Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Economy isn't about economics, stupid! - Economic Politics vs Political Economy pt4

Every once in a while I get reminded that I tend to look at things a bit differently than others. I stumbled myself into an excellent example of that this weekend, when I criticized a popular conservative meme which purports to analyze the math of Bernie's purported plans, and people either missed that I was criticizing it, or missed what it was that I was criticizing. The meme, which you've probably seen, makes some questionable claims about what Bernie Sanders' policies are, and then 'does the math' to show how ridiculous they are. What I said about it, was this:

"While I get the shock factor humor of this, here's why doing the math, isn't enough: Exposing the problematic math, treats this as if they simply did a poor job in calculating how to help others. That's Not the case. Bernie & friends are primarily interested in expanding the size of govt, while reducing everyone's individual right & power to resist govt's growth & power over us all..."
I wasn't commenting on how accurate and true the meme's characterization of either Bernie's math or his plans were, but only on the folly of looking at his plans on those levels. That got me a few replies. One, from a dear friend, said that getting the math right was important and if done would expose fraudulent schemes:
"...the basic math IS the problem. It is the hard fact of why the big picture of a socialist mentality doesn’t work in the first place. Notice I said mentality and not society. The whole picture of supporting a group-think utopia without doing the math first is insane. Math not doing enough? The Math should be the minimum, the least to be done and just because the socialistic group-think imagines that “we will work out the details later” math doesn’t lie...."
Another friend said that
"...people who could perhaps be persuaded to our line of thinking aren't going to be as willing to engage us in the big details if we can't even get the small stuff right.."
And a slew of other comments from others sharing my post, were effectively saying that my saying that Bernie is opposed to individual rights, was engaging in "fear tactics", and that "Bernie is going to change the word and do away with corruption!", and so on.

Two points.

Firstly, my friend is of course correct about the nature of Math, and that examining their figures will show that the policies cannot in reality work. That of course is true. The problem with that is, that's making the political assumption that those who put forward such policies, actually do care about whether the math will work (spoiler alert: they do not), or that finding such problems in the math, would cause them to abandon their policies (they don't, they wouldn't, and they haven't). Math doesn't lie. That's true. But people do. And people in power long ago found that Math is an excellent tool for furthering their plans, ala 'lies, damn lies, and statistics'.

Secondly, Bernie isn't wrong because the math doesn't work, the math doesn't work because Bernie is wrong - wrong metaphysically, epistemologically, ethically, morally, politically, and wrong because his policies ignore the actual nature and requirements of being a human being and living in society with other human beings. Socialism - in all of its varieties - is anti-reality, and it's anti-human, and the math will always fail... but it's more than their mathematical calculations that makes it wrong, it's socialism's distorted nature of reality that ensures that it can be nothing other than wrong. What I'm trying to point out here, is that the more important point is that if you've gotten all the way up to that step of evaluating their math, it's only because you failed to catch the far more fundamental wrongs in the nature of their proposals, which is where you should have said 'Stop! Explain how and why this is acceptable to even consider', before you ever get to the point of considering their calculations. If you don't see why, try looking at it this way: If someone came up to you and said "Hey, I've come up with how we can get away with the perfect murder! All we have to do, is..." Would you let them explain their plan and do the math with them, or would you stop them right there and remind them that murder is wrong, and being able to get away with it, wouldn't make it right? See what I mean? Giving consideration to their actual proposals, and going so far as to evaluate their math, is implicitly brushing aside every principle and value which a reasonable consideration of that math rests upon.

As to the notion that misrepresenting Bernie's positions makes it difficult to persuade Bernie's fans, please. In response to CBS News Anchor Norah O’Donnell's stunned question asking if he really doesn't know how much his plan is going to cost, he answered:
"You don’t know. Nobody knows. This is impossible to predict”
, and he answered that way because he doesn't give a damn about the math, or even about the details of his own 'plans'; the only use that either the math or his position papers have for him, is to occupy people who're inattentive enough to think that they're only in an argument over economics, so he can implement the laws which the economy operates within.

I'm not misidentifying or misrepresenting Bernie's positions, I'm one of the few who are actually identifying them.

There is no need for me to pretend to read Bernie's mind (or Warren's, Buttigieg's or any of the others), or any of his intentions. Socialism IS the elimination of individual rights, along with the idea of attaining Justice through a Rule of Law that's dedicated to upholding & defending those rights. It doesn't require any great intelligence to grasp this, it only requires a willingness and habit of focusing on the fundamentals, as Frederic Bastiat did with his brief 95 page book "The Law", in which he brilliantly demolished every socialistic, communist & statist argument that any of that mindset have ever proposed from his time to ours.

But. The more relevant point here, is that while Bastiat did dismantle their economic fallacies, he didn't do so simply on an economic basis. Bastiat wasn't an Economist ('Economics' didn't really exist as a term until Progressives adopted it in the late 19th century, which I noted early on in the first of these posts). Bastiat, and Adam Smith, and Jean Baptiste Say, were students and theorists of Political Economy - the understanding that an economy was what resulted from a society's political ideas & laws, rather than it being a cause of them. The reason why we don't think that way today, is that somewhere along the way we've learned to close one eye to something that is so important to our cultural depth perception, that when we now find ourselves bumping into the walls of reality, we not only blame the walls, but attempt to redesign the walls, as if that would stop us from being 'bumped into' by them. I'll leave the details of that for the next posts, but in the meantime I wish people would just notice that we cannot effectively fight 'them', by playing by their rules, and on their grounds.

This is what drove me up the wall during the healthcare battles, the Left would say "30% of Americans are not covered by healthcare, what about them! Are they just out of luck?! Would you leave them to die on the sidewalk?!", and those on the right would dive right into 'doing the math', and so implicitly accept the premise that bureaucrats and legislators should have the power to tell patients, doctors and hospitals how healthcare should be handled, instead of leaving it up to patients, doctors and hospitals. By engaging and 'doing the math', they abandoned the principle that Govt had no right or power to be in a position where any such math would need to be done. Almost never did I hear anyone on 'The Right' say
"You have no rightful power to tell patients, doctors and hospitals how to handle their healthcare. If you really are concerned about people's care, then the last thing that's going to be helpful to a patient, doctor or hospital, is having to consult reams of rules and regulations that tell them what they can and cannot do! Leave those decisions to those patients, doctors and hospitals who are and should be involved. "
Because so few on 'The Right' ever said that, because they discarded that principle and jumped right into 'doing the math', we all now having to consider unworkable plans being proposed with unworkable math, by bureaucrats and legislators who're dictating our 'care'. If we could go ahead and not make the same mistake we made with healthcare, while considering a socialist/communist's plans for running the entire nation, that'd be great.

One other thing: While you may think that you're exposing their errors by doing the math, they know something that you don't know, that by discussing the matter with them, they have 'a live one' on the hook, and they are reeling you in. It's a fundamental rule of Sales: If the prospect is engaging with you and saying 'no' to buying, then they are a 'live prospect' and a likely sale, and more and more likely with every additional moment they spend saying 'no'. When a telemarketer calls you on the phone, and you say you're not interested, they keep talking because you're still on the phone, and even though you are saying "No, not today thanks", they know that you're likely a potential sale because you're still on the phone saying "No, not today thanks".

If you don't want to be sold, hang up the damn phone.

Similarly, stop letting them tell you "It's the economy, stupid!". That is nothing more than a means of eliminating governments respect for your individual rights & powers, from the conversation! The Economy isn't about economics, economics is what results from how well, or poorly, your individual rights and property are upheld and defended under a Rule of Law dedicated to that purpose, under a government whose powers are limited to that purpose.

The health of our society and the strength of our economy, is not about 'economics', and believing it is, is why we are losing both. Karl Marx has very nearly defeated The West in general, and America in particular, by getting nearly everyone to accept his two points:
  1. To characterize our society through the lens of his preferred term, 'Capitalism', instead of as a Free Market, or Adam Smith's term, Natural Liberty.
  2. To habitually look at the world through his 'Economic Interpretation of History'.
He succeeded on both counts, and every battle we engage in on those terms, is a predetermined loss. Thinking about our society and your own life, through an 'Economic Interpretation of History', was Karl Marx's central innovation (that, and " the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."), if you care about your own life and liberty, why in the name of God would you follow the ideas of a man who's ideas are responsible for the miserable deaths of over 100 million people?!

The 'youth' aren't flocking to Socialism because you aren't making a good enough economic argument against it, they're flocking to Socialism because you are only making an economic argument against it! By failing to make the moral and philosophical argument for a Free Market, the 'youth' flock to the only ones who are claiming to make a moral and philosophical argument: Bernie Sanders and the Socialists(!).

Wake up already!

Read Bastiat's book, "The Law", it's short and sweet and utterly destroys every so called economic argument made by socialists and communists (and a good deal of conservatives too), not by 'doing the math', but by exposing the corruptions of The Law, and of reasonable thought, which every one of their schemes rest upon (and requires you to go along with).

As Bastiat showed, Bernie & his bros, can easily be defeated on those grounds which precede the pretensions of today's 'economists'. His ideas are easily grasped, understood, and applied, and anyone who can count to ten twice in a row, can learn from and use Bastiat's ideas. But not if you've already accepted Marx's ploy of an economic interpretation of history. Once you've accepted economics as the starting line for your position, you'll never cross the finish line, you've lost already.

I hear conservatives and libertarians saying over and over again, that 'the ends never justify the means' (which is true), and yet they routinely do just that! How? Natural Liberty, a Free Market, Liberty itself, came about and are derived from fundamental concepts and principles which they cannot exist without. Attempting to begin your arguments on an economic basis, without reference to those fundamental requirements, and doing so because it's easier to just 'ignore that stuff', is not only attempting to have what can't be had, you are doing so because your supposed ends of 'liberty', justify your means of getting it on the cheap. I don't need to 'do the math' to know that that won't work.

Economics is a result, not a cause. But I'm sure that Marx appreciates your cooperation.

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