Apropos Austrian Aphorisms

the T(hesaurus)-Rex of blogs chomping on malapropos market malapropisms

September 2008 - Posts

Language in the course of politics today is like a toothpick—it is forever being used to clean the people of ugly little blemishes that would otherwise keep them from smiling. For example, take the recent buyout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What would have been before called nationalization was instead titled a conservatorship. For another example, look at the proposed $700bn 'solution' to the current 'financial crisis'. What was first, aptly, titled a bailout is now being termed a rescue plan. And we can go back further to when Ron Paul's foreign policy was denounced as isolationist when the popular energy policies of John McCain and Barack Obama is called independence.

The reason for these changes, as I said, is to keep the public a little more in the dark about certain matters. If the clean labels of conservatorship, rescue plan, and independence were replaced with their 'dirty cousins' then the public would be a little wiser, a little more hesitant about proposed policy. Despite no official language existing in the United States, it is clear one language—the government's—is far and away the number one language.

I remember a discussion in one of my linguistics classes about how language is shaped and changes. Where do new words come from? This is certainly a relevant question for a country that has no official language or Bureau of Language. The answer in the discussion was that words are introduced and spread through dictionaries, teachers, and, as Hayek would term them, intellectuals. Perhaps politics was one but I cannot remember. Yet it is clear today that the government and a lapdog media are the purveyors of the correct speech. As with anything and the government, language should be separate from government.

This is nothing new, though. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Garet Garrett wrote about the assumption of isolationism as a pejorative when he wrote 'The Revolution Was'. And as someone said in a reply, maybe I should look into how words that were previously used, such as 'The People', are no longer used and instead replaced by supposedly better words and ideas, such as 'The Nation'. I've been thinking more and more about this, especially after just reading Ronald Hamowy's essay on Mises.org, 'Some Comments on the Rhetoric of the Environmental Movement'. The topic of language in relation to its political use is something that has always interested me about the Austrian school. Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell are just a couple of authors among many Austrians who are always good at noting political changes in words. Because I studied rhetoric in college, I'm also always curious how rhetoric itself is now a pejorative for 'empty political talk'.

So whether there's an interest in this subject, I'm going to look further into the relationship between language and government. I can already envision a book that details linguistic changes by the government for its power and benefit: a libertarian examination of the damaging effects when governmental mouths speak. I just think of H.L. Mencken's investigation of language, 'The American Language', and I think of how the chasm between British and American English somewhat developed as an American antithesis to British rule. I shall delve deeper.

I would love to read and hear any comments any of you have on this matter and if it is at all widely interesting.


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\mī-ˈō-pē-ə\ — a lack of foresight or discernment; a narrow view of something


The movie 'Blindness' is in theaters this weekend and I've always found it an interesting story, since it was first a novel. I'm not writing this post to debate the socialistic tendencies of the story's narrative or how epidemics would be better handled in a libertarian society. I only wish to address, at this point, the inability of many people to see far into the future. I thought of this as I heard someone talk about a takeover of WaMu, to which they lamented, "no end seems to be in sight," that another company had, essentially, failed.

Only in this time of "crisis" can the adequately educated on the Austrian theory of the business cycle see the end. The rest simply bleat with myopia, a herd of sheep bumping into each other waiting for the sheepherder, the government, to do something that they can see narrowly before their face. The words of the Austrian school of economics must be spread, and people must know that the end is in sight but will only be visible when the government stops blocking the view with bailouts.

Will the agreed $700bn bailout package shock the blind to see when the delayed judgment day arrives? Will people look back when trouble strikes ever more and realize that bailing companies out, inflating the money supply, and trusting the US government and its central bank does not work, that it does not bring prosperity?

What excuses will arise when trouble hits again? The government will have tried, and failed. Will it, again, be the refrain "we didn't do enough"? Will people have the audacity to reply, "No, this time you will do nothing"?

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The timing is odd. John McCain has suspended his campaign indefinitely to hammer (and sickle) out the current "economic crisis." Though I believe McCain should suspend his campaign definitely, a-la Mitt Romney, I offer little other disagreement about this "political move"—a vacuous pejorative people are using to describe their contempt for McCain's choice when, as a politician, every move is "political." After all, McCain is an elected senator—by the people no less! thank you 17th Amendment. He has a duty to represent his constituents in Washington D.C. and make sure their voices are hard. For all of the pandering people are putting behind that old hitching post to "call your representatives in Congress and tell them you oppose the bailout!" there sure seems to be quite the criticism of McCain for somewhat assuming this role. He wasn't elected to run for president by his constituents after all. Even Ron Paul, after all, temporarily suspended his presidential bid to shore up his congressional re-election.

Yet, the timing is odd, and people are associating McCain with ducking the presidential debate this Friday—a curious notion because the debate concerns foreign policy, arguably McCain's stronger point over Barack Obama. With few weeks left before the election, both candidates have some alleged duty to better inform citizens of their views to help them choose whom to vote for. Here's all the help you need: They both support warfare across the world. You can say tomato and I can say potato, and that's about how much these two candidates differ when you replace tomato with Iraq and potato with Afghanistan.

Regarding the debate, others lament that, unfortunately, the debate is not about the economy when the US economy is in such "dire straits." But here is the misdirection, again. The debate, whether it's Friday or another time, about foreign policy is inextricably linked to and cannot be removed from the economy. That "other" debate concerns domestic policy. You know, education and the like. Both debates—here's the kicker—concern the economy. For how can the US government pledge billions, nay, trillions of dollars into war venturing across the planet without affecting the US economy as a whole?

This was the beauty of Paul's cohesive arguments in the Republican presidential debates. He tied everything back to monetary policy, the economy, because nothing can be separated from the economy—that is, economics: human action. How the government acts oversea, how it spends its war venturing, directly impacts the economy. Where does the government get so much money to fight overseas? They sure don't tax US citizens, at least in the commonly perceived sense. The government either borrows or prints money, and both means increase the government's total debt, which, in the end, must be financed by US taxpayers. When the government is so financially invested overseas, in 160 countries, it directly impacts the home front, leaving less to spend at home. At least it should, but it doesn't, because if any domestic financing is needed the government, again, borrows and prints.

All of this leads to a reckless financial policy. When people demand more for bailouts, or health care, or whatever they want more money for, education, drug wars, etc., and the government is strapped, all they need to do is look at the overall financial policy: foreign and domestic. The debate Friday will concern foreign policy, and it should also concern financial policy. It won't, though, because both candidates are incapable of linking foreign policy with financial policy.

There's much to be said about the current financial crisis. At the heart of this, as every Austrian knows, is the fault the US government holds for creating the current situation through its central bank and its inflationary policy. This fundamental economic truth cannot be stated enough. Ignorance of it shows in so-called debates about the crisis in popular media, sans Ron Paul's occassional publicity as the sheepherders perhaps finally realize they were really part of the herd that bleated the black sheep. Yet current ignorance exists because, obviously, many were never educated. They were lied to; or, to use the popular apology: they were the best they could be with what information was present at the time. That lie, or missing education, is that the Great Depression was caused by laissez-faire capitalism, which we, the soundedly educated, know to be a lie as bald as John McCain's face when asked an economic question by Ron Paul (the same face Gen. Petraeus wears).

The cause behind the Great Depression, so well-put by Murray Rothbard in his book, America's Great Depression, was the government. This cannot be stated enough considering current situations. The fact that this truth is so unknown can be seen in how popular media address the current financial crisis and its so-called bailout (read: extension). This crisis and its intervention are labeled as "the greatest since the Great Depression." Although a great starting point for addressing the horrible New Deal, this phrase is complete misdirection. The "greatest" economic intervention in the US economy is what preceded and precipitated the Great Depression; planted the seed, bore a tree, and flowered with Government Apples for a "fruitful economic future." It was the US central bank and its inflationary policy during the 1920s that was the "greatest economic intervention" in US history. It was what brought about the Great Depression, and ignorance of the fact led many to bleat along blindly with the sheepherders who introduced the New Deal and those who look to unleash the wolf that is Henry Paulson's $700 billion bailout—the bailout that professes it will shore up bad US loans when it will only loan the crisis more time until it reaches a level never before seen, even "since the Great Depression."

My month-plus-long search for job stability turned onto the final 100m today. For over the past month I have been seeking a full-time position. Finding nothing, I turned to temporary work at a local staffing agency and easily found temp. work. The work wasn't hard and I made enough to pay for the necessary bills. I learned just how capable the market is in employing people and putting food on peoples' tables—so long as they are willing to "swallow their pride" and do work that isn't ideal. Humorously enough, I've been part of the poorest demographic, students, and accumulated thousands of dollars of debt chasing after that noble ideal of higher education, yet I never considered myself poor until I graduated and had to "manage by." As a result, and at the same time I read a financially awakening book by Dave Ramsey called "The Total Money Makeover," I learned the value of a budget and not spending beyond my means. It is just like if you want to get fit: You don't eat more calories (spend more money) than you expend (make).

But as I said, I'm running down the final 100m now after interviewing with Almon, Inc., the technical documentation contractor of John Deere, and receiving a full-time job offer. My interview today was the most interesting and pleasing interviews I've ever had. The reason was due to simply talking with the people I'd be working under and with and listening to their job anecdotes and how they showed economic truths. 

Anecdote 1: John Deere is having to shut down an operation in Canada and relocate to Mexico. The reason? The oft-maligned "cheaper wages." But the full story I was told, that Canadian labor laws forced Deere to pay its employees the same as the automotive industry, upheld the basic fact that labor unions exclude possible employment, raise wages, and that minimum wage laws, in general, increase unemployment. Deere would've like to have kept its plant and employed many Canadians, and many Canadians would've surely enjoyed employment at Deere. However, because Deere could not afford to pay its employees such a high price at that location they had to relocate, increasing the number of unemployed Canadians who must now begin the arduous task of job searching again as I did.

Anecdote 2: Almon, Inc. has not grown considerably in size over the past decade but is achieving much higher productivity than simply 10 years ago. This story illustrates the true economic path to progress: capital reinvestment. Almon, Inc. did not become more productive because it highered more people and raised wages. It did so by reinvesting its capital, which later allowed the company to higher more people and raise wages because it could afford to do so. This is an economic point few understand, especially those who would say that companies becoming so rich should first raise wages, higher more people, or be taxed more. This is fundamentally unsound. A business cannot redirect its capital investment to wage raises or increased employment without first reinvesting capital to cover its costs. The same goes for taxes: the more a business is taxed, the less it has to reinvest for capital, which means, in turn, it'll have even less for raising wages and hiring new employees.

After reading authors of the "Austrian" school of economics such as Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises, it has been refreshing to see their economic theories proven by real-life examples. It was refreshing to know, no, the government doesn't need to "create jobs" for people to be employed, nor does the government need minimum wage laws to provide people with a "just wage," nor does it need to tax and implore businesses to "share the wealth."

So I know, even more, that I cannot believe a word Barack Obama or John McCain say about leading the American economy back on course because they both believe in job creation, which only removes more business from the private sector and increases taxes (because more people on the government payroll means more people will have to pay their wages). They both believe in minimum wage laws and labor unions. And they both believe in taxes, for sure, but also taxing businesses and the rich. These men, and their parties, are not different.

The real world demonstrates that the three aforementioned areas do not need government intervention. The real world demonstrates the two aforementioned presidential candidates are not needed.

It's always interesting to watch how a society's vernacular changes, to see new words added and old words subtracted. Additions bring the most fuss (see: text messaging). Subtractions often slip by the way side. The most striking example, today, is the word 'SOCIALISM'. As in, while the government bails out and consumes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who oversee over 70% of the housing market, few in the mainstream refer to this act as socialism, which it nearly well is.

The questions posed by commentators concern how much taxpayers will pay and what the future looks like for the housing market. Never is the question 'Is the United States moving toward socialism?' which is a serious question.

The economic hilarity of the situation is striking and shows a clear economic ignorance. If the government is bailing out the housing market (i.e., paying for their debts), how will the average tax paying American not pay for part of the bill? The government's coffer is staffed only by what it takes in from taxes. That is, you pay what the government pays.

Disappearing words are like those neighbors who move out in the night. They slip away unnoticed until one day an event happens that prompts someone to ask, 'Whatever happened to such-and-such?' When the U.S. government assumes over 70% of a market and achieves the biggest government intervention in too many years to recount is such an event.

Chicago, IL—Democratic Senator Barack Obama today introduced legislation that would make “community organizers” a legally protected minority in the United States for affirmative action and equal employment. “This bill (S. 31337) effectively kills two birds with one stone,” Obama announced to a rousing ovation from his political state of Illinois. “It shows Governor Palin the might of community organizers that we will not be mocked lightly, but also that I can author a major piece of legislation.”

Senate Bill 31337, if approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the President, will legally protect anyone officially registered as a community organizer from being discriminated against in the employment process, from being fired, and will deliver reparations for the many years of being unappreciated for serving the public good. It has met with unanimous praise and glee on the part of Democrats across the nation.

“Governor Palin is a sweet woman,” said fellow woman Nancy Pelosi (D CA). “But she overstepped her bounds outside of the kitchen of politics when she disgraced community organizers in her speech [Wednesday, September 3rd].”

When reached for comment, Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden (D DE), said he found Palin’s comments as a gross and representative statement of the Republican party. “Just think about what she said,” Biden said, “and substitute any other unappreciated minority for ‘community organizer’. She wouldn’t say, ‘Being a white person is sort of like being a black person, except that you don’t steal,’ or, ‘Being a heterosexual is sort of like being a homosexual, except that you aren’t a ***.’ So why should Governor Palin be allowed to trample on community organizers, people who serve a vital social service? She shouldn’t, and we won’t let her.”

Biden also continued on to say this is just the first, landmark step on the path to Obama’s heralded presidency. “This is just the beginning of the end of the Republican party’s elephant-like stomping of civilization. The American public only has more world-changing legislation like they’ve seen today to look forward to.”

Local community organizers have responded enthusiastically to Obama’s new legislation. “When a community organizer is mocked, we are all mocked. That’s the human condition,” managed a local Chicago mom who made time to speak in between organizing events for her community this weekend and baking a cake in the mold of Barack Obama’s head. “This weekend we’re going to have a fundraiser. We’re going to have community organizers speak about their roles as community organizers and all proceeds are going to go toward helping future community organizers organize their communities. We’re going to have this cake and eat it, too,” she smiled.

When asked for comments, both John McCain (R AZ) and Sarah Palin (R AK) were unavailable for comment. A lone congressman in Texas was reached and had the following comment: “The only thing that surprises me about this legislation is that it was constitutionally introduced as a bill instead of Obama waiting until elected to make this an executive order."

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She’s Even as Qualified as Barack Obama and John McCain to be President

Allow me to indulge in a child’s old adage: My mom is as qualified as your mom to be vice president. Upon such a claim many will naturally ask what my mother’s qualifications are. Certainly they should be extensive given the media scrutiny to Sarah Palin’s underwhelming qualifications. But my mom’s are not much. She’s simply over the age of 35, a naturally-born citizen, and has resided in the United States for the past 14 years. Like many of her peers, she’s as qualified as the next person, according to the U.S. Constitution.

It’s true, if you look, that the only “qualifications” to being vice president, even president, are the ones I listed for my mother. That’s not the impression one would get from those who criticize Sarah Palin and even Barack Obama as lacking in “experience.” Those people never define what the qualifications and experience are. Allow me to bolster my mother’s defense.

My mom is a mother of three (lovely, if I say so myself) children. She’s a college graduate, one who even went to school while tending to her children. She graduated with a degree to teach. Simply put, my mother can read, write, and listen.

These three traits encompass the delineated powers of the vice presidency and presidency in the U.S. Constitution. Namely, to be the head of the Senate, for the former, and to make treaties, appoint judges, and tell the Army and Navy what to do. When you consider that a vice president and president get most of their policy information from their cabinet and peers, my mother could surely do all of these functions with ease.

The cynic of course will say this is all too simple. The office of the vice president, and the president for that matter, is much more complex than the simple trifles of domestic life. This is where Palin receives her criticism. Not even her “town of 9,000” was big enough to provide her with experience to stand behind the president. This criticism is apt and correct.

Yet only in a time when the U.S. Constitution no longer applies is the vice presidency and presidency complex. A look at what is asked of both offices clearly explains this present-day complexity over the past-day simplicity. The president and vice president today are held to explain how they will create jobs. They’re asked about their energy, fiscal, foreign, environment, and tax policies, and so on and so forth through an extensive list nowhere mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

My mom, of course, has never dealt with these ugly political manners. She’s never “created” any jobs. She’s always gone out and achieved her own. Her energy policy consists of the “simple” idea of not consuming more than she can pay for. She doesn’t counterfeit money as the Federal Reserve does, always paying her bills. She doesn’t go around to her neighbors destroying their land to show them how to live freely. She properly disposes of her trash, doesn’t steal other people’s money, and so on and so forth.

My mom, of course, is a woman of pride and would never act as such a brute. We wouldn’t expect any decent human being to act as such. Yet many people see these actions as O.K. and all too well to do because the U.S. Constitution no longer applies. It’s now expected that the vice president and president make these actions a part of their so-called policy.

Frederic Bastiat long ago clarified the proper role of the Law and, by extension, the government. The law is “the collective organization of the individual right to self defense”—to defend person, liberty, and property. That is, anything we’d expect an individual not to do, a government should also not do, such as oppress and plunder.

Only when the law is confined to its proper place will the cries over “experience” and “readiness” for any form of presidency cease. As Bastiat said, “if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?”

Truly, if the U.S. Constitution were cared for, in all of its check on executive power, my mom, among many others, would certainly be qualified as the next vice president or president as any of the existing candidates.

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