Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Litmus Test

I've decided that a person is unfit for the office of the presidency if they cannot demonstrate a basic understanding of austrian economics. For the last century only this branch of social science has an explanation for the cycle of booms and busts experienced as a result of monetary manipulation. Conservatives are unanimous in their public pronouncements against Keynesianism but there are few if any that are willing to throw off the shackles of controlled economies and unleash the free market. This is either a function of economic inertia, wherein, the difficulty of returning to a free market becomes more difficult and exponentially more painful with each passing year; or, these people don't really believe in free markets in the first place and are simply pandering.

Having said that, I think all of the remaining candidates have the capacity to understand the basics of human action or praxeology (as the larger discipline of Austrian Economics is more properly referred to by its founding fathers) if not the will. I remember during one of the early debates, Michele Bachmann talking about taking some von Mises to the beach for reading material and Gingrich hinting at a gold commission to study the return to sound currency. This is a testament to not only how much Ron Paul has accomplished, but how much we've fallen. He has been the lone voice crying in the wilderness for the better part of three decades and certainly the only one espousing the forgotten geniuses of market dynamics. Fortunately, the principles are not difficult to understand, because they are rooted in basic logic. If a=b and b=c. Then a=c. That's as difficult as the math in economics should ever be. Superimposing random variables on aggregate measurements of individual action, then presuming to divine the future from empirical evidence supposes that men are a collective mind, conditioned to operate in concert according to the past, and devoid of free will to change their actions according as their desire for different outcomes determines them.

Stated otherwise, it is impossible to predict, in an interdependent system, the impact of decisions made by a single actor within the system. The Butterfly Effect or Domino Effect can project the effects of small initial decisions far into the future, perhaps even exponentially so.

That computer you decide not to buy, might be the difference between profitability and loss for a shopkeeper, which may hasten his decision to close the business, which would cause employees to lose jobs, which may cause them to lose their homes, which may cause the price of homes locally to fall, which could slow down housing starts, putting even more laborers out of work, increasing the demand on charities to provide basic services, ad infinitum. However, the decision to save the $1000 might buy an unemployed researcher another month of rent and ramen in his studio apartment, where he's been carefully developing a cure for the common cold. We literally have no idea and it is impossible to know just how consequential and far reaching our seemingly inconsequential decisions are.

For this reason it is imperative that we learn to respect natural systems, in all their complex efficiency, and resolve to avoid meddling. It's time we recognized that the powerful forces of the free market cannot be controlled but by theft and plunder; that the damages of malinvestment lead to social unrest and discontent. It's time we make logic our litmus test for office.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ron Paul & Mormonism

I am writing this post to give you some tools to advocate for liberty when you come in contact with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

Quick background. I joined said church in 1997 after deep study, reflection, and prayer. I consider myself extremely devout. About that same time another church member turned me on to a book called The Law, which I'm sure many of you have read. This became part of a more comprehensive path to enlightenment and awakening. My religious conversion was coupled with a philosophical conversion to libertarianism which made my transformation more complete. I have spent the last 14 years reconciling the two belief systems which I describe as really one in the same, as all truth is part of the gospel in my mind. I believe the primal longing for liberty is inherent in many faiths, so hopefully non LDS readers will relate to the principle contained herein.

I want to highlight a couple points about my religion and political stances that may help some of you as you come in contact with Mormons who are unfamiliar with or have a negative opinion of Dr. Ron Paul. In the primaries this year there are two Mormons running, which in my view is historic that our country has begun to move past many of the shallow mischaracterizations of and prejudices against this religion. With these two candidates comes a lot of support from affinity-based voters. These are Mormons who will simply vote for Huntsman or Romney (most likely the latter) based on nothing more than a common faith, regardless of whether the candidates political viewpoints square with basic tenets of their faith. This is an attempt to enlist you in using gentle persuasion to convince Mormons that Ron Paul is the best candidate.

Here are a couple examples:

1) Mormons believe that a pre-mortal battle was waged in heaven. This pre-mortal battle, referenced by Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Old Testament, was an intellectual battle of ideologies. The two opposing forces lined up on the side of liberty or coercion. This conflict is described in several places within LDS scripture: Moses 4:1-4, Abraham 3, 2Nephi2:27, and elsewhere. Furthermore general authorities of the church, such as Ezra Taft Benson, have warned about the disastrous outcomes of infringing on God-given natural rights. If you are confronted by Mormons trying to justify somehow the use of government force to compel obedience to such things as The Patriot Act, Conscripted Military Service, Public Welfare, The War on Drugs, etc. gently remind them of this basic belief and ask them to study further and reconsider their stance.

2) Related to the first issue but for some reason separated from it by neo-cons is the issue of force employed in pre-emptive war. Besides the numerous admonitions by Christ to "turn the other cheek", or "love your enemies; The Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants have something to say on this point as well. Unfortunately, the finer details of the doctrine taught require readers to actually think about the implications of the scriptures, so they get glossed over many times by casual readers. One could engage a Mormon on this issue by pointing out that D&C 98:16 admonishes the saints to "renounce war and proclaim peace", which is something the leadership of the church, if not the laity, does constantly despite the seeming deafness of many listeners. Moses 6:15 portrays Satan as the author of warfare and bloodshed. Alma chapters 43 and 46 acknowledge the justification of war IN DEFENSE only of family, religion, and freedom. The Book of Mormon prophet, Mormon, lamented the savagery of his people who had become bloodthirsty and desirous of pre-emptive slaughter and other heinous war crimes and cries out "They are without order and without mercy" (Moroni 9:18). Instead he "utterly refused to go up (meaning to their enemies' lands) against [his] enemies" (Mormon 3:16). The best example is the Book of Mormon prophet, Gidgiddoni, who in expressing the will of God in counseling his people against pre-emptive war said "The Lord forbid; for if we should go up (again, to their enemies' land) against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands." (3Nephi3:20-21) There are many more examples than this, but sufficeth to say the scriptures clearly speak out against pre-emptive warmongering.

I want to reiterate that I am not trying to convert anyone to "Mormonism" on this site. I simply want to give you tools to find common ground and advocate for Dr. Paul when you come in contact with Mormons willing to listen to the message and consider it. If you are faced with any doctrinal rejoinders, feel free to hit me up. God bless you in your efforts!

Friday, January 6, 2012

8.5% Unemployment Rate Is A Bald Faced Lie

Here is a great link to a some charts that show that the government is cooking the books on unemployment reporting. Since the government compares workforce participation against employment levels, it stands to reason that the more people the government can take out of the workforce through manipulation of data, the better the unemployment figures are going to look. It just so happens that as we're approaching an election that unemployment figures are magically improving. Well not really...

Check it out.