few miscues, restored the integrity of the country’s currency, credit rating and fiscal discipline.

What’s more, their reforms stuck, even as the country continued to re-elect socialist governments, because the institutions were so strong and the culture of ownership was so great. …

The left’s effort to revile Pinochet out of all proportion to the crimes of the era — while excusing the far more severe crimes of Cuba’s Castro and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas — ultimately amounts to an angry left’s effort to discredit Pinochet’s most lasting legacy: the free market revolution.

And this is from Townhall, by Humberto Fontova (also quoted at the top of this post):

On September 11, 1973 the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet slapped Fidel Castro so smartly that his Stalinist regime (and its dutiful U.S. Media minions) are still sniveling and sniffling and wiping away tears of shock, pain and humiliation.

We feel your happiness, Humberto!

True to form, The New York Times leads the sniveling. They just published an article decrying the Chilean “tragedy” (i.e. Chile saving itself from Castroism with a military coup and is today the richest and freest nation in Latin America.) The article’s author Ariel Dorfman is a former advisor to Chile’s Marxist president and Castro acolyte Salvador Allende. …

“Without the help of the New York Times, the Revolution in Cuba would never have been,” …  beamed Fidel Castro during a visit to the New York Times offices in April 1959 to decorate their star Latin America reporter with a newly-minted Cuban medal.

“We’re following the example of the Cuban Revolution and counting on the support of her militant internationalism represented by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara!” boasted Chilean president Salvador Allende’s minister Carlos Altamirano in January 1971. “Armed conflict in continental terms remains as relevant today as ever!” he declared.

And he wasn’t bluffing. By the time of Pinochet’s coup, an estimated 31,000 Cuban and Soviet bloc operatives and terrorists infested Chile

By 1973, 60% of Chile’s arable land had been stolen by Allende’s Marxist regime, often with the aid of Cuba-trained death squads. “In the final analysis only armed conflict will decide who is the victor!” added Allende’s governmental ally, Oscar Guillermo Garreton. “The class struggle always entails armed conflict. Understand me, the global strategy is always accomplished through arms!”…

Then, in September 1973, the military, led by General Pinochet, made a strike with arms against Allende. It was a successful coup d’etat. Allende committed suicide. Pinochet came to power.

Although he had acted with arms, and although he took tyrannical actions against his enemies, the Left did not  think he was “a banner of creativity, of humanism and an edifying picture of peace and heroism.” Perhaps because those tyrannical actions of his were not remotely on the same scale as Stalin’s.

Allende and Castro’s media minions claim 3000 people were “disappeared” during this anti-Communist coup and its aftermath, collateral damage and all. Well, even if we accept the Castroite figure, compared to the death-toll from our interventions/ bombing- campaigns in the Mid-East (that have yet to create a single free, peaceful and prosperous nation) Pinochet’s coup should be enshrined and studied at West Point, Georgetown and John Hopkins as the paradigm for effective “regime–change” and “nation-building.” Granted, Pinochet had much better raw-material to work with.

But the Castroite –MSM figure is mostly bogus, as many of those “disappeared” kept appearing, usually behind the iron curtain.

More importantly, Pinochet and his plotters were scrupulous in keeping U.S. State Dept. and CIA “nation-builders” and other such egghead busybodies out of their plotting loop. (This probably explains Pinochet’s success.) Then two years after the coup they invited Milton Freidman and his “Chicago Boys” over for some economic tutelage. And as mentioned: today Chile is the freest and richest nation in Latin America.

Socialism versus capitalism 11

The forthcoming presidential election in the US is about socialism versus capitalism.

“Capitalism” was Karl Marx’s word for what Adam Smith called “the natural order of liberty”. To be for capitalism is to be for individual freedom. 

Obama, whether he admits it or not, is a socialist, and his agenda is to change America into a socialist welfare state. As the collapse of one after another of such states in Europe demonstrates, that is the road to economic ruin.

Romney is a capitalist. He would keep America the free market country it has always been. The free market is the only road to general prosperity.

Here’s Milton Friedman on Socialism versus Capitalism – as the short video clip is titled – in a 1979 Phil Donahue show:

 

How not to keep the poor 3

The way to keep the poor poor, is to keep them dependent on government.

The compassioneers of the Left need to keep the poor poor, or they’d lose not only their pretext for empowering the state to control our lives, and all those voters whom they make dependent on big government, but more dreadfully for them the cause in the name of which they claim moral superiority.

The name of their ideology of forced dependence is Socialism. It’s imposition on a nation is the tried and tested way to create poverty and keep the poor poor.

Capitalism, or what Adam Smith called “the natural order of liberty”, is the tried and tested way to create prosperity and bring people out of poverty.

Whenever socialist states and other tyrannies relent to free markets, their per capita income rises. This has been happening steadily over the last thirty years or so, despite the fervid efforts of Environmentalists and world government fanatics to establish a global socialist economy. The Third World has measurably benefitted.

This is from Townhall by Steve Chapman:

[According to] a new World Bank report, “the data indicate a decline in both the poverty rate and the number of poor in all six regions of the developing world.”

In 1981, 70 percent of those in the developing world subsisted on the equivalent of less than $2 a day, and 42 percent had to manage with less than $1 a day. Today, 43 percent are below $2 a day and 14 percent below $1.

Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time,” write Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz.

Just as important as the extent of the improvement is the location: everywhere. In the past there has been improvement in a few countries or a continent. Not this time.

China has continued the rapid upward climb it began three decades ago. India, long a laggard, has shaken off its torpor. Latin America has made sharp inroads against poverty. “For the first time since 1981,” says the World Bank, “we have seen less than half the population of sub-Saharan Africa living below $1.25 a day.”

The start of most global trends is hard to pinpoint. This one, however, had its big bang in the early 1970s, in Chile. After a socialist government brought on economic chaos, the military seized power in a bloody coup and soon embarked on a program of drastic reform – privatizing state enterprises, fighting inflation, opening up foreign trade and investment and unshackling markets.

It was the formula offered by economists associated with the University of Chicago, notably Milton Friedman, and it turned Chile into a rare Latin American success. In time, it also facilitated a return to democracy.

Chile was proof that freeing markets and curbing state control could generate broad-based prosperity, which socialist policies could only promise.

If that experiment weren’t sufficient, it got another try on a much bigger scale when China’s Deng Xiaoping abandoned the disastrous policies of Mao Zedong and veered onto the capitalist road. The result was an economic miracle yielding growth rates that averaged 10 percent per year.

The formula was too effective to be ignored. Over the past two decades, poorer nations have dismantled command-and-control methods and given markets greater latitude. Economic growth, not redistribution, has been the surest cure for poverty, and economic freedom has been the key that unlocked the riddle of economic growth.

Over the past 30 years, notes the libertarian Cato Institute in the latest edition of its “Economic Freedom of the World,” the average country’s economic freedom score has risen from 5.53 (on a 10 scale) to 6.64 — a significant improvement that has paid off in higher growth and earnings. The evidence indicates a reliable pattern: the freer the economy the faster the growth. …

The latest cover story in The Economist magazine is: “Cuba hurtles toward capitalism.” Cuba! Even communists eventually have to make peace with reality.

But as they do, the country that has grown to be the richest ever because of its freedom – the USA - is being turned into a socialist welfare state by a leader raised and trained as a communist.

President Obama calls capitalism, the magic formula for prosperity, ”You’re-on-your-own economics”, and insists that it doesn’t work.

This is from Investor’s Business Daily:

“You’re-on-your-own economics” doesn’t work, President Obama asserted Friday, just as the World Bank reported a halving of world poverty due mainly to — you guessed it — you’re-on-your-own economics.

Perhaps he didn’t try free-market economics himself in the past decade, but all six global regions observed by the World Bank did try it — and the stunning result is that global poverty has been slashed in half … It started with the advent of free markets in Chile in 1975, gained speed with the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions, took off with the Asian Tiger states and has been crescendo-ing around the globe ever since. …

Anyone who travels to countries like Peru, Poland, Indonesia, Colombia, Thailand, Hungary, South Africa, Chile, Tanzania and India knows very well that things aren’t what they used to be. Vast middle classes have formed, education is booming, business is up and many of their cities no longer resemble the Third World.

More to the point, people have growing access to jobs, education and a future. Mexico’s rate of illegal immigration has plunged since 2009 as average incomes there approach $7,000 — the threshold that makes staying in Mexico more attractive than living abroad illegally.

Technology has helped; they all have Facebook, cellphones and ATMs to make living more efficient.

The World Bank cites generally stronger political institutions — the kind that enforce one set of laws for all, respect property rights and don’t reward crony capitalists or stacked courts — something Obama might learn from. …

The big Goliath of this revolution is the embrace of free markets. Against the president’s claims that free markets don’t work, note that all six regions of the world are making big progress by embracing markets. …

President Obama’s ambition to keep the poor poor is not limited to turning America into an economically depressed, heavily indebted socialist state; he takes whatever active steps he can to establish a globally centralized control-and-command economy.

He has appointment a new head of the World Bank,  Jim Yong Kim, who will no doubt try to prevent such a report as Steve Chapman sums up ever coming out again: a man in whose dogma such truths need to be suppressed.

This is by Jacob Laksin at Front Page:

Imagine if President Obama appointed radical Noam Chomsky, who has denounced capitalism as a “murderously destructive catastrophe,” to head up a committee on economic growth. That’s less of a stretch than it may seem, considering Obama’s nominee to head the World Bank, current Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim.

Kim’s expertise is in health policy, so little is known about his views on economic development, the World Bank’s primary purpose. What is on the public record, however, is deeply troubling. A case in point is a collection of studies that Kim co-edited in 2000, Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor. The grim title accurately reflects the book’s radical central premise, namely that capitalism and economic growth is bad for the poor across the world. The introduction, which Kim co-authored with several other academics, states the point bluntly: “The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.”

A barefaced lie, as the statistics in the World Bank’s report demonstrate.

In this vein, the authors go on to dismiss “neoliberalism” – the preferred left-wing academic pejorative for free trade and free markets – as a failure, particularly for the world’s poor. “Even where neoliberal policy measures have succeeded in stimulating economic growth, growth’s benefits have not gone to those living in ‘dire poverty,’ one-fourth of the world’s population,” the authors assert.

If economic growth hurts the poor, especially in the Third World, what helps their cause? The book answers that question with a chapter touting what it considers a true success: communist Cuba’s health-care system. As the chapter’s author tells it, Cuba’s health care is supposedly on par with that of the United States, an achievement made “possible because of a govern­mental commitment not only to health in the narrow sense but to social equality and social justice.” Relying on bogus statistics from the Cuban government and distorting the extreme inequities of Cuban health care, where few of Cuba’s poor can either afford or obtain either medicine or doctors’ treatment, the study is revealing mostly of the ideological extremism of its author. Indeed, it might well have been written by Chomsky, which in fact it was: the author is Aviva Chomsky, Noam Chomsky’s eldest daughter. Noam Chomsky himself is quoted in the book’s conclusion, which cites his dismissal of economic growth as “efforts to make people feel helpless.” The book’s authors, including Jim Yong Kim, seem to agree.

They could hardly be more wrong.

(For confirmation of how they could hardly be more wrong, see our post Any old pills?, October 29, 2010.)

In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that economic growth raises income levels, which in turn reduces poverty and improves the lot of the global poor. Much of that evidence has been documented by the World Bank, the very institution that Kim has been tapped to lead. Earlier this month, for instance, the World Bank released a report documenting a decline in the poverty rate of the poor in all the regions of the developing world. The finding is especially striking because it comes amidst a global downturn. Economic growth accounts for much of this astounding progress.

He too quotes statistics:

And that progress is truly impressive. In 1990, 52 percent of the population in the developing world lived below the poverty rate of $1.25 a day. That number was halved by 2008, when 22 percent lived below the poverty rate. Progress has been most dramatic in East Asia, particularly China, which has seen the greatest surge in economic growth. In the 1980s, according to the World Bank report, East Asia had the world’s highest poverty rate, with 77 percent of the population living below the poverty rate as recently as 1981. By 2008, that number had plunged to 14 percent. The report points out that in China alone, 662 million people are no longer living poverty. Not only is no one “dying” due to economic growth, but literally millions of lives have been bettered thanks to economic gains.

China may be the most spectacular example of economic growth’s unmatched capacity to improve the lives of the poor, but it is not an exception. Africa, so long associated with extreme poverty, is also making strides on poverty reduction thanks to economic growth. … As a result of sustained economic growth over the past 15 years …

Africa’s success is especially noteworthy because it has not been limited to countries with natural resources, such as South Africa’s diamonds or Nigerian oil. On the contrary, the authors note that poverty has fallen “for both landlocked and coastal countries, for mineral-rich and mineral-poor countries, for countries with favorable and unfavorable agriculture, for countries with different colonizers, and for countries with varying degrees of exposure to the African slave trade. The benefits of growth were so widely distributed that African inequality actually fell substantially.”

Poverty reduction through economic growth is thus one of the great success stories of recent decades. And that work is not done. …  Achieving sustained reduction in poverty will remain the great cause of the 21st century.

Yet it’s hard to see how the World Bank will help that cause if led by an open critic of economic growth like Jim Yong Kim. … It’s hard to see how its reputation will be redeemed by a World Bank president who seems to believe that the greatest danger to the global poor comes from the only proven strategy to improve the quality of their lives.

Questions of liberty 25

A case for debate

Milton Friedman – why drugs should be legalized

Posted under Commentary, Ethics, government, Law, liberty, Miscellaneous, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 21, 2012

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Choose to be free 1

Milton Friedman, champion of the Consumer, delights an audience and confounds TV host Phil Donahue, with his explanation of how Ralph Nader did harm by trying to do good, and why the free market ought to be allowed to work. The video was made way back in 1979, but what the great economist says will never become outdated.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 28, 2011

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The disastrous end of the welfare state 4

The following extracts are from an essay on the failure of the welfare state in Europe by James Roberts and J.D. Foster:

Europe’s socialist (or “social democratic”) welfare state is collapsing under the load of unsustainable debt. There is no chance European politicians will ever make good on the many costly and unfunded entitlements they have promised their citizens.

The fundamental problem in the European Union is a monetary policy failure. In conjunction with the debilitating effects of the social welfare state, this has led to a broad economic collapse among the lesser states — notably the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy [though not really a a "lesser state" - JB] , Greece, and Spain), but also some of the EU’s newer members — and it threatens to envelop the greater states.

For years, this collapse among the lesser states was disguised by debt accumulation — countries would borrow (at de facto concessionary interest rates) to overcome their inability to generate adequate income by producing and selling. The lack of actual and prospective growth combined with growing debt burdens has led to a long-term solvency crisis, which has been bubbling up of late into a series of liquidity crises.

The monetary and fiscal situation in the EU is increasingly unmanageable, as the debt burdens grow and growth prospects diminish further. …

The vision of a “euro zone” was ill-conceived from the start. It is now increasingly acknowledged that Brussels’ lack of control over social spending, especially in the PIIGS, doomed it from the beginning. Agreements (e.g., the Maastricht Treaty) to stay within EU member government spending targets were routinely flouted, even by the largest EU countries. …

The strong got stronger, while others, like Italy and Greece, stood still or even retreated on policies that would have sustained their international competitiveness. …

Southern Europeans kept borrowing in low-interest-rate euros (which simultaneously inflated housing bubbles in their countries) until, in Margaret Thatcher’s words, their socialist governments “ran out of other peoples’ money!” As a result, some of Europe’s large private banks now hold toxic quantities of sovereign debt issued by the PIIGS and are threatened with extinction through serial defaults …

For decades now, one of the most tragic costs of the European welfare state has been Europe’s structural unemployment, especially among the young, combined with welfare payments that turned unemployment into an acceptable — even desirable — status, while stripping those affected of their dignity and sense of responsibility. The recent riots in the U.K. are an ominous reflection of this failure.

One of the key questions now is: How much longer will workers and taxpayers in Germany and other relatively more fiscally prudent countries in northern Europe be willing to work into their late 60s to subsidize (via eurozone bailouts and managed defaults) their neighbors in southern Europe so that the latter can retire early in their 50s on generous state-funded pensions and go to the beach? 

How many times does it have to be proved that socialism does not work?

Free-market economists – the giants among them, von Mises, Hayek, Milton Friedman – demonstrate in theory that socialist economics cannot work. Their reasoning is not hard to follow, and entirely convincing. We human beings can use our faculty of reason – unique to our species –  to save ourselves from having to try out risky ideas in reality. But millions among us want to keep trying out the failed redistributive policies of socialist economics, experimenting with real lives, courting disaster over and over again.

Roberts and Foster grimly point out:

For the U.S., Europe is the ultimate object lesson — a warning of what happens when government is allowed to run wild, with the resulting loss of liberty, and fiscal debt.

An object lesson. A warning. But Obama, his circle of advisers and appointees, and the millions who persist in voting for socialism – aka “stimulus”, “entitlements”, “taxing the rich”  - remain obstinately deaf and blind to it.

Free to choose 2

Today, July 31, is the 98th anniversary of the birth of the great free-market economist, Milton Friedman. He died four years ago.

This is how he and his co-author wife Rose conclude their book Free to Choose, first published in England in 1980 [when and where they both signed a copy for me, of which I am still the proud owner - JB].

The two ideas of human freedom and economic freedom working together came to their greatest fruition in the United States. Those ideas are still very much with us. We are all of us imbued with them. They are part of the very fabric of our being. But we have been straying from them. We have been forgetting the basic truth that the greatest threat to human freedom is the concentration of power, whether in the hands of government or anyone else. We have persuaded ourselves that it is safe to grant power, provided it is for good purposes.

Fortunately, we are waking up. We are again recognizing the dangers of an overgoverned society, coming to understand that good objectives can be perverted by bad means, that reliance on the freedom of people to control their own lives in accordance with their own values is the surest way to achieve the full potential of a great society.

Fortunately, also, we are as a people still free to choose which way we should go – whether to continue along the road we have been following to ever bigger government, or to call a halt and change direction. [Emphasis mine]

That could have been written today, and needs to be remembered always.

The choice is still with us. May the American electorate use it well in November and with every election to come.

Burn, socialism, burn 1

Obama says there should be a limit to how much money anyone should make. He and the “progressive” majority in Congress are trying, step by step, to turn America into a European-style socialist state. Only the state, they believe, can be extravagant, taking money from people who’ve earned it and will earn it in the future, and using it to extend and tighten the power of government. Austerity must be imposed on the people. Let them eat less, feel colder, do without cars. Let them have only the medical treatment and the education government will allow them to have. Limit the amount of wealth any individual may acquire. Profit is a dirty word. Tax, tax, and tax again.

It is a recipe for disaster.

Europe is experiencing the disaster. It is seeing its socialist dream go up in flames on the streets of Athens.

What cannot work, won’t work. Socialism, like all Ponzi schemes, can seem to be working for a time, but must fail. In a favorite word of the Left (applying it where the Left would not) Socialism is “unsustainable”.

Capitalism is sustainable. Capitalism is beautiful. A cornucopia. “The incredible bread machine”.  It’s what Adam Smith called “the natural order of liberty”. It could also be called “the system of mutual benefit”.

You want the means to keep yourself alive? Provide something – goods, labor, services, ideas – that others want to buy. You want to live comfortably? Provide more of it. You want to live luxuriously? Provide it better than anyone else does. Both a seller and a buyer you will be. A buyer wants the thing he buys more than he wants the money he pays for it, just as the seller wants the money more than the thing he is parting with.

How can you know what others want? Put what you have to offer on the market and see if it sells. The right price for it is the best price you can get. The free market signals what traders need to know. As the great free-market economists, most notably von Mises, Hayek, and Milton Friedman have explained over and over again, government interference with price controls, minimum wages, rationing, compulsory purchase, bailouts, distort the signals and harm the economy.

Whether idealists and moralists like it or not, human nature is selfish. It has to be. If we were not selfish we would not eat when we’re hungry, warm ourselves when we’re cold, acquire what we need, protect ourselves from enemies. Without selfishness, the human race would not have survived. (It is not only or purely selfish. Individuals can and do choose to act unselfishly too – once they have seen to the needs of their survival.)

The Marxist idea of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” ignores human nature. Any attempt by government to put the formula into effect by creating the welfare –  or “entitlement“ – state invariably handicaps, suppresses, and impoverishes the nation.

Capitalism is the reverse of that idea. It is a system that encourages each to contribute according to his self-determined need, to be rewarded according to how ably he does it. From each according to his need and to each according to his ability would be a fair description of how the natural order of liberty works.

To satisfy bare need is a poor political aim. It reflects a pinched, narrow, joyless, life-quelling mentality. “O, reason not the need!” King Lear pleads, “our basest beggars
are in the poorest thing superfluous.” Generally speaking, in practice, the only way to be sure of having enough of anything is to have too much of it. Profit is a very good thing. It is only when people have extra money and extra time that they can invent new things. And those who produce things that improve the lives of multitudes, things that millions of people want to own and use, are doing far more for the general good than the most generous philanthropist could ever possibly do. Bill Gates with his Microsoft (though he seems not to realize it but to hold some silly lefty views) has actually done more for mankind than all the charities that have ever existed put together.

That is why it’s reasonable to propose that there is no sin of greed. There is a sin of envy. Envy is the raw material of socialist idealism. But wealth, Mr Obama, is not a problem. Poverty is a problem. And your socialist policies will cause it on a massive scale. Let us be free to work for our own maximum profit. Let us have abundance. Let us have feasts, fatness, generosity, might, novelty, and splendor.

Jillian Becker   May 11, 2010

Science and the new Inquisition 1

 From Power Line:


Professor [Frank] Tipler notes the discreditable role played by Obama’s chief science adviser, the left-wing partisan John Holdren:

 AGW supporters are also bringing back the Inquisition, where the power of the state is used to silence one’s scientific opponents. The case of Bjorn Lomborg is illustrative. Lomborg is a tenured professor of mathematics in Denmark. Shortly after his book, "The Skeptical  Environmentalist," was published by Cambridge University Press, Lomborg was charged and convicted (later reversed) of scientific fraud for being critical of the "consensus" view on AGW and other environmental questions. Had the conviction been upheld, Lomborg would  have been fired. …

 I find it very disturbing that part of the Danish Inquisition’s case against Lomborg was written by John Holdren, Obama’s new science advisor. Holdren has recently written that people like Lomborg are "dangerous." I think it is people like Holdren who are  dangerous, because they are willing to use state power to silence their scientific opponents.

Finally, he points out how toxic the combination of government (which is to say, politics) and science can be:

 I agree … that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science. If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is a skeptic, then no contract. 

 This is why I am astounded that people who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no  centralized government funding for science. Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today? …  

 Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to control the means of production. Why can’t Newt Gingrich understand this? Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government  funding for science.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 28, 2008

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