Patterico's Pontifications

5/10/2014

Without A Hint Of Irony

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:48 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Via Kathryn J. Lopez, a look at this year’s Mother’s Day card from the National Organization for Women:

Untitled-1


You Marched …

You Rallied …

You Spoke up …

So I could be me!

Happy Mother’s Day!

This reminds me, young Emily Letts who had her abortion filmed, was interviewed about the experience. In response to a question about her responsibilities at the clinic where she works, she stated,

I’m a patient advocate, and I speak with all the women who come to our clinic, I talk to them about the decision. I give them all of the facts about abortion, adoption and birth — their reproductive choices. I’ve told women that they need more time. I’ve said, “Honey, you are not ready to make this decision. You can’t just make it out of convenience.”

If making the decision to have an abortion is not for the sake of convenience, then what is it for? (Preemptive strike: This does not refer to women who face a very real life and death situation if they carry to term).

Emily Letts is a young, impressionable woman who has been sold a bill of goods by groups like NOW, which have successfully packaged the abortion industry as a necessity to help ensure the quality of a woman’s life. It has always been crucial to move the industry away from the seedy fringes and not only mainstream it, but normalize it as well.

It is good to consider that we are all right here, right now because our mother’s chose to have us. And no matter what inconvenient circumstances they faced and no matter the possible complications our arrivals may have brought to an already overwhelmed life, these women were noble enough to see their pregnancies through and afford us the opportunity to take our first breaths. And live.

–Dana

A Response to a Reader’s Question About Government Control of Money

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:01 am

In response to my question: ‘why in the world would you want the government involved in money?” a reader asks:

Why do you think the founders did?

“But, ultimately, the thing that pushed Coke off its 5-cent price was abandoning the gold standard, and the resulting inflation. It took a few years, but the prices of the inputs eventually rose to such a degree that Coke had to raise its price.”

How much have computing prices changed since we left the gold standard?

But lastly, how is setting a gold standard not the government having control?

My response was rather long, and since I spent some time on it, I thought I would turn it into a post, which expands on some points I have already made, reinforces others, and hopefully answers a few related questions some of you have had.

It is good to remember that there was quite a bit of disagreement on various topics among “the Founders.” I think they tend to be treated as a lumpy whole these days, probably because the disagreements that they had amongst themselves seem to pale in comparison to the difference between the ideals they shared, on one hand, and the support for an oppressive central government that so many accept these days, on the other.

The gold standard acted to brake some of the excesses back then. As Walter Williams has observed: “Our founders feared fiat money.” They had good reason to; during the Revolutionary era, states issued paper currency not backed by gold, and the Continental Congress issued Continentals, which were later famously worthless for various reasons, including British counterfeiting, and the colonies’ decision to continue to issue fiat money backed by nothing. (Governments like to inflate during times of war.)

Government control of coinage in a gold standard system is quite different from wanting the government to control the money supply in an era (today) completely untethered from any mechanism that can serve to brake government’s natural and historic tendency to debase (inflate) the currency. Government-caused inflation expands governmental power and reduces (or, as today, merely delays) the consequences of irresponsible borrowing.

The primary money controversy in the days of the founding, I believe, was the argument over whether to have a central bank. Hamilton favored it. Jefferson and Madison opposed it — but Madison eventually gave in once the precedent was established.

Soon, Jefferson was warning: “We are to be ruined by paper, as we were formerly by the old Continental paper.” He warned of a “bank bubble.” Soon enough, we got the Panic of 1819, and a call for hard money. But it never happened — at least not in a pure sense — and the 1800s had bank panics (largely resulting from state laws preventing banks from having more than one branch!) and other government interference with the free market.

As for the question: how is setting a gold standard not government control? read my last few posts. All refer to one I did on the history of money, and how the gold standard arose. But I’ll explain it again, briefly.

The idea is that the gold standard arose, as money must, organically — within the context of a free market demand for a medium of exchange to facilitate what are essentially barter transactions between people who have created wealth by supplying goods or services others want. Government simply providing a currency that is based on a certain weight of gold creates no immediate concern. The worry is over the potential for abuse — because government has incentives to debase the currency in ways that the market cannot correct.

The problem arises when government interferes with the unhampered market economy. Specifically, when government monopolizes the right to coin money; passes laws that allow banks to suspend payments in gold (as it did repeatedly in the 1800s); grabs the gold (as it did in 1933); inflates the currency; and the like.

As for computing prices, that is a situation where rapid technological development, together with the laws of supply and demand, create a “deflation” in the price of a particular good so rapid that it outstrips any government effort to control it. I’m glad you brought up the example, because it illustrates the basic fallacy of those who fear deflation, claiming that people will always delay a purchase when prices are falling. Yes, people sometimes wait out a purchase of a smartphone or a computer because they hope prices will fall and quality will increase — but ultimately, just about everybody buys one.

Deflation is not a phenomenon to be feared, I submit, in an unhampered market economy. It is a problem only when government has already interfered in other critical aspects of the economy, such as setting minimum wages, or passing laws that allow unions to force themselves on workers who don’t want them. When wages cannot fall below a certain level by law, deflation poses a problem for businessmen — but when the unhampered market economy can respond to such adjustments, the dreaded prospect that we might have to spend less for a higher quality good, as we do with computers, seems less frightening.

Blaming the free market economy for its inability to deal with deflation, when government has taken away the very tools that entrepreneurs use to address that phenomenon, is obviously unfair. A natural and smooth business cycle should take place when government stays out of economic affairs. Unfortunately, government is seemingly always “here to help” — and so the smooth transitions we should see, never seem to actually occur.

P.S. Another reader writes with a rare expression of support:

Since we’re almost to the point of “Godwinning” this argument, I thought I’d let you know that you’re doing an excellent job so far in defense of the gold standard. I appreciate the fact that you understand the argument for it well and you’re hitting the correct sources. (Nice point about the contradictions inherent in the 1873 “Long Depression”, btw.)

. . . .

Don’t get too frustrated with the fiat monetists. I know that it’s like arguing with a religionist or a progressive but, as Rand put, you can’t force a mind. Just put up your info on the gold standard and let the seeds sprout in receptive minds. Good luck.

I appreciate that very much. As I have consistently said, I don’t claim to be an expert on all this, but I think the ideas make sense, and are (in broad strokes) consistent with my basic political/economic philosophy: that freedom and prosperity are maximized when the government steps out of the way and lets people make their own decisions. While I have always believed in those principles, until recently I took it for granted that they do not apply to government control of interest rates, the money supply, and the like. The Austrian economists have caused me to rethink all that, which is why I consider this series of posts important to me personally.

An Apology?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

I’ve been avoiding posting on the public return of Monica Lewinsky due to the tabloid tone of the entire Bill-Monica affair, as well as the inevitable re-hash of the entire debacle. Do we really want to re-visit that sordid mess?

Well, there’s an interesting new twist to the matter to consider. It has been suggested that Bill Clinton is weighing out a public apology to Monica for her past 15 years of suffering since the affair became public.

◆ The rationale? To fend off critics of his wife Hillary who blame her for protecting a powerful husband who is a sexual predator. Hillary Clinton is eyeing a 2016 presidential bid.

◆ The big question: Will Bill “I love an audience” Clinton choose to apologize to Lewinsky and his wife for the mess he placed in their lives — and appeal for forgiveness — in order to put the past behind him before his first grandchild is born . . . and reap a lotta love for being a penitent?

As far as I can see, the only reason Bill Clinton would ever consider a public apology would be for the sake of political power. To think there might be any other reason is to not have paid attention to the sly smoothness of this master manipulator over several decades. And, if the Clintons and their people are concerned with this episode hindering Hillary’s push for 2016, it might benefit them to get ahead of things before anyone else attempts to use it against them. Rand Paul has been bringing up the issue since February of this year in an attempt to tie in Bill’s predatory behavior toward women as part of the Dem’s larger “war on women” and ostensibly, Hillary’s “war on women”.

He [Clinton] took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office,” Paul told host David Gregory. “There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior.””What if that unsavory character is your husband?” Paul asked. “What if that unsavory character is Bill Clinton raising money for people across the country, and what if he were someone that was guilty of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior at the workplace – which, obviously, having sex with an intern at the office is inappropriate by any standard.”

Then he came back to it in a pre-taped C-SPAN interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Said Paul: “The Democrats can’t say, ‘We’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young women’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment. Anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do.”

If the suggestion is true that there will be a public apology and if it’s not to help Hillary position herself, what other reason could there possibly be for an (in)famous narcissist to publicly adorn himself in an annoyingly familiar crown of faux humility and his special poor-me look while wagging a self-indulgent finger at a Clinton-weary America and apologize?

–Dana


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.6179 secs.