Posts Tagged ‘bastiat’

This writing came from a Facebook page that I follow. I found it to be right on the mark. People are accusing Libertarians of being satanic, this is the perfect counter. The writing is on the same order as my post about Bastiat’s “The Law”, it is titled “Legal Plunder” read it here.

This is libertarian philosophy from a Christian perspective.

“I hold this truth to be self-evident, that the entire human race is equally created in the image of God, and that we have been endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. We, the entire human race, have the right to our lives, liberty, and our property. With this statement, it should become evident that my secular libertarian views are firmly laid on the foundation of my faith and belief that we are created.

On life

As a Christian, I believe that ALL human life is sacred. God’s commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) is a law that applies to all. I believe that the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to take human life is the author of it. Therefore, I am opposed to abortion, unjustified war, and the death penalty. While I do believe that we have the right to defend our lives with violent force, if necessary, I do not believe that it is morally justified to take a life for any other reason. If it is immoral to take human life, then it follows that it is equally immoral to support a government that engages in the immoral act of murder.

On liberty

I believe that the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to govern the lives of man is man’s creator. This understanding has led me to the conclusion that neither I, nor anyone else, is morally justified in dictating to another how he or she may live. How one chooses to live is a decision that is between that individual and God, and God Himself has given us free will that we may be free to choose to accept Him or not. As C. S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity,

“God created things that had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature, which had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good, it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata-of creatures that work like machines-would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that, they must be free” (52).

Some argue that because man is imperfect it is necessary to use coercion, backed with the threat of violent force, to ensure a stable society. However, there is a hole in this argument. Arming human beings and granting them the authority to use coercion and violence does not magically transform them into morally superior beings. In fact, the historical evidence proves just the opposite. It is in the nature of man that once having gained power, he seeks to expand it and will not stop at oppression, violence, and tyranny in violation of our God given rights to achieve that goal. Because I believe that the only being in all of existence that has the moral authority to govern the lives of man is man’s creator, I cannot support a government of men, who will always seek to violate the right to life, liberty, and property of other human beings.

On property

It is one of the tenets of my faith that theft is immoral. I believe that it is self-evident that there is no one who is exempt from the commandment “Thou shalt not steal,” (Exodus 20:15) whether they are in a position of power or not. Theft will always be theft regardless of who engages in the activity and, it will always be wrong. When the threat of aggressive violence is used to take from someone that which belongs to him to give it to someone else, it cannot, in any way be justified. Even when theft has been legally sanctioned, it is still theft, and in fact, as the threat of violence is used, it is worse; it is robbery! Everyone has the natural right to be the sole decision maker regarding what will, or will not be done, with the fruit of his labor. As God is the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to govern man, He is the only one with the right to require us to part with the fruit of our labor for the benefit of others. No state can exist apart from the exploitation of the people. Government must be funded to exist and government does not produce anything to fund its own existence. The argument in support of government is that it exists to protect the rights of the people that it governs. However, as government cannot exist without violating the property rights of the people, the existence of government actually contradicts the stated purpose for its own existence. Therefore, it would be immoral for me to support the existence of government that can only exist by exploiting the very people that it governs.

In my relation to my fellow man, I believe that I am completely sovereign over my own life and the only being who has any sovereign authority over my life is God. As I believe that only God has the moral right to govern our lives, I am a firm believer in the sovereignty of the individual. No human being has the right to require anything from another human being. The only morally just expectation that anyone may have of another is that he NOT violate the rights of life, liberty, or property of anyone. Beyond that, it is God’s to govern.

To suggest that libertarian philosophy is Satanic, is completely absurd.”

Samantha – A Christian libertarian

(Taken from a Facebook post by “I bet Ludwig Von Mises can get more fans than John Maynard Keynes”)

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This post is inspired by the first few pages of “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat. It is an incredibly informative book and I highly suggest reading it. This  link will take you to an online version of the book.

From here on anything in quotes is an excerpt from “The Law” as written by Frederic Bastiat.

“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place”

So, what is law?

“The collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.”

“Each of us has a natural right–from God–to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but the extension of our faculties?”

Bastiat continues by saying that law provides for the right of the individual to defend, even by force, their life, liberty, and property. If this applies to the individual it most certainly applies to the common force of a nation. Natural law provides that no individual or group shall use force to “destroy the life, liberty or property of individuals or groups.”

As provided to the Federal Government by the constitution it has the right to defend it’s citizens natural rights by force when those natural rights are in danger of being destroyed.

In our system, the Federal and State Governments are in charge of upholding the law. The individual is discouraged from enforcing the law, unless they are an agent of the state.

The law is synonymous with justice in our culture and we see law as the ultimate expression of morality. All that is just should be legal, all that is moral should be legal. All that is an injustice or immoral should then be illegal. By this cultural definition it is easy to see where the perversion of the law has occurred.

For years I have said that, not everything that is right is legal and not everything that is illegal is not right. This is the truth. Our legal system flies in the face of natural law as well as our cultural definition of laws.

Laws have been created and put into place with the intention of abusing the correlation between law and morality as well as law and justice. Here is an example:

The most obvious example and the one that is toughest for most people to accept is the illegality of marijuana.

If a person smokes marijuana who’s rights to property, liberty, or person does that violate? The act of smoking marijuana itself does not affect anyone but the individual doing it. On its face this is obviously not a violation of natural law. So how did it become illegal?

Pot became illegal through a series of government campaigns and studies that framed marijuana use as immoral, unjust, and unsafe. (Reefer madness, pot kills brain cells, etc.) Arguably this was done to prevent a popular alternative to tobacco from existing. In those days the big tobacco lobby was a much bigger force in our governments legislative process. So all these years later why is it still illegal? What is a faster way to hurt the credibility of the system than to repeal laws and admit that they were enforced without reason?

This is a prime example of how the government has perverted the law to enforce the agenda of special interest and commit “legal plunder”. 

The point of this post is not to advocate breaking the law or risking incarceration just to make a stand. The idea of this post is to help point out that our legal system is not infallible and that this is not a problem that is new to the American legal system.

In the words of Bastiat, “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say,not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime,the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true,it is a serious fact,and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.”

Did you find yourself in your mandated micro and macro economics classes wanting to scream at the professor because what he was explaining to you as economics was clearly flawed? Could you see the economic bubbles forming all around us? I could. I just didn’t quite understand it all at the time. Things weren’t adding up and it took my discovery of Ron Paul in 2007 to set me on the path that I’m on today. The path toward understanding and applying Austrian Economic theory.

I am far from being an expert on Austrian economics, I learn more with every day and my opinions are evolving with my knowledge of the topic. I want to share some of the biggest differences between Austrian theory and the commonly taught Keynesian theory. These comparisons are drawn from my interpretation of the writings of Hazlitt, Bastiat, Mises, and Ron Paul, all proficient minds in the area of Austrian economics.

The broken window theory:  The idea that a shoemakers storefront window is broken by a hailstone and that this unfortunate event is in fact an economic opportunity for growth. Keynesians see this broken window and say, “Great! Now the window repairman has new business and he can prosper because of the hailstorm.” As Bastiat writes, that is what is seen, the unseen portion of the event changes the prospect of growth. The unseen is that the store owner now has to spend money repairing a window, money that he would have invested into growing his business. The opportunity for the window repairman was a missed opportunity for a potential new employee of the shoemaker, or a leather supplier who cannot sell his goods to the shoemaker because he now lacks the funds to purchase leather. This “newly created job” is in fact the robbery of another job.

To further show the Keynesian mindset: They would suggest that to lift the burden from the shoemaker the government should just offer aid to all shopowners who got broken windows in the hail storm. This will prevent them from losing the money toward repairs and allow them to purchase the leather they had on order, or the various other potential lost transactions among shopowners. “Great! The government has come to save us! No lost revenues! No missed business! Hooray!……wait what’s this? My property tax went up? There is an increase in sales tax? Income tax went up? Why is government making it so hard to do business and profit?” Remember how government works. Government operates off of tax dollars. The dollars that they hand to you to repair your shop are removed forcibly from the paychecks, properties, and transactions of all citizens. This includes you, as well as the recipient of the “aid”. Keynesians see the benefit of governmental aid but fail to see the consequences. 

Real life broken window: Joplin was devastated after the tornado, destruction of property was astounding. Government was slow to react. It was 2 days before FEMA had a contributing force on site. Within an hour of the tornado individuals from the surrounding area had flooded Joplin with supplies, helping hands, and prayers. FEMA tried to limit access to the devastation, the people of Joplin pushed them aside and took care of business themselves. Charitable organizations from around the country packed into the city, volunteers by the thousands took time off from work, school, etc, to come and help. No government mandate was needed, people helped people. Businesses (yes even “evil” corporations) donated millions of dollars to fund the effort, other businesses loaned equipment, employees, and time to the clean up. It was truly something to be proud of. But then the largesse of government entered and perverted the progress. FEMA declared that no building permits could be issued for 60 days, where would these people live or work? Lots of them moved away as evidenced by the dozens of empty lots with for sale signs in the destruction zone currently (6+ months later). The city government declared that all property owners must declare their intention for their property within a specified time or the city government would begin the procedure of taking the vacated properties for themself. The strict controls over building materials by FEMA have created material shortages in surrounding communities where they have deemed the demand to be less important than in Joplin. This type of intervention has created a situation where builders are claiming drastic increases in the cost to build structures in Joplin. The Federal government also sent large sums of money in “aid” to assist Joplin in its recovery. What is the future cost for accepting? Time will tell.

Keynesian: Government has the duty to control the economy through manipulation of interest rates, the printing of currency, bailouts of failed institutions, and injections of liquidity into struggling sectors of the economy. (Summary of the last 4-10 years of economic policy)

Austrian: The economy is directed by the free market. Interest rates set themselves based on the demand for credit and the supply of available cash. Cash available for credit is determined by the money in the banks reserves (deposits) that can responsibly be loaned (as determined by bank management), not by the Keynesian practice of fractional reserve banking (loaning $10 for every $1 in deposits). Artificially low interest rates lead to loose lending practices and malinvestment. (Ex: Housing market boom and subsequent collapse of 2008, as well as the failure of major auto producers)

When a bank or business fails due to malinvestment (such as fractional reserve banking) they should not be bailed out, regardless of size or involvement. Remember the phrase “you made your bed, now sleep in it” ? This applies to big business as well.

Dying portions of the economy do not require liquidity injections, this is false growth. These sectors are in decline because of the natural flow of the business cycle. They are either offering an unwanted/unneeded service or product, are offering poor service/products, or have engaged in poor business practices. These businesses are not college kids changing their major 5 times and mom and dad help them pay for the extra schooling. These businesses are dying, and innovation, foresight, planning, and adaptation are the only forms of life support for business, not corporate welfare.

Just print more money to give out, then we dont have to tax people for it! The printing of money that is not backed by any physical wealth is fraudulent and has failed repeatedly throughout history. Fiat currencies do not last. The printing of money and the quantitative easing of markets is as equally as fraudulent and ultimately leads to inflation, or worse, hyperinflation and the total collapse of the currency. (See USA during revolutionary war, Zimbabwe, Weimar Republic, China, Greece, Israel, Mexico, North Korea, Taiwan and at least 18 others)

As with anything, overproduction leads to decreasing value. Many charts exist showing the decreasing value of the dollar since Nixon finished removing the USA from the gold standard. The devaluation has been exponential. The same can be said for the rise in the price of gold versus the dollar. The mass overproduction of the dollar has led to less buying power versus physical wealth such as gold or silver.

I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the differences between Austrian and Keynesian economics in this post. In summary the Keynesian believes that free markets cannot exist because the self correcting mechanisms of free markets do not exist. Thus, the government has the responsibility to steer markets and intervene to help ensure the growth of aggregate demand and reach full employment in the macroeconomy.

The Austrian economist feels that the market will correct itself, the forces of supply and demand steer the market and the business cycle is what determines success and failure. The Austrian puts faith into the individual and into the forces of the market, maintaining that the governments role should be minimal, especially non intrusive. The demand for a product should decide winners and losers not the centralized government.

It is clear why politicians favor Keynesian economics, job security. But why do we play along with it? It is a vicious cycle of boom and bust economics that encourages deficit spending and war mongering. It is in our best interest to educate ourselves and oppose such oppressive and destructive policies for the future of our nation.

Suggested Reading:

Frederic Bastiat ” that which is seen and that which is not seen: the unintended consequences of government spending.”

Henry Hazlitt “economics in one lesson”

Ron Paul “the revolution”