Robert Higgs, editor of the Independent Review, explains why the world
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Crisis and Leviathan, discusses his cherished yet under-appreciated chapter 3 in Crisis and Leviathan, about the rational ideological motivation of collective action; beating back the pervasive myth that war stimulates and improves the economy; how the increase in US GDP following massive post-WWII cuts in government spending undermines Keynesian economic theory; and why there is no such thing as free money: government spending is either derived from direct taxation or by debasing the dollar.
Today on Antiwar radio with Scott Horton:
Robert Higgs will be on to discuss economics.
Bio: Robert Higgs an American economic historian, economist of the Austrian School, and a libertarian anarchist. His writings in economics and economic history have most often focused on the causes, means, and effects of government growth. He is a Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, and is the editor of Independent Review. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises.
Ray McGovern will be on to talk about General Keane’s push for attacking Iran. See his latest here.
Bio: Ray McGovern is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Kelley Vlahos will be on to discuss the Center for a New American Security annual conference. Read her latest piece here.
Bio: Kelley Vlahos has spent over a decade as a political reporter in Washington DC. Currently, she is a contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine and its daily weblog, @TAC. She is also a Washington correspondent for the DC-based homeland security magazine, Homeland Security Today, a long-time political writer for FOXNews.com, a regular columnist for Antiwar.com and a contributor to CriminalJustice.Change.org. Her web site is http://kelleyvlahos.com/
Join the discussion live at:
Listen to past shows here:
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, discusses the widening gap between public and private sector pay, an increase in affluent military towns, the disappearance of traditional checks on state power and predation and the incremental “ratchet effect” of governmental authority that increases “temporarily” during wartime but never fully recedes.
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, discusses the tiresome rants of gloom and doom survivalists, why those who long for a government or economic collapse should be careful what they wish for, why federal spending can’t continue at the current level without a bond market revolt, the none-too-encouraging result of the Soviet Union’s collapse and why the US empire may face gradual cutbacks instead of outright abolition.
Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and James Galbraith, Professor of Economics at the University of Texas, Austin, discuss the folly of government bailouts for insolvent banks, the creation of the Glass-Steagall Act as a means to prevent FDIC insured banks from taking excessive risks, the benefits and detriments of public and private regulation and oversight, the problems of regulatory capture and revolving door politics, divergent opinions on the causes of the Great Depression and efficacy of the New Deal and the arguments for and against government spending on public infrastructure.
Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, editor of the Independent Review and author of Depression, War and Cold War, discusses the many factors working against a “V” shaped economic recovery, mainstream economists who don’t account for the malinvestment of government stimulus funds, shortsighted economic planning that is focused on election cycles instead of the business cycle, huge bank reserves that could cause inflation if ever lent out and why specific economic predictions are incredibly difficult to get right.
News, Robert Higgs. 11-1 95.9 FM in Austin or stream from KAOSRadioAustin.org.
Like Scott, I quit writing, too.
On facebook, Scott posted this link
About yet another drone strike in Pakistan killing civilians in Pakistan.
I posted a comment thumb nailing my current opinion about politics. Someone posted back “Urrr?”
I will elaborate here.
Some kid in a control room in Nevada X-Boxed those people to death. Why? Well, the same reason Howard Zinn pressed the button to drop iron bombs on Germany, or other guys dropped napalm on Korea and Viet Nam.
They were told –
“We have to kill the enemy. We don’t want to kill civilians but this is an unavoidable consequence. Remember that the enemy started it. If they didn’t want us killing their mothers, sisters and girl friends, they shouldn’t have started up with us. This is a harsh, evil choice to have to make, but remember, the choice is our bombs on their civilians or their bombs on our civilians. You have to kill [German, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Latino, Iraqi, Afghan Pakistan and Somalian] Civilians so Americans stay safe.”
Howard Zinn described, in his anti-war Radio interview, how he figured out that this was bullshit. After the war.
Lots of veterans figure this out. Too late. Some spend the rest of their lives fleeing from this realization.
It’s one way veterans are used up, and then thrown away.
Zinn found a way to fight back. Some veterans do.
The rationalization is “Them” or “Us”. It’s a false dilemma that has been used since bands of cavemen smashed each other in the head with clubs. “It’s us or them”.
Stefan Molyneaux takes that fallacy apart neatly here –
(This article used to be up at Lew Rockwell, too… I wonder what happened?)
If there are no real “groups” just individuals in fan-clubs then we fall back to the basic rules about the use of violence – It’s never okay to start it. It’s never okay to hurt someone unless they are specifically trying to hurt you.
That is the Non-Aggression Principle. I subscribe to it myself.
Exodus 20:13 “You Shall not Murder” (If you’re into that sort of thing.)
My best friend is moderate. Right now he is a moderate democrat.
He believes that there is a “Them” and unless we have big planes, big bombs and big violence at hand, “They” will come to get us.
He can’t really name who “They” are, or any reasonable method by which “They” will come to get us that requires a nuclear aircraft carrier to defeat – but he is uncomfortable with my assertions that the American Pentagon needs to go.
The rationalization goes deeper than that.
Who bought the drone and it’s hellfire missile? Who Bought the B-17s and Iron Bombs that rained down in WWII?
Not paying taxes is against the law.
If you don’t pay taxes, you’ll be fined.
If you don’t pay the fine, you’ll be jailed.
If you try to escape from jail, you’ll be shot.
Thus I — in my role as citizen and voter — am going to shoot you — in your role as taxpayer and ripe suck — if you don’t pay your fair share of the national tab.
Therefore, every time the government spends money on anything, you have to ask yourself, “Would I kill my kindly, gray-haired mother for this?”
P.J. O’Rourke – Parliament of Whores
O’Rourke’s formulation makes it pretty clear – Taxation is aggression.
My Best friend hates this. His main argument, and a telling one it is, is to shout “NO!” at the top of his lungs.
You cannot argue it is not aggression.
You might argue that it’s Justified aggression – (O’Rourke does)
The idea is that there are “public goods” – and that the free market won’t provide these public goods – so for the benefit of everyone, everyone has to be forced into paying taxes.
That idea assumes that sometimes it’s okay to aggress. It’s okay to coerce – because the benefit is large.
It’s okay to coerce the contrarians and cranky who are few – Because the benefit is large to us, who are many.
Us – the beneficiaries and them – the people in jail or in their graves because they didn’t pay taxes and resisted the authorities when push came to shove,
It’s just more “Us and Them” thinking.
My thesis is this – A little “Us and them” is a slippery slope to all of it.
Once you allow the thesis that it’s okay to murder or coerce a few folks, or an individual, you’re on the slope.
There will always be someone who argues to push the coercion just a little farther. After all, their cause is good, too, right?
It doesn’t matter if 100 people argue to add their pet cause to the “Coerce everyone to pay” bandwagon – and only one succeeds
Due to Robert Higgs Ratchet effect –
The end result is a slow evolution away from liberty and towards tyranny.
If you allow good consequences for the many to outweigh the rights of the minority or even the individual – you’ve set up a mechanism that moves towards tyranny. Be it like a kid on a skate board wiping out on Youtube or like the crawl of a tectonic plate, it’s all heading in the same direction.
Putting down Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey rebellion led to the atom bombing of Hiroshima – because both are rooted in the same rationalization.
Did you see it? The reason I stopped writing is in there.
None of these ideas are mine. I just hopped like a frog from lily-pad to lily-pad of someone else’s good thinking.
If you’ve been riding along with me, Listening to Scott Horton and Anti-War Radio, and reading some of the places I mentioned above then you already know all this.
I was smashing my head on my keyboard one day, thinking, “What do I have to say about liberty being good, and coercion being bad?” when I saw a new guy storm across the landscape of libertarian writing.
He came out of nowhere, it seemed to me, and in about two weeks, he totally kicked my ass. His writing is better. His sources are better.Â His research is better.
I threw up my hands. A better pitcher was on the mound. Time to warm the bench.
In the last couple of months I have heard Scott show signs of fatigue and frustration.
Not to put too fine a point on it, we libertarians and hard core peaceniks are a minority. A lot of people are afraid to follow the logic all the way to the bottom. the idea of being without a State to protect them is scary. They fear their neighbors and they fear big corporations (with good reason) and they fear a lot of things.
My best friend wants to believe. He wants to believe with all of his heart that the red-white-and-blue monster we are all unwilling passengers in can be turned around and turned into a force for good. I sympathize. I used to want to believe that too.
I paid attention and I was educated out of that idea through the 1990s. As the internet occured,Â I read some history and discovered that it has always been a lie.
The state is a gang of thieves writ large. – Murray Rothbard
The more history I read, the closer the resemblance between Government and La Cosa Nostra. You pay the “vig” or you get your legs broken. You might wind up sleepin’ wit’ da fishes. Nothin’ personal, Indians. Just business. You’re on our dirt.
The radical idea is that coercion is such a poison, such a transgression – that it is the seed that becomes the cancer that winds up being Stalin, Hitler and Mao. It’s too radical for most folks.
Even here, my ideas are crap compared to a real thinker –
“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” – Max Planck
I think social truths may be the same way. It may be that our job is to keep the ideas alive and keep pushing. Maybe someday, we’ll be out on the porch yelling “You kids! Quit Aggressing against MY LAWN!” and most of the kids will know what we’re talking about.
So we need to encourage each other. We need to support each other. We need to welcome new folks.
So thank you Scott. Please keep it up and don’t quit. We’re making progress. It’s just slooooowww.
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Depression, War and Cold War, discusses the archaic concept of demobilizing the military after a war, the end of staunch U.S. anti-interventionism, how the Korean War budget was partly diverted to a general cold-war buildup and the resemblance of U.S. defense spending to a politically untouchable welfare program.
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Depression, War and Cold War, discusses his thesis of “regime uncertainty” as a major factor of the Great Depression, the crash and recovery of 1921-22, the bubble created by the Fed in the later “roaring” twenties in order to prop up British interests, how World War II provided the certainty big business needed to start investing again – in arms, why the Cold War buildup was still cheap enough for the economy to continue under its weight, who really benefits from empire, who pays, the irrelevance of trade deficits, the roots of the financial crisis in Wall St.’s bogus financial models, congressional and Federal Reserve polices and the cartelized ratings business, the all-important intertwined policy of inflation and war, his view of the extent of the collapse and whether the empire will be dismantled, the danger of high price inflation, danger of nationalization, and why government regulation of the market is responsible for – not the solution to – its failures.
As part of Antiwar Radio’s week long series on the economic crisis in association with the Campaign for Liberty, Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government and Depression War and Cold War, discusses the relationship between the inflation of World War One and the roaring ‘20’s and the Great Depression, Fed chief Ben Strong’s deal with the Bank of England’s Montague Norman to inflate in the 1920s in order to help England and how this created the stock market bubble (and others) in the 20s, some of the ways that the near-totalitarian New Deal interventions of Wilsonian Republican Herbert Hoover and Wilsonian Democrat Franklin Roosevelt compounded and prolonged the depression, the myth of World War II ending the Great Depression, the Korean War and switch from World War to Cold War, the state’s scare tactics to strong-arm government growth, and chaotic interventionism in the market and the status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, discusses the legacy of Woodrow Wilson’s Cheney, Edward Mandell House, House’s rise to power and links to big money men, Philip Dru Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow – the blueprint for a fascist America written by House in 1910-11, how House took advantage of Wilson’s narcissism to get America into World War I, the consequences of American intervention in that war, the concept of the “ratchet effect” of government expansion explained in Crisis and Leviathan, why most perceived governmental “failures” are really successes if you understand the intentions, the true character and beneficiaries of the American empire, the economics of the world’s oil market and the buried truth that all of state power is rooted in fear.