People Like My Mom and Dad

by Don Boudreaux on May 8, 2011

in Politics

My sister asked me to post again, on this Mother’s Day, this remembrance that I wrote for my mom when she died three years ago.

People such as my mom and dad would make far better government officials than do 99.5 out of every 100 such persons who hold, or who have ever held, elective political office.

But, of course, people like my mom and dad would never stoop to hold such office.  They would be appalled to be in a position to lord it over others, to spend other people’s money, and to lie and pose and double-talk and dissemble and rationalize and compromise their fundamental values and to do all the other shameful things that 99.5 percent of successful politicians do in order to win the gaudy ‘glory’ of office.

In short, my mom and dad were decent people.  And with only the rarest of exceptions, decent people don’t do politics (at least not successfully).

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{ 150 comments }

Stephan May 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I would dare to say: Something seriously went wrong in your education. Without people aspiring to hold public office (with all their flaws) all we would have is plain chaos and anarchy.

Don Boudreaux May 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Utter nonsense.

Stephan May 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thought so.

Nick May 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Utter nonsense, indeed. It takes a very poor imagination to not be able to imagine a world that is able to run efficiently and peacefully without people at the top dictating to everyone how to live their lives.

Your smug “thought so” doesn’t make you right — it makes you a jackass.

GP Hanner May 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Bravo, Nick — and Don.

Gil May 9, 2011 at 12:08 am

I would say it would a large imagination to suppose a world without violence sooner or later. Many a people kept to themselves only to be overrun by an imperial force.

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 8:22 am

Well said. Another victim of the No Imagination Syndrome.

Gil May 10, 2011 at 12:08 am

Yeah I s’pose you can drift off into Imaginary Land and pretend the world is perfect then you have to come out of it and deal with the Real World.

John V May 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Get over yourself

Ken May 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Stephen,

Are you really saying your life would fall apart if there wasn’t anyone to take and spend your money and tell you how to live?

Regards,
Ken

Marcus May 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

He’s confusing the political class with law and order.

Don Boudreaux May 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Yep.

muirgeo May 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Stephan,

You should read the book Lord of the Flies…. It explains how society would self order with out politics. Yeah…. everything works out fine.

And just look at the real world. Look how prosperous all those societies are that have chose not to have politicians.

Tim May 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Which mythical societies would these be that don’t have politicians?

As for Lord of the Flies, I’m sure I don’t need to explain why you can’t cite fiction as proof of your political views.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:42 am

Mythological?? Exactly!

Ken May 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

muirgeo,

Ah yes, thank you, again for showing what a simpleton you are. You equate libertarianism with anarchy. That’s not even a straw man argument. It’s just plain stupidity.

Regards,
Ken

Tim May 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm

You utterly miss the point. Because society rarely if ever been free of government, there exists no empirical evidence that societies without politicians order themselves poorly.

On the other hand, western civilization for the last three hundred years has accepted as a fundamental principle that there are areas of life over which politicians have no say, and those areas of life seem to order themselves at least as well as those over which politicians rule, which presents problems for your view that order proceeds from rule.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:29 am

And here I thought Lord of the Flies exposed democracy.

Slappy McFee May 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

My favorite part of the “Lord of the Flies” example is that it presumes that there was no “central order” involved. You may want to read it again, then come back and apologize.

Eric Hammer May 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I suppose the fact that all the characters in Lord of the Flies were adolescent or younger is lost on you? How many kids under the age of 13 can handle even keeping themselves alive, the masterful nature of British school children not withstanding?

Also, considering one of the first thing the kids do is vote on leaders, the second being engaging in politics to become leaders themselves, it is hardly a good example of whatever point you think you are making.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Without people aspiring to hold public office (with all their flaws) all we would have is plain chaos and anarchy.

That’s exactly what you are supposed to think. Your indoctrination, likely by government employees, was successful.
Keep up the “right” thinking.

Gil May 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

Might always end up in power. Someone always picks up the slack.

dsylexic May 9, 2011 at 3:35 am

you make sense. the nature abhors a power vacuum theory.perhaps that happened in somaliland -where the ethiopians with american help kept creating civil war trouble ,encouraging warlords to “centralize”.

if aliens come to visit us on earth and we were an anarcho capitalist paradise,i am willing to bet,they will try to pillage and loot us and rule over us and not live in a paradise of catallaxy.

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm

If they were smart, they would bribe politicians to centralize power, eventually into a world government. When everybody is dependent on that government, then the aliens would simply operate the levers without anyone being any the wiser.

If the aliens were REALLY smart, why would they bother?

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

I think the conflation of a world without government officials for a world without defense or law is the ultimate contention here.

Scott G May 8, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I don’t believe you would have said what you said above if you were aware of the incredible technologies currently being developed, by individuals for individuals, that will make today’s internet look like black and white television. In the not-too-distant future, most people on Earth will be connected to incredibly high-speed cell-phone networks via dirt-cheap iPhone-like pocket computers, capable of robust, high-definition streaming video, amazing sound quality, and bringing entertainment and education that will make “Fight of the Century” seem like “Free to Choose” does now.

Hayek’s ideas will be communicated to billions of people on a daily basis through unimaginably beautiful and creative works.

Warning: once these technologies mature, you may feel ashamed to praise politicians as you did above.

Krishnan May 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Without a committee that decides what kinds of things should be made and who should make them and what prices the people should be charged for such and without the committee deciding how many children they should have and what kinds of house they should live in and what each person should study and for such committees to decide what everyone should do – we will have anarchy and chaos.

Right. Thanks for that insight that seemed so evident from what you wrote. The world forgot how wonderful the world was when central committees decided everything – there was peace and prosperity and so on …

Andrew_M_Garland May 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm

H.L. Mencken: [edited]
•  Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods.

•  All government is essentially organized exploitation, and almost always is the implacable enemy of every industrious man.

•  A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. To get anywhere near high office he makes so many compromises and submits to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.

•  Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

Mao_Dung May 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Your parents were decent people (unless they were hunters) because they weren’t bloodsucking capitalists. I’m sure they didn’t despise their government or think that all politicians were dishonest, or worse. The should have hated their government to the extent that it is controlled by the bloodsucking capitalists to maximize profits at the expense of everything else. Everything else includes the health of the environment, the plight of the working person, the health and education of the children of the poor, etc., and the future after they’re dead and gone. Your parents weren’t selfish people, but they were victimized by the worst sorts of people, who thought your parents were just big bugs worthy of being stepped on. The truth hurts, but it will also set you free.

Marcus May 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm

“Your parents weren’t selfish people, but they were victimized by the worst sorts of people, who thought your parents were just big bugs worthy of being stepped on.”

They’re called politicians.

The truth hurts, but it will also set you free.

Andrew_M_Garland May 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Karl Marx revealed that business owners are leeches on society, draining away the wealth that rightfully belongs to the workers. At least, the ones who have jobs.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

The USSR gave up on pure communism in very short order.
Why?
Marx was dead wrong.

kyle8 May 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm

The only thing worse than blood sucking capitalists are blood sucking government bureaucrats and academics, because the capitalist at least provides a desired good or service.

Mao_Dung May 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm

“because the capitalist at least provides a desired good or service.”

That is patently false. The capitalist is generally incidental to the provision of a desired good or service. The capitalist is called a capitalist because he or she collects rents on their capital.

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 6:43 am

only a total idiot would say that, Yeah, Bill gates was incidental to Microsoft, Henry Ford was incidental to Ford motors. This is why no one takes you seriously. Dumbass.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:36 am

“The capitalist is generally incidental to the provision of a desired good or service”

Really? Try starting a company without land, a building, tools, forwarded salaries, etc., etc., etc. If people didn’t benefit from that, then no one would agree to work for wages. And yet…here we are.

Mao_Dung May 9, 2011 at 11:00 am

If I own 1,000 shares of Microsoft and I transfer it to you. You now own 1,000 shares of Microsoft. You and I produced nothing but a paper/electronic trail in the transaction. There is your clue to what capitalism really is. Now, get a job. You strike me as lazy.

Marcus May 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

Mao_Dung, I guess that depends upon what you do with the $25,000 you’d receive from the exchange. What would you invest it in? You could help fund one of those green startups you lefties like so much.

In the end, if you don’t do anything productive with it, that’s YOUR fault.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

“You and I produced nothing but a paper/electronic trail in the transaction.”

Um, no.

In this situation, you contributed (originally) to production with your initial investment . That capital is earning you a return (presumably in shares). Pointing out that trading or transferring those 1,000 shares with someone doesn’t “produce” anything is like pointing out that you trading dollars with your local grocery store doesn’t “produce” anything. That doesn’t mean that food producers and distributors did nothing.

Have you ever picked up an economics text-book?

Ken May 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Dung,

“You and I produced nothing but a paper/electronic trail in the transaction. ”

So when I buy a house from someone, which is equivalent to a transfer of a deed (generating a paper/electronic trail) are you really claiming that nothing has occurred during this transfer? Do you really think it’s somehow different with a stock purchase? A stock after all is part ownership of a company.

Of course, your statement is completely absurd. The purpose of buying and selling of shares is to transmit information about the value being generated by that company. Why do you think Enron’s stock price dropped so much in 2001? Why do you think Microsoft’s stock continues to be strong?

Again, you should probably know what you’re talking about before you comment on things.

Regards,
Ken

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

If I own 1,000 shares of Microsoft and I transfer it to you. You now own 1,000 shares of Microsoft.

Why did you do that?
Did you get nothing in return?

Your analysis is fatally incomplete.

Mao_Dung May 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

You are a name-calling child and a fool. Let’s see you build a car, or an operating system, or an empire with your bare hands. No man is an island. You know so little about the real world and how it works that it is a crime for you to open your mouth. You should be in jail. Do you live off your parents’ inheritance. Yeah, you are obviously a trust fund baby with too much time on his hands. Yeah, I can tell you are an adolescent male because you haven’t grown up, you waste your valuable time on blogs, and you have a foul mouth that needs soap and water to wash it out. You need to be put to work to benefit society. You are a total waste of time, as are most libertarian capitalist fascists.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

“You are a name-calling child and a fool.”

Were you in a race to prove yourself a hypocrite there?

“Let’s see you build a car, or an operating system, or an empire with your bare hands. No man is an island. ”

Actually, if he had the right capital he could.

“You should be in jail.”

Hey, hey, HEY! WE’RE supposed to be the heartless ones. Knock it off.

” you waste your valuable time on blogs, and you have a foul mouth that needs soap and water to wash it out.”

Pot, meet….

“You need to be put to work to benefit society.”

“libertarian capitalist fascists”

…..

muirgeo May 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

But still he choses to live among the governed. People like Menken are cowards. I imagine they are the most intolerable people to live with as well.

Tim May 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Yeah, seriously. Why don’t all these libertarians emigrate to places where there aren’t governments? Oh, wait…

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:45 am

I think that’s the plan according to their bible. Yeah they all leave to set up their Mad Max Society and supposedly all us slackers will be unable to care for ourselves. Wow… we will miss them sooo much… I wonder when they are going to leave.. did they give a date yet?

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:38 am

“I think that’s the plan according to their bible.”

I don’t particularly prescribe to any “bible”, but I would like to think I can convince others to marginally decrease their violent tendencies. It might not work with some people (like you, perhaps), but that seems to be the most common game-plan.

Marcus May 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

muirgeo reminds me of those creationists who troll the evolution forums, lash out at posters, and call evolution a religion.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Marcus… basically you just said, ” I know you are but what am I.” Come on dude bring it up a notch.

roger olson May 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Thank you Mr. Boudreaux.

God bless you and your family.

RC May 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Don,

You mention many “shameful things” that politicians do to win office. No one could argue that it isn’t happening.

But maybe one should put at least some blame on the voters? After all, one may ask, why do the politicians have to do these shameful things to win office in the first place? Why do these shameful things work? Isn’t the arrogance and irrationality of the common man at least partly to blame?

Regards,
RC

GP Hanner May 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm

For me it’s always a least worst choice.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Yes, voters should take responsibility.

Unfortunately, citizens were conned into letting the government teach people about government.

kyle8 May 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm

One of the big reasons I am more libertarian than conservative. Some conservative types actually trust the common people to be good, or smart or whatever. Whereas I have no illusions. For the average folk, cupidity, stupidity, rank ignorance, mob mentality, and envy are par for the course.

That is what makes them so suseptible to being led by kingfish and charlatans.

Tom May 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm

So Don, your comments suggest that you are against the idea of compromise. As this is, by all accounts, the foundation of our democracy, could you elaborate? Exactly where do you stand with respect to democracy?

Tim May 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The only compromise berated was a willingness to “compromise their fundamental values and to do all the other shameful things”

You are suggesting that democracy requires people of compromised integrity?

Tom May 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Let’s take the example of the Tea Party and assume for argument that they are uncompromising in their insistence that federal spending must be cut by $X Billion. Democrats are willing to cut $Y Billion. Would Don consider it a compromise of their fundamental beliefs if the eventual spending cut (C) was $Y < C < $X?

My motivation for this question is to explore Libertarian beliefs about the desirability of democracy.

Tim May 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I would submit that you’ve fundamentally misunderstood the meaning of “compromise” within what was written above and are now repeating Democratic talking points concerning compromise instead. In the former instance it referred to people of defective character, and in the latter it refers to political negotiation.

Andrew_M_Garland May 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm

The Political Dictionary

compromise n. Reconciling differences to find the middle way. When the Democrats want to take all of your money, and the Republicans want to take 1/3rd, then a compromise is taking 2/3rds of your money. Compromise is a virtue that can be exercised yearly or more frequently.

Justin Bowen May 9, 2011 at 1:20 am

Where are these Republicans that only want to take one-third of your money? Are you trying to suggest that Republicans want to take less of your money because they want lower taxes?

Marcus May 8, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Negotiation and compromise is not exclusively the domain of the political class or of the political arena.

People voluntarily negotiate and compromise with one another every single day. From career moves to the tiniest little things like someone letting you go first in line.

Justin Bowen May 9, 2011 at 1:18 am

Someone once said something about two wolves and a sheep…

DJB May 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Stephan is right. Something went seriously wrong with your education. Your educators failed to instill in youa sense of helplessness. They failed to indoctrinate you in to the church of government worship. How could you possibly hope to make order out of chaos without submiting your will to the political overlords who will guiding your hand. Don, something went seriously wrong in your education, just ask Stephan he is clearly one of the anointed.

Bill May 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Tried as they might have, they still failed to instill him (and I would assume many of his readers and others throughout the US) with that sense of helplessness.

It kinda makes me happy. Govt’s got an iron grip on the education system and ram rod their propaganda down children’s throats. In spite of this, true yearning for liberty comes through in many people.

Excellent piece, Don!

Don Boudreaux May 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Thanks. My parents – whose means were modest – sent me and my siblings to private (in our case, Catholic) school, K-12. That fact alone saved us from the awfulness of “education” supplied by K-12 subsidized suppliers with customer bases largely guaranteed by government diktat.

Joshua May 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I went to public school and a public university ( In Canada, where that is certainly the norm) and found it quite good. Was it great bank for buck I don’t know, my parents only paid indirectly through taxes. Granted I didn’t end up a professor, …

Mark May 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Don,

I read your blog all the time, and I oft agree with your criticisms of the government and the corruptibility of politicians.

I consider myself a libertarian, and this is a libertarian argument. While the system is imperfect, I have not yet seen a libertarian leaning person propose a system that is any better. . . Or, when they do propose such systems of governance, it is often an ideal that does not work well in the real world; like communism or socialism.

While I would love to live in a united states of america where our politicians were honest men, and not corruptible overlords, the fact is, corruptible overlords like to run for office.

The ideal of having a governance free of corrupted overlords is as impractical as the ideals of the bolsheviks.

Our system of governance sucks, but it is better than the alternatives. For that reason, I like it.

-Mark

Tim May 8, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Communism or socialism are the things we libertarians often propose as alternatives to corrupt government? This is news to me.

Don Boudreaux May 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Then you, Mark, as a libertarian ought to more seriously consider private markets as an alternative to government.

Mark May 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Don,

The gentleman who taught my introduction to micro course in college convinced me that private markets could replace most functions of government. If I had my whim, I would eliminate probably 9 of 10 federal agencies, but no one would elect me if that was my platform for running for office.

But we live in a free society*. And in a free society, there will always be individuals who are corrupted overlords, or people that aspire to be so. There will also always be a portion of the populous that wish to place their power in the hands of the corrupted officials, believing that such officials will bring solace to their pain.

so as long as there are corrupted officials and people who are willing to give them their power, I don’t see a government of pure libertarian ideals as practical, where many things traditionally ceded to the power of government officials are instead administrated by private organizations and individuals themselves.

So for that reason, I see a country established on the cornerstone of pure libertarian and free market ideals as impractical as communism and socialism. Because in the end, we will always have to compromise with the corrupted officials and the individuals who have ceded them power. The Bolsheviks were not willing to compromise with their opponents but they didnt have to becasue they were willing to kill them or send them to camps to be “reeducated.”

Maybe one day there will be change, and the size of government is drastically reduced. But I dont think this day will occur until the government and the value of the dollar collapses under a mountain of unsustainable debt. But even then what will take the place of the government in current form will just be a smaller government, and not a government where most traditional functions of government are handed over to the private market because there will still have to be compromise with the corrupted officials and the people who have ceded their power to the corrupt.

So in the end, I stand by my statement; Our system sucks, but it is better than the alternative so for that reason I like it. I agree that private markets are a better alternative than what we currently have but we will never get there because there will always be the empowered corrupt. And I am not willing to be like the bolsheviks and kill or send all of my ideological oponents to reeducation camps.

*America is freer than its competition so I refer to it as a free society, though it is not as free as it could be.

Mark May 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Replace the word ‘practical’ in the third paragraph with the word ‘possible’ in my post above.

Eric Hammer May 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Well, one alternative is severely limited government, of the sort the Constitution and the 14th Amendment was supposed to secure. As you say, removing 9/10ths of governmental functions, but at the federal and state levels is a good start. Sharply limiting the government’s ability to give away money to favored groups helps too. The fewer the spoils of holding office, the fewer those looking to attain it for the spoils.
Basically, assuming you are not willing to incite rebellion and civil war, the path is to staunchly argue against the growth of government and constantly push for its reduction. It won’t happen over night, and it doesn’t have to to be worth fighting for. Giving up and saying “Well, it isn’t too bad” merely ensures the ratchet only goes one way.

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

And in a free society, there will always be individuals who are corrupted overlords, or people that aspire to be so.

And in an unfree society, those people will be in charge.

muirgeo May 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Well stated Mark. This libertarian stuff seems more and more like a cult to me.

If it was so great it would be more a more prominent way in which societies were organized. Yet not one truly exist or ever has. To be a libertarian you have to ignore the nature of what it is to be human. And what’s really weird is that they seem to hold 99% of people in contempt. But some how they figure their perfect society would suddenly bring out the goodness in everyone?… or they must believe a Darwinian selection would eliminate that chaff.

You can have a very short conversation with any one of them if you start asking them specifics of how their society might work out. Basically none of them have really thought it through much past the part about not having to pay taxes.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Yet not one truly exist or ever has.

And yet you perpetually blame all manner of problems on libertarians, never on so called “progressives”.

John V May 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm

touche’

Twit-brain wants it both ways. He’s such a troll.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

No that would be oyu guys claiming all the goodness of society for free markets forget we’ve had democracy and planning and markets mixed together… a mixed economy. I believe in a mixed economy. THAT has been shown to work. You believe in a fairy tale that is BS and it is YOU who would massively reordered society to the detriment of most people. Most people are quite comfortable with our current system they just want better representation from their politicians something libertarian leaning policies are taking away from them and handing over to corporations you claim you don’t defend… but you do… even if indirectly out of massive silliness and ignorance.

John V May 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

Straw-man

Such inaccurate drivel is inexcusable for someone who has posted here so long.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

John V,

Whenever you scream STRAWMAN…. to me that’s like you crying UNCLE. And you do so often.

John V May 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

No. It’s not UNCLE. It’s STRAWMAN.

Please, if you actually said something coherent, I’d respond to the comment. But you say things that are so dim and contradictory that it removes the will to break it down and rip it apart piece by piece.

Besides, my original point that you want it both ways still stands. There’s nothing else to add and you can say nothing to it.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

The deregulation of Wall Street that has collapsed our economy is a libertarian construct… as is much of our policy that has transferred trillions from the middle class to the wealthy elite you all work for.
Again those super wealthy with their control of lobbyist and politicians do not believe in libertarianism except as a means, as an opiate of the masses… to control the masses, to control people like you to submit to their will and even make arguments to defend them.
Edmund Burke made it clear what libertarianism was all about. Give them the feel of power and control and democracy but rules them anyhow because “we” are the smart ones the elite.

John V May 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

You get an F for reading comprehension.

“Again those super wealthy with their control of lobbyist and politicians do not believe in libertarianism except as a means”

What is so libertarian about lobbyists? What libertarian means are employed? Citing deregulation in a generic sense does not qualify. The system has, overall, a very un-libertarian regulatory framework. A libertarian regulatory framework would simply spell out and clarify property rights and responsibilities while enforcing very simple and general rules that are that equal to all and respect incentives so so reliable institutions can form based on those incentives.

And then there’s the issue of centrally controlled interest rate that doesn’t reflect market conditions as a more free-market style rate would. That inaccurate price lies at the heart of the domino effect.

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

Seriously.

Are you in competition with someone where the person who utters the largest amount of sheer idiocy wins? You are by far the biggest moron I’ve ever run across in my entire life. I cannot think of anything that now exists or has ever existed on this planet that is more worthless than you.

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I always hear about this mythical deregulation of the markets, but I never have anyone show me any proof. There was no deregulation in recent years, that is a lie.

Instead there was an increase in regulation from the Sarbannes-Oxley bill. Now financial derivatives were a fairly unregulated area of finance, but that is because they were a new phenomenon, not because they had been deregulated.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Kyle,

Do you think depository banks and investment banks should be able to merge?

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I am not real big on any bank mergers because I really do think that this is one area where the public is better served by having many smaller choices than just a few big choices.

But if your point is that some regulations were not enforced, then it does not mean that we had deregulation, it means that the government failed once again in what it pretended to have expertise in.

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Now financial derivatives were a fairly unregulated area of finance, but that is because they were a new phenomenon, not because they had been deregulated.

Wanna bet?

brotio May 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Methinks is right. The stupidity of our Dear Ducktor is unparalleled.

If brains were muirde, Yasafi wouldn’t be able to fertilize a grasshopper’s garden.

Tim May 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

“To be a libertarian you have to ignore the nature of what it is to be human. And what’s really weird is that they seem to hold 99% of people in contempt. But some how they figure their perfect society would suddenly bring out the goodness in everyone?… or they must believe a Darwinian selection would eliminate that chaff. ”

You overstate the degree to which human nature matters. Under a free market you can only be benefited to the degree to which you benefit others. People do not need to be good to do things which benefit other people, they only need to act in their own self interest within an economy wherein one can only prosper through cooperation, i.e., the free market.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Thank you for revealing your clueless caricature of libertarianism.

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Sorry Tim, I was responding to the quoted comment.

Gil May 9, 2011 at 12:22 am

What stopping from Libertarians from hiring a PDA from overthrowing the government?

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:48 am

The fact that they currently hold a legal monopoly on it has to rank pretty high among the reasons.

Gil May 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

There’s no such thing as a “legal monopoly”. If people can overthrow a government then its laws die with it.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

“There’s no such thing as a “legal monopoly”.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_monopoly

Yes, there most certainly is.

“If people can overthrow a government then its laws die with it.”

And, in the case of law, it’s the left arm protecting the right which is preventing that from happening. They protect their legal monopoly on positive law in the same way they protect the(ir) Post Office’s legal monopoly on priority mail. The supposition of legal monopoly (IE: their legally mandated policy of forceful prevention of competition) is largely what keeps that from happening. It’s very hard to compete with a Western government when they throw you in jail for trying.

Gil May 10, 2011 at 12:14 am

Okay let’s put it another way – what’s stopping from Libertarians to hire an army of mercenaries to overthrow the government.

On the other hand, the link was bunk. It’s obvious the way Libertarians use the term “monopoly of legality/force” is that government is so powerful as to be indestructible not about a corporation getting a privilege to be free from competitors in a certain trade.

crossofcrimson May 10, 2011 at 8:16 am

“Okay let’s put it another way – what’s stopping from Libertarians to hire an army of mercenaries to overthrow the government.”

The government….

That’s the whole point. There isn’t an exogenous force strong enough to bring the US military down independently (at this point). As far as endogenous forces are concerned, they don’t exactly just let you make bombers and tanks for private use (at least not without their permission). About the only way to do it, that I can see, at this point would be to encourage enough people, domestically, to begin to refuse to sanction the state – and that poses plenty of its own problems.

“On the other hand, the link was bunk. It’s obvious the way Libertarians use the term “monopoly of legality/force” is that government is so powerful as to be indestructible not about a corporation getting a privilege to be free from competitors in a certain trade.”

It wasn’t bunk – it’s basic economics/politics.

As to your second point, “monopoly on force” and “legal monopoly” are not the same thing, although the former is an instance of the latter to be sure. A legal monopoly is essentially any business (private or public) that’s protected from competition by the law. That’s what “legal monopoly” means (not “monopoly of force”). It could be a private entity (like a utility company), a quasi-public entity (like the Post Office), or even wholly public entities like national defense – and even the law itself.

Third, I don’t know any libertarians who think that the government is indestructible in any case. They simply acknowledge that it’s difficult to build a shoe factory if the only shoe factory in town goes around and locks people up whenever they try to start one. They wouldn’t be able to do it without the cooperation and sanction of the people. So, SOME libertarians think that it’s worth relating to the public – so that we can change this “indestructible” government perhaps.

Gil May 11, 2011 at 4:31 am

Why do feel you need the government’s permission to overthrow the government? Had the American Revolution failed I’m Washington would have liked to went the way of OBL than be captured alive and sent to England to stand trial for high treason.

crossofcrimson May 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

“Why do feel you need the government’s permission to overthrow the government?”

Um, I didn’t see I or anyone else needed “permission.” I said they won’t let you. As in, you aren’t legally (checked with force) allowed to gather the means to do so. If the majority of people still give sanction to the government, and you’re trying to end their monopoly, you have to essentially fight their military. Again, good luck producing fighter jets, bombers, tanks, and conventional assault weapons en masse without the government knocking at your door and hauling your ass away.

This is, beyond the deontological reasoning against it, the primary reason why going this route would be pretty futile. I’m not sure how that point became conflated with needing “permission”. It’s like asking why a hostage doesn’t just walk away.

“Had the American Revolution failed I’m Washington would have liked to went the way of OBL than be captured alive and sent to England to stand trial for high treason.”

That’s possible. Although I’m not sure how it’s relevant. The revolutionaries endeared quite a bit of colonial support, although less than what’s commonly thought (about a third of the populous by most accounts). So he already had a comparative advantage in that arena which PDA-supporters don’t presently enjoy. On top of that, the arms with which the common citizenry were equipped were much more comparable to military arms than are of those of common citizens today….by a pretty incredible factor. So while he might have rather have died than lived under the tyranny of his time, fighting the war he fought was certainly not an automatic death-sentence….which is precisely what such an under-powered revolution under current conditions would be.

But, beyond that, I’m not sure how we jumped from talking about the inefficacy of fighting for a given cause to implying that one should be happy to die for it, regardless, apparently, of the risk he’s taking. That’s a whole different argument altogether, and has little bearing over whether such actions are actually feasible or not.

crossofcrimson May 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

Ugh, “see” = “say” in opening…..damn typos.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 9:15 am

Tim ,

When you spout of stuff like that I just see a religious fanatic spouting bible versus and believing in them with all their heart…. disregarding the real world.

Marcus May 9, 2011 at 9:21 am

Well as they say, it takes one to know one.

Since religion is all about control, it’s quite understandable why you worship at the Church of the State.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Marcus,

First an , I know you are but what am I comment and now this, ” it takes one to know one”. REALLY? I am reliving my 3rd grade.
Seriously are you a monkey or a 7 year old…. or a 7 year old monkey… Who’s a little monkey?….you’re a little monkey….

Marcus May 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Pot/Kettle.

Grow up muirgeo.

Ken May 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Tim,

“People do not need to be good to do things which benefit other people”

How do you define doing good if you don’t define it as doing something to benefit other people?

Regards,
Ken

Mark May 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

It is not more prominent because there are individuals such as you who continue to believe that powerful individuals and a powerful government can solve their problems and make their lives better.

I disagree with that notion. Hopefully one day you will change your mind :)

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 8:28 am

To change your mind you must first have one.

crossofcrimson May 9, 2011 at 8:44 am

“If it was so great it would be more a more prominent way in which societies were organized.”

What makes you think that? A Whig view of history?

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

You can have a very short conversation with any one of them if you start asking them specifics of how their society might work out. Basically none of them have really thought it through much past the part about not having to pay taxes.

Only the fascist at heart insists upon taking up the task of designing society for the supposed benefit of others. You don’t consider that in order to do so you must suppress the freedom of others to generate social order through the cooperative interactions of millions of individuals. You must also constrain social order to that which you can comprehend and manage. When the people are unwilling to fit into your constrained order, then you must exercise ever greater power over them until your social order is a prison camp.

You truly have a marginal vision, able to see only what exists and only to the most superficial extent.

You mal-interpretation of libertarianism is either a caricature of profound ignorance, or an intentionally dishonest systemic poisoning of the well.

You do so much projection, for I know that it is you who looks down on the poor slobs who bring their kids to you and you know it is up to you and other fascists to make life for those poor slobs bearable so that you may relieve the guilt you feel for being so well off at their expense.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

You like something that sucks?

Most everyone accepts the need for some kind of governance to protect individuals from violating the equal rights of other individuals.

Such a system need not be anything such as we have now. It should cost a fraction of what we have now.

If our government was properly limited to defending our borders against foreign aggression and to prevent local governments from violating individual rights while they may maintain police and courts, and NOT have a government that maintains military bases (over 700) around the world, props up dictators, subsidizes, protects, and bails out businesses). Then most of us would be quite satisfied.

Go to this site and find out your share of the government debt and tell us what you think. http://www.mygovcost.org/

Governments do collapse from time to time, mostly because the people think it can’t, and so through ignorance and inaction, allow it to happen.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

governance to prevent individuals from violating the equal rights of other individuals.

Mark May 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Sam,

I agree with what you have said, but part of me has always been somewhat of a cynic and dont think we will ever get there because there will always be compromise with the corrupted and with people like Muirgeo who follow a very different ideal. And as long as there are so many people who get their feed from the government trough, it will be very hard to convince them.

So yes, I would very much like and agree with having a government whose role is to maintain the courts, enforce property rights, and national defense, though I am not a pure libertarian on defense policy.

So for that reason, I like our system of government not because it is good, but because it could be worse (and unfortunately it seems to keep getting worse).

Now that doesnt mean that I think we should stop spreading our message, I just think that having a country “organized” as you described is somewhat of a pipe dream.

Sam Grove May 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I haven’t described a way of organizing any country.

Mark May 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm

hence, I put “organized” in quotes.

kyle8 May 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I can propose an alternative system right now, We simply go back to what this nation was before the year 1913.

danphillips May 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

“…with the rarest of exceptions, decent people don’t do politics.” I’m dying of curiosity. Who are some of these rare exceptions? For the life of me I can’t think of a single one!

muirgeo May 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Yeah George Washington was a real Jackass… same with TJ.

muirgeo May 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Interesting the so called good politicians lead us into economic depressions as bad as any.

Don Boudreaux May 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Grover Cleveland.

Sandre May 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Grover Cleveland was almost perfect. I say almost, because I don’t think anyone really is perfect.

kyle8 May 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Calvin Coolidge, now THAT was a president!

dsylexic May 9, 2011 at 3:40 am

uh.not Ron Paul? I havent heard of such a fellow in my lifetime and havent read of one in the last 400 years

danphillips May 9, 2011 at 7:52 am

Sorry, Guys. I don’t accept any of them as decent. They’re all politicians. A politician is someone who wants power over me. A politician can’t be decent. It’s not in his nature.

Scott G May 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for re-posting this Don. When you posted this in 2008, I was not a Cafe Hayek reader – I was an enthusiastic supporter of government, and working at federally funded research and development corporation seeking to protect the United States from its enemies. The name Hayek was completely foreign and radical sounding to me (even with an undergraduate degree in economics from UC Santa Cruz).

I think it’s a good idea to re-post from time to time.

This was my favorite part of you remembrance:
“When I was about 5, Mom took me with her to visit our next-door neighbor, Miss Jane. While at Miss Jane’s home, I helped myself to a fistful of rubber bands that she kept around a doorknob in her kitchen. Mom discovered my pilfered booty only after we returned to our house.”

Also, this line from a similar and recent post of yours is incredibly powerful: “when he departed this vale of scarcity and imperfections and trade-offs and awful inevitabilities.”

Thank you.

kyle8 May 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

seriously, you got a degree in economics whithout even having heard of Hayek? That blows my mind.

Bill May 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I did a lot of political and economic study in college and I also never heard his name (along with almost all the other Austrian scholars).

After reading Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” I can see why I have never heard of him. His ideas are clearly “dangerous” and “radical” – or at least, that’s what I’m told.

Now he’s one of my favorites to read (my favorite being Bastiat).

Scott G May 9, 2011 at 12:36 am

Sometime in my third year a family friend asked me what I was studying and I told him economics. He then asked me whether I was a Keynesian or a _______. I couldn’t answer the question because I didn’t know who or what ______ was. I was pretty embarrassed, especially since he didn’t even have a college degree. For years, I re-played that conversation in my mind, wondering who or what ______ was. (This was before Google so it couldn’t easily figure out what _____ was).

It wasn’t until I watched Commanding Heights years later that learned about Hayek. His name was totally new to me and because his name was new and I had a DEGREE in economics I thought he was small figure.

The UC Santa Cruz that I attended in the early 90′s was like Berkeley in the 60′s – radically “alternative”. It was the most stressful and confusing time of my life. When I told my peers that I was pursuing a dual degree in economics and engineering, they said I would never be happy. They said I just wanted money. I actually started to believe it after a few years and convinced myself that I wasn’t happy. So I turned into a hippie for about 8 months, went on a field study in the Andes looking for endangered deer with a bunch of environmental studies students. On that trip I realized that hanging out with the hippies didn’t make me any happier, so when I got back to school I just focused on my mechanical engineering degree for three years.

This is one reason why Don and Russ are my favorite economists. You have no idea how horrible and bankrupt the world view at UC Santa Cruz was. No wonder the internet appeared then. Individuals like myself were down for the count and struggling to get up.

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

Now you have really blown my mind. Thank God that most of my professors were, if not followers, at least well acquainted with Milton Friedman as well as giving us Hayek and Von Mises to study.

We were certainly not a radical campus, but we did have our share of the counter culture types. I can picture them in my mind right now.

Sitting around the student union, passing out fliers supporting Castro. Chain-smoking, arrogant, contemptuous, filled with anger and hate towards everyone. Reciting slogans from French or German philosophers that they didn’t really understand.

I wanted no part of what they were selling.

Joshua May 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Where did you go to school? Or better yet what year? 1850?

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

The 1970′s, LSU

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 8:36 am

Kyle8,

I didn’t hear of Hayek until I was in my late 30′s when I decided to start reviewing econ for fun. I first came across Hayek while reading something by Milton Friedman. When I brought it up to my husband (who also has an undergraduate degree from the same economics department), he had no idea what I was talking about. In four years of college, we never heard of Hayek or the Austrian school.

Eric Hammer May 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I am having a similar experience now, returning to school for economics and meeting many students who have never heard of Hayek, Mises and often even Adam Smith himself! It is maddening… everyone knows what an IS/MP curve is, but no one can tell you anything about the debate between Keynes and Hayek, except that Keynes apparently won because we hear his name all the bloody time. It is rather surreal and frustrating.

John Galt May 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

It could be argued that every word written by Ayn Rand had two purposes: To allow her to earn a living, and to work through the incredibly tragic treatment of her own Mother and Father and imagine a world where they wouldn’t be robbed of their livelihoods by the slobbering statist psychopaths and sycophants.
[Atlas Shrugged Part 3]
The rectangle of light upon the acres of the farm was from the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade . . .”

Sandra May 9, 2011 at 7:34 am

This is because of the system. It provides wrong incentives and encourages wrong kind of behavior. One has to lie to people to be elected into office, and that is not right.

Martin Brock May 9, 2011 at 9:27 am

Your mother was a wonderful parent, but she would not have been a wonderful government official (central planner), because the problem with government officials is not the personality of the official. It’s the impossibility of the official’s task.

Sam Grove May 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The government official has two tasks:
The theoretical task is to make the world a better place.
The real task is to exercise political power over others.
The real task makes the theoretical task impossible.

Methinks1776 May 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Well said, sir.

Don Boudreaux May 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Indeed. Well said.

Joshua May 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Obama is a good guy. I think Clinton and Carter were earnest. Skilled at selling and skilled at lying are 2 different things.

Don Boudreaux May 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Do you know Obama? What makes him “good”? His expressed concern for others? His willingness to declare that Smith has too much money and then to confiscate some additional amounts of Smith’s wealth and transfer it to Jones who, Obama also divines, is receiving too little in the way of monetary wealth?

And do you know Clinton and Carter? What, exactly, were these successful politicians earnest about?

Joshua May 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

What if Jones is 85 and has run out of life savings? What if Joneses dad spends the grocery money on crack?

Ken May 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm

“What if Jones is 85 and has run out of life savings?”

1. Jones living to 85 means he lived past life expectancy.
2. Jones should have saved more or worked longer.
3. Are you implying the gov should take from Smith to give to Jones? If so, how will Smith now save for retirement, which the gov has declare savings idle excess, if the gov is raiding his retirement account to pay for Jones’s retirement?

“What if Joneses dad spends the grocery money on crack?”

What if he was? What do you propose? All the solutions the gov has come up with damages these people’s lives more than if they just let Jones’s dad buy crack. Does throwing Jones’s dad in jail help Jones or his dad?

Joshua May 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I propose social security and food stamps. Redistribution.

Ken May 10, 2011 at 12:21 am

Joshua,

How does this help Jones if his dad uses grocery money for crack? Do you suppose that this same father WON’T spend SS money on crack, instead of groceries? Or does the fact that it is government money make it magical and change the father to a person who buys groceries instead of crack? And why wouldn’t this same father sell his food stamps either directly for crack, or indirectly for cash first then crack?

Neither SS nor food stamps solve the behavior of the cracked out father. Are you really so deluded that you think taking from Smith to give to Jones’s father WON’T result in MORE crack smoking? People who don’t give a damn about anyone else except themselves don’t spontaneously become good people due to some magical property of government redistribution of money.

In fact, now that you’ve relinquished any burden Jones’s father have felt to earn money now evaporates as you wish to subsidies his crack addiction. At least when he had to earn his own crack money he had to go out and do something for which someone would pay him. Now you come along and say “Why work so hard? Here, we’ll take money from that chump Smith and give it to you so you can relax and smoke crack all day.”

That some solid thinking there, Joshua. Congratulations, you’ve made the problem worse. Now what?

Regards,
Ken

Joshua May 10, 2011 at 12:42 am

SNAP gives out a debit card these days. It can only be used to buy food. Yes Jones could then sell the food I suppose. OK, then the state should do the right thing, and remove Jones jr. from the home and feed and educate him. Not because it will be cheaper than jailing him later on, because it is the right thing to do.

Ken May 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

Joshua,

“SNAP gives out a debit card these days. It can only be used to buy food. Yes Jones could then sell the food I suppose.”

You don’t think it’s easier to sell the credit card? How much harder is it to sell a credit card than food stamps?

“OK, then the state should do the right thing, and remove Jones jr. from the home and feed and educate him. Not because it will be cheaper than jailing him later on, because it is the right thing to do.”

If only someone had thought of this before! Oh wait…

Have you heard such good things about government sponsored programs that raise children? Sounds to me like it’s 50-50 on whether or not the kid will be better off with a cracked out father or under the state’s care. It’s a brutal system that doesn’t care about these children and hardens them to life and exposes them to violence to which they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed.

OK. You’re next solution has been tried, costs a fortune and the kids lives aren’t any better. In at least half the cases they’re worse. What next?

Regards,
Ken

Emil May 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm

To be honest, I really couldn’t care less if a politician is a “good guy” or not. I don’t care about his intentions but about the impact of his policies. Which is the reason why Margaret Tatcher was one of the greatest politicians of all times. She was not a “good guy” (not only because she wasn’t a guy) but her policies did significantly better than what was there before

kyle8 May 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Yeah I guess Carter was earnest. An earnest anti-capitalist, anti-Semite, anti-American. A man who never met a left wing dictator that he didn’t like. A man with absolutely not the slightest understanding of either economics or human nature.
A horrid old left wing scold. A monstrous narcissist who was angered at the American people for rejecting him and his failed policies. Quite possibly the worse person to ever exist in American Politics outside of Aaron Burr.

Sam Grove May 10, 2011 at 1:35 am

And who became wealthy via peanut marketing orders.

carlsoane May 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

It does not help the cause of classical liberalism to denigrate the function of government. Being in government requires some unpleasant compromises, yes, but so does running a business or teaching in a university. Now, more than at most times in our history, we need good people go into politics.

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