Walter Williams considers "Reparations for Slavery".
that slave owners and slave traders should make reparations to those whom they enslaved.
punishing perpetrators and compensating victims is not what reparations advocates want.
What moral principle justifies punishing a white of today to compensate a black of today for what a white of yesterday did to a black of yesterday?
There’s another moral or fairness issue. A large percentage, if not most, of today’s Americans — be they of European, Asian, African or Latin ancestry — don’t even go back three or four generations as American citizens. Their ancestors arrived on our shores long after slavery. What standard of justice justifies their being taxed to compensate blacks for slavery? For example, in 1956, thousands of Hungarians fled the brutality of the USSR to settle in the U.S. What do Hungarians owe blacks for slavery?
There’s another thorny issue. During slavery, some free blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves — to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these slaveholding blacks eligible for and deserving of reparations?
When African slavery began, there was no way Europeans could have enslaved millions of Africans. They had no immunity from diseases that flourished in tropical Africa. Capturing Africans to sell into slavery was done by Arabs and black Africans. Would reparations advocates demand that citizens of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and several Muslim states tax themselves to make reparation payments to progeny of people whom their ancestors helped to enslave?
Reparations advocates make the foolish unchallenged argument that the United States became rich on the backs of free black labor. That’s nonsense that cannot be supported by fact. Slavery doesn’t have a very good record of producing wealth. Slavery was all over the South, and it was outlawed in most of the North. Buying into the reparations argument about the riches of slavery, one would conclude that the antebellum South was rich and the slave-starved North was poor. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. In fact, the poorest states and regions of our nation were places where slavery flourished — Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia — while the richest states and regions were those where slavery was absent: Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.
One of the most ignored facts about slavery’s tragic history — and it’s virtually a secret today — is that slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years. It did not become a moral issue until the 18th century. Plus, the moral crusade against slavery started in the West, most notably England.
I think the call for slavery reparations is simply another hustle.
Ralf Raico offers an excellent panoramic account of the origins of World War I.
As for economic causes and consequences, make sure to read this article in which David Stockman explains that
[...] the Great Depression was born in the extraordinary but unsustainable boom of 1914-1929 that was, in turn, an artificial and bloated project of the warfare and central banking branches of the state, not the free market. Nominal GDP, which had been deformed and bloated to $103 billion by 1929, contracted massively, dropping to only $56 billion by 1933.
Crucially, the overwhelming portion of this unprecedented contraction was in exports, inventories, fixed plant and durable goods—the very sectors that had been artificially hyped. These components declined by $33 billion during the four year contraction and accounted for fully 70 percent of the entire drop in nominal GDP.
So there was no mysterious loss of that Keynesian economic ether called “aggregate demand”, but only the inevitable shrinkage of a state induced boom. It was not the depression bottom of 1933 that was too low, but the wartime debt and speculation bloated peak in 1929 that had been unsustainably too high.
Will it be "Stop" or will it be "Go"? The US boys are a formidable opponent, especially in the present context, when an American victory will send the German team home.
There are no two ways about it: Germany is the favourite. In the end, however, marginal issues may decide the contest. Marshaling their capabilities on a good day, strong-willed America is perfectly capable of chucking Germany out of the tournament.
Sensationally, Spain (the reigning world champion), England, and Italy are already gone.
To think, in my youth, American soccer was a laughing stock.
I hope, the base of top teams at a soccer world championships continues to broaden, as it seems to this year in Brazil with surprisingly strong performances by teams like Costa Rica, Columbia, or Chile.
However, "don't be beastly to the Germans" (see below), let us be good enough to win eventually.
In the space of six days last week, the U.S. soccer team became a national sporting phenomenon, with audiences eclipsing the viewership of the NBA Finals (15.5 million), the World Series (14.9 million), and the Stanley Cup (some guy named René).
For the first U.S. game at the World Cup, nearly 15 million television viewers (11 million on ESPN; 3.8 million on Univision) and 1.5 million workplace skyvers (watching online) tuned in to see the USA beat Ghana with an exhilarating early goal, some unhealthy filling, and a spectacular late winner. For the second game, those numbers rose to 24.7 million television viewers (18.2 million on ESPN; 6.5 million on Univision) and 500,000 surfers, as the USA bossed their way back from a dire early goal to score twice against Portugal before coughing up a crushing last-second equalizer.
On Thursday, the USA faces Germany in a match that will decide America’s fate — and America expects that every viewer will do their duty. On the east coast, the noontime kick-off may demand a long, liquid lunch. On the west coast, “morning traffic” could conspire to create a late start to the day. In Chicago, we like soccer, and 20,000 people have been watching the games in Grant Park, so no excuse is necessary. The Sunday-night timing of the Portugal match likely contributed much to its record-breaking numbers, but if television ratings for the German match don’t rise again, online numbers surely will. Especially considering office internet speeds and WatchESPN’s picture-in-picture feature that allows viewers to follow both games at once.
In late April of this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would start reporting a new data series as part of the U.S. national income accounts. In addition to gross domestic product (GDP), the BEA will start reporting gross output (GO) [...] GO represents a significant breakthrough. [...]
These changes are big, not only conceptually, but also numerically. Indeed, in 2013 GO was 76.4% larger, and GDE was 120.4% larger, than GDP. Why? Because GDP only measures the value of all final goods and services in the economy. GDP ignores all the intermediate steps required to produce GDP. GO corrects for most of those omissions. GDE goes even further, and is more comprehensive than GO.
Even though the always clever Keynes temporarily buried J.-B. Say, the great Say is back. With that, the relative importance of consumption and government expenditures withers away (see the accompanying bar charts). And, yes, the alleged importance of fiscal policy withers away, too.
Contrary to what the standard textbooks have taught us and what that pundits repeat ad nauseam, consumption is not the big elephant in the room. The elephant is business expenditures.
I have a strong affinity for Belgium as well as Holland, pardon, the Netherlands; which, incidentally form together with Luxembourg the Benelux region, all three countries thankfully being just around the corner for me.
The Dutch are great to trade with, with centuries of commerce circulating in their veins - that is how I first learned to appreciate Germany's vivacious and charming neighbours, these Italians of the North, as I like to call them.
May be my fondness of the Netherlands and Belgium has something to do with the fact that these countries cover the area where capitalism and liberty in roughly the modern sense became lasting institutions for the first time in human history.
There's a naive tendency to believe that whatever a government agency's mission is supposed to be, is really the mission that its people pursue. That's seldom the case for long.
Science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, observing such things, has formulated what he calls the Iron Law of Bureaucracy: In every organization there are two kinds of people: those committed to the mission of the organization, and those committed to the organization itself. While the mission-committed people pursue the mission, the organization-committed people take over the organization. Then the mission-committed people tend to become discouraged and leave.
As a result, the strongest priority of most bureaucracies is the welfare of the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats it employs, not whatever the bureaucracy is actually supposed to be doing. That's worth remembering, whenever someone says they've found something else that we should "choose to do together."
This is not unique to government, but a rule for all organizations. However, in a private-sector, organizations that devolve in this way get slaughtered (except of course for crony favors and bailouts, but that is another topic). Accountability never ever comes to government organizations.
The land registry offices of Germany and England (the two countries where I have had personal dealings with such institutions) are doing just what they are supposed to be doing; they do it well, they are accountable internally and externally, which means that they can be effectively challenged via channels of informal settlement as well as legal action.
At the same time, a concomitant feature of misery the world over is a lack of precisely such well working bureaucracies as the land registry office.
Hence I sent this (now slightly edited) comment to the Coyote:
While it is simply not true that there is no accountability for bureaucracies, the proposed argument is by itself pertinent. But it suffers from the public choice syndrome, as I call it: It is not good enough to write a book about the zoology of the elephant that lists nothing but elephant diseases.
A vital deficiency in the standard arguments on this issue by my fellow libertarians consists in pointing out problems of state bureaucracies without offering explanations how and why they have evolved (as a pretty stable features of the state for thousands of years) and how to replace them with something better.
Libertarians will remain a fringe for ever unless they begin to realise that our social order depends on innumerable institutions (the state, bureaucracies, democracy etc.) that are naturally ambivalent (containing the good and the bad) and are prepared to deal with this ambivalence rather than wishing it away.
Libertarians like to talk about spontaneous order when it fits their preconceptions, but do not see spontaneous order where it evolves practices and institutions that do not fit a neat account of liberty. That's why, absurdly, the USA looks to (many of) them like a concentration camp.
The presumption that I challenge is that because an institution has typical or even systematic deficiencies, it must and it can be replaced by an unmitigated improvement. Once this presumption is admitted (really unthinkingly) care is no longer taken in looking at the manifold pluses and minuses of the institution in question, and the constraints on any solutions to the problems the institution has evolved to come to grips with ( - once again spontaneous order without guarantees of preferred outcomes). At this point, it is easy, even seemingly natural to paint the institution all black. This approach is hardly recommendable, as it is based on a severe truncation of the truth.
Hence, the above misrepresentations ("accountability never comes to government organizations", or the false insinuation that government bureaucracies rarely fulfil the tasks that they are entrusted with.
When it is convenient for the own case to argue so, many libertarians are quick to point out how government and its bureaucracies fulfill their satanic purposes with consummate efficiency. Totally dominating us, the state has been doing this for thousands of years, and it is more effective, stronger, nimbler on its feet than any other social forces.
Obviously, in actual fact, matters are far more intricate and often more balanced and indicative of genuine advancement. A bias that makes you deny genuine progress (or simply real conditions) is intolerable, no less in libertarians than in the left-leaning.
Liberty is not being helped by truncating the truth.
One of the key errors that fosters the libertarian presumption against ambivalent non-market insitutions is discussed in my post entitled The Market Is Not a Democracy.
With every penny spent the consumers determine the direction of all production processes and the details of the organization of all business activities. This state of affairs has been described by calling the market a democracy in which every penny gives a right to cast a ballot. It would be more correct to say that a democratic constitution is a scheme to assign to the citizens in the conduct of government the same supremacy the market economy gives them in their capacity as consumers. However, the comparison is imperfect. In the political democracy only the votes cast for the majority candidate or the majority plan are effective in shaping the course of affairs. The votes polled by the minority do not directly influence policies. But on the market no vote is cast in vain. Every penny spent has the power to work upon the production processes. [My emphasis, G.T.]
This argument is completely fallacious in that it implies a commensurability between markets and democratic elections that does not exist. Among libertarians much disdain for democracy is built on this fallacy.
A market transaction presupposes that there is no conflict between the transacting parties, and that both have recognised a mutually advantageous trading opportunity. A market transaction does not create concordance between the trading parties, rather it presupposes the compatibility of their respective interests. Market transactions are not a means to overcoming conflict, instead they are engaged in to take advantage of mutually complementary benefits already present.
By contrast, elections, though in principle they may register (not create) unanimity, i.e. complete concordance, are preponderantly a procedure resorted to in the face of conflict and disagreement, and are intended to serve as a means of mitigating rivalry.
The phrase "every penny gives a right to cast a ballot" is misleading. A reciprocal transaction of the market type is a manifestation of agreement. A ballot is a provision for registering disagreement and establishing among competing proposals a dominant outcome. There is no such competition going on when I consent to pay € 1 in return for a bread roll, to a person consenting to give me the bread roll in exchange for € 1. In fact, it is awkward to refer to a consensual bilateral transaction as a ballot. Is my counterparty voting with her penny to agree with me, while I vote by selling my product to agree with her?
Say, a substantial part of the population favour prohibition, while the rest support the right to freely produce, sell and consume alcoholic beverages. There is no way in which market transactions per se can make the fundamental discord vanish. What you have here is a case of political scarcity, which markets cannot resolve.
Political scarcity occurs when concordance (over a political issue) is scarce. Elections are one of the means tried to attenuate the inconvenience, nuisance, or blatant danger of unresolved disagreement in a group of people.
He who insinuates or suggests outright that markets are a superior alternative to elective attempts at conflict-reduction fails to grasp that bilateral transactions are not a mechanism capable of removing incompatible desires.
When we are faced with political scarcity we cannot help but apply non-market procedures. These might be rather imperfect, but comparing them to a spurious ideal is unacceptable.
Politics is about managing rivalry and compromise. Markets are about bringing together perfectly fitting interests.
In a previous blog entry, Liberalism - A Manifesto, I noted the irony that liberals are blind to the very field where they can make the biggest impact: the institutional design of the political order. This neglect may be largely due to a fallacy-based euphoria regarding the extendability of markets into fundamentally political, i.e. non-market areas.
Addendum, concerning the above von Mises quote:
"With every penny spent the consumers determine the direction of all production processes and the details of the organization of all business activities."
This is clearly not true. While consumers in aggregate provide entrepreneurs with the means to do business, and decide their commercial success and survival, they do not as individuals consciously exert influence on the decision-making process that is taking place in a firm. It is surprising that someone like von Mises who so stresses the pivotal role of the entrepreneur would make such a claim.
In a ballot, I may be asked to decide whether my country should change its currency or give up the status of a sovereign national state and become a federal state in a larger political structure, exceedingly momentous issues. As a consumer, I am practically never invited to contribute to strategic corporate issues of comparable moment. Even if I had bought 10 Citroen 2 CV, I am not likely to have moved the management of Citroen to continue the production of this model.
Actually, as consumer I am apt to suffer the same kind of defeat that the minority voter suffers when politicians let themselves be guided by the preponderant opinion: a firm's management might decide to give up a fringe product (my product) in order to fully dedicate production to the core product favoured by the majority of clients. The notion that free markets are some kind of consumers' democracy (in the sense of direct rule by the consumers) is just as preposterous as the idea that socialism will bring about a producers' democracy (direct rule by producers.)
It is the welcome talent of the entrepreneur to surprise the consumer, while surprising the voter is the dreaded vice of the politician.
"In the political democracy only the votes cast for the majority candidate or the majority plan are effective in shaping the course of affairs. The votes polled by the minority do not directly influence policies."
Again, this clearly is not true. Small parties can have significant effects concerning pre-election positioning and agenda choice, election results, post-election coalitions and their actual policies.
Environmentalists seem to all feel that capitalism is the enemy of sustainability, but in fact capitalism is the greatest system to promote sustainability that has ever been devised. Every single resource has a price that reflects its relative scarcity as compared to demand. Scarcer resources have higher prices that automatically promote conservation and seeking of substitutes. So an analysis of an investment's ability to return its cost is in effect a sustainability analysis. What environmentalists don't like is that wind does not cover the cost of its resources, in other words it does not produce enough power to justify the scarce resources it uses. Screwing around with that to only look at some of the resources is just dishonest.