The Paradox of Capitalism

Walter Williams properly noted that socialism works if you know everybody’s name; in small family and tribal units.  It is poorly suited to the dispersed knowledge that is the glue of an integrated complex world.  Capitalism is efficient but contrary to our biological nature.  It is no surprise that the growth of tribalism in politics is accompanied by anti-capitalist rhetoric. Capitalism, like democracy, depends on values that may be contrary to human nature, while serving the betterment of mankind in our complex world.

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Transactional Trump Support

“The president has become a convenient straw man for all the political anxieties on the left, which have manifested in an unhealthy obsession and antagonism toward the constitutional system that allowed Trump to win. “

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Economic Growth and Inequality

The passion for equality and social justice often obscures the best way to achieve it. This is the epitome of virtue signaling; policies and results matter more than intent,

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Health Market Realities

To those who claim insurance is immune to market forces, I would suggest that the problem is that it is not.  If a grocery store was required to get a certificate of need to open up a new store and the competitors got to make the decision what would likely happen to the price of food.  What would happen if an association of grocers could determine who is allowed to sell food?  What would happen to the price of your auto insurance of you filed a claim for oil changes and preventative maintenance? What happens to anything when you restrict supply and expand demand?

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Moral Agency

“The problem for Warren (who should know better) and others like her (who often don’t) is that there is a lot more juice in the moralistic account of economic problems than in the economic account of economic problems. To make things worse, the moralistic account offered by Senator Warren is untrue. Americans are not incapable of being anything other than passive victims of forces beyond their control. “

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A New Wave of Thinking

“The Depression and FDR transformed the Democratic Party. It adopted as an article of faith, held to this day by every Democratic presidential candidate, that any tear in the social fabric should be mended with permanent entitlements or subsidies. The competing idea is that subsidies are a poor substitute for finding and holding a job in a vibrant private economy.”

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Why Has Inflation Not Followed Our Debt?

But these explanations leave me uneasy. Without the pain of excessive government debt is there ever an end to it? It seems doubtful that scarcity has been erased from economic reality. The absence of short-term firewalls has historically led to large reconciliations, and it just seems immoral to spend more that you can pay for. In 50 years gold has risen from $35 to $1517.99 an ounce (1/1/20), does anybody care? The dollar is strong, and the American economy is performing better than any other in the world, even if that only provides a low bar.

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John Coltrane’s America

“..this is not Donald Trump’s America or Elizabeth Warren’s America but ours and Walt Whitman’s and John Coltrane’s and Herman Melville’s and Toni Morrison’s, and that if we really love this country, then that can only be because we love the people in it, the ones who are with us still and the ones who have been, who are “not enemies but friends.”

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A Greater Display of Democracy

When activists complain of markets failing to serve our needs, they often are just unwilling to pay the market price and are seeking subsidies at someone else’s expense.  Progressives and socialists who insist on government control while speaking in terms of greater democracy are contradicting themselves; the market place properly regulated is the greatest display of democracy.

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Who Is Undermining Our Institutions?

I realize no one is a villain in their own eyes and that we can rationalize any means to fit the end if it is important enough.  Our failure to recognize the way we are seen by others and our own failures sacrifices any legitimacy.  Voters will tolerate mistakes, gaffes, and failures, but they will not tolerate contempt. 

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Is Combatting Anti-Semitism an Act of Anti-Semitism?

Whatever you may think of Trump, he has been the strongest unequivocal supporter of Israel since its independence and his recent executive order strikes a strong blow to anti-Semitism on college campuses.  To draw a conclusion from this that he is a tool of the alternate right requires a willing suspension of the obvious.

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The Unmaking of Reality

The American founders used reason to unleash freedom.  The Europeans used reason to crush it.  Reason without freedom constructs a reality rather than recognizing it as it  is and adapting to it.  Constructing a reality is a despotic enterprise.

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Recurring Themes

Politicians tend to promise benefits without paying for them, hiding the true cost in a maze of mandates, cross subsidies, proxies, and regulations.

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Gulliver’s Progressivism

“Such quacks—Swift called them “speculators” and “virtuosi”—rely upon a mystical grimoire, a “book of shadows” filled with spells, incantations, and rituals that will remake the world as if by magic. It’s not science, it’s enchantment. “

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Winning the Race to the Bottom

“Being poor is the worst kind of competitive advantage to have, and only two kinds of people pursue that advantage as a matter of national policy. “

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The Guilty Conscience of the Business Roundtable

No business is likely to prosper by neglecting its employees, customers, suppliers, or the community, but none of these ‘stakeholders’ can benefit unless the business can turn a profit and provide a suitable return to its shareholders. These actors who assume otherwise are either a)ignorant of business dynamics and the function of prices and profits or b) suffering from a guilty conscience and projecting their own moral compromises onto others.

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Historians Counter the 1619 Project

“Slavery required a culture that held labor in contempt. The North, with its celebration of labor, especially working for money, became even more different from the lazy, slaveholding South. By the 1850s, the two sections, though both American, possessed two different cultures.”

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Ignorance and Certitude

“I do not believe that only those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. Plenty of people who study history are entirely capable of making the same mistakes as their ancestors, and worse ones, too. “

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Addressing Presidential Power

Both sides refuse to re-examine the proper role of the presidency, and focus on the president in power.  It may seem unrealistic to return to constitutional norms, but the alternative seems to be an escalation of the bitterness of our politics.

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Public Choice Theory

“From public choice theory, we also know that government actors have an incentive to pursue shortsighted policies that create highly visible benefits to voters now and impose uncertain costs at some point in the future.”

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