Audio: Lew Rockwell Discusses Anarcho-Capitalism With Ben Swann

We don’t need a ruling class, Lew Rockwell tells Ben Swann. (Mp3, 35 minutes)

10,000 New Books at the Mises Institute

From the March issue of The Free Market: 

Gary North Donates 10,000 Books to Mises Institute

Dr. North said that he decided to donate the library to the Institute as a way to assist the Institute’s Fellows and faculty. “The Mises Institute has very bright summer interns: Ph.D. candidates working on their dissertations, with the assistance of scholars.”

The library “is heavily oriented towards history and social science,” North explained, recalling that “not many economists are gifted historians the way Murray Rothbard was. He would have loved [the library].”

The books arrived today:

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May 4 Is the Deadline for Applications to the Rothbard Graduate Seminar

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Rothbard Graduate Seminar

JUNE 8-13 2014

Sponsored by Alice Lillie

The purpose of the Rothbard Graduate Seminar is to provide an intense study of Misesian and Rothbardian economic analytics, along with the substantive conclusions of that research in related fields.

The core text is Economic Controversies, which each attendee will receive.  The schedule is forthcoming.  Welcoming remarks and discussions take place over dinner Sunday June 8. Sessions begin Moday morning June 9 and end Friday late afternoon June 13.

Attendance is limited to a small number of exceptional students who are pursuing graduate degrees in economics, history, philosophy, law, political science, and business disciplines and who seek a career in academia or research.

Apply here.

The IMF is Dead Wrong on Low Interest Rates

Hot Orange Interest Rate BorderBrendan Brown writes in today’s Mises Daily:

In its just-published World Economic Outlook the IMF trumpets the view that the real level of equilibrium interest rates worldwide has declined substantially since the 1980s and is now in slightly negative territory. There is a good Irish word to describe this story: baloney.

The IMF authors (“Perspectives on Global Real Interest Rates,” April 2014) cite three factors accounting for their hypothesized decline in rates: substantially higher savings in the emerging market economies, an increased riskiness of equity relative to bonds coupled with an increased demand for safe assets, and finally, a persistent decline in investment rates in advanced economies especially since the recent global financial crisis. They are oblivious to two huge potential errors in their analysis.

 

All Videos from ‘Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure’

From the April 11 Seminar: Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure. A seminar for High School and College Students

(Six Videos)

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Did the US Provoke the Axis Powers?

758px-The_USS_Arizona_(BB-39)_burning_after_the_Japanese_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_-_NARA_195617_-_EditIn her latest hit piece on the Mises Institute, WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin quotes a David Weigel hit piece on the Mises Institute in which Weigel attacks David Gordon and Ralph Raico for daring to criticize Winston Churchill.  The occasion for these remarks is a comment made by Rand Paul about American policy before 1941:

“There are times when sanctions have made it worse,” Paul said. “Leading up to World War II, we cut off trade with Japan. That probably caused Japan to react angrily. We also had a blockade on Germany after World War I that probably encouraged some of their anger.”

It’s not my job to defend Rand Paul, but as Weigel notes, these ideas are likely influenced by this article, and this article.

Rubin’s purpose in mentioning it is to imply that merely mentioning established facts about the pro-war behavior of the American regime prior to world War II somehow constitutes sympathy for the Axis powers. Such an assertion is nonsense, of course, since the Japanese and Nazi states are responsible for the actions of the Japanese and Nazi states. Pointing out that Roosevelt’s regime was doing everything it could to provoke a war with the Japanese, on the other hand, simply highlights the barbarity of the American state in putting its own citizens in danger and seeking a conflict that led to the placing of Japanese Americans in concentration camps, and the enslavement of millions of Americans through conscription. Reducing every conflict to a comic-book-like battle between good guys and bad guys, on the other hand, is just the sort of thing that people like Rubin live for.

For those who actually seek a more complete and detailed view of the lead-up to the Second World War, see Robert Higgs’s article based on this video:

Cognitive Dissonance on Minimum Wages and Maximum Rents

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGary Galles writes in today’s Mises Daily:

Both the minimum wage and rent control, despite the fact that the first forces prices up and the second forces prices down, reduce the quantity of the good in question exchanged. That makes them counterproductive “solutions” to the problems faced by those who are unable to sell enough of their labor services or unable to purchase enough housing services. But the rhetoric employed disguises the fact that they make the central problem worse rather than better.

For the low-skilled, minimum wage advocates frame the issue as “If you could earn more per hour, you would be better off.” But that sneaks in the false assumption that wanting to work more at higher wages means you will be able to work more, when those wages are imposed by government.

I’m Ambivalent on the Bundy Ranch Case

800px-Cattle_near_the_Bruneau_River_in_Elko_County,_Nevada[A follow-up this Mises Daily article.]

I think we can all agree the Feds, in their usual fashion, have employed unwarranted thuggery in their attempts to shut down the Bundy Ranch. Just as the Feds could have arrested David Koresh when he left his compound (which he often did) they instead chose to employ the usual shock-and-awe tactics that are so beloved by federal agents.

Bundy lost his case in federal court, and he lost the appeal, so as Judge Napolitano points out here, the feds could simply have put a lien on the property, but they instead resorted to violence by stealing cattle and knocking around protestors.

As far as the legal case goes, however, it’s pretty clear that Cliven Bundy has unambiguously lost his case as far as federal law goes. Bundy has already made it clear that, at least at some point, he thought the feds had a right to charge management fees, since he did it for many years before stopping twenty years ago.  He has tied his refusal to pay fees not to the fact that the feds own or manage the land, but that it now manages in a way that does not meet his approval. In other words, a government entity that manages the land properly, would deserve payment, according to Bundy’s own account.

Meanwhile, the issue of government ownership itself is not an issue, it seems, since Bundy has declared that he would pay fees if the land were administered by the state of Nevada.

While I delight in the images of  federal troops being thwarted in their recent attempt to bully Bundy and his allies, I’d be more understanding if Bundy were calling for outright privatization rather than what he appears to be calling for: a mere modification of the status quo in which Nevada rather than the US takes control of the land in question. Remember that Bundy only disputes ownership by the federal government. Government ownership in general is apparently fine. Bundy then attempts to base this assertion on his belief that the US government cannot legally own land, which is a sketchy argument at best.

This is a fool’s game, of course, as understood by anyone who realizes that the US Constitution (apart from the Bill of Rights) is not now and (and possibly never has been) designed to actually limit the power of the federal government. (As Rothbard explains here.)

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Reducing the American citizen to a status of subject

Frank Chodorov

Frank Chodorov

When the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified just over a century ago, there was no concern that IRS abuses would extend to 501c4 applications for nonprofit status from groups “unfriendly” to the administration in power. Such tax code proliferations were never anticipated. Careful observers of the income tax from the perspective of American ideals and history, such as Frank Chodorov, focused on how income taxation would undermine Americans’ liberty. As he put it in The Income Tax: Root of all Evil:

 The American Revolution…[established] a government based on a new and untried principle, namely, that the government has no power except what the governed have granted it…in 1913, when the government was invested with the power to confiscate private property…this power…put into the hands of the American government a means of liquidating the sovereignty of the citizenry.

While Chodorov’s focus was on how the income tax would undo the American Revolution’s central protection of citizens and their property against federal violations, he also saw that enforcement of the income tax would bring evils in its train. April 15 reminds us of that fact. But those predictable evils also coincide strikingly with the IRS’ targeting of groups who object to the abuses it enabled, as if Chodorov was writing about these “new and improved” abuses six decades ago.

 [T]he Sixteenth Amendment, enacted to increase the government’s revenues, has spawned another police department, another means of forcing the citizen into line.

“The imposition of the [income] tax will…necessitate a swarm of officials with inquisitorial powers…and cannot be fairly imposed¼” -REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT ADAMS, January 26, 1894.

The Internal Revenue Bureau quite sensibly takes the view that every one of us is a potential lawbreaker…it must make use of…espionage, deception, and force…

[T]he inevitable consequence…is the use of income taxation to undermine the principles of republican government and to make a mockery of our tradition of freedom.

The Internal Revenue Bureau is a self-operating inquisitorial body. It has the means of harassing, intimidating, and crushing the citizen who falls into its disfavor...Therefore, whenever the Bureau has reason to “get” somebody it has ample means at its disposal.

This is what the late Senator Schall of Minnesota had to say…“The one glaring governmental agency that constitutes a menace to the citizens is the Income Tax Bureau, which often goes outside the constitutional limitations and frequently harasses citizens by unjust exactions and by the oppressive conduct of its agents…it even dares to attack the citizens…without substantial pretext or cause¼The bureau is inquisitorial…Its forces swarm over the country…Agents, spies and snoopers annoy and plague the citizens…[it] permits and promotes, if it does not direct, a species of blackmail against the American citizen.”

There have been cases…where citizens who have offended the party in power were suddenly visited by agents of the Bureau and subjected to interrogation and examination. Of course…there is no proof that the citizens’ views prompted these special investigations. It cannot be proved that the purpose was to silence opposition. But the practice is so well known that men…have scrupulously avoided involvement in movements critical of the Administration, even though privately they are in sympathy with such movements.

[I]f individuals persist in trying to circumvent the political establishment…or if they preach doctrines inimical to the interest of the ruling group, then…freedom of thought must be suppressed.

Despite all the stonewalling, denials and rhetorical dancing offered by the Obama Administration, it is clear that the IRS employed abusive and intimidating tactics against “Tea Party” and other groups unfriendly to their employer’s agenda.  And it is hardly a surprise that the IRS’ power has been used yet again on behalf of big government. It is just one more mechanism by which the power of the income tax has, in Frank Chodorov’s words “reduced the American citizen to a status of subject.”