An Interview With Ron Paul’s "Faithless Elector"

An Interview With Ron Paul’s "Faithless Elector"

07/08/2019Atilla Sulker

I woke up this Independence Day morning, surprised to find out that Bill Greene, the great 2016 faithless elector who cast his vote for Ron Paul, passed away. Among other things, Bill was a fierce advocate of making gold and silver legal tender, and was an assistant professor at South Texas College. He was an early supporter of Ron Paul, his support going as far back as Paul’s 1988 campaign.

[Editor's note: see Greene's Mises Institite author profile.]

Last summer, I had the privilege of interviewing Bill while working on a paper on the history of the Mises Institute and the Austrian Revival. Here, we discussed various different subjects, including Ron Paul’s 1988 campaign, and the growth of the Mises Institute. This has not yet been published, and I would like to do so as a tribute to Bill. Below is our interview, conducted on 6/19/18:

Atilla Sulker: Describe the state of the libertarian movement in 1988, and the extent to which the Mises Institute influenced the overall movement in America at this time?

Bill Greene: In 1988, the Mises Institute was only six years old, having split off from the Cato Institute in 1982 (a Mises co-founder, Murray Rothbard, had co-founded Cato). Up until that split, the Cato Institute was the leading influence on the libertarian movement in the United States since its founding in the mid-1970s (not long after the founding of the Libertarian Party itself in 1971 – Cato’s co-founder, Ed Crane, was the LP’s National Chair from 1974-1977). Even at such a young age, the Mises Institute had already begun to have a strong impact on the libertarian movement – specifically, on its economic policy foundations. Cato’s focus was on government policy recommendations from a libertarian-leaning position. Since that time, the Mises Institute’s influence on libertarianism in the U.S. has equaled, if not surpassed, Cato’s influence. [The Mises Institute was in fact never part of Cato.]

AS: Describe the relationship Ron Paul had with the Mises Institute in 1988, and the extent to which the organization influenced his campaign platform?

BG: Ron Paul’s relationship with the Mises Institute in 1988 was initially through one of its co-founders, Llewellyn (Lew) Rockwell, who had been Paul’s chief of staff, (from 1978-1982) when Paul was a Republican U.S. Congressman. When Rockwell left for Mises in 1982, Paul – who had been heavily influenced by the works of Rothbard beginning in the 1970s – continued his relationship with the co-founders of Mises, drawing much (or most) of his policy positions from the writings of Austrian school economists. When Paul ran for President as the LP nominee in 1988, most of his campaign platform was pulled from these same policy positions. He has continued to be a Senior Fellow of the Institute since that time, often working, writing, and speaking with others connected to it.

AS: Is there a point in Dr. Paul’s career in which it appeared that the Mises Institute’s influence on him was climactic?

BG: I don’t think so, because the relationship has always been symbiotic, and Ron Paul was already firmly in the Austrian school’s camp even before the Mises Institute was founded. Since its beginnings, it’s been difficult to separate the two from each other.

AS: Describe the influence the Mises Institute had on Dr. Paul’s VP candidate Andre Marrou.

BG: I don’t have any personal knowledge of the Mises Institute’s influence on Andre Marrou.

AS: Describe the overall size and sentiment of Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign based on your experience.

BG: Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign appeared to me to be more extensive than the LP’s past campaigns, as this was the first time they had two former elected legislators on the ballot (Paul was a former GOP U.S. Representative, and Marrou was a former LP Alaska Representative). As usual, the campaign’s biggest challenge was getting on the ballot in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Due to highly restrictive ballot-access laws in a number of states, Paul’s campaign was only on the printed ballot in 46 states & DC (although he did achieve write-in status in Missouri –and in North Carolina, where I headed the N.C. Students for Ron Paul and participated in ballot-access petitioning). Despite Paul’s (and Marrou’s) extensive travels across the country, the campaign was excluded from any debates and only achieved 432,179 votes (0.5%) – still twice as much of Lenora Fulani’s (New Alliance Party) campaign, which actually did achieve 50-state ballot access.

AS: Describe the nature of Andre Marrou’s 1992 Libertarian presidential campaign.

BG: I was not active in his 1992 presidential campaign, although I remember reading news stories on it here and there, such as when he received the highest vote total in the primary results of the first town in the nation to report its votes (Dixville Notch, NH).

AS: Briefly describe, based on your experience, the development of the libertarian movement in America up from Dr. Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign to his 2008 presidential campaign, and outline the role of the Mises Institute in this development.

BG: Based on my own experience, the Mises Institute played a vital role in the development of the libertarian movement in America during the 20 years after Dr. Paul’s first campaign for U.S. president. During the first decade, they published and disseminated massive amounts of literature, newsletters, books, audio, video, and more; once the internet became more and more ubiquitous, they were able to have an ever-growing impact, rivalling the much better-financed Cato Institute in scholarly publications and economic education activities. The Mises Institute’s website soon became the highest-trafficked economics website in the world, and when Dr. Paul decided to run for president again in 2008, he was able to draw upon, and direct his new followers to, that large body of works in support of his policy positions. As a result, his following grew and became ever more educated in libertarian thinking.

AS: Describe the instances in which you attempted to run for office. 

BG: When I ran for various political offices over the years, most of my own policy positions were influenced by publications I got from the Mises Institute. This was especially true of my unsuccessful campaign for the Florida House of Representatives in 1994, when I became the first state house candidate to be officially endorsed by the Political Action Committee of the nascent Republican Liberty Caucus (the “libertarian wing of the GOP” co-founded in 1991 by Paul). I had followed Dr. Paul out of the LP and back into the GOP, and I have been a member of, and active in, the RLC since that time.

AS: Is there anything else we should know about Dr. Paul’s 1988 campaign, or anything pertaining to the subject matter?

BG: My favorite story from Ron Paul’s 1988 campaign for President is from the time our N.C. Students for Ron Paul group brought him to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for a speech to around 150 students and local residents. Following his speech (which professed many of the same policy prescriptions as his speeches today), he opened the floor for questions. A local group of Socialist Workers’ Party members were in attendance, and began challenging his free-market stances in a number of different areas. I remember Dr. Paul’s eyes lighting up at that, as he almost gleefully shot down every challenge with logical rebuttals, point by point. Twenty years later, when I chanced to run into Dr. Paul at a local restaurant while he was campaigning in Florida, I mentioned that event – and he remembered it, clearly and (quite obviously) fondly, remarking on how much fun he had that day. I was, to say the least, impressed.

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Are Recessions Inevitable?

08/20/2019Ron Paul

Stocks fell last week following news that the yield curve on Treasury notes had inverted. This means that a short-term Treasury note was paying higher interest rates than long-term Treasury note. An inverted yield curve is widely seen as a sign of an impending recession.

Some economic commentators reacted to the inverted yield curve by parroting the Keynesian propaganda that recessions are an inevitable feature of a free-market economy, whose negative effects can only be mitigated by the Federal Reserve. Like much of the conventional economic wisdom, the idea that recessions are caused by the free market and cured by the Federal Reserve is the exact opposite of the truth.

Interest rates are the price of money. Like all prices, they should be set by the market in order to accurately convey information about economic conditions. When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, it distorts those signals. This leads investors and businesses to misjudge the true state of the economy, resulting in misallocations of resources. These misallocations can create an economic boom. However, since the boom is rooted in misperceptions of the true state of the economy, it cannot last. Eventually the Federal Reserve-created bubble bursts, resulting in a recession.

So, recessions are not a feature of the free market. Instead, they are an inevitable result of Congress granting a secretive central bank power to influence the price of money. While monetary policy may be the prime culprit, government tax and regulatory policies also damage the economy. Many regulations, such as the minimum wage and occupational licensing, inflict much harm on the same low-income people that the economic interventionists claim benefit the most from the welfare-regulatory state.

The best thing for Congress and the Federal Reserve to do after the bubble bursts is to let the recession run its course. Recessions are painful but necessary if the economy is going to heal from the damage done by government’s inflate-tax-borrow-spend-and-inflate-some-more policies. But Congress and the Fed cannot resist the cries to “do something.” So, Congress spends billions on wasteful “economic stimulus” plans and bailouts of politically influential corporations. Meanwhile, the Fed tries to “prime the pump” via new money creation, restarting the whole boom-and-bust cycle.

This is not to say that no one would experience economic difficulties in a free market. Businesses and even whole industries would still close because of changing consumer tastes, new competitors offering superior products, or bad business decisions. There may even be bubbles in a free market as some investors misread fads as permanent changes in consumer preferences. But periods of downturn would be shorter, and most would only affect specific industries rather than the entire economy.

President Trump’s imposition of tariffs (which are a form of taxes on American consumers) has been particularly harmful. The tariff war has not just raised prices on imported consumer goods. It has also cut off markets for export-reliant businesses, such as manufacturers that import materials used to construct their products.

The trade dispute with China may be the event that pushes the US economy into a major recession or even a depression. However, the trade war is not the root cause of the downturn. The next recession, like every recession since 1913, will come stamped “Courtesy of the Federal Reserve.” The only way to end the boom-and-bust cycle and restore peace, prosperity, and liberty is to end the welfare-warfare state, repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, and audit then end the Fed.

Reprinted with permission.

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Bylund: Entrepreneurship Involves Uncertainty. Here's How to Deal With It Productively.

08/19/2019Per Bylund

Late South African economist Ludwig Lachmann once wrote, “The future is unknowable, though not unimaginable.”

What he meant is, it's beyond our ability to know what the future will bring. We cannot plan without errors, because we do not actually know anything about the future before it's already reality.

The future is not simply unknown, which suggests a lack of information, but unknowable -- what will be is uncertain. There is no information. We are, in this sense, slaves to destiny.

But while the future is unknowable, this does not mean it is hopeless. Our efforts always aim to create some specific, limited part of the future. Entrepreneurs do this more than others, as entrepreneurship scholar Saras Sarasvathy argues.

They can do this, as Lachmann notes, as the future is imaginable. Because we can imagine different futures, we can act to create the better version. We have the creative ability to draft scenarios and possible outcomes, so we can prepare for what is more likely to be. And attempt to bring it about.

We all differ in our ability to imagine the future that will be. Very often it might simply be luck. But luck is not all, and it certainly isn’t reliable. Some seem to have the ability and willingness to face the unknowable by imagining and attempting to shape it, and they're willing to bet that they’re right and put their money where their mouths are.

Entrepreneurs are in the business of creating big chunks of our future. They bear uncertainty.

Read the full article at Entrepreneur.

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Why $100 Bills Are Now the US Dollar's Most Common Banknote

The “War on Cash” which remained largely under the radar for years with few having noticed this assault on physical currency by governments around the world, other than the libertarian movement. This is no conspiracy theory, it has already occurred to a small extent.

Some prominent economists, including Rogoff and former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, have advocated phasing out high-denomination paper currency to discourage tax evasion and other forms of corruption. India and euro area countries have done just that in recent years: the Reserve Bank of India withdrew the 500 and 1,000 rupee bills from circulation and stripped them of their status as legal tender in 2016, with disruptive effects, while the European Central Bank stopped producing and issuing the 500 euro note in early 2019.

A recent paper by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows how the $100 dollar bill is now the most widely circulated US note. The truth is, 80 percent of $100 bills are held outside the US, and 60 percent of all physical notes are as well. Economist Kenneth Rogoff from Harvard University claims that the major reason for this is criminal activity such as money laundering and human trafficking. But there is something I noticed when reading more about it:

With increasing digitalization of payment systems in recent years, Kyriakos-Saad says, concerns about traceability could be a factor. But it’s incorrect to always associate cash with corruption, he says. “There’s this lingering desire for privacy, and desire for anonymity, which can be entirely legitimate.”And this anonymity is precisely what makes cash usage patterns so challenging to understand.

This seems obvious enough, at least to libertarians. But the report it goes on:

Rogoff adds that there may be another factor at play: “Underground demand for paper currency has been surely rising in part because interest rates and inflation are exceptionally low.”

But why the dollar? Other countries have currencies used abroad. “We think that the significance of foreign demand is unique to the dollar,” Judson said. “Other currencies are also used outside their home countries, but as far as we can tell, the dollar has the largest share of notes held outside the country.”

The dollar’s role as the dominant international reserve currency may be the key, according to Rogoff. “The dollar is now the only global currency; the euro has stalled, and the renminbi is decades away from challenging,” he says.

We look at interest rates as the opportunity cost of holding money in physical form. When interest rates rise, that opportunity cost rises since we can earn a higher return by keeping it in an account at our banks. When interest rates fall, that cost falls as well. This is important because these economists also propose using negative interest rates in the future. So, with both the elimination of cash, particularly large denominations, and negative interest rates, what does this mean for holders of those dollars?

Will they lose out? Or is this an opportunity to actually profit from holding physical currency at a time when our digital dollars held in our bank accounts will be devalued, taxed, and siphoned away with bank fees in which we cannot escape since we cannot withdrawal physical currency by law? And if interest rates are an opportunity cost of holding physical cash, then those who possess these high denominations of dollars will likely have more buying power than those who rely strictly on digital transactions. Perhaps physical dollars and digital dollars will be recognized as two distinct mediums of exchange. If that’s the case, then perhaps there is a great benefit to holding some cash instead of electronic deposits.

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Business Schools Need More Austrian Economics

In a recent tweet, Philip Kotler, author of the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide suggested that the government should be doing much more to reduce inequality.

To quote Kotler:

By suggesting that the government should somehow put in place these "solutions," Professor Kotler (a student of Friedman, Samuelson, and Solow with degrees from University of Chicago and MIT), shows an incredible ignorance of some of the most fundamental economic principles that influence his (insightful, and I risk to say, mostly correct) thoughts about marketing and strategy.

Another very respected business school scholar, Henry Mintzberg, has also advocated for "raising the minimum wage, the need for government to act to stop climate change, that the ridesharing apps are making people poor and unhappy."

He even asks, on some occasion, 'how can smart people be so dumb?'

His question forces me to ask my own, "How can people that are so knowledgeable in their areas be so naïve (to say the least) in economics when the discipline is such a fundamental topic for businesses?

This kind of public positioning made by such an influential scholar highlights the importance of promoting Austrian economics in business schools.

The comments from Kotler and Mintzberg remind me of a talk Murray Rothbard’s gave in the early '90s on "The Future of Austrian Economics." Rothbard advocated for Austrian economists to spread their ideas outside academia, identifying business people as a particularly important audience. These are people that actually see the market process unfold and end up understanding that actors and firms all belong to a complex web of interactions.

Particularly now, I think it is important to act upon Rothbard's suggestion, in particular by targeting business schools.

Business students take courses in Strategy and Marketing that are based (although this is hardly mentioned directly) on sound economics principles. For example, people (not collectives) act, preferences are subjective, the market is dynamic, the influence of government policies over businesses exists and is very heavy, markets are interconnected, etc.

Those same students are exposed to various blends of economic thinking that lack much practical use. For example, textbooks by monetarists, Keynesians, and even Marxists are common textbooks all over the globe. Instead, what these future professionals need is a more logical approach to economic thinking.

Fortunately, we are making progress in this area.

The Economics for Entrepreneurs podcast, hosted by Hunter Hastings, melds the sound economic thinking of the Austrian school, with discussions of strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship, among others. Several scholars associated with the Mises Institute teach at business programs (see for instance Peter Klein, Per Bylund, and Matt McCaffrey.) Social media groups have also arisen, such as "Mises For Business" and “Management Scholars for Free Markets.” There's is also a great number of academic papers being published synthesizing concepts in Austrian economics, management, and business strategy. These are areas that already have a lot in common, and we can build on that.

At the same time, there is still a lot of room to grow.

Apart from Marketing and Strategy, there are many other areas that business schools can learn from studying praxeology and catallactics. Entrepreneurship and innovation are some of the most obvious areas where Austrians can contribute, other topics such as human resources and finance are also very strong candidates for potential research. Accounting is another area where Austrians have also begun to contribute. With a personal background in industrial engineering, I even think fields like operations could gain a lot from the understanding of matters such as the business cycle and especially insights of the structure of capital.

To sum up, there is a lot of misunderstanding and bad economics being taught to business students, forcing many into courses claiming that theory in economics is useless, and that ‘data’ solves it all. In such programs, we are in desperate need for an Austrian revolution.

With the robust understanding of the market process that the Austrians are able to provide, business students, future entrepreneurs, and business professionals will be better prepared to operate their businesses and to better understand their consumers, competitors, and their macro environment. By talking to those people, moreover, we will be able to open the door to the other parts of Austro-libertarian thinking and, as a consequence, to bring more people to believe in individual liberties against central power coercion.

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Endgame for the Fed?

08/14/2019Ron Paul

The Federal Reserve, responding to concerns about the economy and the stock market, and perhaps to criticisms by President Trump, recently changed course on interest rates by cutting its “benchmark” rate from 2.25 percent to two percent. President Trump responded to the cut in already historically-low rates by attacking the Fed for not committing to future rate cuts.

The Fed’s action is an example of a popular definition of insanity: doing the same action over and over again and expecting different results. After the 2008 market meltdown, the Fed launched an unprecedented policy of near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing.” Both failed to produce real economic growth. The latest rate cut is unlikely to increase growth or avert a major economic crisis.

It is not a coincidence that the Fed’s rate cut came along with Congress passing a two-year budget deal that increases our already 22 trillion dollars national debt and suspends the debt ceiling. The increase in government debt increases the pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates artificially low so the federal government’s interest payments do not increase to unsustainable levels.

President Trump’s tax and regulatory policies have had some positive effects on economic growth and job creation. However, these gains are going to be short-lived because they cannot offset the damage caused by the explosion in deficit spending and the Federal Reserve’s resulting monetization of the debt. President Trump has also endangered the global economy by imposing tariffs on imports from the US’s largest trading partners including China. This has resulted in a trade war that is hurting export-driven industries such as agriculture. President Trump recently imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports, and China responded to the tariffs by devaluing its currency. The devaluation lowers the price consumers pay for Chinese goods, partly offsetting the effect of the tariffs. The US government responded by labeling China a currency manipulator, a charge dripping with hypocrisy since, thanks to the dollar’s world reserve currency status, the US is history’s greatest currency manipulator. Another irony is that China’s action mirrors President Trump’s continuous calls for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.

While no one can predict when or how the next economic crisis will occur, we do know the crisis is coming unless, as seems unlikely, the Fed stops distorting the economy by manipulating interest rates (which are the price of money), Congress cuts spending and debt, and President Trump declares a ceasefire in the trade war.

The Federal Reserve’s rate cut failed to stop a drastic fall in the stock market. This is actually good news as it shows that even Wall Street is losing faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to manage the unmanageable — a monetary system based solely on fiat currency. The erosion of trust in and respect for the Fed is also shown by the interest in cryptocurrency and the momentum behind two initiatives spearheaded by my Campaign for Liberty — passing the Audit the Fed bill and passing state laws re-legalizing gold and silver as legal tender. There is no doubt we are witnessing the last days of not just the Federal Reserve but the entire welfare-warfare system. Those who know the truth must do all they can to ensure that the crisis results in a return to a constitutional republic, true free markets, sound money, and a foreign policy of peace and free trade.

Reprinted with permission.

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Neil Schulman RIP

08/11/2019David Gordon

Neil Schulman, who passed away August 10, was best known as a science fiction writer, and his Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza are libertarian classics. He was one of several brilliant writers and thinkers associated with the great Sam Konkin’s “anarcho—village." I met Neil only a few times, but his commanding presence and vigorous defense of his ideas made an indelible impression on me. He used his immense writing talents in defense of liberty and in opposition to war and the state. Only a few days before he died, he posted on Twitter, “When compared with the typical State assault on innocent civilian populations with deaths in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions, the typical private assault doesn't even register.” He admired Ron Paul greatly, and I last heard his booming voice at a conference in Arizona that featured Dr. Paul. His many friends will miss him.

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Lew Rockwell on Amash, Nationalism, Black Sabbath, and More: An Interview

08/09/2019Ryan McMaken

Atilla Sulker has posted a new interview with Lew Rockwell at LewRockwell.com. My favoire part:

AS: Why do you think people like the Bushes and the McCains, who in many ways can be seen as nationalistic imperialists, denounce Trump’s brand of nationalism? 

LR: I don’t think that imperialism is at all, necessarily connected to nationalism. The good nationalism has nothing to do with imperialism. It should oppose imperialism, because it brings war and destruction to your own people, as well as other people. But I think Bush and McCain, both of course, extremely evil and promoters of world government, are not nationalists at all. Maybe they want to see their own families and their own connections at the height of the global government running everything. But they don’t like Trump, because of what they thought he might turn into, in terms of America first, and no more wars. So that unfortunately hasn’t happened, although he (Trump) hasn’t started any big wars. But he has done terrible things like fund the war in Yemen, by giving or selling weapons, and selling weapons to Saudis. And of course his constant drumbeat of aggression against Iran is horrendous, and he’s strangling those people.

American sanctions are worse than sanctions that the Bushes put on against Iraq before they invaded. In that famous exchange with the Secretary of State (Madeleine Albright), she was asked that apparently 500,000 children and people had died because of sanctions, and she said “we think it’s worth it.” I just heard this recently from Pompeo, but this has been going on for a long time. The reason you have sanctions, according to these people, is to hurt the citizens of the other country, so they will rise up and overthrow their government. I’m not aware of any instances where that has ever happened. In fact, it just makes people more loyal to their own government.

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Gun Laws Create Gun Violence

08/08/2019David Gornoski

Do Leftists believe gun bans will make guns evaporate?

Approximately 5 to 10 million AR-15 style rifles exist in America according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. If we were to ban these guns outright tomorrow, would they just vanish into thin air? That is what gun law advocates seem to be suggesting by their rhetoric. Whenever we hear reports of a shooting tragedy, the TV, newspapers, and social media PR campaigns fire off in unison for bans on “assault rifles” like the AR-15. We are told that supporters of such bans are doing what is necessary to save innocent lives. But how does a top-down prohibition of a desired object actually work in practice? Violently and disastrously, according to every case example we have.

Leftists seem to understand the inhumane disaster of drug prohibition. Marijuana laws have not ceased desire for the substance. Incarcerating suppliers of marijuana has not made the substance harder to find or prohibitively expensive. Rather, a violent black market has opened up that has enjoyed monopoly-level profit margins thanks to the relatively uncontested market space government bans create. Thankfully, the American people are slowly rejecting the violence of banning an object of desire of like marijuana, but millions of children continue to suffer from lifelong separation from their parents for nonviolent choices. Today, families anguish in communities plagued by contagious spells of reciprocal violence all created by drug control laws.

So why do many believe that a ban on AR-15s would defy the reality of the law of supply and demand? Some have suggested government buy-back programs for citizens to turn in their guns for compensation. However, that will only work for people that want to participate. For many others, a ban on AR-15s will only create more dangerous, unnecessary situations for police and peaceful citizens alike. Far from stopping lone wolves from buying an AR-15, gun bans will only harm children caught in the cross hairs. Like Royal Wilson.

Royal Wilson is an 8-year-old African American boy living in Chicago. As he was sleeping, he became a victim of his city's gun laws. Suddenly, an explosion of flashing lights and bullhorn blasted the air. Royal and his family, including other young siblings, faced 31 police officers armed with assault rifles breaking into their home. The officers were acting on a search warrant based on a tip that there was an assault rifle in the house.

The only gun control Royal Wilson deserved that day was more control over government guns having access to his home for a nonviolent choice. What if Royal or his grandmother had made the wrong move in the chaos and triggered one of the dozens of officers to mistake them for a threat? What if he was playing with a toy mistaken for a gun? Where are the champions of AR-15 bans when it came to the assault rifles pointed by agents ordered to enforce a law against assault rifles?

Some cynical defenders of the status quo will try to redirect these questions to one centered only on race. Others focus on the excessive force Royal and his family faced that day in Chicago, as his 8-year-old frame stood outside his house handcuffed for an hour and a half in 37-degree freezing rain. Perhaps racial bias played a role in this case. There is not enough information available for this author to know. But if that is the only takeaway, then the act of violence against the Wilsons' humanity inherent in gun laws remains untouched.

Royal Wilson and his family were terrorized by government assault rifles for the victimless act of allegedly possessing an assault rifle. After the agents ransacked the house completely, they were unable to find any firearm. But the damage was done. The agents were simply enforcing another bad law voters demanded. Why do busybodies have the right to send police into dangerous situations against families owning guns? What if a family wants to own an AR-15 to protect themselves from the ravages of a drug war-torn Chicago?

No family, no matter their race, income, or zip code, should have to face the violence of government gun bans. Although the irony of government assault rifles facing down children in search of assault rifles speaks for itself, it would be just as immoral if the agents were armed with pistols. Owning an AR-15 in the house does not victimize anyone. Enforcing laws against an AR-15 owning family does.

If gun-ban advocates have their way, guns like AR-15s will not disappear. Violent gangs will just have a new cash cow market to corner. Psychologically disturbed would-be shooters will be able to find their weapon of choice from local black market channels the same way they find their prohibited drugs of choice.

The world would be a better place if everyone melted their guns away, including governments. In reality, guns do not disappear when we stomp our feet and scream “Ban!” They just become profitable products for gangs to sell to lone gunmen. Meanwhile, innocent families like the Wilsons are harmed by the foolish myth that governments have any ability to prohibit objects of desire.

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Debunking Vox's Article on "Debunking Economic Laws"

08/07/2019Per Bylund

Vox is a never-ending fountain of ignorance. Like this piece about four 'laws' of economics that are simply wrong. Some of these claims are indeed wrong, but it's also wrong to claim that economists make them.

Let's look at each one.

1) Going below the natural rate of unemployment could spark an inflationary spiral.

I have no idea how the writer could think this is an "iron law" (his term) yet includes the words "could spark." How is that a law at all?

2) Everybody wins with globalization.

No, economists don't claim this. Globalization is a win, but there are transitional pains and reallocations of resources. Jobs in inefficient industries go away, jobs are created where labor is more valuable.

3) Deep budget deficits will crowd out private investment.

Another strange misrepresentation. Why would anyone think budget deficits crowd out private investment? It's not the deficit doing this, but government investments--whether or not financed by budget deficits.

4) A higher minimum wage will only hurt workers.

Of course the author refers to the one study that found a case where this appears to not have happened. Yet it's still a misunderstanding, because minimum wage laws (set above the market wage) cause fewer jobs than there otherwise would have been. It doesn't mean people will be laid off en masse, only that jobs aren't created in such numbers as would otherwise have happened. You have to be a progressive to not see this. And then, of course, you will refer to (widely criticized) study by Alan Krueger as though there are not hundreds, if not thousands, studies showing exactly what theory tells us: that forcing employers to pay workers more than they contribute to the bottom line means those workers won't get the jobs. (If this logic seems odd, it's because you're not thinking logically.)

Formatted from Twitter @PerBylund
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Mises U: What College Should Be

08/06/2019Jose Orellana

As a student of economics, I was forced to learn the mainstream economics, which means neoclassical and Keynesian economics.

But, after attending Mises University, I have decided I learned more real and sound economics at Mises U than I did in four years of taking economic courses as an undergraduate student. Further, I was glad to see that other students had similar experiences. I was told by numerous students that they were taught that recessions, for example, are brought about by a lack of aggregate demand, which, thereafter, drains out spending from the circular-flow model. And, therefore, the only way for the economy to get out of recession is for the government to step in and stimulate demand to get the economy going again.

From day one at Mises U, though, one learns that money, contrary to conventional wisdom, does not come about through some government social contract. Rather, it comes through the marketplace. We learned that, in addition, economics is not a system of mathematical functions and equations, but is the study of praxeology, human action. We also explored how depressions are not caused by a lack of aggregate demand or so-called “animal spirits,” but, rather, through credit creation, artificially encouraged by government institutions like central banks. Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, one learns at Mises U that the structure of production is complex and that capital goods are not homogeneous.

But Mises U is more than just taking courses about the Austrian School; it allows students to talk to other like-minded individuals, particularly the Mises faculty. I, along with other students, had the opportunity to pick the minds of numerous Mises faculty. In particular, I had the chance to talk to one of the most influential figures in my academic career, Thomas DiLorenzo. I sat at Dr. DiLorenzo’s lunch table nearly every day and had the chance to ask him questions which ranged from history to economics. Personally, I noted that speaking with Dr. DiLorenzo for, at least, thirty minutes was enough for me to realize that the history I learned from my mainstream classes was pure political correctness, not genuine history.

Mises U is more than a typical economics conference; it is a place for students to seek intellectual honesty in a world where professors are paid push propaganda to students. As the Mises Institute notes, “Mises U is what college should be.”

I am forever grateful for the Mises Institute, especially their student programs. Of course, none of their student programs would be possible without their donors. Attending Mises U in 2018 inspired me to become a donor myself. The Mises Institute, and the work they do for students, is essential for Western Civilization, especially in an academic environment which seeks to destroy it.

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