When one hears the word ‘diversity’, it is at the expense of unity? Then there is inclusion, but only inclusion when you agree with a certain political thought and worldview. And of course we can’t forget about identity politics. If you disagree, then you are called a dog whistle. How did we get here? Peter Lavelle talks with Joe Concha, David Swanson, and Arvin Vohra.
My comment: While I agree with the perverse effects caused by political correctness, such as censorship, echo chambers, and tribalism… I staunchly disagree with the aim of “destroying the welfare state.” Ironically, the libertarian guest suggested it first, and unsurprisingly, the same libertarian guest expressed his support for open borders. That’s what market libertarians are all about in the US, they want an ever growing pool of labor and no social safety net, no full employment policy, in order to promote the race to the bottom among workers. From this race to the bottom, in which workers compete for the smallest wages, only the ‘vested interests‘ profit [a term coined by Thorstein Veblen to describe the forces of rentierism, high finance, and cartels].
After WW1, a perverse blight was introduced to the economics profession. The Neo-classical movement came about, funded by these ‘vested interests.’ Instead of funding real economic growth, Wall Street was entrenching itself as the protector of privilege, plotted and executed scams of all types, distorting economies away from passing on the fruits of technology to populations – benefits such as rising living standards, falling costs of living, and lower business costs. The new economics was that of John Bates Clark and his colleagues who rejected the classical concept of economic rent [economic rent = income without any labor, without any enterprise, without any cost of production]. These neoclassical economists insisted that any type of revenue stream and wealth/ownership position was fair game. Classical and neoclassical economics are nothing alike! The latter is a wholly bastardized, corrupt version of the former. Mainstream economics today shares the same affliction, or should we call it propaganda, its use of mental gymnastics, adulteration of history, and use of refined mathematical equations… to conflate the Natural Commons with Capital [the product of spent Labor], to conflate wealth creation with wealth extraction, to conflate IOUs with commodities. I invite the reader to check out two of my older posts, Milton Friedman, the Liar and Thomas Edison explains modern money in 1921.
Mainstream economists conflate value with price, or tow the line that value is derived from prices. In other words, if in a particular time window, condemning people to poverty and unemployment is monetarily profitable, the value of those humans [workers] and production units [buildings and equipment] should drop to reflect the price. It’s insanity, and in their madness they successfully manage to determine the price of everything and the value of nothing. Instead, the goal is or ought to be to decommodify land, and turn society into a sane and equitable one, in which price follows value. That’s what the classical economists were all about, the labor theory of value + the rent theory of pricing. They understood that Labor is the creator of Capital, and that Land is completely unique and distinct to the aforementioned two. Because of the peculiarity of Land, the classical economists argued for a special tax on it.
Back when socialists and national strategists were expecting the Industrial Revolution to be a strong enough force to turn parasitic financial systems into useful avenues, and subordinate them toward the imperatives of technological and societal development, Thorstein Veblen warned of Wall Street’s crooked agenda to derail the entire phenomenon. Veblen could only look back to the time when economics sought to guide government policy, not oppose it. This sane tradition in Western economic thought can be traced to the 13th century scholars of the Just Price theory, to the physiocrats, all the way to the classical, historical, and socialist schools [both in the marxist and non-marxist traditions]. Veblen’s post-mercantilist and proto-socialist analysis, warning that finance capitalism was derailing industrial capitalism, was expunged from the mainstream curriculum.
The same goes for Henry George; his type of laissez-faire [in its full true meaning] would “open the way to a realization of the noble dreams of socialism.” George understood that the labor and investments of both the private and public sectors increased site values, and if these values remained uncaptured by the Government, they were free to be appropriated by landlords and money lenders in the form of rent and interest [unearned incomes]. George was also against patents, another form of rent extraction. But unlike those socialists who wanted full collectivization, George was of the opinion that property should remain in private ownership, that labor, buildings, sales, and enterprise should go tax-free, while the State captured land values.
“I do not propose either to purchase or to confiscate private property in land. The first would be unjust; the second, needless. Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land. Let them continue to call it their land. Let them buy and sell, and bequeath and devise it. We may safely leave them the shell, if we take the kernel. It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent.”
In a letter to James Madison dated October 28th, 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “[…] As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could no employment and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement (emotion), with the solitude of my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.
The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all there comes the most numerous of all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be labored. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state. […]”
Before any type of meaningful debate can be had on [different] ways to achieve the same end, we should all start from the same premise – otherwise the debate is going to be pointless. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquians developed a most solid case against usury and price gouging – that the lender was receiving income for nothing, since nothing was actually lent, rather the money was exchanged. A unit of money could only be fairly exchanged for another unit of money, so asking for more was unfair. Aquinas later opposed any unfair earnings made in trade, basing the argument on the rule that a Christian should treat others as he himself would like to be treated – which means the Christian should trade value for value. Aquinas believed it particularly immoral to raise prices because a certain buyer had an urgent need for what was being sold and could be persuaded to pay a higher price because of local conditions. “If someone would be greatly helped by something belonging to someone else, and the seller not similarly harmed by losing it, the seller must not sell for a higher price; because the usefulness that goes to the buyer comes not from the seller, but from the buyer’s needy condition.” Aquinas would therefore condemn practices such as raising the price of building supplies in the wake of a natural disaster. Increased demand caused by the destruction of existing buildings [negative supply shock] does not add to a seller’s costs, so to take advantage of the increased willingness of buyers to pay constituted a type of fraud in Aquinas’s view.
Land is the 1st factor of production, made by Nature, not man. The Natural Commons extends to the broadcast spectrum too. In 2017, at the Union of Theological Seminary at Columbia, historian and economist Michael Hudson gave a speech called “The Land Belongs to God,” in which he explained what Jesus’ first sermon was all about.
At first Jesus said: “Good to be back in Nazareth, let me read to you about Isaiah.” In Luke 4 says it that this was all very good, and they liked him. But then he began talking about debt cancellation, and they tried to push him off a cliff. So basically you have the whole origin of Christianity as a last gasp, a last fight, to try to reimpose this idea of the economic renewal – of a Clean Slate – that goes back at least to the 3rd millennium BC and probably all the way to the Neolithic. So you have this last attempt to try to get a Clean Slate, and we know what happened to Jesus. His followers were not able to bring it about. So by the 1st and 2nd centuries of our era, what could the Christians do? You’re never going to get the Roman Empire to announce a Clean Slate
[this debt jubilee includes not just financial debts, but restoration of property confiscated by creditors]. As a matter of fact, when the kings of Sparta, at the end of the 3rd millennium BC, tried to cancel the debts, the oligarchs of Greece called in Rome. Rome went to war against Agis, Cleomenes and then Nabis and destroyed Sparta. They were going to fight against anyone who wanted to cancel the debts. Mithridates in Asia Minor in the 1st millennium fought against Rome, canceled the debts, and also killed about 30,000 Romans in the ancient Near East. It was a long bloody fight, and they all lost.
So all the Christians could do was have charity. Well, the problem with charity is that you have to be rich in order to lend to somebody. […] You can buy the debt and pay somebody else’s debt and give money away, but that doesn’t really fix the system. The result was, it really was the end times. The choice was: either you’re going to have economic renewal and restore people’s ability to support themselves; or you’re going to have feudalism.
That basically is how the Roman historians described Rome as falling. The debtors were enslaved, not only the debtors but just about everybody was enslaved […] Finally, you needed to have a population, so you let people marry and you gave them land rights – and you had slavery develop into serfdom. Well we’re going into a similar situation today, where I think we’re going into a kind of neo-feudalism. The strain of today’s society is as much a debt strain as it was back then.
When the market libertarians of today speak of freedom, they speak of the feudal class’ freedom to do what it wants with YOU and not be accountable! The type of unearned income that they hate isn’t income derived from privatized land rents, from usury, arbitrage, from cartelized markups, or from patents – no, not at all – their hatred is reserved for food stamps and welfare checks, money that actually ends up in the pockets of sellers of goods and services and workers, money that circulates in the economy, and doesn’t sit idle on poor people’s balance sheets, like it does on the balance sheets of the rich and ultra-rich.
Besides, the welfare system is a Federal Program. Welfare dues aren’t “unfunded liabilities,” as the pathetic deficit hawks like to claim, nor are they under threat in case of lower tax collections, as the dumb deficit doves insist. Federal Government programs are financed from Federal Government fiscal debits, not tax revenue. The purpose of Government money taxation is threefold. 1-To create a permanent demand for the Government’s currency, giving it thus extrinsic value. 2-To drain income out of the economy [a tool to regulate levels of Aggregate Demand and thus control inflation]. 3-To incentivize and or penalize various socio-economic activities. I encourage the reader to see a paper from 1946 by Beardsley Ruml, then Chairman of the NY Fed, called Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete.
Can the traditional welfare system be reformed? Yes. Should it be reformed? Absolutely! A Job Guarantee program and or a Basic Income would be much better than the means-tested welfare system, which comes with bureaucratic overhead and, worst of all, the perverse effect of “trapping” people in it, because if a person gets a job and the employer decides to fire him or her immediately after, that person has to go through the bureaucratic gauntlet again, so it deters them from actively seeking work. We should also regard the employment figures in a circumspect manner. The assessment of unemployment has changed during the years – if you work a couple of hours a week, the State statisticians catalog you as “employed.” If people have lost hope of finding jobs, and no longer register at the local offices, the State statisticians label these people as “voluntarily” without a job, so they don’t count them in the actual unemployment figures. Labor force participation has been going down in the USA.
And would it matter if the participation rate rose, while wealth extraction grew at pace with wages and profits or outgrew them? Theoretically, we could have full employment tomorrow if everyone agreed to work for peanuts, but that society would be categorically worse off in net terms!
If we compare welfare and health insurance conditions in the US to the leading countries in Europe, we see that the US is actually closer to 2nd world states, than to the 1st world states. The average libertarian in the US bears little difference to the so-called libtard, I call them libertardians. They want open borders, no regulations, endless rent-seeking, and oppose hawkish foreign policy only because the State is engaged in it; they’d prefer private companies [mercenaries] to do the killing, the bombing, and the invading.
“Government thus has to intervene in economic life for the benefit of all not only to redress grievances, but also to establish enterprises that promote economic efforts but, because of their size, are beyond the means of individuals and even private corporations. These are not paternalistic measures to restrain the citizens’ activities; on the contrary, they furnish the means for promoting such activities; furthermore, they are of some importance for those great ends of the whole state that make it appear civilized and cultured. Important roads, railways and canals that improve the general well-being by improving traffic and communication are special examples of this kind of enterprise and lasting evidence of the concern of the state for the well-being of its parts and thereby its own power; at the same time, they are/constitute major prerequisites for the prosperity of a modern state. The building of schools, too, is a suitable field for government to prove its concern with the success of its citizens’ economic efforts.” That’s a quote from the founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl Menger, whose basic tenets the contemporary Austrian adepts utterly reject and rabidly loathe. In fact, the modern deficit hawks today [the libertarians and the conservatives] would label the classical economists as dangerous, evil statists, and communists, if they were inclined to actually read their work. That’s how hopelessly indoctrinated they are. Two different quotes more and I’m done – and the authors are Adolf Hitler and Kenneth Boulding.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.