November 2, 2012
Once More, with Feeling: Our System Is Not Socialism, but Participatory Fascism
Robert Higgs explains why the term “participatory fascism” is the best descriptor of the American political system. The existence of a nominally private economy, he argues, makes more wealth available for the state’s expropriation and expansion.
I’m Not Voting
David Gordon explains why neither Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, nor Gary Johnson has earned his support.
Democracy is a Terrible System, Period.
Douglas French denounces the entrenched bureaucrats, corrupt politicians, and gullible voters that are fundamental features of all modern democratic systems.
Fiscal Stimulus or Fiscal Depressant?
Joseph Salerno discusses new empirical data that undermines the Keynesian idea that government spending generates a “fiscal [or money] multiplier” effect.
Bastiat and “Full Employment”
Peter Klein responds to critics of Bastiat’s broken window fallacy and provides links to Austrian critiques of the Keynesian theories of idle resources and full employment.
U.S. Economic Freedom Plunges
Benjamin Powell explains how thanks to the increased use of eminent domain, the expansion of the war on drugs and the war on terrorism, and the arbitrary government bailout regime, the United States is now only the 18th most economically free country in the world.
October 27, 2012
Rand’s Dystopian Masterpiece
Roderick Long analyzes the unique style of Ayn Rand’s first published work, Anthem, and compares it to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
In Praise of Toleration
Long applauds Jerome Tuccille’s classic It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand as “a jazz improvisation on the early history of the modern libertarian movement.”
The Electoral College: How to Defend?
Tom Woods offers a limited defense of the electoral college as a means of limiting the dominance of high population areas like California and New York over the rest of the country.
Unsafe at Any Blood Pressure
Christopher Westley argues that increasing government control over healthcare–through means such as Medicare fines on hospitals–will inexorably lead to a fully nationalized health care system.
Extraordinary Demand to Hold Cash–The Mystery Persists
Robert Higgs explains how declining monetary circulation has prevented the onset of hyperinflation, even in the face of the Fed’s massive money creation schemes.
March 19, 2012
On the Independent Institute’s blog:
During World War II, the U.S. government created and operated a system of fascist central planning. (I have described this system in my books Crisis and Leviathan and Depression, War, and Cold War.) After the war, much of this system was abandoned, but it was revived in large part during the Korean War, and it was retained afterward in the form of statutory authority for its reinstatement whenever the president might so order under the authority of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended….
[Obama's recent order] shows plainly that private control of economic life in the United States, to the extent that it survives, exists solely at the president’s pleasure and sufferance. Whenever he chooses to put into effect a full-fledged operational fascist economy, controlled from his office, he has the statutory power to do so; all he has to do is to murmur the words “national defense” and give the orders…
Read the rest.
Higgs is the premier scholar on the growth of government in America. For an introduction to his thought, I have particular regard for the speech he delivered in New York for the Mises Institute’s 25th anniversary in 2007. I was there, and I will never forget it.
The text is available here.
September 30, 2011
Queues are the most visible sign that the government in involved in a given part of the economy. Because extensive state intervention distorts prices, it disables the market’s efficient rationing system. With market prices gone, the government often turns to the queue as its alternative for distributing scarce resources.
One of the deadliest examples is on display in countries with socialist health care systems. Citizens in Canada, for example, typically have to wait 18 weeks between the time they receive a referral from their doctor to the time they receive treatment. In Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, from 23 to 36 percent of patients have to wait over four months for surgery.
The same principle was on display in America during the gas crisis of the 1970’s. Many people think OPEC caused the fuel shortages when it imposed an oil embargo on the United States in 1973, but in a free economy this action would have simply raised the price of gas. People were forced to line up at gas stations because the federal government imposed a price ceiling on gasoline. In other words, it was illegal for gas companies to charge more than the price dictated by Washington. The result: gas was sold on a first come, first serve basis, so people had to sacrifice their time to secure a place in line.
The entire economy of the Soviet Union was run this way. As Hendrick Smith explains:
The only real taste of stoical shopping vigils in recent American history were the pre-dawn lines at service stations during the gasoline crisis in the winter of 1973-4… But it was temporary and only for one item. Imagine it across the board, all the time, and you realize that Soviet shopping is like a year-round Christmas rush. The accepted norm is that the Soviet woman daily spends two hours in line, seven days a week. . . I noted in the Soviet press that Russians spend 30 billion man-hours in line annually to make purchases…. 30 billion man-hours alone is enough to keep 15 million workers busy year-round on a 40-hour week.
Robert Higgs, during his ten part lecture series, Crisis and Liberty, explains how angry these lines made people in the 70’s. “Americans,” he concludes, “were not really cut out to be good queue standers.” Hopefully this is still true, but the willingness with which Americans line up to be felt up by TSA agents in not encouraging.