Monday, February 27, 2006

the opportunity cost of political anarchy

While it's entirely impossible to quantify and calculate the total cost that government tacks upon society's individuals, Michael S. Rozeff's daily article on attempts to give us a very rough, but low-ball estimate of just the monetary costs:

$48 Trillion!

According to Rozeff, that's approximately three times the wealth contained within the stock market that government drains from society. Before one criticizes these numbers, bear in mind that Rozeff acknowledges the impossibility of knowing the cost of those dollars to the individuals they were parted from, and does not attempt to include all the incalculable psychic damage (unhappiness, stress, etc.) due to the existence of the government and its pseudo-regulations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

living la vida anarquia

Over a month ago, I wrote a little about seeing our everyday, seemingly statist-ified world in the more pleasing light of anarchy. To briefly quote:
Starting from there, I came to see present human existence in a, ahem, state of anarchy. Yes, even with nation states and governments, I still maintain that we have workable anarchy today. This is because anarchy is but the label of the grid I use to perceive the order of reality.

When I look through this grid, I see criminal gangs calling themselves governments, who are merely cruel parasites to the human race.
I was then overjoyed to see this Mises post discussing an article published in the Summer 1979 issue of the Journal of Libertarian Studies which promises that it "blows apart the way you've seen the world."

The topic of course is "Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy?", and it goes on to make the case that the idea of government, by its definition does not truly exist, and that our coexistence is but a specific shade of political anarchy.

It's really good stuff, have a look.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I'm proud to report here, that I have just finished this fine work, hopefully just one among many I will find it in my favor to study.

If there is an initiation or hazing ritual that I must submit to finally join the proud line of the Austrian 'cultists', would someone please show me where to sign?

Friday, February 17, 2006

mirror, mirror on the blog

"Everytime I read one of Iceberg's comments I imagine him in a dark room with the shades drawn sitting among notebook after notebook after notebook after notebook filled with handwritten scribblings...all stacked to the ceiling."

Wow, I'm touched.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

one bad policy deserves another

The interventionist solution to the eyesore of shortage queues created by the socialist medicine monster: Ban the line forming!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen?

One of the upsides downsides of studying economics is how it effects your everyday, mundane cogitation. I now find it difficult to refrain from trying to analyze the praxeological underpinnings of even the most bizaare, non-economic related subjects.

Okay, maybe it's not the worst thing that has happened to me!

To illustrate the perfect case, just the other day I was mindlessly staring at a blond haired woman as she strolled by. Immediately what came to mind was a question of why many women like to dye their hair.

Now of course, the action axiom tells us that people act in the intentional expectation that their actions will help them to achieve greater satisfaction.

Okay, how will dyeing one's hair bring about greater satisfaction? I can think of two ways. First, because the individual believes that they look better with this other hair color, and secondly, because the individual is wanting to grab the attention of another with what the individual believes makes them more desirable to the other persons satisfaction.

But then I realized that the second reason must go deeper than that. After all, the woman who dyes her hair to satisfy the desires of men is ultimately doing it for the benefit of herself; that in the hope that some man will notice her and desire her companionship.

Wouldn't this scenario then fall under the dictum of "demand dictating supply"?

Anyway, as I was googling around I found what I thought is an amusing article written by an econometrician trying to gauge the supply and demand schedules of the personal ad marketplace.

Monday, February 06, 2006

the mythological caduceus

Over at the Mises Institute, Robert Murphy explains what libertarians and free market economists mean when they speak of 'the market'.

Laissez-faire economists are often accused of "worshipping" market (or what can be called "equilibrium" in the present context, though the two are different) prices. But this is rather misleading. If I oppose murder, it's not because I worship other people's lives. Or, if I don't let my ten-year-old neighbor tinker with my car engine, it's not because I worship its current state. The former case is simply an implication of my views of justice, and the latter case follows from my knowledge that the car works fine right now, and my neighbor's tinkering will only mess it up.

Both aspects lie behind the (natural rights) libertarian's defense of freely floating market prices. On the one hand, if one believes in property rights, then it automatically follows that price controls are immoral. After all, a price control involves the government using its guns to prevent owners from swapping their property at a mutually agreeable price.

But beyond the issue of property rights, there is also the pragmatic aspect. Simply put, if the government sets the legal price below the market level, there will be a shortage; customers will want to buy more units of the good than suppliers will want to sell. There's no way around this: The equilibrium price is that which equates the quantity supplied with the quantity demanded. Left to its own devices, there is every reason to expect a market will tend toward the equilibrium price, although of course it will always be disrupted by changes in the data (supplies, tastes, etc.).

Thus said, people to whom the phrase "free market" means something more than a political catch-phrase, are not worshippers at the temples of Hermes/Mercury nor the secular equivalent. They generally do not subscribe to inexplicable deus ex machina views on market operation, that somehow, someway an incorporeal entity will direct us mere humans to a higher, more satisfying plane of existence.

They may be in fact, scientists of the behavoral science of praxeology, to whom the study and understanding of the human behavior of action is paramount. If they must be said to worship something, it could only be their belief in the general goodness and cooperative nature of the human spirit.

As I've said elsewhere, those who are opposed to the free market are those who hold a dismal view of all of humanity, atrributing malicious and obnoxious behavior as the essense of the man's nature. Ironically, even if such nastiness was the case, the 'free market', which respects the autonomy of individuals would still be the optimal solution for humans of brutish callings. Unfortunately, this dog-eats-dog perception of humanity becomes their paranoid reality, something which I wouldn't wish upon an enemy (which somehow might rationalize his decision to damage my persons.)

As others have pointed out, if the justification for government is based upon the principle that people are naturally evil and dishonest, how could a political system run by individuals comprising of those same values elevate humanity to a better state? One merely needs to study history to see that the one common accomplishment of government has been to institute systematic coercion upon innocents, making their lives worse off in comparison to had the state never existed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this time we really, really mean it

Here is something I thought was a hoot.

The NY Times article is titled "A Retailing Czar, Looking Out for Mom and Pop" and discusses a newly-created and filled bureaucratic position called "executive director of retail development" whose job is ostensibly to help spur retail development around the city.

Anyway, here is the money quote, familiar to those who know anything about the typical government efficiency of utilizing looted capital.
"We've been dividing up the community development corporation money, doling it out a little here and a little there, and it just wasn't helping anyone," said Robert W. Walsh, commissioner of the department. "What's been produced with that money is a lot of calendars, bad directories and tchotchkes. So we hired a specialist to oversee this."

A nagging voice tells me that all NY City will ever get out of this will be yet even more calendars.