Patterico's Pontifications


“Human Action” and Robert Murphy’s “Choice,” Part 1

Filed under: Economics,General,Human Action and Choice — Patterico @ 7:54 pm

Regular readers know that I increasingly believe that having a firm grasp of basic economics is one of the most important duties of a citizen. Placing religion to the side, the free market has been the greatest engine for improving the lives of humanity in recorded history. Understanding it is central to being a responsible citizen.

For a couple of years now, I have been studying Austrian economics, which offers (in my judgment) the best set of tools with which to battle the Keynesians and those who seek to regulate and manipulate the economy. And I think it’s beyond question that the most important figure in Austrian economics is Ludwig von Mises, and his most important work is “Human Action.” (Hayek is certainly more well known, and “The Road to Serfdom” should be required reading for every citizen, but Mises is still #1.)

The problem is that Human Action is a monstrously intimidating work. Not only is it long, but Mises assumes that you are familiar with the work of previous economists like Carl Menger or Eugen Böhm von Bawerk. And if you’re like most people, you aren’t.

Economist Robert Murphy has done the world a great service in writing a book that communicates to the general public, in crystal clear English, the basics of “Human Action.” Murphy’s book is called Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. At $23.70, it is on the pricey side, which is an unfortunate side effect of the fact that it is likely to be used as a textbook. (Ironically, this treatise against coercion gains value by virtue of the fact that many students will be compelled to buy it!) But I consider it to have been well worth the price, and urge anyone interested to buy it.

Murphy ends the book by quoting Mises to the effect that civilization depends upon every citizen studying basic economics. Murphy notes that this is the point of his book, and urges readers that if they convinced that Mises is right, it is their “duty to relay this precious knowledge to others.”

I have made some attempts at discussing Austrian economics here and there on the blog, and in particular I have always wanted to take a stab at discussing the Austrian theory of the business cycle. But that’s a hell of a post to write, and I could never find a way to put it all in one post. [UPDATE 8-29-15: Perusing my old posts, it appears I did try this once after all. Hubris!] Well, it took Bob Murphy this entire book to do it right. And the end result is compelling. And you need to hear about it.

Hence this planned series of posts. I intend to summarize Murphy’s summary of Mises, chapter by chapter. Since Murphy’s book has 17 chapters, I plan 17 posts.

In part this is for my benefit, as I believe that the best way to thoroughly master complex material is to try to restate it to others in your own words. You soon learn where the gaps in your understanding are. But in a larger sense, I am undertaking this project because I think it’s important to relay this knowledge to you, the blog reader, and get you interested in Murphy’s book.

And maybe some of you are interested in reading something that isn’t about Donald Trump or the Republican primary race.

My summary of Chapter One will be in the extended entry. It is short, but foundational to the project.


Hypocrites: Feminists Slut Shame Holly O’Donnell To Protect Sexual Freedom

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Holly O’Donnell, former procurement technician for StemExpress, who has described the barbarism taking place against both fetal and fully intact babies in the Planned Parenthood videos, found herself slut shamed this week at the amusingly self-described “Reproductive and Sexual Health and Justice” website, RH Reality Check. Because if there is something that intolerant feminists will not tolerate, it is a woman exposing the dirty little secrets of baby butchery taking place inside the hallowed temple that is Planned Parenthood. You know, that place which is euphemistically referred to as being all about “women’s health care”.

In a manipulative and desperate attempt to shift the focus away from the grim reality of the extraction and sale of baby parts and to show O’Donnell as a hypocrite because “she has and wants to enjoy sexual freedom and autonomy all while seeking to deny this right to others,” writer Sharona Coutts dug through O’Donnell’s alleged OKCupid profile and elsewhere, and made public her varied sexual proclivities. And presto, instant proof that O’Donnell is only about sexual freedom for herself while working to keep others from having it!

Of course, being revolted by what O’Donnell revealed in the videos hasn’t got a damn thing to do with sexual freedoms or any attempt to deny them. Rather it has to do with a functioning moral compass that is capable of recognizing and reacting to monstrous evil. And it has to do with recognizing the value of life – all life. It’s such a painfully obvious manipulation by RH Reality Check, that it’s embarrassing to even point it out. But it also begs the troubling question, why are these people so incapable of recognizing the monstrous evil they desperately defend?

Anyway, the effort to shame O’Donnell backfired because of fierce criticism and disapproval by some RH Reality Check staff members, abortion supporters, and of course, pro-life supporters. As a result, the post was taken down. However, there remains a cached version of the post. (I am opting not to link to it.)

Yesterday, RH Reality Check’s editor in chief, Jodi Jacobson, “apologized” to readers. However, demonstrating not only a lack of professionalism and honesty, Jacobson showed that her “apology” was simply a bone being thrown to her critics, without directly admitting her editorial hypocrisy. And evidencing a callous disregard and complete lack of concern for any damage done by the published story, Holly O’Donnell, the one person who deserved a direct apology from Jacobson, did not merit one. Instead, Jacobson chose to shamelessly use her “apology” platform to denigrate with lies those who support life and push her propaganda. People like Jacobson are so boringly predictable:

As with everything we publish, I am responsible for the final product and therefore both for explaining the rationale behind what we do when sincere questions are raised as well as admitting when we’ve made errors. I therefore take full responsibility for what was an ill-considered decision to publish this article. I apologize unequivocally for the publication of the article in the first place and the unintentional though understandable assertion that it was meant to shame people for sex.

RHRC is devoted to evidence-based reporting on sexual and reproductive health and justice. One part of our mandate is to influence other media reporting on these issues for the sake of accuracy and to fight against the false equivalencies around sex, sexuality, and reproduction represented in so much of media today. Another part of our mandate is to fight back against false narratives perpetuated by the anti-choice movement. These and our other goals mean we are making decisions, often quick ones, about how and what to report with integrity.

The far right, of which the anti-choice movement is a central part, focuses on shaming people who engage in sex for pleasure, for managing their fertility, or for loving whom they love. The obsessive focus of the right on eliminating access to birth control and abortion is but one part of this agenda.

We believed answers to the question, “Who is Holly O’Donnell,” were germane to the political debate in which she has placed herself front and center, and from which she has never sought to recuse herself in the weeks since the videos including her came out.

That said, our piece clearly crossed a line by providing far too much information about her personal life, which in turn made it seem like we were engaging in the same practice of shaming someone for sex we decry on the right.

This is such unadulterated slop, it deserves to be ignored. However, how can one ignore a feminist trotting out the old “She wore a short skirt and deserved to be raped” explanation for slut shaming another woman? Freaking heck, what’s next? The baby chose to slide out of his mother’s body onto the table, so he was just asking to be cut up and have his organs removed even while his heart was still beating?? Is this the season of madness we find ourselves in? Yes, I would certainly say a line was crossed. A big, ugly putrid line of outright hypocrisy and deceit. And there is no coming back from it. You can say all you want, Ms. Jacobson, but you have completely discredited yourself and your fellow anti-lifers with this bullshit you peddle like gospel.

Further, Jodi, it didn’t make it seem like you you were engaging in the same practice of shaming someone for sex like you accuse the right of doing, it is precisely what you willfully and intentionally did. It’s out there. F-o-r-e-v-e-r. You knew it before you decided to publish the story, when you published the story, and you know it now. Because Holly O’Donnell, SHUT THE HELL UP.

I never want to hear another damn feminist claim to be for women and to protect their rights and causes or any other such bullshit. Because the truth is, as it has always has been, that it’s only about a select group of women who pass that one litmus test that determines their worth to the group. And woe to any woman who doesn’t hold to the feminist lie and dares to expose the “cause” for what for it really is. That Jacobson and Coutts conveniently ignore the courage it took for O’Donnell to put herself in the public eye and expose her identity in order to expose what is taking place behind the notorious doors of Planned Parenthood shows us all we need to see about the feminists at RH Reality Check. And it’s nothing to admire.

O’Donnell’s private life is just that, private. I admire her courage for knowing full well the risk involved in being interviewed by CMP and yet still daring to look straight into the camera to speak the unspeakable. That such bravery is condemned by feminists makes it all the more bitterly ironic and telling.


The Ghost of George Wallace Looms Over Politico

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:28 am

If you want to see an excellent example of hack journalism, look no further than Politico’s hit piece on Donald Trump titled Donald Trump, Alabama and the ghost of George Wallace. (Safe Google cache link; no links for bullies.)

It was immigration, not segregation, that brought some 20,000 southerners — far fewer than predicted — out for Donald Trump on Friday night, but the ghost of George Wallace loomed large.

Wallace, an avowed segregationist, was the last presidential candidate to win electoral votes as a third-party candidate. The threat of Trump doing so, propelled by a hardline immigration stance that many have condemned as racist, looms over the Republican Party now as it did over the Democratic Party then, even as the enthusiasm of his following, for once, fell far short of expectations.

Byron York notes:

Aside from the obvious smear, and the standard use of “many” to reflect the writer’s leftist view, I am also amused by the sheer incompetence of the writing and proofreading.

The vast majority of supporters where white: of over 1,000 people waiting to enter on the east of the Ladd Peebles Stadium at 5 p.m., eight were black.


They cleaned up a couple of other proofreading errors that were in an earlier version of the piece, but I saved them with screenshots I took from my phone last night. There was Trump’s “flare” for showmanship:


He’s on fire! And of course a missing period at the end of a sentence, such as you often see in professional Big Media stories:


Mmm that’s good writing. And, along the lines of the “only eight black people out of 1000” observation, they took special care to show how people at the rally were racists, with the Confederate this and the Confederate that — and their support for whites like, er, Cuban-American Ted Cruz or, um, the black Ben Carson:

Marty Hughes, 47, wore a camouflage hat with Confederate flag detailing and said he liked Trump’s stances on immigration and taxes. He called the removal this year of Confederate flags from government property across much of the South “stupidity” and said he didn’t think a President Trump would stand for it. He named Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and neurosurgeon Ben Carson as other candidates who appealed to him.


By the way, I counted 5 out of 243 Politico staffers with a picture as being black. (Feel free to double-check my counting.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 11.24.45 AM


Sisters On The Stump For Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:39 am

[guest post by Dana]

Whether you are dismayed to see Donald Trump still leading the GOP pack or find him growing on you, I think we can all agree that the enthusiasm of these two self-proclaimed Democrats and sisters, who are “on the stump for Trump”, is inspiring. While they may not be deep into the “nuts and bolts” of politics and policy, they are expressing the frustrations that everyday Americans seem to be feeling these days. And not just Trump supporters.

Here is Dana Loesch interviewing the sisters:

The sisters addressing the Black Lives Matter group:

And lastly, a funny video where the sisters mock Hillary and those missing emails:


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