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Why Capitalism is a fundamental Right of Man

Thomas Paine wrote a book titled Rights of Man. The Rights of Man posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people. The Rights of Man begins thusly:

To

GEORGE WASHINGTON

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

SIR,

I PRESENT you a small Treatise in defense of those Principles of Freedom which your exemplary Virtue hath so eminently contributed to establish.–That the Rights of Man may become as universal as your Benevolence can wish, and that you may enjoy the Happiness of seeing the New World regenerated the Old, is the Prayer of

SIR,

Your much obliged, and Obedient humble Servant,

THOMAS PAINE

Paine was addressing the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen written in France after their revolution. The basic principle of the Declaration was that all “men are born and remain free and equal in rights” (Article 1), which were specified as the rights of liberty, private property, the inviolability of the person, and resistance to oppression (Article 2).

Capitalism is defined as:

A social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its result is the free-market.

Therefore capitalism is a basic right of man or in more modern terminology a human right.

To take away one’s property is to take away their ability to survive. Take away a farmer’s land and you take away a farmer’s ability to reap what he has sown. The farmer can no longer feed his family nor sell what he has reaped to feed others. If the state (government) controls the dirt (land) then it controls the people.

This is what the American Revolution was all about. Unchaining the people from serfdom to the King of England. 

As Friedrich A. Hayek, in his book The Road to Serfdom wrote:

It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now–independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one’s own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one’s neighbors–are essentially those on which the of an individualist society rests.

Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.

Capitalism is the opposite of obedience and compulsion.

Capitalism can exist even in the most repressive societies, such as in Communist Cuba. In my column My Visit to Cuba — An American in Havana I wrote:

What I observed is that the Cuban people have great potential if they are unleashed and allowed to earn what they are truly worth. Socialismo (socialism) is slowly but surely killing their lives and doing them great harm. I noticed on the ride West of Havana through the rural areas of Cuba hundreds of people waiting along the road trying to get a ride. Some were nurses in their white uniforms thumbing rides to the hospital where they are needed. I saw horse drawn carriages along the major highway carrying people because the public transportation system cannot keep up with the demand. The horses and cattle we saw were emaciated. The roads were in poor shape including the national highway system.

As one Cuban man put it, “the people have no love for their work.” They have no love for their work because Cuba needs a change in direction.

A love for work comes from the rewards of one’s efforts. Take that away and you remove the soul of the individual. You remove his purpose in life. You remove the one of the fundamental rights of man.

There are those who believe the polar opposite. There are those who believe that central control trumps individual freedom. There are those who are being taught that capitalism is evil, until the time that they must earn enough to feed themselves.

There was a time in America when there were only two classes of citizens, the working class and the non-working class. The working class took care of the non-working class. Economic classification is identity politics (a.k.a. Cultural Marxism) writ large. It is designed to put the poor (those earning below a certain wage determined by government) against the rich (those earning above a certain wage determined by the government).

During his inaugural address President Trump stated:

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

[ … ]

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

[ … ]

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

President Trump is an American. He believes in the rights of man. He is a capitalist. He is everything that Washington, D.C. hates.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Origins of the ‘Cult of Political Correctness’ [a.k.a. Cultural Marxism]

Capitalism Is Good for the Poor by Steven Horwitz

Critics frequently accuse markets and capitalism of making life worse for the poor. This refrain is certainly common in the halls of left-leaning academia as well as in broader intellectual circles. But like so many other criticisms of capitalism, this one ignores the very real, and very available, facts of history.

Nothing has done more to lift humanity out of poverty than the market economy. This claim is true whether we are looking at a time span of decades or of centuries. The number of people worldwide living on less than about two dollars per day today is less than half of what it was in 1990. The biggest gains in the fight against poverty have occurred in countries that have opened up their markets, such as China and India.

If we look over the longer historical period, we can see that the trends today are just the continuation of capitalism’s victories in beating back poverty. For most of human history, we lived in a world of a few haves and lots of have-nots. That slowly began to change with the advent of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. As economic growth took off and spread throughout the population, it created our own world in the West in which there are a whole bunch of haves and a few have-more-and-betters.

For example, the percentage of American households below the poverty line who have basic appliances has grown steadily over the last few decades, with poor families in 2005 being more likely to own things like a clothes dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, or air conditioner than the average household was in 1971. And consumer items that didn’t even exist back then, such as cell phones, were owned by half of poor households in 2005 and are owned by a substantial majority of them today.

Capitalism has also made poor people’s lives far better by reducing infant and child mortality rates, not to mention maternal death rates during childbirth, and by extending life expectancies by decades.

Consider, too, the way capitalism’s engine of growth has enabled the planet to sustain almost 7 billion people, compared to 1 billion in 1800. As Deirdre McCloskey has noted, if you multiply the gains in consumption to the average human by the gain in life expectancy worldwide by 7 (for 7 billion as compared to 1 billion people), humanity as a whole is better off by a factor of around 120. That’s not 120 percent better off, but 120 times better off since 1800.

The competitive market process has also made education, art, and culture available to more and more people. Even the poorest of Americans, not to mention many of the global poor, have access through the Internet and TV to concerts, books, and works of art that were exclusively the province of the wealthy for centuries.

And in the wealthiest countries, the dynamics of capitalism have begun to change the very nature of work. Where once humans toiled for 14 hours per day at backbreaking outdoor labor, now an increasing number of us work inside in climate-controlled comfort. Our workday and workweek have shrunk thanks to the much higher value of labor that comes from working with productive capital. We spend a much smaller percentage of our lives working for pay, whether we’re rich or poor. And even with economic change, the incomes of the poor are much less variable, as they are not linked to the unpredictable changes in weather that are part and parcel of a predominantly agricultural economy long since disappeared.

Think of it this way: the fabulously wealthy kings of old had servants attending to their every need, but an impacted tooth would likely kill them. The poor in largely capitalist countries have access to a quality of medical care and a variety and quality of food that the ancient kings could only dream of.

Consider, too, that the working poor of London 100 years ago were, at best, able to split a pound of meat per week among all of their children, which were greater in number than the two or three of today. In addition, the whole family ate meat once a week on Sunday, the one day the man of the household was home for dinner. That was meat for a week.

Compare that to today, when we worry that poor Americans are too easily able to afford a meal with a quarter pound of meat in it every single day for less than an hour’s labor. Even if you think that capitalism has made poor people overweight, that’s a major accomplishment compared to the precapitalist norm of constant malnutrition and the struggle even 100 years ago for the working poor to get enough calories.

The reality is that the rich have always lived well historically, as for centuries they could commandeer human labor to attend to their every need. In a precapitalist world, the poor had no hope of upward mobility or of relief from the endless physical drudgery that barely kept them alive.

Today, the poor in capitalist countries live like kings, thanks mostly to the freeing of labor and the ability to accumulate capital that makes that labor more productive and enriches even the poorest. The falling cost of what were once luxuries and are now necessities, driven by the competitive market and its profit and loss signals, has brought labor-saving machines to the masses. When profit-seeking and innovation became acceptable behavior for the bourgeoisie, the horn of plenty brought forth its bounty, and even the poorest shared in that wealth.

Once people no longer needed permission to innovate, and once the value of new inventions was judged by the improvements they made to the lives of the masses in the form of profit and loss, the poor began to live lives of comfort and dignity.

These changes are not, as some would say, about technology. After all, the Soviets had great scientists but could not channel that knowledge into material comfort for their poor. And it’s not about natural resources, which is obvious today as resource-poor Hong Kong is among the richest countries in the world thanks to capitalism, while Venezuelan socialism has destroyed that resource-rich country.

Inventions only become innovations when the right institutions exist to make them improve the lives of the masses. That is what capitalism did and continues to do every single day. And that’s why capitalism has been so good for the poor.

Consider, finally, what happened when the Soviets decided to show the film version of The Grapes of Wrath as anticapitalist propaganda. In the novel and film, a poor American family is driven from their Depression-era home by the Dust Bowl. They get in their old car and make a horrifying journey in search of a better life in California. The Soviets had to stop showing the film after a short period because the Russian audiences were astonished that poor Americans were able to own a car.

Even anticapitalist propaganda can’t help but provide evidence that contradicts its own argument. The historical truth is clear: nothing has done more for the poor than capitalism.

Steven HorwitzSteven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions.

He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Why Students Give Capitalism an ‘F’ by B.K. Marcus

bernie sanders half of a sign socialismNot only are young voters more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, they are also more likely to support the most left-wing Democrats. In recent polls of voters under 30, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders beats the more mainstream Hillary Clinton by almost six-to-one.

Former professor Mark Pastin, writing in the Weekly Standard, acknowledges some of Clinton’s flaws as a candidate, but concludes that “the most compelling explanation” for young Democrats’ overwhelming preference for Sanders “is that young voters actually like the idea of a socialist revolution.”

I’m embarrassed to confess that when I was a young voter, I probably would have been among the “Sandernistas.”

I don’t think Pastin is right about the revolution, though. Much of Sanders’s success in defanging the word socialism is in pairing it with an emphasis on democracy, as George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians did in an earlier era. Democratic socialists — at least among my comrades — preferred the idea of evolutionary socialism, and we tried hard to distance ourselves from the revolutionary folks.

Whether by evolution or revolution, however, what we all sought was less competition and more cooperation, less commerce and more compassion. Above all, we wanted greater equality.

“When I asked my students what they thought socialism meant,” Pastin writes, “they would generally recite some version of the Marxist chestnut ‘from each according to ability and to each according to need.'” That sounds about right, but add to that the assumption that it’s government’s job to effect the transfer.

My father, gently skeptical of my politics, pointed out a problem confronting American socialists: we tended to imagine ourselves on the receiving end of the redistribution — rob from the rich and give to the rest of us. “However poor we may think we are in the United States,” he told me, “we would have to give up most of what we now have in order to make everyone in the world equal.” This was strange to hear from someone always behind on the rent and facing ever-growing debt.

Pastin makes a related point: “I’ve always thought that socialism appealed to students because they have never not been on the receiving end of government largesse.”

As an informal test of his students’ egalitarian beliefs, Pastin “would offer to run the class along socialist principles, such as the mandate to take from the able and give to the needy.” Specifically, he proposed subtracting points from the A students and transferring them to those who would otherwise earn lower grades.

Even the most ardent socialist students balked at this arrangement. In fact, according to Pastin, the highest-performing students were both more likely to be self-declared socialists and more likely to meet his proposal with outrage: grading, they argued, should be a matter of merit.

Is it pure hypocrisy on the part of these rhetorical radicals, or is there a logical consistency behind this apparent contradiction in their values?

Trying to recall the details of my own callow political folly, I seem to recall three main issues behind my anti-capitalistic mentality:

  1. “Capitalism” was just the word we all used for whatever we didn’t like about the status quo, especially whatever struck us as promoting inequality. I had friends propose to me that we should consider the C-word a catchall for racism, patriarchy, and crony corporatism. If that’s what capitalism means, how could anyone be for it?
  2. Even when we left race and sex out of the equation, our understanding of commerce was zero-sum: the 1 percent grew rich by exploiting the 99 percent.
  3. For whatever reason, none of us imagined we’d ever be business people, except on the smallest possible scale: at farmer’s markets, as street vendors, in small shops. Those things weren’t capitalism. Capitalism was big business: McDonald’s, IBM, the military-industrial complex.

I don’t know how many of today’s young socialists hold these same assumptions, but a question recently posted to Quora.com sounds like it could have been written by one of my fellow lefties in the 1980s: “Should I drop out of college to disobey the capitalist world that values a human with a piece of paper?” (See Praxis strategist Derek Magill’s withering advice to the would-be dropout.)

Even if a different array of confusions drives the radical chic of millennial voters, what is clear is that they see American capitalism as rigged. “Crony capitalism,” from their perspective, is redundant — and “free market” is an oxymoron. They’re not necessarily opposed to meritocracy; they just don’t see what merit has to do with the marketplace.

Grading that would penalize the studious to reward the slackers is obviously unfair, and a sure-fire strategy to kill anyone’s incentive to do the homework. It’s not that the socialist students are applying the principle inconsistently; it’s that they don’t see what merit has to do with commerce. Some of that may be intellectual laziness, some is the result of indoctrination by anti-capitalist faculty, but much of it is also based in the reality of America’s mixed economy.

Not only have young voters spent most of their lives sheltered from the productive side of the commercial world, schooled by men and women who are themselves deliberately insulated from the marketplace, but time spent in the reality of the private sector is hardly an education in what the advocates of economic freedom have in mind when we talk about the free market.

If my own experience is any guide, today’s democratic socialists will have to spend a lot of time unlearning much of what they’ve been taught.

Pastin’s informal experiment is an illuminating first step, and it’s a powerful way to expose the conflict between his students’ understanding of merit and the socialists’ understanding of equality. But there’s also a danger in comparing the economy to the classroom. By offering his grade redistribution as an analogy for socialism, Pastin seems to imply that the merit-based grade system better resembles a free market. But that’s silly.

For one thing, studying hard for your next exam may improve your own GPA, but it probably doesn’t help your classmates. In contrast, an unhampered marketplace makes everyone better off, however unequally.

More significantly, in a free economy, there is no one person in the role of the grade-giving professor. In the absence of coercion, power has a hard time remaining that centralized. Yes, wealth can be seen as a kind of grade, but in the free market, an entrepreneur’s profits and losses are like millions of cumulative grades from the consumers. A+ for improving our lives. F for wasting time and resources.

That kind of spontaneous, decentralized, self-regulating prosperity is every bit as radical as the visions of young socialists, minus the impoverishing effects of coerced redistribution. It’s almost certainly not what they imagine when they say they oppose “capitalism.”

B.K. MarcusB.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

Progress Will Hurt Blameless People by Aaron Ross Powell

There’s an unfortunate tendency among some free market advocates to blame the victim: If you can’t find work, it’s because you’re lazy or you somehow screwed up. Hard work’s all that’s necessary to succeed. But of course that’s not true. It’s quite easy to think of counterexamples. We know creative destruction is a necessary part of a well-functioning economy. Market churn means people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, and shifts in technology and consumer preferences mean that skills once lucrative can suddenly become relatively worthless. Markets are overwhelmingly good, yes, and are responsible for the astonishing amelioration of poverty we’ve seen since the Industrial Revolution, but they have their victims.

A changing global economy has meant a changing American economy and a changing American economy has meant that some people who did well in the old pattern are having a harder time in the new. This harder time is felt by, among others, a segment of America’s lower-middle class who used to be able to find decent-paying jobs that demanded physical labor and the kinds of skills you don’t learn in school.

That segment increasingly faces a fact about the modern economy: Unless you’re a knowledge worker, it’s become a whole lot harder to find a well-paying, stable, long-term job because the skills you bring to an employer aren’t as in demand as they used to be.

And that’s awful for the people going through it. We can say that free markets change over time and that those changes lead to more prosperity in the long term, and that’s true. But it doesn’t make life better for the machinist or construction worker without a college degree and without much retirement savings. Empathy seems an appropriate response by those of us not facing such hardship.

That even well-functioning markets hurt some people some of the time makes selling market solutions to policy problems often a difficult task. We know that the solution to unemployment or underemployment is more economic freedom. Get rid of the barriers to entry and the protectionist policies keeping afloat what would otherwise be failing firms. Enable private schools to create a robust and successful educational system so more people have the skills needed to succeed in a modern economy. Open trade with the rest of the world, so we can grow our economy, buy goods at lower prices, and sell into more markets.

But here’s the thing. Every one of those solutions ends up sounding, to the person economically hurting now, like saying, “Leave it alone and things will work themselves out. Don’t know quite how or when, but they will.”

Market solutions are emergent solutions, and emergence takes time and can’t be planned or predicted. In fact, it’s the attempt to plan and predict that leads so many non-market-based policies to fail. Economists understand this and so largely trust markets. But most Americans aren’t economists.

I think this explains, in part, the appeal of people like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. We see them as misdiagnosing the problems and offering counter-productive, and sometimes abhorrent, “solutions.” Immigrants are taking your jobs. (They aren’t.) So let’s fix it right now by closing the borders. Trade with China is making us poor. (It isn’t.) So let’s fix it now by establishing quotas and tariffs.

But to people hurting right now, people like Trump or Sanders offer something free markets can’t: certainty, even if illusory. These people right here are the cause of your problems. Punish or stop them and your problems will go away. America will go back to being great, with “great” meaning the way it was when low-information, low-skill Americans could spend their lives comfortably in the middle class. In other words, before America’s economy became modern.

We don’t want that, of course. The economic visions of Trump and Sanders aren’t just backwards, but are dangerously retrograde policies that will hurt everyone without doing much to improve the lives of those who support such policies.

Liberty struggles when confronted with this combination of widespread economic ignorance and the political incentive for politicians to pander and promise solutions that are anything but. And I don’t know how to solve that. Nor do I believe there’s an easy solution. The incentives in politics run against us, and so we somehow need to get better at articulating the story of markets, of the voluntary and the emergent, and do it in a way that’s as compelling and hopeful in its rhetoric as the false hopes sold by those pitching meretricious intervention.

Part of that means consciously avoiding a panglossian picture of markets, and recognizing that sometimes people get hurt by them, and that often that hurt is blameless.

Cross-posted from Libertarianism.org.

Aaron Ross PowellAaron Ross Powell

Aaron Ross Powell is a research fellow and editor of Libertarianism.org.

Capitalism Promotes Equality: Equality in Consumption Is Now the Norm by Barry Brownstein

Highway traffic began to slow outside of Boston as we made our way to the airport. My wife was driving, so I took out my $100 Android phone and opened Google Maps. Google Traffic instantly showed me, in real time, the best route to avoid delays and estimated the number of minutes we’d save by altering our route. Thanks to Google, there was no threat of missing our flight.

It was not too long ago that we relied on traffic reporters in helicopters, and their advice was often useless by the time we heard their updates.

Have you wondered how Google Traffic does it? The answer is crowdsourcing. If you are among the two-thirds of American adults who own a smartphone, and if the GPS locator on your phone is enabled, you are generating real-time traffic information. Google Traffic measures how fast cars are moving compared to normal speeds and generates location-specific reports.

Rich or poor, most of the drivers on the highway that day had access to the same miraculous traffic report and the same opportunity to make better driving decisions. This is just one example of how the marketplace generates equality in consumption.

The cars we drive are another indicator of consumption equality. We were driving an inexpensive Subaru Outback. There are more expensive, comfortable, and bigger cars on the market, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that there are none safer than the Outback.

Would a rich individual, on this same drive to the airport, have any noticeable advantages over me? He or she could hire a driver and use the drive time for something more productive, but even that advantage will dwindle as driverless cars become the norm.

In his Wall Street Journal commentary “The Rise of Consumption Equality,” former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler writes:

Just about every product or service that makes our lives better requires a mass market or it’s not economic to bother offering. Those who invent and produce for the mass market get rich. And the more these innovators better the rest of our lives, the richer they get but the less they can differentiate themselves from the masses whose wants they serve.

“What does Google founder Larry Page have that you don’t have?” Kessler asks pointedly.

Page’s income is unimaginably larger than most of ours. But in terms of consumption, the differences are negligible — which is remarkable, given how much Page and Google have improved our lives.

All-time football great Tom Brady earns roughly $10 million a year. His diet made the news recently. Does Brady enjoy health advantages not available to Americans with a fraction of his income? Brady hires a cook. Our family doesn’t do that, but we eat much like Brady — organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and fish make up the bulk of our diet. From May to October, a local organic farmer provides an abundance of vegetables that are picked fresh for us based on an order we place the day before. In the summertime, our produce may be fresher than Brady’s. Compared to any of us, what real dietary advantage does Tom Brady’s income afford him? It is his commitment to a healthy lifestyle, not his income, that makes the difference.

In 1900, Americans spent approximately 50 percent of their household income on food and clothing; today, we spend closer to 20 percent. Today, fresh produce from all over the world, not even available to a king a century ago, awaits common consumers when they enter the supermarket.

In 1900, only 25 percent of households had running water; fewer still had flush toilets. It would be decades before such wonders as electricity, automobiles, and indoor plumbing were ubiquitous. The faucets in the famed Hearst Castle in California may have been gold plated, but was the water any better than what the average household received? The water running in my home comes from an artesian well over 400 feet deep. More evidence of consumption equality: my water is every bit as good, if not better, than a billionaire’s in a big city penthouse.

Wealth is not a good predictor of a rich life. Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky found that only 10 percent of the variance in Americans’ happiness is due to income and other circumstances. “Happiness more than anything,” she writes in her book The How of Happiness, ”is a state-of-mind, a way of perceiving and approaching ourselves and the world in which we reside.”

And what of the elements of emotional intelligence that make life richer? In the book Big Magic, best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert observes:

If money were the only thing people needed to live rich creative lives, then the mega-rich would be the most imaginative, generative, and original thinkers among us, and they simply are not. The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust — and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.

The same universally accessible elements are essential ingredients for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs persist, driven by their vision and by the equality of opportunity that capitalism affords. The entrepreneur’s choice to be persistent and courageous is the not-so-secret engine that drives success.

The essential consumption goods we couldn’t even imagine a hundred years ago are almost universally available in the United States today. The marketplace, aided by many creative, pioneering entrepreneurs and every person who strives to put in a good day’s work, is generating consumption equality.

Barry BrownsteinBarry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. He blogs at BarryBrownstein.com, Giving up Control, and America’s Highest Purpose.

Pope’s envoy warns of ‘silent genocide’ and ‘biggest terrorism in the world’

“A silent genocide” and “the biggest terrorism in the world.” Did Charles Maung Bo mean the Muslim persecution of Christians that has eradicated ancient Christian communities in Iraq, while Catholic bishops in the West stand by silently afraid to harm their precious and utterly useless “dialogue” with Muslim leaders? Did he mean the terrorism that has claimed committed over 27,000 jihad terror attacks worldwide since 9/11, and more every day, and boasts about its imminent conquest of Rome and the entire West?

No, of course he doesn’t mean that silent genocide or that terrorism. He means poverty and injustice — in other words, he means that the West needs to give more money to Third World nations. That the West might collapse utterly from jihad activity, Muslim migration, Sharia supremacism, etc., well, Catholic prelates don’t speak of such things. To do so would be to “provoke” Muslims and “poke them in the eye,” when they know that “respect” (i.e., cringing, shivering fear combined with appeasement) is the order of the day.

Catholic bishops today are failing their people, failing the Church, failing the world, and helping pave the way for a catastrophe of proportions they will find unimaginable when it engulfs them, but at that point it will be far too late.

Charles Maung Bo and Francis

“Pope’s envoy warns of ‘silent genocide’ and ‘biggest terrorism,’” by Nestor Corrales, Inquirer.net, January 24, 2016:

CEBU CITY – “A silent genocide” and “the biggest terrorism in the world.”

The Pope’s envoy at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) made that analogy to describe starvation, poverty and injustice in the world.

Citing a data from the United Children’s Nation’s Fund (Unicef), Charles Maung Cardinal Bo of Myanmar said 20, 000 die of starvation and malnutrition everyday, totaling to more than seven million a year.

In a powerful homily on Sunday, Cardinal Bo urged Catholics to declare a “third world war” against poverty and break the “chains of injustice.”

“In a world that continues to have millions of poor, the Eucharist is a major challenge to humanity,” he said.

“What is the greatest mortal sin? Seeing a child dying of starvation,” the cardinal added.

In a press conference on Monday, Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara said the papal legate’s homily was a challenge to the Catholic faithful to make fighting poverty and injustice “a priority.”

“To make it as urgent, to become a priority in us,” Vergara told reporters.

He said social justice is a responsibility of everyone.

“We want to make social justice realized, to live it out. And it is a responsibility for all of us.” he said.

Vergara said Cardinal Bo’s statement was an urgent call “just to make us realized that we really have to fight for poverty, graft and corruption.”…

Maybe it would be better to fight against them, but whatever you say, Mylo — who am I to question a bishop?

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‘Capitalism’ Is the Wrong Word by Steven Horwitz

We Shouldn’t Use a Term Coined by the System’s Enemies!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply invent new terms to replace the words that seem to cause more heat than light? For example, I have written before of my qualms about using the word capitalism to describe the free-market economy. The word was coined by capitalism’s enemies to describe the system that they rejected.

Red Plenty, a marvelous book by Francis Spufford, offers an important perspective on our discussion of terms. The book is a must-read for fans of free markets. It combines elements from the actual history of the use of mathematics to try to plan the Soviet economy, fictional dialogue and some fictional characters, and Spufford’s excellent understanding of the economics of capitalism and socialism to create an incredibly readable account of the attempt to engineer a world of abundance in the former Soviet Union.

In the senior seminar I teach, we recently read a section of the book that deals with how the Soviet planning process actually worked. That section got me thinking about the terms capitalism and socialism again. The term capitalism suggests a system built around capital and its interests, while the word socialism suggests one built around society and its interests. Notice how these connotations beg some questions from the start.

Is it really true, for example, that capitalism is centered around capital and its interests? Is it really capitalists who benefit the most from capitalism? And on the other side: have existing socialist economies ever served the interests of society as a whole? Could socialism, in theory, do so? Do both of these names make assumptions about each of the two types of economies that reflect the biases of capitalism’s critics and socialism’s defenders?

Of course, capital does play a crucial role in capitalism. The private ownership of capital (the means of production) is a defining characteristic of a free-market economy, especially in comparison to socialism. And the ability to engage in economic calculation provided by the money prices of the market is crucial for the owners of capital to know how best to deploy it. So in those senses, capitalism is about capital.

But notice that nowhere in the previous paragraph is it claimed that the primary beneficiaries of capitalism are the capitalists! What is missing is an answer to the question of why the capitalists continually have to figure out how best to deploy their capital. The answer is because they are constantly trying to provide what consumers want using the least valuable resources possible.

Sure, the capitalists reap profits by doing so. But those profits result from the mutually beneficial exchanges capitalists have with consumers.

The main beneficiaries from capitalism are not the capitalists, but all of us in our role as consumers. Competition among the owners of private capital is all about responding to consumers’ wants. And consumers benefit from this arrangement through more, better, and cheaper goods. If we want a name for the free-market economy that indicates who its primary beneficiaries are, we should reappropriate the term consumerism.

But “consumerism” is only half of the story. It’s easy enough to show through the standard arguments that socialism doesn’t work for the benefit of society as a whole. We know from the socialist-calculation debate that eliminating the market altogether in favor of planning can’t work. But what about all of those countries, like the Soviet Union, that claimed to be planning their economies?

As we see in Red Plenty, the truth was that central planning served as a kind of myth around which economic activity could be oriented. Everyone acted as if there were a plan, but the actual way resources got allocated and shuffled around was much more complicated. In Red Plenty, we meet two characters who help us see this.

First is Cherkuskin, the middleman who trades on relationships and friendships to help producers get the goods they need to meet their centrally planned targets. Cherkuskin is the personification of what Ayn Rand called “the aristocracy of pull.” His power comes from whom he knows and what he can get them to do for you. When producers don’t have enough to fulfill their quotas because of the inability of the plan to allocate rationally or to respond to unexpected change, the Cherkuskins come into play and move resources around to help them — and to profit handsomely in the process. Underneath “the plan” was the black market that did a great deal to ensure that Soviet-style economies were minimally functional.

The other character is Maksim Maksimovich Mokhov, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the planning agency. Faced with the news of the destruction of a crucial machine, Mokhov has to figure out how to rebalance the plan given that one factory will either need a new machine or fail to produce the output that other factories need. Spufford gives us terrific imagery of Mokhov sliding around on his wheeled chair, abacus in hand, going from file to file using technology primitive by even the 1962 standard of that chapter of the book, attempting to reallocate resources with the flick of an eraser and the scratch of a pencil.

Both Cherkuskin and Mokhov are, functionally, substitutes for what the price system does under capitalism, and inferior substitutes at that.

But what’s most interesting is that neither of them cares one whit about the consumer. Cherkuskin is all about making sure that producers get what they need to fulfill the plan, never pausing to consider what the costs were for consumers. Mokhov describes consumers as a “shortage sink” because they are the end of the line, and if they don’t get what they want, no one else relies on them for further output. It was more important to balance out production than to worry if consumers got exactly what they needed.

What Spufford so nicely illustrates here is how real-world socialism, and not capitalism, put the needs of “capital” first and the wants of consumers last. In a world where producing more stuff, regardless of its value, was the path to plenty, ensuring that production continued according to the plan and that producers got what they needed were the central tasks. And the black market middlemen like Cherkuskin could make a real ruble or two doing so.

But unlike the profits of market capitalists, Cherkuskin’s rubles came at the expense of the consumer rather than reflecting mutual benefit. A system where consumers are just the folks who are expected to absorb the errors of the plan is hardly one geared to the interests of society as a whole. And a system where capital is ultimately the servant of consumers is misleadingly named if we call it capitalism.

It’s a difficult battle to get people to change the names they’ve long used for free markets and (supposedly) planned economies. Even if we don’t win that battle, it’s still important for us to point out how the terms capitalism and socialism really do give a false impression of how markets and planning work. If we want to know who really benefits from markets, a quick look around the abundance that is the typical American household will answer that question quite clearly.

Steven HorwitzSteven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions.

He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

King Solomon of Israel is known as the wisest man who ever lived.   So when one observes the struggle between good and evil, liberty and tyranny, communism and capitalism, unalienable rights and sharia law, one thing rings true.  That there is absolutely nothing new under the sun as King Solomon wisely stated.  The current state of affairs in our republic turned mob rule democracy is not unique to America.

The British Empire was once so vast that the sun was always shining on a land possession of that famous nation, whose territories once spanned all the way around the entire globe.  The Roman Empire, whose ancient roads were so well constructed that many of them are still used today influenced the entire known world at the time of her past glory.

The United States of America became the greatest nation in the history of the world.  Not just because great men sought religious freedom, but also because they realized that both freedom and liberty did not come from government, but rather from God, who’s son saves us from Satan’s vow of death and damnation, if we choose it.  One of the common traits of those who reside in great, prosperous and overall blessed nations is a never say die attitude.

For example, it did not matter what life presented to those historic figures who landed at Plymouth Rock and dedicated their new found home to God and regularly sought His wisdom and general guidance.  Those men and women who left the familiar confines of Great Britain refused to be inhibited by so-called limitations.  Against all odds and obstacles they persevered, overcoming the fear of the unknown, natural disasters and disease to plant the seeds of greatness that would later grow into the United States of America.

Another familiar trait of those who achieve greatness is not giving into situations or even naysayers who present themselves as harbingers of hopelessness in the midst of someone’s mission to secure a particular goal.  In prior generations, it did not matter what tragedy the men and women of destiny, there were no mountains too high to climb, oceans to wide to cross, or other impossible odds to overcome and eventually secure what they set out to achieve.

That onetime common trait of never say die or getting tough when the going gets rough has in recent years become less adhered to among the American population of today.  One of the primary reasons has been a multi-generational effort between big government and government schools to dissuade sovereign individuals from their God given unalienable rights and turn them into improperly focused wards of the politically correct state.  That is one of the major reasons why the United States of America has suffered the misfortune of falling like a rock from greatness over the past several years.

Far too many of our fellow countrymen and women have chosen to sit idly by while those who clamor for the power to dismantle the very bedrock of this country forge ahead in their dastardly mission.  One of their main goals is to drive out constitutional guidelines and even God himself from the fabric of society.

The good news is that in recent months, more and more Americans are refusing to be corralled by their real or imagined limitations.  Whether one is in favor of Donald Trump becoming president or not, he has in a sense rekindled a real spark of interest in the affairs of our republic among Americans, who for too long have been cornered by stupid limitations.  Whether the limitations are fear, apathy, indifference or just plain ignorance concerning the times we live in.

The Trump and to a lessening degree, Carson phenomenon is a great first step away from the limitations that have hampered far too many sovereign citizens for much too long.  Both Dr. Carson and Donald Trump are admirable contemporary examples of letting go of their limitations.  They did not allow any possible setbacks to become the standard or roadmap for their lives.

As we Americans refuse to allow our limitations to define us or the direction our republic takes in the coming months and years, we can begin to step out in faith to break off the negative limitations.  Of course, not only in our personal lives but throughout our great republic as well.

Among the premier limitation destroyers is first believing and knowing that you were created by a loving and patient God who endowed you with unalienable rights that government cannot obstruct or dare to take away.

“We the People” can no longer be a direct or indirect part of the problems besetting our republic.  Even by just sitting idly by and doing nothing is a form of approving of the destructive mission of those helping president Obama fundamentally change America.  It is now high time to shake up the status quo of progressivism inspired destruction that has been the decades long mission of far too many misguided victims of government school indoctrination, weak parental instruction and inept church teachings.

Let us put an end to the mind inhibiting practices of common core, agenda 21 etc. etc. not only of individuals, but the republic as a whole.  Just remember, that by the grace and blessings of God, you are limitless in your potential to be all that you can be and so is America, still the greatest nation ever.  Remember there is nothing new under the sun including you God given potential as a great American overcomer.  God Bless You, God Bless America and May America Bless God.

The Rise of ‘Reality Capitalism’ by Wendy McElroy

If pop culture is a leading indicator of social change, one emerging TV genre should be applauded. It is a flood of reality shows that focus on the daily dynamics by which self-made people conduct business: Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers, American Pickers, Deadliest Catch, Hardcore Pawn, Yukon Gold, Storage Wars, and others.

I call it “reality capitalism,” and it is the polar opposite of crony capitalism.

They display people taking risks and prospering (or not) through hard work and good judgment. They embody the opposite of cronyism because government privilege is nowhere to be seen.

Some aspects of the programs feel contrived, but what matters is that small businessmen and working people are elevated to a status that used to be reserved for those featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Fans tune in to see whether Mike and Frank (American Pickers) will find a “honey hole” as they travel America. Perhaps a barn in Rhode Island will contain a rare Harley or one of the old metal gasoline signs that sells in a flash in their Iowa shop. Viewers groan in amused exasperation as Rick (Pawn Stars) flaunts arcane facts about the antiques people bring in. The items and negotiation are fascinating, and the businessmen are thoroughly likable because of the honesty, humor, and respect with which they treat sellers.

The shows also explain the simple mechanisms of the free market. Mike and Frank discuss the end-price they will put on items and tell the seller why they need to buy at approximately 50% of that figure. The words “gas money” come up frequently. Rick’s favorite phrase is, “I’m taking all the risk.” Then he comments on overhead and how long an item might take up room in his store. In both programs, the buyer sometimes pays more than the asking price because he knows the true value of a good and does not want to cheat the seller. The fairness is not only a matter of ethics but also good business: it establishes trust.

The reality capitalism genre can be roughly broken into two categories: entrepreneurs who are business owners, and working people who struggle to prosper against the odds.

Yukon Gold features small mining crews who search for gold in the Yukon during its four-month window of opportunity. Machinery breaks, nature strikes, and crew members fight against their own discouragement. Ice Road Truckersfollows truck drivers who confront frozen lakes and treacherous situations as they haul loads across Arctic areas of Alaska and Canada. Both shows focus on why the people assume work in such terrible conditions: money. Most of them are after a better life for their families.

They are entrepreneurs who gamble with their own time, money, and energy to establish businesses through which everyone profits. They are people who overcome obstacles for a chance for their families to prosper. It is heartening to see society’s true heroes receive the acknowledgement they deserve.

Wendy McElroyWendy McElroy

Contributing editor Wendy McElroy (wendy@wendymcelroy.com) is an author, editor of ifeminists.com, and Research Fellow at The Independent Institute (independent.org).

There’s No Escaping Competition by Steven Horwitz

People Need a Way to Decide Who Gets What. 

“The motives of fear and greed are what the market brings to prominence,” argues G.A. Cohen in Why Not Socialism? “One’s opposite-number marketeers are predominantly seen as possible sources of enrichment, and as threats to one’s success.”

Cohen further notes that these are “horrible ways of seeing other people” that are the “result of centuries of capitalist civilization.”

If only we had a different economic system where people viewed each other as brothers and sisters in a common effort rather than competitors trying to grab the largest share of the economic pie.

Implicitly drawing on Marx’s idea that the forces and relations of production determine the ideas people have and the way they behave, this criticism imagines that competition is a contingent feature of human interaction caused by capitalism.

But is it? Are we only competitive because capitalism makes us so?

By contrast, consider a line in my class notes for the day we start talking about competition in my Introduction to Economics course: “Competition is not a product of living in a capitalist society — it’s a product of not living in heaven.”

Despite the dreams of the socialists, competition is not going away any time soon. As long as resources are scarce and not all of our wants can be fulfilled, humans require some way of determining who will get which goods.

Competing Versions of Competition

Suppose for a moment that we want to figure out how best to allocate goods to consumers. In a market economy, we allow people to engage in competitive bidding to try to acquire the things they think are most valuable to them. But we can imagine other ways of allocating goods. Perhaps we ask people to line up. Or maybe we try to figure out who is more deserving. Perhaps we do it by the pure discretion of bureaucrats. Or we decide things Fight Club style. Would those end competition?

I don’t think so. All that those methods would accomplish is to divert competition into less productive forms. For example, if we distributed resources first come, first served, does anyone doubt that people would find new ways to compete for an early place in line? Or think of the people who camp out for sports or concert tickets and the opportunity cost of the time they spend waiting rather than doing other things.

Or if we did it by evaluating who is more deserving, wouldn’t people simply compete over what should count as the relevant moral criteria — and then compete to demonstrate that they deserve goods more than others do?

Imagine if a board of economic planners said they would distribute resources to the people who are most honest. It wouldn’t surprise us to see people then start to expend resources to convince the planners that productivity or intelligence were more important than honesty in distributing resources, nor would it surprise us for people to then compete to prove to the planners that they were the most honest, or productive, or intelligent. All of those forms of competition are wastes of resources compared to competing for consumers in the marketplace.

Or imagine goods distributed by government fiat. Wouldn’t people find new and creative ways to compete to persuade the relevant bureaucrats to favor them? In fact, isn’t this exactly what we see right now as lobbyists engage in competitive rent-seeking to persuade legislators and bureaucrats to allocate more government goodies in their direction? The rent-seeking that takes place in Washington and the state capitals is just another form of competition — appealing to politicians rather than customers.

Were resources distributed through might-makes-right, we can easily imagine the competition that would ensue for people to have the best weaponry or armor, or to hit the gym to get the strength and endurance they would need to survive the fighting. This, too, is competition, but of a very different sort.

As long as goods and services are scarce compared to wants, decisions will have to be made that involve some number of people not getting access to those goods. The fact of scarcity is what makes competition ubiquitous. And if there is a heaven, one of its defining characteristics is surely the absence of scarcity. Humanity has long dreamed of a Land of Cockaigne where roast chickens fly into our mouths without effort and where the seas are made of lemonade. Until that heaven arrives on earth, competition of some sort will rule the roost.

How Is Market Competition Better?

If we are going to have competition, then why prefer one sort over any other?

The competition we see in the marketplace has the important advantage of creating benefits for the rest of society and not just the competitors.

Consider rent-seeking. It’s true that the exchange between a lobbyist and a politician is mutually beneficial. The rent-seeker, if successful, gets resources allocated in her direction, while the politician receives the free lunches and fawning attention from the rent-seeker — as well as some possible leverage over the rent-seeker down the road.

The competition associated with rent-seeking, however, does not benefit anyone else. In fact, the whole criticism of rent-seeking behavior is that expending resources to generate transfers of wealth — not to create new wealth — is socially wasteful. We would be better off if those resources were used to produce new and better products rather than to persuade others to transfer wealth to us, or to reduce the wealth of others.

Similar arguments can be made about all other forms of nonmarket competition. They all involve expending resources in ways that do not benefit society as a whole because they do not create wealth. They just divert resources from other uses to become part of the attempt to transfer existing wealth to another person or group.

Why Price Competition?

The other problem with all of those other forms of competition is that they ignore the question of where resources come from. There is no connection between the distribution of resources (and the form of competition that generates) and the supply of those resources.

Put differently, how do any of those other processes create the knowledge signals and incentives needed to know what to produce and how to produce it to ensure that there are future supplies of goods? Think about Fight Club-style distribution. If everyone is busy pummeling each other to death to get existing resources, what incentive does that create for anyone to produce anything if they will have to spend even more resources to defend any wealth they might create? How would anyone know what to produce in such a world, and why would anyone want to produce it in the first place?

In a system where competition takes place through offering money to acquire resources, we get the emergence of prices, which serve as both the incentive for ongoing production and the information about what to produce. When buyers compete with buyers to acquire a good and thereby bid up the price, it tells existing and prospective producers that this good is more valuable and that they should produce more of it. Similar competitive bidding for the inputs into a production process informs other producers about what should and should not be used to make various goods and services.

Competition through money prices connects the competition over the distribution of goods with the production of goods in a way that no other form of competition does. In this way, market competition benefits not just the direct parties to the competition but all of us by encouraging the ongoing production of goods in ways that economize on resources.

Scarcity is a defining characteristic of the human condition, and scarcity means there will be competition over who gets what. Market capitalism has the great advantage of channeling that competition through the price system, which not only ensures an ongoing supply of goods but also encourages their efficient production.

We may not be in heaven, but the peaceful and socially beneficial competition of the market is downright heavenly compared to the alternatives.

Steven Horwitz
Steven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective, now in paperback.

The Toll of WWIII — From Stalin to Putin

Well known and highly respected journalist O’Reilly has surprised me while talking with Ben Carson on his show 9.17.15. O’Reilly said that he did not remember any government that declared a war on us and we did not remove that government. It was a wrong statement. Unfortunately, Mr. O’Reilly is not alone, he has a big company of others thinking alike. Perhaps, none of them has never heard about the current WWIII and Soviet Fascism, about which, I have been writing for the last twenty years. I have to show how wrong they are and prove it.

Some History of Communism

Communists, beginning with Karl Marx, have never hidden their major agenda—destruction of capitalism and creation of a Socialist State. Marx openly called for revolution and determined the leadership in the revolution—proletariat, which is the low poor class with nothing to lose “besides their chains.” Several revolutions in a freedom loving Europe had not succeeded in the 19th century. After the October Socialist Revolution 1917, Stalin had changed this formula and established the totalitarian regime, we called Stalinism in the 20th century.

 Islam and the Muslim Culture in Stalin’s Biography

At this point, I have to repeat the major factors of Stalin’s bio:

First, and the most important was his upbringing within a Muslim culture. Though, he was a student (a dropout) of an Orthodox Christion Seminary, his love and knowledge of Islam was a chief cause in the formation of a totalitarian regime in Russia. A dogmatic Marxist, he however, saw the inability of the Communist ideology to conquer the world without the help of Islam. His trip to Iran through a porous borders had fostered his idea to bring together the Communist ideology and Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood had presented that opportunity and Stalin acted accordingly making the Muslin Brotherhood a politburo of Islam functioning from Moscow. Later, Arafat was recruited by two members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As you know, Stalin was obsessed with the chess-game, which helped him to calculate far ahead a particular way of actions. Knowing a never ending war between Sunnis and Shias, he planned to involve the West into that never ending conflict and finely to defeat Western civilization. The events after WWI and an arrogant behavior of the victorious Europe rearranging the map of the Middle East, had given him a precedent for the future actions. Islam, with its permission to lie for political advancement, had made Stalin a savvy politician and an extraordinary intriguer to create a political system based on a fraud. It was Stalin, who invented a marriage of Communism and Islam

Second, and no less important, is Stalin’s ability to see and understand that capitalism is very productive, well managed, and its military might cannot be kept up by the Soviet military. Hence, the main idea of replacing capitalism by Socialism had required a different approach to the matter. There are several other aspects of history that could’ve plaid a role… It is a national Russian Empyreal Impulse that coincided with Stalin’s agenda. Besides, as a student of the Russian Orthodox Seminar, he learned about the founder of the Illuminati Society and their methods. A founder of the Order of the Illuminati secret society Adam Weishaupt a German philosopher, in order to spread his ideas was sending his emissaries to different countries to implement his teachings. Stalin had completely absorbed the method and to implement it built the mighty intelligence apparatus called the KGB.

putin obamaAsymmetrical War Runs under the Supervision of the KGB

I have already dedicated many pages to the history of the KGB, its main factions and its significance within the Stalinist regime. As a matter of fact, Stalin had two major tasks for fostering the KGB: a watch dog for the loyalty to the government system within the country and to spread and implement Stalin’s teachings to the outside world. The entire country was under total control by the KGB. Like a dark cloud the fear to speak entered every human dwelling and the Houses of Worship; people were afraid of each other to communicate. We, the former citizen of the Socialist countries will never forget the fear and intimidation we all went through. We called the KGB—the Organs. Read Chapter 4, And Evil is Alive and Well, What is Happening to America?

For this reason, I also gave you the list of tools, devises, methods and tricks, the entire modus operandi used by the KGB. In the last several columns, I paid a special attention to Political Correctness, as the only one of the methods used by KGB. I focused your attention on recruitment and infiltration for a reason—those two are the main components of WWIII. I tried to expose the list of all the tricks and devises of Stalin’s teachings in my books, I hope you also remember a creation of a Soviet style leaders in the outside world. But the list of tools is so long and constantly developed by Stalin’s devoted disciples of the KGB that it will take the intelligence apparatus to follow it. The devoted disciples are Andropov and Putin.

Yet, to comprehend better the nature and essence of WWIII, let me give you again the document proving my statement. It is a decision of the Soviet Defense Council in 1955, which was the first formal Soviet document declaring the war on Western civilization .Please, remember, the document had been written under the control of the KGB. It reveals the launch of narcotics trafficking against the bourgeoisie and especially against the American capitalists as a sub-component of a global strategy:

“Soviet strategy for revolutionary war is a global strategy… narcotics strategy is a sub-component of this global strategy… First was the increased training of leaders for the revolutionary movements—the civilian, military, and intelligence cadres. The founding of Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow is an example of one of the early actions taken to modernize the Soviet revolutionary leadership training. The second step was the actual training of terrorists. Training for international terrorism actually began as ‘fighters for liberation.’…The third step was international drug and narcotics trafficking. Drugs were incorporated into the revolutionary war strategy as a political and intelligence weapon to use against the bourgeois society and as a mechanism for recruiting agents of influence around the world.” You can read the entire document in my column titled Agents of Influence, the name given to the moles by the above mentioned document.

The document projects the future aggressive criminal activities, yet, it was formed on the background of a real war. After Stalin completed the creation of the Chinese Communist State in 1949, he gave an order to a Soviet General Staff to plan a Korean war that began in 1950. You know the result. But…this vicious aggressive circle has never been stopped, then it was Vietnam, Cambodia where the Soviet military actively participated. And the waves of the misfortunate Asians have streamed out to Europe and America asking for the asylum. In 1956 the Communist Hungary asked for the Russian “help” and the tanks had drownd freedom in Hungary. Then the Russian tanks had killed the Prague Spring in1968 and again, the people from Europe asked now for asylum in America. Don’t you think that asymmetrical war, waged by Russia was started many years ago?

Finishing with freedom in Asia and Europe, Stalinist devoted disciples moved to the Middle East with the same formula bequeathed by Stalin. Papa Assad in Syria, had already been recruited by the time and a new name came to life–Arafat, leading a so-called Liberation Movement. I have already dedicated many pages to this fake, dangerous, military movement in the Middle East. The Stalinist design has never been changed, but developed in coherence with the time and current events in the world.  As usual the KGB was playing the crucial role—Andropov and Putin had followed Stalin’s design to our time. Now we are dealing with Iran, the next satellite of Russia and the biggest sponsor of International terrorism and a friend of Assad in Syria.

Look at the map of the Middle East and you will see a knot created for several decades by Russia. As I have already warned you before, I expect Russia and Iran will fight in Syria to secure Assad, who has already asked Russia for help. But Russia’s agenda is much wider and more threatening in the Middle East than it is seen at the first glance. What do you think, why does Russia bring anti-aircraft missiles to Syria? ISIS doesn’t have any air forces? The coalition lead by America has. Do you know why Russia brings fighter-jets to Syria?  Why is Syria’s airport occupied by Russian planes and helicopters? It is a strategic diversion to establish a real Russian military presence on the Mediterranean by a military base in Syria. Do not forget Putin is playing a geopolitical-chess game with the world and your lives.

That tells you a lot. Russia’s agenda is that of turning the Middle East into the battlefield against Israel the way Stalin had bequeathed it being an extreme anti-Semite.

Pope Francis’s Graph of the Day by Ian Vásquez

As the Argentine Pope, ever critical of capitalism, visits the United States, my colleagues at HumanProgress.org have posted this graph.

pope graph

It shows that in 1896, income per person in the United States and Argentina, two of the richest countries in the world, was about identical. Argentina subsequently eschewed the free market, replacing it with trade protectionism and other corporatist policies intended to help the poor by redistributing wealth. By 2010, Argentine income was a third of that of the United States.

Perhaps Pope Francis doesn’t endorse Argentine economic policies, but having just arrived from Cuba, he missed an opportunity to denounce the lack of freedoms that have kept that island and other Latin American countries poor and repressed. He met with none of the many admirable Cuban dissidents, in or out of prison, who have been peacefully advocating basic rights. Nor did he mention the plight of the Cuban people they represent, even as authorities arrested or detained 250 Cuban activists during his visit.

The Cuban Forum for Rights and Liberties (Foro por los Derechos y Libertades), an independent group of dissidents in Cuba, summed up how it felt about, and experienced, the Pope’s visit. It read, in part:

We human rights activists, regime opponents and independent journalists have experienced days full of threats, harassment, telephone connections being cut off, homes besieged by the authorities, and violent, arbitrary arrests.

The behavior of the regime was expected. However, the position of the church has been surprising.

The exaggerated and repeated shows of approval of the dictatorship, the silence toward its excesses, and the refusal to hear dissident voices have created broad discontent among Cuban believers and non-believers both within and outside of the island.

The group might have added that the disappointment has spread more widely in the Americas.

This post first appeared at Cato.org.

Ian Vásquez

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The Speech Pope Francis Should Have Given by Lawrence W. Reed

Pope Francis, Address to the United States Congress — September 24, 2015:

Members of the U.S. Congress and the American people:

I come before you in glowing admiration for the historic accomplishments of your spirit of enterprise. In the pursuit of personal gain — the desire to improve your lives while serving others in the process — you Americans have fed, clothed and housed more people at higher levels than all the combined efforts of humanitarians worldwide throughout history.

In my profession, we speak of “collecting” money. Americans practically coined the phrase, “making money.” After 36 hours in the United States, I now realize that we can’t collect it until you first make it, and while both activities are motivated at least in part by a shared desire to “do good,” the one that your risk-taking, visionary entrepreneurs, investors, builders, inventors and job creators do so well is by far the bigger challenge.

I’ve said some things lately that gave you reason to think I was hostile to the dynamic spirit of enterprise that made this country a beacon for the world and the most generous society in history. I’ve spoken about excessive greed in the capitalist system, but now I realize that no variant of socialism ever does away with greed. It simply ensures that the only way a person can satisfy it is by using his political connections to steal what he wants, to pillage hapless value-creators while condemning the poor to a life of politicized dependency. I’m a little ashamed now that I fell for such nonsense, but I am happy to be here to begin my education in economics and politics in earnest.

One of the beautiful things about your country is the intellectual diversity. One example is my conversations with American Christians who have spent much time in thought and prayer on the question of Jesus’s views on property and politics. In my conversations, we have discussed how Jesus, the man whose teachings I regard as sacred and divine, never once argued for redistribution of income by political power.

While he disdained the worship of money, he never disparaged the crucial role of money as a medium of exchange or as a wealth-creating motivator. I had apparently forgotten Jesus’s advice (in the Book of Luke) to a man who asked him to redistribute some wealth. “Who made me a judge or divider over you?” he asked. I think as legislators, you should ask that very question of yourselves.

So rather than read a stock speech of clichés and finger-wagging, I’m simply going to implore you to keep learning, as I have dedicated my life to doing. And before any of us are quick to jump to policy prescriptions on things about which we know so little, let’s all remember what the Austrian economist Murray Rothbard advised:

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

Thank you.

Unfortunately, this was not the speech the Pope delivered to Congress today.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the Pope’s next encyclical to benefit from the insights on property, economics, and Jesus’s teachings on them that the Pope is no doubt gleaning on his American tour.

You can order a copy of Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus a Socialist?yourself. In fact, you can even order multiple copies, get a bulk discount, and start informing others of the important principles the pamphlet champions! What are you waiting for?

Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

The Pope Is Morally and Factually Wrong about Capitalism by Daniel J. Mitchell

The biggest mistake of well-meaning leftists is that they place too much value on good intentions and don’t seem to care nearly as much about good results.

Pope Francis is an example of this unfortunate tendency. His concern for the poor presumably is genuine, but he puts ideology above evidence when he argues against capitalism and in favor of coercive government.

Here are some passages from a CNN report on the Pope’s bias.

Pope Francis makes his first official visit to the United States this week. There’s a lot of angst about what he might say, especially when he addresses Congress Thursday morning. …

He’ll probably discuss American capitalism’s flaws, a theme he has hit on since the 1990s. Pope Francis wrote a book in 1998 with an entire chapter focused on “the limits of capitalism.” …

Francis argued that … capitalism lacks morals and promotes selfish behavior. …

He has been especially critical of how capitalism has increased inequality… He’s tweeted: “inequality is the root of all evil.” …

He’s a major critic of greed and excessive wealth. …”Capitalism has been the cause of many sufferings…”

Wow, I almost don’t know how to respond. So many bad ideas crammed in so few words.

If you want to know why Pope Francis is wrong about capitalism and human well-being, these videos narrated by Don Boudreaux and Deirdre McCloskey will explain how free markets have generated unimaginable prosperity for ordinary people.

But the Pope isn’t just wrong on facts. He’s also wrong on morality. This video by Walter Williams explains why voluntary exchange in a free-market system is far more ethical than a regime based on government coercion.

Very well stated. And I especially like how Walter explains that markets are a positive-sum game, whereas government-coerced redistribution is a zero-sum game (actually a negative-sum game when you include the negative economic impact of taxes and spending).

Professor Williams wasn’t specifically seeking to counter the muddled economic views of Pope Francis, but others have taken up that challenge.

Writing for the Washington Post, George Will specifically addresses the Pope’s moral preening.

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary.

They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak… Francis deplores “compulsive consumerism,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire.

He specifically explains that people with genuine concern for the poor should celebrate industrialization and utilization of natural resources.

Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels.

Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels. …

The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981.

So why doesn’t Pope Francis understand economics?

Perhaps because he learned the wrong lesson from his nation’s disastrous experiment with an especially corrupt and cronyist version of statism.

Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today.

Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.

Amen (no pun intended).

George Will is right that Argentina is not a good role model.

And he’s even more right about the dangers of “global norms” that inevitably would pressure all nations to impose equally bad levels of taxation and regulation.

Returning to the economic views of Pope Francis, the BBC asked for my thoughts back in 2013 and everything I said still applies today.

This first ran at Cato.org.

Daniel J. Mitchell

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Pope Karl Marx I: Blaming Capitalism

In FrontPage today I discuss how the Pope has blamed the refugee crisis on…capitalism:

Did Karl Marx become Pope on March 13, 2013?

As the leader of a Church that encompasses the globe, one might expect Pope Francis to be a bit more…spiritual. Instead, he has more than once had recourse to Marxist analysis to explain global events, appearing to see economic deprivation as the cause of all the world’s evils. He did it again in an interview published last Monday, when he opined that the root cause of the refugee crisis engulfing Europe was economic inequality:

It is the tip of an iceberg. These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socioeconomic system, in everything, in the world – speaking of the environmental problem –, in the socioeconomic society, in politics, the person always has to be in the centre. That is the dominant economic system nowadays, it has removed the person from the centre, placing the god money in its place, the idol of fashion. There are statistics, I don’t remember precisely, (I might have this wrong), but that 17% of the world’s population has 80% of the wealth.

Let’s see. Are the Syrian refugees fleeing war and hunger? Certainly. Are they, however, fleeing an unjust economic system? Are they fleeing Syria because Bashar Assad on the one hand and the Islamic State on the other are top-hatted plutocrats puffing cigars and chuckling as they send the proletariat off to back-breaking labor? Are Assad and the Islamic State fighting one another for an increased market share? Are the Syrian refugees streaming into Europe because Syria is in love with the god money and the idol of fashion? (The Pope actually may be on to something with that idol of fashion bit: certainly women in the Islamic State holdings in Syria will get killed if they don’t bow to the Islamic State’s idol of fashion and cover everything but their hands and face.)

In reality, the refugees are leaving Syria because the Sunnis of the Islamic State and other jihad groups are waging jihad against the Alawite regime of Assad and his Shi’ite Iranian allies, and have torn the country apart in the process. But to acknowledge that would require the Pope to admit that there is such a thing as jihad violence in the first place, and he is not at all disposed to do that; back in November 2013, he proclaimed his “respect for true followers of Islam” and declared that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

So the peaceful Koran couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this refugee crisis, could it? It must be those heartless Syrian tycoons, or more precisely the European and American ones who are presumably keeping the Syrians in a perpetual state of poverty and deprivation.

Meanwhile, the refugees are not all fleeing hardship in Syria at all. Last February, the Islamic State promised to flood Europe in the near future with as many as 500,000 refugees. And an Islamic State operative recently boasted that among the flood of refugees, 4,000 Islamic State jihadis had entered Europe. “They are going like refugees,” he said, but they were going with the plan of sowing blood and mayhem on European streets. As he told this to journalists, he smiled and said, “Just wait.” He explained: “It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah.”

And last Monday, Lebanese Education Minister Elias Bou Saab warned that Islamic jihadis make up as much as two percent of the Syrian refugees in his country alone. Since there are 1.1 million Syrians in refugee camps in Lebanon, that amounts to 20,000 jihadis. How many more are already in Europe?

Despite his Marxist analysis, in the same interview the Pope acknowledged the possibility that there could be Islamic jihadists among the refugees: “I recognize that, nowadays, border safety conditions are not what they once were. The truth is that just 400 kilometres from Sicily there is an incredibly cruel terrorist group. So there is a danger of infiltration, this is true.” He even admitted that Rome could be at risk: “Yes, nobody said Rome would be immune to this threat.”

Despite this, however, he reiterated his request that Catholic parishes take in refugees: “What I asked was that in each parish and each religious institute, every monastery, should take in one family. A family, not just one person. A family gives more guarantees of security and containment, so as to avoid infiltrations of another kind.” And he applauded Europe’s welcoming of the refugees: “I want to say that Europe has opened its eyes, and I thank it. I thank the European countries which have become opened their eyes to this.”

Yet in so many important ways his own eyes appear to remain firmly closed. Is societal suicide really a requirement of Christian charity? Must Europe allow itself to be overrun by hostile invaders in order to prove its lack of racism and willingness to extend help to the needy? These are questions that Church leaders ought to be considering, but they’re too busy with their “dialogue” sessions at the local mosque to busy themselves with such trivialities. No doubt that “dialogue” will result in calls for more redress of economic inequalities, in accord with the Pope’s own world view – and more money will be showered upon Muslim countries, enabling the purchase of more weaponry and the onset of more jihad. At least Europe, as the blade plunges into its collective throat, can congratulate itself that even unto death, it always welcomed the stranger.

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