The Curse of Terminology

One of the primary obstacles Ayn Rand faced in her work was the way used language. Even today, people have a tendency to take her at her most literal when she used terms like "good" and "evil." Her most fervent supporters are often the most guilty of this, lending Rand fans that infamous "cultishness" that is now married to every popular citation of Rand.

To really understand her ideas at the level they were meant to be taken, one has to develop a familiarity with Rand's written tone and unique use of language. I would speculate that this is what lead to the creation of The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Everyone has their own unique voice, and Rand was no different. But a person's unique way of expressing himself/herself shouldn't get in the way of the ability to contribute to a discussion.

Consider a Hypothetical Situation
Let's say you know a man named Bob, who always and consistently refers to the color blue as "grargh."

The first time you meet Bob and hear him use the word grargh, you will be taken aback. You will ask what he means by that. You will speculate that he is talking gibberish. You will not want to hear him remark about how grargh the sky looks today, nor about the savory taste of the grarghberries he recently picked up at the local farmer's market.

Eventually, though, using the context in which he uses the term grargh, and noticing that he is always and everywhere consistent in the use of that word, you will figure out that grargh = blue.

Once you figure that out, it is your responsibility to understand what Bob means when he says grargh. Were you instead to take his every use of grargh as an opportunity to lament that he is not saying "blue," you would not be contributing anything to anyone. You would not be making Bob's life better, nor would you be making your own life better. Furthermore, you would be hindering any discussion being had by anyone who knows and understands what Bob means when he says grargh.

You, not Bob, would be the jerk.

My Lexicon
When I write on my blog (and communicate elsewhere), I use the terms listed on The Stationary Waves Lexicon. It was entirely voluntary that I compile a list of the terms that I frequently use and define them for the benefit of my readers. I felt that doing so was important first, because it helps ensure that the writer and his audience share a common understanding of what's being said, and second, to help formalize certain concepts and build on them in the future.

Without the Lexicon, I would simply refer to concepts over and over again using similar-but-not-identical language to kind-of-sort-of convey what I'm kind of getting at. Simply speaking, it would be impossible to discuss philosophy and ethics without a readily-available glossary of terms.

I concede that I use language in a way that is tailored to my own unique voice. I phrase things in a particular way and, without some background as to what I'm getting at - some context, if you will - it just sounds like a random, opinionated guy yapping all the time. That's not fun for anyone.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
This blog is not merely a vehicle for my own personal political opinions and the occasional song or workout. The idea here is not simply to speak my mind. Believe it or not (and my critics will find this one really tough to swallow), I'm actually getting at something here.

What *I* happen to be getting at is a philosophy for living, a way of approaching life from the standpoint of cardinal-but-secular virtues and free-and-cooperative interaction with other human beings via respect for private property, personal responsibility, capitalism, and acting in good faith.

What *OTHERS* are getting at is something else entirely. Some people express ideas that are complimentary to mine, while others are opposed. The agendas of some people have absolutely no relationship to mine whatsoever. And there is every combination of complimentarity, opposition, and ambivalence out there, because everyone has their own set of ideas that they hold dear. (And, yes, ideas matter!)

If we want to learn, we will not only let each other speak and communicate, but we will take people on the level at which they intend to be taken. That means listening to the point that you understand what the other person is actually saying, rather than just assuming they are saying something you don't agree with.

It shouldn't matter whether Bob says blue or grargh, so long as his meaning is clear and consistent. There is no shame in not immediately understanding what Bob means the first time he says grargh, but if the years go by and you still can't acknowledge the obvious, then you simply aren't listening to Bob.

If you need specific examples of what I'm getting at here, consider my notorious article about Amy Winehouse's self-abnegation. My point was a simple one: Drug use - even in absence of drug addiction - is a terrible act of self-destruction. The point that others understood was that anyone who makes mistakes deserves what they get. See the difference?

Another big one is the Aggregate Demand framework in macroeconomics. Most economists go along with it, although some dissent. These two groups should be able to communicate with each other despite their difference in paradigms, but instead what we observe is the orthodox community refusing to acknowledge the real meaning of the things the heterodox community says, instead "defeating" the heterodox arguments by an obtuse application of the AD framework. How is that communication?

Well, friends, listening is a two-way street. In order to defeat a person's argument, you have to understand it at the level on which it is intended.

Blue or grargh, if you don't take Bob at his words, you're the jerk, not Bob.



I wrote this for the band a while back, but one way or another it just didn't quite happen. I finally finished the demo this weekend.



The Answer is Yes

The question is do famous, rich people really care if their taxes are increased?

The supporting evidence is this.

HT to Tyler Cowen.


Most Anti-Climactic Science News Story In a Long Time

What has become of science?

The Register reports that scientists have made a "mystifying discovery!" As we all know, the majority of the Earth's core is made of iron. (If you didn't know that, you probably just forgot what they taught you in junior high school - no big deal. You knew at some point in time.) As you may not have known, the density of the Earth is inconsistent with a solid iron core, so scientists have concluded that there must be some lighter-weight material mixed in with the iron.

Up until now, they thought it was oxygen. Turns out, it's silicon. "Mystifying," eh?

For those of you with absolutely no prior geology knowledge whatsoever, I refer you to this table, courtesy the Physics Department at Georgia State University, showing element abundance in the Earth's crust:

% by weight
All others
So it turns out, the second-most-abundant material in the Earth's core is also the second-most-abundant material in the Earth's crust. It required a great deal of lab work and government funding to uncover this startling mystifying discovery.

I was expecting something actually surprising. The fact that the "mystery material" turned out to be one of the most abundant materials in the solar system is not at all mystifying. The fact that the scientists were somehow surprised by this is stymieing.

Are we really the same species that invented set theory? 

Signal, Or Human Capital?

Bryan Caplan often blogs about his view that education is a signal of employability to employers, rather than an investment in human capital. What he means is that when we educate ourselves, we aren't amassing skill sets so much as we are demonstrating that we have all the right human qualities that employers want. I am sympathetic to this view point. Many other people disagree.
The more I think about this, however, the more ridiculous the "debate" about these two theories seems to be. Do any of us really think we live in a world where education is either an investment in human capital or an investment in market signalling?

It seems to me that education is clearly both. You could model it something like a classic Cobb-Douglas function: Y = [S^f] * [K^h]
  • Y = expected payoff of education
  • S = signalling returns
  • K = human capital returns
  • f and h = the extent to which each is important for a given course of study
Now obviously for people getting a certification in coding Javascript at a local vocational school f is nearly zero and h is very high.

For people enrolled at Harvard, f is extremely high and if h is greater than zero, well that's just gravy.

Clearly, every degree comes with some combination of market signalling and skills. An ideal education would be one for which f and h are both large positive numbers, but the reality of the situation is that for most of us with a generic business degree from a generic state college, our education consisted more of a dull signal than a large amount of human capital.

The question isn't "is education human capital or signalling," the question is, "for any given degree at any given university, to what extent is that an investment in a signal and to what extent is it an investment in human capital?"

The answer could vary between schools, degree programs, and potential employers. There's no reason to believe we have to choose between paradigms. They are not mutually exclusive.

Note: The majority of the above was posted as a comment to Bryan Caplan's most recent blog post regarding education.


Paul Gregory's Wisdom and More About Creeds

Paul Gregory writes:
Compromise is not possible when there is no middle ground. It seems this truth escapes domestic and world politicians and pundits.
And concludes:
In democracies, we hope that elections will resolve such impasses. In authoritarian states, impasses are resolved by violence, not by diplomacy. 
Every day we pontificate to our friends, families, and colleagues that "compromise" is the only way forward, that "the truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle," that "moderation in all things" can save the day. Such pontification goes on endlessly.

It is our egalitarian nature, our profound desire to be nice guys to each other, that inspires us to champion compromise and centrism for its own sake. No one wants to be the judgemental a-hole who finds fault in his fellow man. We should all strive to judge not, lest we be judged. Let those who be without sin cast the first stone. In general, judging is bad, while peace, love, and understanding is good.

Gregory notes that there are limits to how far we can take this ideal. If we're talking about one-on-one personal relationships or the victimless decisions of acquaintances, it is incredibly easy to avoid judgement, to recommend moderation, and to cultivate a saintly centrism. But this charade evaporates when life gets serious.

And it is a charade. Evading every call to stand by one's creed, to speak up for right and wrong, all in the name of not hurting someone's feelings, is a charade we undertake to present the image of sympathy where in fact there is none.

For what is sympathy? It is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier. Concern implies that the other person could be better off. Better off implies a comparison to their feeling otherwise. Their feeling otherwise implies the existence of a situation that would create that result. And the preference of that situation to this one is, my friends, that terrible awful thing we demonize so much in our society: A value judgement!

Part of the reason I keep this blog is to help promote an idea that I feel we've lost somewhere over the past century or so: Maintaining a strong, personal creed or code of ethics is a vitally important aspect of human happiness and positive human relationships.

Taking a moral stance, even a seemingly harsh one, isn't cruel. Lording one's supposed moral superiority over someone else is cruel, but having a strong ideology and creed is very definitely not cruel. It is the very thing that moves us to sympathy, that enables us to help other people, that allows us to make the world a better place.

And unfortunately for the "moderation police" and the "judgementalism police" out there, there can be no compromise on a person's core ethical identity - their creed - without a corresponding compromise in that person's fundamental happiness.

You don't have to hold the same moral values I have, but I hope for your sake that you never, ever compromise on your own core ethics. There is no nobility in that kind of compromise. There is no truth to be found in that middle ground, and nothing laudable about that kind of centrism.

Ayn Rand once wrote, "In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." You're not doing anyone any favors by subverting your personal creed in an effort to avoid wounding another person's ego. The best, most inspiring way out of a bad situation is through a moral triumph. It's true that this sometimes requires taking a hard-line, but the long-run payoff for this is worth more than a few uncomfortable moments with someone who hasn't the courage to admit that morality implies judgement a priori

Running in the Snow, Training in the Winter

Stationary Waves officially "welcomes" the first major snowfall of the year in Ottawa.

Courtesy http://www.parliamenthill.gc.ca/text/camera-eng.html

So it begins. This is the time of year that officially separates the men from the boys, or the little sparkly pink princesses from the real women!

That Ottawa Race Weekend occurs so early in the year is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it provides a good motivational force to drive us through midwinter training; a curse, for more or less the same reason.

Frankly, it's going to be a cold one this year. The wind will hurt. The icy conditions will make running virtually unbearable. Every moment you spend outside in that weather is a moment you can't be sitting on your living room couch with a good book and a hot cup o' joe. At times, it will feel like there is no good reason to keep going.

Well, it's never been easy, and it never will be. If you've been waiting for that magic day on which you become impervious to inclement weather and have an endless font of physical motivation, you have a long wait ahead of you; it will never come.

Lucky for you, I can offer a few suggestions - collected over years of experience - to help you make the most of the slippery training that lies ahead.

Suggestion 1: Make the Morning Workout a Habit
For the better part of a year, I have been extolling the virtues of working out twice-a-day. I know many of you have been resisting this suggestion because you think it is way too hardcore. Really, though, it's not so bad! 

Here's how it works:

First, give yourself between 30 and 45 minutes to wake up, pull on some workout clothes, and find some free floor space somewhere in your house. That's right - it's completely unnecessary to brave the harsh weather over a trip to the gym. Make this easy on yourself. You don't have to climb Kilimanjaro every morning at 5am. Just pull up a piece of floor and get started.

Second, focus on the most effective strength training exercises:
  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups
These exercises impact almost every major muscle group in your body. If you're looking for a no-brainer, quick-and-easy way to train through the winter, do three sets of each and go eat breakfast. Done and done.

Even if you don't do these five exercises every day, structuring your morning workout around these movements requires no special equipment, no gym  membership, no nothing!

Like I said, make it easy on yourself.

Finally, to really stay committed to your morning workout, pull out the laptop or the newspaper and browse the headlines for 30 seconds between each set. The point is, you don't have to dread your morning workout, you can multi-task and enjoy making it a regular part of your day.

Suggestion 2: Run Anyway
I know, I know - in the winter it gets cold outside, you slip around on the sidewalk, the roads are never adequately ploughed, your nose runs, cars honk at you, you're never quite warm enough, the wind blows, it takes a lot of time to put on all that winter running equipment, and so forth.

It's hard to run in the winter, I get it.

Here's the thing, though: If you somehow manage to pull on all your gear and get outside for just five or ten minutes, you'll find you're over the hump. The rest of the workout is no big deal.

What I'm suggesting is that while your arguments against running outside in the winter are all perfectly valid, their severity disappears if you just go ahead and run anyway.

Human beings are remarkably resilient creatures who have managed to adapt to the conditions of both the Sahara Desert and the Arctic Circle. We're like rats and cockroaches, we are literally everywhere. There probably isn't a rain forest or tundra anywhere on the globe that isn't inhabited by human beings. Granted, given the choice, we would all prefer to live on a pineapple farm near the Equator. Despite that fact, when we find ourselves in Canada during the winter (or whatever), we manage to adapt.

And if you just get out the front door and down the road a little, you'll find that you yourself adapt pretty well, too. 

Suggestion 3: Leave the Record-Setting for Summer
So it's winter and you have a lower-than-normal sense of personal motivation. The shorter days are giving you a mild case of Seasonal Affectedness Disorder and you really just want to stay in bed with an active coffee machine nearby.

Now is not the time to take on every aspect of the universe.

The point is, choose your battles. You have enough to deal with during the winter that you shouldn't feel like you have to keep up your fastest, most ambitious pace. You don't have to get out there and start doing hardcore speed training or hefty fartlek training. Ottawa Race Weekend is still several months away. All you really need to do is keep your endurance base up high enough that you can capitalize on the good weather once it finally returns.

That's it! I mean, if you want to get extra ambitious, feel free. It certainly won't hurt. But the key to winter training is not getting in your best workouts of the year, but simply ensuring that you don't give up entirely and start packing on the seasonal pounds.

Suggestion 4: Be Proud of Yourself
One of the most important (and often-forgotten) aspects of rising to challenges is taking the time to congratulate yourself once you get there. 

Today is November 23rd. That means there are five weeks until all the other folks sign up for a new 2012 gym membership and come out in droves under the auspices of a New Year's resolution. When they show up, you will have been there the whole time, driving yourself forward, keeping fit, and overcoming challenges that, frankly, those other guys couldn't hack.

That's not a slight against them, it's reality. If you manage to keep yourself going this winter, allow yourself to be proud for doing what other people couldn't do. It's okay to feel happy and satisfied with yourself for having accomplished more than what the average person could do.

Rewarding yourself with some positive feedback helps reinforce your motivation and gives yourself a reason to be happy about some of the tougher moments you put yourself through. So don't skimp on the personal accolades. ;) 

Things That Used to Be ILLegal

I love being able to link to good news. Here's a story reporting that the Governor of Massachusetts has just signed a state bill that legalizes casino gambling.

I have no moral position on gambling. I consider it a form of entertainment that I, personally, find uninteresting. It does tend to attract people who probably ought to be saving some of the money that they're gambling, but that's hardly justification for making a peaceful activity illegal.

The law is also not as liberal as I would prefer, as it apparently only allows for three licenses for resort-style gambling. I'm a marginalist, though. I note that three licenses are better than zero.

So the world takes a small step in the right direction. Huzzah!


Allow Me to Be the First...

This is destined to become viral in the econo-blogo-sphere. This morning xkcd.com presented a beautiful chart demonstrating the current value of wealth and debt in 2011 dollars. Hold on to this one, folks, because in 20 years we will be surprised at what it shows.

The link is here. The image is below:

What is most interesting to me about this chart is that the value of actual goods and services is absolutely dwarfed by the value of the debts and obligations of the world's governments. If that doesn't prove to everyone in the world that our current governmental spending structures are unsustainable, nothing will.

The Mises blog posted the graphic.

Introduction to Manliness

By way of The Anti-Gnostic, I came across a blog article entitled "40 Years of Ultimatums." In rather emotionally charged language, the article describes the losing battle men have been fighting for about forty years.

Now, if I quote the article out-of-context, I am afraid the author's point will be lost. Why? Because it is difficult if not impossible for men to be able to engage in this kind of discussion without convincing everyone around them that they are big, chauvinist jerks. Furthermore, the author is obviously disturbed by the forty-year trend, and has allowed his emotions to seep into his writing.

Long story short, I am not going to risk obliterating his point by doing an inadequate job of excerpting it. I recommend you read the whole thing yourself. I can, however, provide comments of my own.

Manliness: A Stationary Waves Introduction
I have been meaning to start writing about this topic for a long time now. This article has really just kick-started the process. This will be a series of Stationary Waves posts, really, or perhaps a recurrent motif.

The key point is this: While women have been actively engaged in redefining what a modern woman is, men have not undertaken the same process. The result is a situation in which men are demonized no matter what their choices are.

Now, just be patient with me here. I'm not arguing against feminism. Equal rights for women is still a long way off, and the end goal is a good one. We should all have equal rights, regardless of gender. I have to be clear about that because when people talk about the impact of feminism on men, they tend to get instantly criticized as being opposed to equal rights. I'm not opposed to equal rights. I support them.

The problem isn't that feminism has given women equal rights - that's a good thing! The problem is that - because men and women are complimentary and need each other - any time one whole gender embarks upon a social process of redefining their place in society without the other gender, it's going to cause a social disruption.

Men have sold themselves short by not engaging in something analogous to the feminist movement. In part, this is because any such movement would have inevitably been a response to feminism, a reaction. In part, this is also because feminists took complete control of the definition of gender roles and excluded (heterosexual) men from the discussion entirely. In part, this is also because the things men tend to be proud of are all those ugly things the feminists decry: hunting, competitiveness, boorishness, overweening, et cetera.

Concluding, For Now
I think it best to wrap up here. I have a much more to say on this subject. Most of what I have to say is about men, not women or feminism. I would like to dedicate some of my blogging time to defining what manliness is and why society needs it; and also why I feel that society is losing it, slowly but surely.

I do not believe that my concept of  manliness is opposed to female equality in any way, shape, or form. My belief is that if men are real men, respectable men, then women only stand to gain from that. Women are just as interested in men being manly as men are.

Nonetheless, the years of feminism have undoubtedly taken a toll on men's unabashed manliness, and it is something that needs to be restored. Look for more posts on this issue in the future.

Worth Reading

Richard Posner has written an excellent critique of the OWS mob. Unlike the typical analyses you'll find in the mainstream media - or on blogs like mine - Posner does a good job of summarizing the movement and its critics and manages to draw some effective conclusions.

Many of his views parallel mine. For example, Posner believes that the police should never have kicked the protesters out. He writes:
The police I think made a tactical mistake in routing the “Occupiers” from Zuccotti Park near Wall Street. That is the lesson of the 1960s. Arrests, whacking demonstrators with billy clubs, dragging screaming women to paddy wagons, and other police just create anger, martyrdom complexes, and sympathy for the demonstrators. 
Posner also believes that OWS would have self-destructed, anyway. (Gee, where have you heard that before?) He supports this claim by citing an example from an old protest at the University of Chicago:
In January 1969, student radicals occupied the Administration building of the University of Chicago. The police were not summoned, and after two weeks the radicals abandoned the building; almost 100 were then expelled or suspended from the university. The university was largely spared the turmoil that continued for years at other major universities.
Posner sums up the financial industry saying something I believe, but have never written about. He says that what was observed in the financial sector in the wake of the "deregulation" that occurred is natural and "Darwinian." They took risks because they had to, competition required them to do it.

Unlike Posner, though, I would add that this is precisely why I see the financial sector as victims in all of this. They never would have engaged in that kind of behavior were it not for the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve. When currency is perpetually being debased, the financial sector has no choice but to engage in ever-riskier market choices in seek of the highest returns possible.

We cannot exactly fault people for doing the best that they can subject to the current state of the universe. Everyone does that. It's not "corporate greed," it's human behavior. Should we suddenly expect everyone to sell themselves short so that a bunch of dirty college students don't slap the "greed" tag on them? Get real. Life is about making the most of oneself and one's situation. If any federal agency decides to distort our ability to reliably plan and calculate economically, then we are all victims, including the people who appeared to "profit."

A victim who mitigates against bad circumstances is still a victim. That other people could not mitigate does not mean they are "even more victimer."


Zero Marginal Product of Labor?

Bryan Caplan and Arnold Kling have been going back-and-forth on the concept of "zero marginal product of labor." Today Caplan summarizes his main objections to the idea.

My observations:
  1. Caplan's arguments seem to hinge on the idea that once someone's MP(L) is zero, it's zero forever, which basically misses the whole point of Kling's PSST theory. (It's sort of like saying, "Assume PSST is false. Ergo, PSST is false!" But of course I have blogged about this kind of assumption before.)
  2. Caplan seems unwilling to approach the problem from the standpoint of microeconomic models, which I think resolve the whole issue.
My Defense of PSST
Here's my disclaimer: I know very little about PSST, other than what I have read on EconLog. So take this "defense" with a grain of salt. But if I understand the theory correctly, then the idea is pretty simple and frankly inarguable.

Consider the following story:

Once upon a time there were a group of economic consultants and a Chief Statistician who produced statistical models for a niche market. One day, company management hit upon the idea that they could make more money by offering one, comprehensive online statistical model to all of their clients for a subscription fee, rather than paying junior economists to develop labor-intensive spreadsheets every time their clients had a question.

So the Chief Statistician developed the model and translated it into an online, Javascript-based platform. The company fired all its economic consultants, retained the Chief Statistician to maintain the model, and revolutionized the consulting industry by offering online models developed by a great statistician, rather than expensive custom models developed by consultants.

Meanwhile, the fired consultants found that every other company had moved to online models, too. It took them some time, but eventually they brushed up on their Javascript coding skills, and found jobs with firms who were willing to hire them to program the models or conduct business analysis (or both).

What we see in the above story is the following:
  • A sectoral shift toward more efficient, less labor-intensive technology
  • A group of employees whose MP(L) goes from quite high to effectively zero
  • Approximately no change in real output
  • A group of employees who must acquire new skills to remain competitive in the job market and to engage in a sustainable pattern of production
Now, the above story is a real-world example (I'll let you guess who one such "economic consultant" was.)

Caplan seems to believe that the economic consultants in my story "didn't have ZMP because they found other jobs." But of course their MP(L) was zero at their old employer, and only became positive again when they realigned to new labor market conditions. The process took some time. This is fully consistent with Kling's theory.

As Kling noted a few days ago, Caplan may score some debate points by maintaining that the consultants' MP(L) never really dropped to zero, subject to Caplan's assumptions. But doesn't that miss the whole point of Kling's theory?

I feel like Caplan is just prodding Kling a little on a technicality. But this is very much an absurd technicality. MP(L) can be zero if profit is zero, regardless of quantity-produced-per-hour. MP(L) can also be zero during periods of time in which the employee produces nothing (like vacation, or sabbatical, or unemployment, or...).

My point is that everyone knows that there is only real and permanent ZMP for invalids and corpses. Kling's PSST model doesn't claim that an employee's marginal productivity is zero now and forever, and they are screwed. Kling's theory suggests that when the macroeconomy experiences a bubble, a whole lot of people are engaged in activities that aren't very productive or profitable; and when the bubble bursts, these folks will have to find more sustainable employment elsewhere.

So what can Caplan really object to?

Question to Market Monetarists

This post is an edited version of a comment submitted to Scott Sumner on his blog.

My assumptions:
  1. My salary does not increase by anything close to 5% per year
  2. Market Monetarists like Scott Sumner prefer a world of ~5% NGDP targeting
  3. In such a world, NGDP would increase by ~5% per year
My question: Why does this gap between inflation and my salary not hurt me in the long run?

Can this question be answered without the cop-out of suggesting that "I am asking for is constant real wages?” 

The point is that a world of perpetual inflation is a world in which my real income is perpetually diminishing. That sort of works against the NGDP-targeting-for-better-growth hypothesis.

Let’s accept the tenet of sticky wages and assume my expectations are spot-on. There still exist periods in which I am unable to respond to my own inflation expectations (if there were not, wages would not be sticky). How will I ever make up the difference between the inflation I know/expect and the income I am capable of earning?

Now I understand the response to this: A Market Monetarist might suggest that “on average” there is growth, i.e. that the income growth for the beneficiaries of venture capital is a greater total sum than the losses accrued by the rest of us… Okay, but why should “the rest of us” go for that?

In other words, why should I care about a policy that promotes growth to people other than myself, at significant loss to myself?

Give me a practical reason why I should go for that.

Brain Freeze

I have been struggling with a bit of writer's block for the past week or two. Bear with me here. I am trying, but all my attempts wind up as drafts, not full-blown blog posts. Please accept my deepest apologies.


It Would Be Sad

It would be, if it weren't for all that violence. The "Occupy" mob comes to this:

NEW YORK — About a dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters are in Zuccotti Park, talking and trying to stay awake.They are sitting on the park's marble benches, occasionally chanting "We are the 99 percent" and other protest slogans.About 30 police officers are looking on.
So the stragglers are almost ready to throw in the towel, and all it really took was an effort to clean the park. 

What's interesting about this is that - despite my claim yesterday - there is some sort of philosophical victory here. The mob intended to "occupy" the park until they instigated change. They could continue to protest for the rest of time, they just can't camp overnight, thereby undermining their whole "occupy" methodology.

What good is a sit in if you have to go home to bed every day?

Still, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if this mob would have chosen a more rational protest methodology. Short-sightedness abounds.


Landsburg Hits On a Great Point

Great words over at The Big Questions this morning:
If your household is over budget, you can address that problem either by spending less or by earning more income. It is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that by analogy, the government can address its budget problems either by spending less or by raising taxes. But the analogy fails because raising taxes is not like earning more income; it’s more like visiting the ATM.

It's Over

Too many links out there to supply any one in particular, but it appears that most of the major cities across North America have de-occupied the Occupy mobs.

As I pointed out earlier, these kinds of tactics were wholly unnecessary. There was no need to forcibly oust what was destined to implode in the first place. A far better approach would have been to give the mob just enough rope to hang itself, thereby claiming a philosophical victory.

Then again, I guess there aren't too many people out there who care about philosophical victories anymore. Viewing the comments on CBC's news webpages this morning anecdotally confirms this. That's problematic, though, because ousting the mob gives the mob a philosophical victory, which is pretty much the last thing anyone wants at this point.

At least I can take solace in the fact that within a couple of days, no one will really remember any of this.


Here We Go...

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the so-called "Obamacare" law. This is arguably the most important Supreme Court case of my lifetime. The outcome of this trial will shape US domestic policy for the remainder of my lifetime.

Faithful Stationary Waves readers will know that I am adamantly opposed to this piece of legislation. My heart absolutely sank when it was passed. I had a sick feeling for days. I am hoping that I have already suffered enough of the blow that the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of "Obamacare" will not hurt quite so badly.

Yes, as I have just implied, I believe that Obamacare is now inevitable. That has been one of the major, most important reasons I have been a vocal critic of Obamacare. Once these things pop up, they are never destroyed. Government is the great juggernaut, the immovable object which, once seen, cannot be unseen. I believe the only real hope the United States has is a Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare. Barring that, we plunge headlong into a European-style welfare state, never to return.

I will, furthermore, take a ruling in favor of Obamacare as my signal to start buying gold at virtually any price.

There are many different issues wrapped up in this. Americans for the most part have no idea how good their health care system is. They genuinely believe that they have a terrible health care system. They have no experience with foreign systems. Unless the Supreme Court does the impossible, Americans are about to get a rude awakening. Sadly, however, they won't be aware of their rude awakening - their health care industry will simply deteriorate until it looks more or less the same as it does elsewhere in the world. What they have given up will never be regained, and will not be as obvious as the big line at the bottom of every paycheck or tax return that demark's the government's cut.

Another issue is the notion of sustainable government. At the very moment when so many large countries are crumbling under the weight of outstanding debts, the United States has taken on what will eventually become the single largest entitlement program the world has ever seen. The United States already carries a wholly unaffordable debt. Therefore, the reason I will take the Supreme Court's pro-Obamacare ruling as a signal to purchase gold is because as the US dollar goes, so goes the global economy.

In fact, as a wise investor, I should actually start purchasing gold now, in anticipation of the increase it will experience in the wake of the ruling.

Of course, the most important issue here is free trade and personal liberty (which is the same thing). But no one really cares about that one, do they.


La Carrera

Here's another instrumental number my band plays every time we get the chance. Hope you enjoy it.


Extremism and the Double-Standard

Yesterday Tyler Cowen blogged about an article in The National Review Online in which a claim is made that leftist books have been more policy-oriented, while rightist books have been more ideology-oriented in recent years. Because this pertains almost entirely to ideologies I oppose, I don't really have a comment on this matter.

However, Cowen's excerpting of the following passage from the article stood out to me:
People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought.
What bothers me about this is the claim that libertarianism is a form of conservatism. Those familiar with libertarianism know this to be patently false, and I commented accordingly on Cowen's blog:
Classifying libertarians as “a type of conservative” is an act of leftist propaganda, as far as I’m concerned. Leftists know that libertarianism blows a gaping hole in their entire set of ideologies *and* policies. Their only ability to respond to libertarian criticism is to engage in the ad hominem lie that libertarians are “conservative extremists.” 
Someone writing under the pseudonym "question the question" responded, in part, as follows:
My response to libertarianism is that it is ideological in the extreme and that any policy recommendations (such that they are, most are wildly overarching and short on details) are suited not for the real world but for some utopian fantasy.
Okay, Folks. This is Important.
What a double-standard that is! "Question the question" has just exposed one of the many "shabby secrets" Ayn Rand used to refer to in her nonfiction works.

The implication here is that when a libertarian proposes to eliminate, oh I don't know, the FDA, that's "extreme" and part of "some utopian fantasy." But when a leftist or a rightist suggests the creation of a new federal agency, that's not extreme at all!

We have grown so accustomed to hearing calls for new federal departments, agencies, committees, and so forth, that we no longer consider such calls for regulation to be "extreme." Yet if someone calls for the direct logical counterpoint, that person is labeled an extremist. Why?

Think about it. The opposite of painting your garage door black is not painting it at all. Why is painting it black "normal," but choosing not to paint it is part of "some utopian fantasy?"

Or perhaps the opposite of painting the garage door black is stripping all of the paint off so that it is the color of plain aluminum. You and I might disagree as to whether such a door is visually appealing, but what we cannot do is suggest that one is more "extreme" than the other. All-black is just as extreme as not-at-all-black. This is an indisputable fact of logic.

Logically speaking, the set of all real numbers from negative-infinity to positive-infinity is just as extreme as the empty set. They are nothing more than opposite concepts. If one is extreme, so is the other. If one is not extreme, then neither is the other.

The truth is, libertarians are no more extreme than anyone else. The only relevant difference is that everyone else has claimed ethics, ideology, and pragmatism as their own, and denied it to libertarians by default. We must not stand for this. 


Excercise is Just as Important as Diet

The mainstream media rarely does a good job of reporting on more than "just the talking points." I suppose you can't necessarily blame them - that is what consumers apparently want.

So it's nice to see an important issue like diabetes getting more of a nuanced treatment. Parade reports:
3. Exercise is just as crucial as diet. Here’s where insulin comes in: This hormone helps transport glucose from your blood into your body’s cells, which burn the sugar for energy. When you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells don’t use it efficiently; as a result, glucose builds up in the blood. When you exercise and lose weight, your body is better able to employ its supply of insulin (or decrease “insulin resistance”), making it easier to control blood sugar levels.
Naturally, I have said much the same here on Stationary Waves. I stress that exercise is absolutely key to managing one's blood sugar. The metabolism is a system that requires more than just managing one aspect or another. It's crucial to manage the system holistically.

Please keep this in mind when you read in other media sources that diet is more effective than exercise at combating obesity or whatever. Everything that is true of diabetics with regard to healthy living is also true of non-diabetics.

Exercise is just as important as diet.

Rita Nakashima Brock Misses the Point

Interesting news coming out of "Occupy Oakland" this morning. Apparently, there has been a shooting. The number one link that comes up on my Google News feed for this story is this apologetic Huffington Post article from a woman named Rita Nakashima Brock, about whom I know nothing.

Of note is the following excerpt:
I came home to write this article at 1 am because I know this shooting is going to feed the media obsession with the violence of a tiny number of occupiers, which dominated news of our successful General Strike held on Nov. 2, with a few wonderful and notable exceptions, including a full report of our people of faith presence that day.
I pose an open question to Ms. Nakashima Brock: What is the methodological purpose of an "Occupy"-style protest?

As I discussed yesterday, the purpose of these sit-ins is very clear (even if the objective is far less so). One way or another, the sit-in mobs' sole purpose is to create a physical obstacle so onerous that the powers at be have no choice but to meet their demands (whatever they are). This is not dismissive or a matter of opinion, it is the definition of a sit-in.

Again, as I mentioned yesterday, this sort of protest is inherently destabilizing. That is the whole objective: destabilization. If the protesters were "merely" voicing their collective opinion, they would freely and happily show up in a more convenient place, clean up and go home after a rousing day of amicable protest, and then reappear the next day to further the cause. They would write, they would publish, they would make public appearances. In short, they would participate in the civic dialogue in a much more convenient way.

But that's just it: the purpose of the protest is to be inconvenient, so that their demands will be met. That's what a sit-in is. That's the whole point.

What am I getting at?

When a "movement's" whole modus operandi is one of destabilization, that movement cannot possibly be surprised when it observes the inevitable results of public destabilization: sexual assault, vandalism, and now murder.

So while Ms. Nakashima Brock may be correct that most of the protesters are not actually interested in committing violent acts of aggression, what they are unquestionably interested in is initiating the threat of such violence. Were they not, the protest would look completely different. Threatening the system with mass violence is precisely what a large-scale protest of this kind is all about.

If I gave the protesters the absolute greatest benefit of the doubt, the best I could say is that their cognitive time-horizons are so short that they could not predict in advance that their protests would lead to destabilization; they expected change, but did not bother to anticipate how such change might occur. After all, it's not as if a protester with any level of foresight would have believed that the protest would result in public officials saying, "Gee, you know what? They're right! Let's end systemic corruption! I'm sure glad they told me, otherwise I never would have thought of that..."

In short, I believe this shooting and all other past and future incidents of "Occupy" violence completely validate my claim that mass-protest is a violation of the non-aggression principle and is inherently violent.


Does Mass Protest Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?

Suppose you are a wealthy banker. Suppose your neighbors believe that it is morally wrong that you have done so well for yourself, considering what else is going on in the economy.

Now suppose one neighbor decides to sit on the sidewalk outside your front door in protest of his situation relative to yours.

No problem, right? You're one person, he's one person. He's sitting on public property, voicing his opinion, and you're otherwise going about your day. You might find it annoying that you have to steer your car around him when you back out of your driveway, but hey - that's protest.

Now suppose your neighbor convinces hundreds of other people to sit on the sidewalk outside your home in protest.

When we were talking about just you and your neighbor, this seemed like a harmless protest. In this second situation, though, a hundred discontent people are sitting outside you home, protesting you livelihood. My question to you, the reader is: Does a peaceful protest of this kind violate the non-aggression principle?

Think of it this way, would you be okay if one hundred people camped outside your home and refused to leave until your way of life was systemically altered, even if they "promised not to hurt you?" In other words, can a crowd of discontented people who refuse to move until their demands are met ever be considered peaceful? Or, is the very act of assembling a mob and making demands inherently violent?

The purpose of a large protest is to make known to others how many people agree with a given position. Why is this necessary? What does anyone stand to gain from collecting into a large group and making a set of demands?

I'm circumlocuting this a bit, so let's get to the point. The purpose of mass protest is intimidation. In terms of rhetoric and validity of opinion, there is no difference between a large protest and a sign hung up in a conspicuous location. So the difference is literally not rhetorical. The size of the crowd has no bearing on the strength of one's argument. Logicians would call this a bandwagon fallacy.

Perhaps my giving protesters the benefit of the doubt would be to suggest that such people are guilty of committing a logical fallacy. However, I don't think it's as simple as that. I think the purpose of staging a large protest is to intimidate people into meeting their demands. It is always some kind of a threat, and therefore always aggressive.

In some cases, we may prefer this form of aggression to others. For example, the Arab Spring is a much better solution to a political problem then a bloody civil war. Much better to demonstrate that the government is illegitimate and avoid unnecessary bloodshed than to take up arms and attempt to improve one's situation via an armed coup.

On the other hand, the Occupy Wall Street mob is not actually avoiding any unnecessary bloodshed, nor any other form of violence. The only ones engaging in any kind of aggressive tactic in this situation are the protesters.

To sum up: Yes, mass-protest violates the non-aggression principle; and no, this is not an ethically valid solution to the matter at hand, because only one side is engaging in aggression (or, the OWS folks started it).


Origins of Economic Theory

I just read this great post at The Money Illusion that offers a few anecdotes about the Chicago School in the 1970s. Agree or disagree with the theories involved in these anecdotes, it is an peek inside the history of economic thought from a firsthand perspective, and therefore priceless. Enjoy!


You Have to Hand it to Steve Vai

Say what you want about Steve Vai, you have to hand it to him: the man knows how to take care of business. Granted, he learned most of what he does (both musically and economically) from Frank Zappa, but occasionally Vai does come up with a pretty fantastic business idea or two.

Case in point, I discovered this ingenious business venture via a Gmail ad (yes, Mr. Varian, they work like a charm - well done).

Naturally, Vai didn't invent the online music lesson. Plenty of great musicians have been offering them for years. (Ron Thal, Derek Sherinian, Mark Zonder, to name a few...) The difference is that Vai has teamed up with the biggest name in rock music education and has mass-marketed the idea.

A lot of this comes down to the fact that Vai's name has more goodwill attached to it than those other guys. Even though they are probably better, more interesting, and more technically accomplished musicians, Steve Vai is a name unto himself. He can draw a crowd just by announcing that he'll be there; the others, sadly, cannot.

The reason I think goodwill is such a key component of success in the music industry is in part because it represents Austrian School economic theory in action. Goodwill is essentially an intangible form of capital built up over years of peerless performance. By giving more than what was required, and making smart business decisions, Steve Vai was able to invest in his goodwill. Now, while others are struggling to sell CDs to an ever-shrinking market, Vai continues to make good money on projects like this music class.

If you don't love him for his music, you have to love him for his business sense. Had he never made it as a guitarist, he surely would have made it as a CEO.

Mystifying or Demystifying?

Here is Scott Sumner on Aggregate Demand and "nominal gross domestic product."
Arnold Kling and Russ Roberts make AD seem more mysterious than it really is.  When both output and inflation rise, AD has risen.  When output rises and inflation falls, AS has risen. (Oops, replace "inflation" with NGDP growth;)
It is important to always keep in mind that when Scott Sumner refers to "NGDP," he has in mind the total inflation-unadjusted dollar amount spent within a country's borders.

You can think of it this way: nominal GDP is (supposed to be) what dollar amount we spend on everything. Real GDP is (supposed to be) the total net value of the goods and services produced and used within an economy, i.e. "wealth."

Therefore, to restate the Sumner quote above, "Aggregate Demand" rises when people spend more money on everything *and* end up with more goods and services compared to a previous time period. "Aggregate Supply" rises when people spend less money on everything, but still end up with more goods and services.

Note that in both cases, output rises. Therefore, in the two situations Sumner provides, we know we are talking about Aggregate Demand when inflation occurs.

Perhaps the Crux of the Whole Macroeconomic "Problem?"
Can Aggregate Demand rise without a corresponding rise in output? This would occur if society in general demanded more of every product and service at any price. Regardless of the price level, people simply wanted to consume more. This would cause prices to increase and resources to become more scarce.

What is interesting about this fact is that it expresses the most important aspects of Austrian theories of money, credit, and capital. When prices rise and output remains the same, we don't have an increase in Aggregate Demand, not at all. We have nothing more than inflation.

This fact deals a serious blow to Keynesian and Monetarist theories of macroeconomics, because when the government increases the money supply via fiscal or monetary policy, output remains the same. This results in, at first, additional consumption on the part of those who first get ahold of the new money (i.e. bankers). But as the money reaches the rest of us more broadly, we don't end up with more wealth to consume, we simply end up with higher prices.

So, at best, we face inflation. At worst, the initial consumption caused by the monetary distortion makes resources all the more scarce for the rest of us because output doesn't rise.

This is no less true of Sumner's theory of increasing the money supply just high enough to ensure that we're spending exactly the same amount of inflation-unadjusted dollars we spent last year (NGDP targeting).

The whole concept is smoke and mirrors. People believe that they "just don't understand economics," but in reality they absolutely do. The Cardinal Rule of Ryan's Personal Philosophy is that if something doesn't make sense, then it absolutely cannot be true. When people hear or read about these senseless macroeconomic theories, they become bewildered, none of it makes sense, but economists insist that it all makes sense when you have a PhD in economics.

They're lying. It doesn't make sense no matter what kind of PhD you have. And you're not wrong or crazy for realizing this.

For the record, I highly recommend this post from Russ Roberts, which seems to have started it all.


Winter Cross-Training: Week 3

This week, we're building muscle the old-fashioned way. No tricks, no gimmicks, just some straight-forward meat-heading.

A-Day (Sun, Tues, Thur):
  • 4x 10 burpees
  • 3x 10 lunge sets (R lunge, R backwards lunge, L lunge, L backwards lunge = 1 set)
  • 3x 10 squats
  • 4x 50 crunches
B-Day (Mon, Wed, Fri):
  • 3x 10 lateral raises
  • 3x 10 rear deltoid raises
  • 3x 10 front raises
  • 3x 10 bent rows
  • 3x 10 running curls
  • 4x 30 push ups
  • 3x 10 chest press
Saturday: Rest Day

Conspicuously absent is cardio. This week I'd like you focus really hard on your strength training and make sure you get the most out of each and every repetition. When you finish, you should be pretty spent. Feel free to get 30-50 minutes of cardio in afterwards, or to do your workout in the morning and add cardio in the evening.

But the important thing this week is to get the most out of your strength training.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

As a research project, I will be taking a deep dive into NGDP targeting. I assume that deep dive will have an impact on the material that appears on my blog. You can (I think) expect to see more commentary on macroeconomic policy here at Stationary Waves. If not, I'm sure you will see the inevitable impacts of a deep dive such as this, eventually.

Part of that deep dive involves poring over some of the older information on NGDP targeting available out there. This morning I decided to take a trip down memory lane, back almost three years ago, to see what the state of the blogosphere was then, as compared to now.

On February 2nd, 2009, Scott Sumner published this post on his blog, The Money Illusion. It's a long post, but it can be succinctly summarized in the following excerpt (italics in the original, bold text mine):
Premise 1: The only coherent way of characterizing monetary policy as being either too“easy” or “tight” is relative to the policy stance expected to achieve the central bank’s goals. 
Premise 2: “Monetary policy can be highly effective in reviving a weak economy even if short-term interest rates are already near zero.” 
Premise 3: After mid-2008, and especially in early October, the expected growth in the price level and nominal GDP fell increasingly far below the Fed’s implicit target. 
In plain English, the first premise means the Fed should adopt the policy stance most likely to achieve its goals.  It is a point forcefully advocated by Lars Svensson, who Paul Krugman recently cited as an expert on the role of expectations in monetary policy.  The second is a quotation from Mishkin’s best selling monetary economics text (p. 607), i.e. it’s what we have been teaching our students.  And I have encountered few if any economists who disagree with my third assumption.  Indeed, if this were not so, why would Bernanke be calling for fiscal expansion?
To restate, Summer's Premise 3, in Q3 2008, market behavior with respect to inflation and spending in inflation-unadjusted dollars was less optimistic than what the Federal Reserve expected of the US economy. In the next paragraph, Sumner goes on to say that "few if any economists" disagree with this premise. (Clearly, Sumner is ignoring the Austrians, but that is not a uniquely Sumnerian problem.) If this were not the case, Sumner asks, why would the Fed want to expand the money supply?

We can thus summarize the totality of Sumner's position as follows: The Federal Reserve engaged in expansionary fiscal policy, but market behavior was contractionary. Therefore, the Federal Reserve should expand even more, in order to correct the contraction. QED.

I have been reading Sumner's blog for a long time, and I have never seen his position diverge much from this basic argument. This old post, however, provides a couple of interesting footnotes:

Sumner addresses the question of why he thinks money was tight in the ramp-up to the Great Recession: "Because markets expected NGDP growth to fall far short of the Fed’s implicit target."

Sumner addresses the question of why this could be, despite the fact that interest rates were at record lows: "Interest rates are a very misleading indicator of monetary policy."

Sumner addresses the question of why this could be, despite the fact that the money supply increased greatly:
During periods of deflation and near-zero rates, there is a much higher demand for non-interest bearing cash and bank reserves.  In addition, last October 6th the Fed began paying interest on reserves, which caused banks to hoard bank reserves.
So, in Sumnerland, low interest rates are not an expansionary policy, and a sharply increasing money supply is not an expansionary policy. Why not? Because the market behaved otherwise. The market contracted.

The assumption throughout Sumner's blog is that if the economy contracts, the Federal Reserve is engaging in a contractionary policy; if the economy expands, the Federal Reserve is engaging in an expansionary policy.

In other words, Sumner believes that the Federal Reserve is ultimately responsible for everything. Of course, he would never say so himself, but as you can see above, that is precisely what he has indicated. Money was tight because the economy contracted. Expansionary Fed policies are not really expansionary because the economy sometimes contacts during those policies.

Either Sumner is being hideously obtuse and ignoring reality to make his pet theory look good, or he is willfully ignorant of both his argument and the fact that the Federal Reserve is not the Prime Mover of the entire global economy. I wonder which.

More on this story as it develops... ;)


Business Idea of the Day

If you have ever had the fortune of tasting dairy products made in Latin America, then you know just how delicious they are. I have never tasted milk, cream, cheese, or butter that tasted as good as the dairy products I have eaten in my occasional trips to Central America and the Caribbean.

The person who figures out how to reliably import Latin American dairy products without compromising on taste is a billionaire in the making.

Not to Say I Told You So, But...

It appears I managed to get my prediction in just in time. Violence of this sort will drive away the peaceful protestors and all that will soon be left of the sit-in mob are the anarcho-syndicalists.

It is not difficult to analyze a socialist movement once you learn the basics of their thought processes and modes of operation.


Predict an End for the "Occupy" Mob

Mirroring my own thoughts on the issue, CBS news reports that there is no goal and no endpoint in sight for the various "Occupy" mob sit-ins.

While some may argue that I am unfairly dismissing the entire crowd as nothing more than socialists, I maintain that these mobs are the perfect example of a truly democratic socialism, in which decision-making is subjected to crowd consensus. If I am right about that, then the mobs will simply disperse when internal conflict inevitably discourages them from staying on any longer.

What I mean is: I predict that the "Occupy" mobs will implode from internal conflict and disperse naturally.

Why do I think so? The answer comes from the following Ludwig von Mises quote from Omnipotent Government (or any of a dozen other, similar quotes he made in other works):
If a man says socialism, or planning, he always has in view his own brand of socialism, his own plan. Thus planning does not in fact mean preparedness to cooperate peacefully. It means conflict.
 Think about that statement in light of the following quote from the CBS article I mentioned (emphasis mine):

As the protests continue, there's disagreement over what the long-term goals should be. Occupiers even disagree on whether there should be goals at all. 
That's in large part because members' ideas about what the movement should accomplish are as diverse as the members themselves.
 As we can see, there are really only two endpoints for the "Occupy" mob:
  1. The "movement" implodes as the inevitable result of internal conflict, as all socialist movements do.
  2. The "movement" somehow manages to endorse a single leader or group, who speaks for all of them.
Option number 2 here clearly rubs the Syndicalists and left-anarchists the wrong way, so it is unlikely that this will be how the story ends.

Therefore, I'm banking on option 1. What do you think? Discuss other possibilities in the comments section.

The Trend Continues?

Not long ago, I blogged about a budding temperance movement I have noticed gaining momentum in the mainstream media.

Here's another article to put in the evidence pile. Now, to be clear, I have nothing against a voluntary decision to abstain from alcohol. In fact, I think it's a great idea. The problem I have with this new temperance movement is that it seems to be coming from the state:
That point was driven across Tuesday with the release of a U.S. study suggesting women who consume three to six alcoholic beverages a week face a small increased risk of breast cancer, but it's not enough of a danger to stop drinking. The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association involved105,986 nurses who were tracked for three decades. 
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) concludes that while studies have shown alcohol has some health benefits, their scope is limited. In effect, the harmful effects of alcohol "on the body as well as on society far outweigh the good."
Maybe I'm imagining it. Anyway, to sum up: personal decisions about alcohol: good; state mandates about alcohol: bad.


Bangla Word of the Day

অসুবিধা (awshubidha) n. - Problem

Read My Latest Article at Mises Daily

Are Government Jobs Productive? That is the question posed in my latest Mises Daily article, published this morning. The piece focuses on the impact of government spending and the non-neutrality of money on privately held capital available for investment.
Whether you agree or disagree with Dr. Paul's claim that government jobs are "not productive," the extent to which you agree provides valuable insight into the extent to which you buy into the mainstream, Keynesian view of money in the macroeconomy.
Check it out, leave a comment, stay for additional Austrian School enlightenment...