Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Like too many western aid experts, Samuel Loewenberg misses the fundamental reason famines still ravage developing countries (“The Famine Next Time,” Nov. 27).

The reason isn’t drought.  Yuma, Arizona, gets vanishingly little rainfall, yet denizens of that city aren’t ever threatened with starvation.

Nor is the reason a lack of Well-Researched Plans designed and implemented by Smart and Caring Experts.  Yuma is amply supplied with food not through the efforts of intrepid bureaucrats but, instead, through the profit-seeking of restaurants such as McDonalds, retailers such as Wal-Mart, distributors such as Sysco, processors such as Kraft, and thousands of farmers and ranchers – each helped by additional thousands of producers of machinery, fertilizers, packaging materials, and the like – all responding to market prices.

Nor is the reason even the inadequacy of roads: that inadequacy is a consequence of what ails Africa, not a cause.

The bouts of famine that still haunt Africa were routine throughout history and the globe.  These were ended only when, only where, and only to the extent that bourgeois culture and its adornments – chiefly, reasonably free entrepreneurial markets – flourished.  To recognize this fact is to rob western busybodies of sexy agendas; but it is also to point the only way toward real prosperity for Africans.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 127 comments }

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

Poor Africa. Even in 2011, she is under siege by the White Man’s Burden. Rather than let self-determination and freedom come to Africa, there are all these “smart & caring experts” who see it as their burden to teach the Africans. Those who say racism is dead need only look at Africa. The only difference between Africa now and Colonial Africa is we’re doing it with “aid” groups as opposed to armies.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

Aid needs be expended in two ways. Refuse aid to any government wheather dictitorial or democratic. Eliminate all barriers to trade.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

When you say “refuse aid,” are you talking about government aid or private aid or both?

Methinks1776 November 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

Can you think of any country that has prospered (risen from poverty) as a result of aid?

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

No, but private charity I have no issue with. Government charity I do.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I’ve never seen any aid program that promises to create any durable prosperity.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Greece, Italy, etc., all under the Marshall Plan

Methinks1776 November 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Luzha, you ignorant dope, the Marshall Plan did not lift Europe out of poverty.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Why, yes I can. The USA prospered because of the generous foreign aid it received from the former Soviet Union and Maoist China. Any objective, honest economic researcher must conclude the same thing.

tarran November 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Nikolai – the Marshall Plan did not benefit its recipients much; the bulk of the money was intended to be doled out by the CIA to anti-communist left-wing political parties in countries occupied formerly by the Germans as documented in the book Legacy of Ashes.

Most of the rest of the money was about as well spent as the “stimulus” spending in the current depression here in the U.S.

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

Private aid accomplishes frighteningly similar results as government aid. A great use of aid would be moving people away from areas of famine.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

A great use of aid would be moving people away from areas of famine.

I can’t wait to see this. I’m from the Great Relief Organization. I’m going to take you poor staving people from this country here and bring them to this country, if you don’t mind and they don’t mind.

I find it amusing that in some misplaced zeal to impeach private aid, one would concoct such an utterly impossible thought, one that is ironically leftist in its pedigree. Only a statist regards people as cattle to be moved without respect to their wishes or the wishes of the present occupants of any proposed destination.

Of course if we just erase national borders and give UN bureaucrats plenary power, no problem.

Fred November 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

I liked Sam Kinison’s take on world hunger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0q4o58pKwA

Josh S November 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

Actually, allowing people to flee dictatorships is a good idea. But people in the free world don’t like having to compete with foreigners.

McBrideR November 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Unlike Don, I would argue that the fundamental problem in Africa is the great uncertainty, or in some cases clear lack, of individual property rights.

Regarding the value of letting self-determination and freedom bring prosperity and happiness to Africa, I would just point to Zimbabwe as an example of abject failure of the removal of “White Man’s” political and economic thinking and structures from a country.

Emil November 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The “revolution” in Zimbabwe was anything but free…

It was a huge socialist experiment sponsored by aid dollars from e.g. the mid-80s socialist Swedish government under Olof Palme

nailheadtom November 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

” I would argue that the fundamental problem in Africa is the great uncertainty, or in some cases clear lack, of individual property rights.”
___________________________

What evidence do you have for a continent-wide lack of property rights? How do you know that there isn’t a sophisticated and complex system of property rights that may not be based on the individual? A conversation with a Blackfoot Indian in Montana might give you a different perspective on property rights. We constantly hear how miserable parts of Africa, like “lawless” Somalia, are. Prove that there’s a correlation between an all-powerful state and general happiness.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

a Blackfoot Indian in Montana might give you a different perspective on property rights.

and what would that perspective be

when they produce their first 20 plays of the quality of 20 lesser works by Shakespeare, get back to us

Craig November 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

“How do you know that there isn’t a sophisticated and complex system of property rights that may not be based on the individual?”

If property rights are not based on the individual, the collective will live in poverty. Africa and the Blackfoots are the illustration.

kyle8 November 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

*Like*

nailheadtom November 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

So there couldn’t be a system of property rights based on something like the family? All property rights must be endorsed by the state? That ultimately exercises eminent domain? Such as the US has done with all aboriginals? Including “buying” Alaska from the Russians, as if they actually owned the place? The native Americans were given no choice in the disposition of their land, it was taken from them by force and now their property belongs to others. So much for property rights, individual or otherwise.

Fred November 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

Including “buying” Alaska from the Russians, as if they actually owned the place?

What was purchased from the Russians was the power to tax and use force against the people of Alaska without Russia doing anything about it.

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

One can sit on a property rights forever if the culture around you won’t let you do anything with it. It is however, an indispensable right that society benefits from.

Nuke Nemesis November 29, 2011 at 9:21 am

Property rights are essential to prosperity.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

And their debt to the Western capitalistic societies doesn’t help either. Their debt is all part of the capitalist equation. Blood diamonds, oil and cozy dictators supported by the west are all part of the capitalist model in the real world.

Emil November 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

So, are you now admitting that such a thing as too much government actually exists?

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I’ve never denied it couldn’t exist but it’s NOT the problem for Africa. There problem is TOO little government. There is no government to protect person or property there. So no this example doesn’t feed your ideology.

Emil November 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Ah, at least you seem to agree that a main task of government should be to protect property. That’s good. Now if I cuold only figure out how that goes together with your typical rant about how governments should take more private property away

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Emil,

It’s as simple as the fact that markets… especially modern markets will tend to massively concentrate wealth and thus power. That power will basically fill any void left by a government that is too weak to prevent itself from being usurped. Thus you need a government that has power to resist being bought out but in which the power is diffused. A government of, by and for the people. Nothing to radical …. nothing too original… just common sense IMO.

Who do you want to control the government? Who do you want the government to respond to? Corporations or people? I chose people. Governments are obviously subservient to corporations and global finance. This problem will NOT be solve by “freeing” the markets. It will be solved by reforming our banking and corporate structures. This will happen by political planning before or after a major social revolution.

Libertarians have no real world pragmatic solutions… just talk and idealism. The people taking to the street are the ones… as in all of history … who will make the change. Yet libertarians mock them.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

“This problem will NOT be solve by “freeing” the markets.”

This is something I cannot grasp. How does increasing government’s interconnectedness with the market remove the government’s interconnectedness with the market?

Libertarians offer only practical solutions. All liberals offer is Orwellian double-speak.

Emil November 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Right, so now a major social revolution is nothing too radical…

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Its really not too hard to grasp John. There doesn’t need to be more rules just better and more uniform rules that improve competition rather then favoring the well positioned.

Really… what’s your solution in practical terms?

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm

A revolution IS always radical. But every major advance in civilized society followed some sort of revolution. Democracy is the idea of bloodless revolution but when the money borders have bought up democracy what options are left? How do you see us ever getting to your proposed idea society? You think everyone is just going to suddenly agree with the libertarian philosophy that leaves 90% and disproportionately rewards privilege over merit?

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

“There doesn’t need to be more rules just better and more uniform rules that improve competition rather then favoring the well positioned.”

Indeed, I agree with you. So my solution is to remove corruption from the markets. We let the markets regulate themselves through profits and losses. We stop bailing out the losers. We stop creating perverse incentives by removing politics from the process. You want to stop corruption? Then stop enabling it. Doesn’t get any more rational than that.

See, I believe than people of the same trade seldom get together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public. Men are not angels. Men are greedy, corruptible creatures. It is only by breaking the avenues of corruption, not strengthening them, can we stop it.

JoshINHB November 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm

@muirge0

It’s as simple as the fact that markets… especially modern markets will tend to massively concentrate wealth and thus power. That power will basically fill any void left by a government that is too weak to prevent itself from being usurped. Thus you need a government that has power to resist being bought out but in which the power is diffused.

So you are saying that the Africa’s condition is the result of run away capitalism.

That is idiotic and incoherent, even for you.

Nuke Nemesis November 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

Jon,

The problem with libertarian solutions is it give the government so little to do. Also, progressives can’t say “look how much I care” when you just let people control their own lives. Only by taking from one group and giving to another whom we “feel” is more deserving can progressive feel any self worth.

Mr. Econotarian November 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I happen to know someone who started a business in West Africa. He started a small gold mine, and employed many locals. Importing equipment and supplies was a nightmare because of customs delays and corrupt government officials who demanded bribes for all kinds of permits. A government change occurred, and the new government expropriated the mine, so he left. No one is working the mine now.

Now with the price of gold going up, he is thinking about going back into the gold mining business – but perhaps in Alaska, never again in Africa where the government can bleed you dry.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

And here we complain non-stop about our much better government? You guys lack a realistic perspective.

Greg G November 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Sometimes the underdog lands a haymaker.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Our government does exactly the same thing.

Greg G November 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

“exactly” ?

Then why is he considering Alaska?

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

“Then why is he considering Alaska?”

The US government is not allowed to get away with everything it wants to do.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm

There is way too little government in Africa, and therefore way too little control over its individuals, whom, I believe, are called “Africans.” If my dream came true and I became Unquestioned Dictator and Economic Planning Czar of the World, African countries would adopt the same model as North Korea, whose strong central government does such a stellar job of protecting person and property. You don’t see crime in North Korea, no Siree! Of course, they don’t have anything to steal, and, like Africans, North Koreans are also starving. But those conditions are good for the soul (especially mine), and are clearly the fault of the US.

I’ll explain why as soon as I can invent a reason. I’ll get back to you.

kyle8 November 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm

If your dream came true the result would be famine, collapse and despair on a colossal scale because you have demonstrated that you know absolutely nothing whatsoever about wealth, economics, or human nature.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

@kyle8: If your dream came true the result would be famine, collapse and despair on a colossal scale

But those are good things!

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

Great Special on NK. National Geographic: Inside North Korea
Shows you the creepy behavior of a people living under total government control. They are scared out of their minds of the South Koreans and the US. Ask the North Koreans and they will tell you they love their leader and country… same thing in their minds. They would turn on a friend in one millisecond for any reason that involved national security and everything is about national security in NK!

lamp3 November 28, 2011 at 11:50 am

Muirge0: “@kyle8: If your dream came true the result would be famine, collapse and despair on a colossal scale

But those are good things!”

This is because famine, collapse and despair open up opportunities for local farmers, psychiatrists, construction workers and entertainers to work? There will be a multiplier effect from such things, which will help increase aggregate demand and make life better?

I love this sarcasm!

Nuke Nemesis November 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

There is way too much government corruption in Africa and too few individual rights.

Josh S November 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

There’s plenty of government in Africa. It takes more paperwork to start a legal business in most of Africa than it does in New Jersey.

khodge November 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Their debt to capitalistic societies is due to their dictators being trained as socialist in elite English schools.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

You confuse capitalism with aid.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 10:41 am

what crap

Africa is where it is because of crime, which is everywhere, nothing more or less.

People cannot leave their homes and walk the streets because of crime and the fear of crime.

Businesses cannot operate because of crime.

Businesses that do profit have their profits stolen by crooks within the gov’t.

Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, has done an excellent job explaining all this is his recent book, The Coming Jobs War, based on actual data from surveys in Africa.

Markets don’t just spring up naturally. They are the blessing of a free, honest, and effective government. Of course, around here we never talk about how to make gov’t free, honest, or effective, or how to create conditions where markets will come into existence.

We just offer up BS platitudes.

Emil November 27, 2011 at 10:56 am

This time you might actually be on to something vaguely intelligent. Good institutions do indeed seem to be a pre-requisite for growth. Don’s point however still stands: pouring in aid dollars does not promote good institutions, on the contrary it facilitates the incumbents who can control the aid dollars. In addition it also removes incentives for people to start businesses as they cannot compete with the free aid-food and aid-clothing coming in

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

Emil

there are always paradoxes when one helps others

hence live is based on experience and judgment, not rules from kooks and nut jobs, or voices bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

James N November 27, 2011 at 11:32 am

You’re not real smart, are you?

SMV November 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

You might find Matt Ridley’s comments in “The Origins of Virtue” interesting. He briefly describes how merchant courts evolved to protect trade and property between countries. As he described them they where highly effective, quicker and fairer than courts established later by the English monarchy.

HaywoodU November 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

Come on now. Government doesn’t steal. It is good and only has the best intentions. Isn’t that what you always say here?

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

HaywoodU Shut the F—Up

any human institution can be good or bad, or both at the same time. Can’t live with them or without them.

So how does you comment advance the ball?

Africa will go nowhere until it has open, honest, effective government.

So how does it get there?

James N November 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

“Africa will go nowhere until it has open, honest, effective government.”

Define effective. Good luck!

Josh S November 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

Nikolai can’t define “effective” in a way that supports his leftist ideology, but I can:

Effective government defends property rights from criminals and invaders. I know libertarians hate public works, but frankly, a government like Adam Smith describes at the end of Book IV of Wealth of Nations is a sight better than anything in Africa or, for that matter, the Western world.

LowcountryJoe November 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

So how does you comment advance the ball?

How do any of your comments here advance ‘the ball’ in any significant way?

SmoledMan November 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

Ask yourself why most of America is not so crime ravaged as Africa. Ask yourself real hard.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

SmoledMan

And what is the reason?

Invisible Backhand November 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm

And what is the reason?

Fewer blacks in American than in Africa. Gotta be.

You guys have to take into account the all-important racial dimension of all this.

Cliff November 28, 2011 at 12:28 am

Well, I am sure a continent-wide average 65 IQ doesn’t help any

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Governments don’t spring up naturally. Emergent free markets create wealth that can then be stolen by people as they coopt society, call themselves politician and extort society of all it’s wealth till it collapses. In Africa this process has continually collapsed societies.

Josh S November 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

Define “naturally.” Warfare and force are as old as mankind…older, really, given that tribes of chimps engage in war, and the law of the jungle certainly isn’t the Law that Bastiat describes.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Governments can’t exist without a working market. What would it use as revenue if it could not tax existing trade, tax existing income, debase existing currency?
Groups of people come together for the purpose of trade, not to form governments. Could anyone imagine a society developing under the ineptitude of even our fairly competent government? They form governments because of fears created by government – either ours or theirs

steve November 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Not true. Absent some kind of government, there is no effective, peaceful way to resolve conflict. One of the primary reasons for the creation of the Magna Carta was the need for courts to resolve conflict. Today, we see the same thing in Afghanistan. While the Taliban are not liked, they have provided relatively honest courts. It lets disagreements over property get resolved without resorting to violence.

Steve

Sam Grove November 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Absent some kind of government, there is no effective, peaceful way to resolve conflict.

Really? How about asking some mutually respected person to arbitrate conflicts?

Josh S November 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

And what if the conflict is that I want you to obey me, and you don’t want to obey me, and I’ve got some well-armed men on my side, and neither you nor the arbitrator have?

Sam Grove November 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Are you referring to U.S. foreign policy?

First you made an absolute statement which I quoted.
Now you are formulating a conditional.

Maybe what you meant to say is that without a political monopoly on force, some disputes will be resolved through armed conflict rather than to claim that NO dispute can ever be resolved peacefully without that political monopoly.

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

We have crime in the US as well.
But your right, in African nations (can’t really name one right now), crime sanctioned and carried out by governments is rampant!

vidyohs November 27, 2011 at 11:06 am

Yeah, you got that damn well right!

Like+

jorod November 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

Socialism and crony deals are the sources of Africa’s problems.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

“…reasonably free entrepreneurial markets…”

What the libertarian seems to not understand is how or what it takes to get their. You don’t get their with individualism.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Good Lord, who taught you grammar? Every one of your blog posts is syntax genocide. The language or murdered left behind letters, sir. Letters to watch. With their i’s.

But let’s take you back to grammar school for a moment:

There: A place. Ex. “I enjoyed being there.”
Their: Possessive. Ex. “That ball is their’s.”
They’re: Contraction of They Are. Ex. “They’re headed for the Super Bowl!”

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

FU jack ass. There are plenty of very successful brilliant people with dyslexia… address the content. You obviously can not so you decide regularly to make it a debate about grammar.

Methinks1776 November 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm

FU jack ass. There are plenty of very successful brilliant people with dyslexia…

Are you trying to count yourself among them, idiot? Dyslexia is by far not your biggest problem. Although, I imagine your imaginary patients (there’s little doubt you’re not an actual doctor) must find comfort in the knowledge that a severely retarded dyslexic is writing their prescriptions.

brotio November 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm

:D

brotio November 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm

In honor of our good friend, Sandre, who coined the term “muirdouche”, I humbly diagnose our Dear, stupid Ducktor with “douchelexia”.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 27, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I don’t think he’s a doctor, I think he’s a muirtician.

brotio November 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I think he’s a muirtician.

LMAO!

muirge0 November 28, 2011 at 12:48 am

And by the way: lack of grammatical skill is not the same thing as dyslexia. The latter is, perhaps, a legitimate condition; the former is just plain ignorance of a certain body of knowledge.

You know, even in the government schools, they used to teach grammar — first by verbally parsing sentences, and then by diagramming them — but since the Progressive Era in the 1920s, there’s been resistance to doing so. The complaint (made by progressive educators and teachers, not students and parents) is that knowledge of grammar — with its distinction between correct constructions and incorrect ones — is inherently “elitist” and therefore makes unfair class distinctions among groups of different economic backgrounds. So-called scientific linguistics supported the progressivists by claiming that any construction is as valid as any other so long as it is used by some group.

Read the history of the controversy over the publication of Merriam-Webster’s Third Edition compared to the almost universal respected granted to the Second Edition. The compromise solution to the prescriptive/descriptive skirmish was the publication of The American Heritage Dictionary, with its weird “usage panels” whose members vote on problematic constructions and then tally the votes as a percentage. Somehow, that’s supposed to help students become better writers and speakers.

Dammit! We need a Language Czar; someone to head a Federal Academy of the English Language! That’s the only solution I can see.

Dan J November 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

And, PTSD for recently divorced is a significant disability that should have GOVT assistance attached to it. And, we need GOVT intervention on discrimination against the unemployed, It’s like apartheid. Not to mention, voter discrimination against the recently deceased.
Dr. Pepper theme – I’m a victim…. Your a victim… She’s a victim…. Wouldn’t you like to be a victim, too…… Ooh, a victim….Yeah, Be a victim….

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

And by the way: lack of grammatical skill is not the same thing as dyslexia.

No, its not. Its dysgraphia.

Your prose is still muddled and incoherent, as is your thinking.

Sam Grove November 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Dyslexia manifests in particular ways due to faulty neural interpretation of certain letters.
I’m not familiar with a dyslexia that causes poor grammar.

But you are not alone, I frequently see this inappropriate word usage those with which I am in agreement, it’s just that you do it so often.

Nuke Nemesis November 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

I don’t know about your learning disabilities, but I’ve met brilliant people and you ain’t one of them.

If you want people to address the content, post something worthy of a thoughtful reply. If you want ridicule, just keep doing what you’re doing.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’ll take my grammatical deficiencies over your deficiencies in logic any day.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm

And since I’m dyslexic, what I post is the exact opposite of my intended meaning.

By the way, everyone, my dyslexia extends to a confusion between Right and Left in politics, as well!

Ha, ha, ha, haaaaa, ha, ha!!

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I have address your illogical content multiple times. But you just argue to argue. Time and again we point out why you are wrong, but rather than address content, you resort to ad hominum attacks and present anecdotal stories as evidence.

I’ve better things to do then repeat myself over and over again. You, apparently, don’t. You have three arguments in which you rotate through.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Jon Murphy: true stories are evidence. observation is how science is conducted.

if your theories are inconsistent with the facts, then your theories are wrong.

we know that markets, for example, cannot operate without government. they just become the opening scenes in No Country for Old Men.

thus, gov’t must be open, honest, and effective enough to assure honesty in the market place and to protect all the participants.

your theories cannot get there. every time we go too far in deregulating markets they resort to the law of the jungle, with worse and worse outcomes.

it does no good to say that gov’t can be dishonest. being a human institution, that is a given. however, given human nature, life without gov’t is even more difficult

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm

“we know that markets, for example, cannot operate without government.”

You keep repeating that. Still doesn’t make it true.

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Then go find yourself a nice place without a government you fool. People like you are completely unserious to me. Dreamy cliches with no real world basis. You live your silly comfortable live because of protesters , revolutionaries and social democracy. THAT is what allows you to live in your childish Never Never Land of Liberdopia.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

There’s cause and then there’s correlation. It is befuddling to think that because governments exist everywhere there is prosperity, governments must be the cause of the prosperity. Most people in government would be loath for you to think it could be the other way around!

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

You admit that the jungle has a law even without government. That is what we’re saying. Laws precede government.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

It’s not a matter of living without government. It’s a matter of living with limited government. I know this is hard for you statists to understand, but smaller government DOES NOT MEAN no government.

Hell, the level of government spending we are asking to return to is the 2007 level. I don’t recall 2007 being lawless.

We want limited government. Like an umpire in baseball. He enforces the rules (that were determined by the players of the game), but they do not favor one team over another, or try to enforce “equality” onto the game. Why is that a scandal?

muirge0 November 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

“You admit that the jungle has a law even without government. That is what we’re saying. Laws precede government.”
anthonyl

Yes and only through evolved altruistic behaviors were our diminutive weak hairless ancestors able to survive the onslaught of the jungle. By rewriting the very laws of the jungle to suit our needs we evolved and via cooperation and planning our civilized societies were born. Had we all decided to go it alone we would went the way of the Neanderthals.

Nuke Nemesis November 29, 2011 at 9:30 am

People create governments to serve the people. Not the other way around. Markets existed long before government. To protect life and property was one reason people created governments.

Governments were not created to create prosperity.

SMV November 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Yes. It requires politicians to lose power and get out of the way. Trade preceded governments. Trade in stone axes spanned thousands of miles in Australia before written language.

Effective merchant courts developed in Europe to address the limited power of law between countries and avoid the corrupt politicians.

Trade happens not between groups but between individuals. It does it matter if they are separated by a politicial boundary or not.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Trade preceded governments…

what is your definition of gov’t

if there were 3 people in the world, A,B, and C and if A and B agree to come together and control C, who is a bully and thief, that is government, with only 3 people

thus “trade,” has always depended on gov’t. In fact, throughout history most trade deals probably had the end results of the opening scenes in No Country for Old Men, with all the traders dead and someone else with the drugs and briefcase

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Well that’s certainly a example of an unhampered market.

McBrideR November 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Got to agree with Nik here, and I think it is important to keep in mind, that even small communes or tribes have some form of government. The questions are always what role the group expects government to fill, how the group choses to form the government, and how the role of government is limited in practice.

I believe the history is that “trade” was greatly enhanced by governments that better defined and enforced property rights.

Anthony’s comment that; “… governments are groups of people that congregate to steel (sic) and destory the society that makes it possible for them to exist…” is a frequent result of govenment evolution. I would argue that it is true of almost any institution (including companies) that the institution has a strong tendancy to evolve away from its serving its intended purpose and towards serving its own perpetuation, or towards the benefit of the leader/s of that institution. That is why effective restraints against the continued drift toward growth of the government role are so important.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

It’s not a matter of no government vs. government. It’s a matter of limited government vs. bug government.

Jon Murphy November 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

By the way, “bug” is not a typo. But it also should read “big”

SMV November 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Consider two countries at war. Clearly neither government respects the property of the citizen of the other. Both may actively work against trade, fining or even killing those that continue to trade, yet mutually beneficial trade continues.

To agree with Nick you have to claim that the people participating in these black markets have voluntarily taken on the properties of government. If that is true then there is no need for formal government. People will perform government activities voluntarily. If not true than you have to admit that trade can happen in the absence of Government.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

A company that does this is either seeking greater profit or about to go under. This is fine either way. But a government that loses its way is always destructive for the people ruled by it and the process is never self-correcting. No mechanism exists to correct the problem once a government loses its way.
A company loses profit and this is an immediate sign of a misstep. A government loses money and it just taxes more.

SMV November 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

By your definition all cooperative activity is government. I can see why with this world view you would support more government.

There is a significant difference between people voluntarily agreeing to submit conflicts to a common court in order to facilitate a business transaction with the only penalty for breaking the agreement being an inability to sign trade deals in the future.

And the common understanding of government today. Reality is that society would function just fine with much less Governemnt than exists today.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

SMV

you are an idiot.

for example, for perhaps 1000 years common law courts have enforced contracts and awarded damages based on the object theory of contracts. People are found to be bound to contracts even when they claim they did not agree to such, subjectively or (your word) voluntarily.

Without damages, what is the incentive to ever perform?

Second, any student of information knows that, as life becomes ever more complex with more and more information, the demand for gov’t to grow is geometric.

Take a very simple example: foodstuffs. The concurrent development of organic and genetically modified foods places huge demands for more gov’t. First, organic must be tested to assure it is organic. Second, organics must be protected from cross breeding by GMF. Last, GMF presents tremendous challenges from public heath (should it be permitted) to preservation of non-altered specie, etc.

In sum, advances in knowledge always require advances in gov’t and its scope and reach.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

SMV

idiot

C, in my example, doesn’t voluntarily submit. A and B just decide, together that C is a wack job and that they will work together to control him or her.

If D shows up and allies with C and says we will form a gov’t, wear uniforms, and enslave A and B, then you have more gov’t. If A escapes, swims across the river and tells E, F, and G that they can swim back, capture C and D, and have all the coconuts they want, that is an even bigger gov’t. In sum, the rise of gov’t is directly tied to the rise of human activity and possible schemes to steal

carlsoane November 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Nikolai:

There are few things government does that are less necessary than preventing the distribution of genetically modified food and certifying organic farmers. The former contributes to famine and the latter could easily be replaced by a private certification agency.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

carlsoane

idiot

first we have the red herring–there are a few things that gov’t does that are less, blah, blah, blah. What totally irrelevant BS. The proposition is asserted that complexity and increasing knowledge creates an ever growing demand for gov’t.

This we get this sign of an idiot:

gov’t could be “replaced by a private certification agency–”

what, like S&P and the other bond rating agencies

and, what happens when the private firm is bribed, implicitly or expressly?

Always the idiots here complain that there is dishonesty but as soon as one suggest doing anything about it—oh no.

Time to sh!t or get off the pot

anthonyl November 28, 2011 at 10:18 am

“Take a very simple example: foodstuffs. The concurrent development of organic and genetically modified foods places huge demands for more gov’t. First, organic must be tested to assure it is organic. Second, organics must be protected from cross breeding by GMF. Last, GMF presents tremendous challenges from public heath (should it be permitted) to preservation of non-altered specie, etc.”

This is a perfect example of an activity government does not need to be involved in.

SMV November 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for the civil discussion.

The greater the complexity of a system the less effective central control is. As society becomes larger and more complex the ability of experts to have the necessary detailed knowledge to make effective rules.

Good luck.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm

That is the only way to get there. Remember that governments are groups of people that congregate to steel and destroy the society that makes it possible for them to exist in the first place.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

no anthonyl gov’ts represent groups of people who gather to advance civilization and prevent criminals from stealing, etc.

most all advances in civilization have taken place under the protection of gov’t

The only society that theoretically needs less gov’t is a communist or socialist gov’t that would need fewer police because from each to each (according to the later’s wants and needs) eliminates the need for economic crimes.

Invisible Backhand November 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Don. As always, Don only includes what’s in his holy hayek hagiography. Let’s hear from someone who knows WTF he’s talking about:

In Radelet’s view, five main factors have conspired to turn Africa around. Expanding democratization has opened up governments, bolstering popular accountability. Improved economic policies have curbed the worst tax and regulatory policies that had plagued African households and investors. Debt reduction has freed up resources for education and health care. New technologies (most notably the ubiquitous cell phone) have boosted Africans’ access to markets. And the rise of a new generation of energetic leaders, the so-called cheetah generation (in the evocative terminology of the Ghanaian scholar George Ayittey), has brought new ideas and attitudes to the fore.

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136547/edward-miguel/africa-unleashed?page=show

SMV November 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Great comment. To sum up the above statement.

1. Governemnt power has been reduced.
2. Government granted monopolies on communication have been overcome through technology (cell phones) boosting access to trade
3. Debt taken on by politicians has been reduced.

I can easily see how this would lead to growth and prosperity.

anthonyl November 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm

All market-driven changes that reenforce individualism. The people want to be left alone to go about the business of creating wealth for themselves.

Invisible Backhand November 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm

And as the only fair-minded person on this entire disgraceful Koch-funded propaganda site, let me fair-mindedly point out to everyone here — all my many fans who navigate to this benighted backwash of thoroughly debunked nonsense to absorb the little trickles of wisdom that I sometimes let dribble down my chin — that all of those reasons except one point to a reduced economic sphere of action for governments in Africa, allowing the African people themselves, through their own voluntary producing, trading, and consuming, to improve their own lot in life — because that’s the natural tendency of people in a market: TO IMPROVE THEIR OWN STATE OF AFFAIRS. That’s WHY people engage in trade.

That’s generally true, except in Africa. The reason it doesn’t apply in Africa is because African people are black.

The one exception I mentioned above proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt (except to Koch-funded propagandists who say what their paymasters instruct them to say). The so-called “new generation of energetic leaders” is the key to Africa’s agonizingly slow, but indisputable, rise from poverty. It’s clear to me, and to the author of this amazingly learned article (and anyone else who knows WTF he’s talking about) that the African people, if left to their own markets and incentives, would botch the job badly, and descend back into barbarism. It’s only the new “cheetah generation” of “energetic leaders” that has raised the standard of living for the helpless black inhabitants of the Dark Continent.

I don’t understand why people on this board don’t understand (unless, of course, they are being paid intentionally not to understand): People do not, and cannot, help themselves — and if they’re black people, they’re doubly screwed. Markets are merely a means of exploitation and enslavement. Throughout history, people have only been helped by strong, energetic leaders — and the stronger, the better. Since they have a double set-back, black people in Africa need especially strong leaders — “cheetahs” * — to lead them out of their market-driven poverty. There’s even an article about this very thing in Foreign Affairs that proves this point.

(* White people in predominantly white countries like the USA, UK, and the European nations, only have one set-back — that of being “people” — so they don’t need energetic cheetahs as leaders. They can make do with leaders who are less energetic monkeys, rats, and asses.)

Dan J November 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Zimbabwe has the leader you speak of……. And he deserves a slow painful death like that of the filthy Hugo Chavez….. May they both rot from the inside out by cancer…. Slow… Painful…. Deaths!
Death to dictators!

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Sorry can’t read this, it seems to much like the product of -and the source of- brain death. Good grief, what soporific torment. Blah, blah, blah.

lamp3 November 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m pretty sure this is not the original IB, but the new and improved IB brother. Funny as hell!

Jay DiNitto November 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

The great false dilemma: if government doesn’t do x, no one will! Just accept it!

Dan J November 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Another problem is the want of instant gratification. Changes in he economy can move slowly. The financial bust began well before we were all hearing it in the news.
What is truly amazing, is that even though progressives have managed to throw as many wrenches into the capitalistic system as they have, so far, yet the system remains relatively strong. They try and try, yet the capitalist system is such a strong one, that it still remains.
Free choice is hard to break. Yet, via means of GOVT they try to eliminate choice. They try to break the spirit of individuals. They try to break free men’s will. And, still vestiges of free choice remain strong.
Progressives (statists) will eventually lose.

Thomas Hutcheson November 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Great letter except for this:

To recognize this fact is to rob western busybodies of sexy agendas; but it is also to point the only way toward real prosperity for Africans.

miltonf November 27, 2011 at 7:29 pm

It really does come down to basics. Adama Smith had the basics nailed over 200 years ago. If you want a vibrant economy you need the rule of law and individual property rights. One of the reasons you see China growing today after milleniums like Africa is their movement in this direction.

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