Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Political Stimulus

Not understanding basic economics is dangerous because you’re vulnerable to political con games foisted by unscrupulous politicians.

Economics properly conceived is just common sense about human activity. An examination of the proposed economic stimulus will make this clear.

The rest of my op-ed, "Political Stimulus," is at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.


Jimi G said...

"Not understanding basic economics is dangerous because you’re vulnerable to political con games foisted by unscrupulous politicians."

Yes. But understanding basic economics does not change the situation. One is still vulnerable to political con games foisted by unscrupulous politicians (but you repeat yourself, Sheldon!).

Ignorance is bliss!

steven said...

jimi g - better to know we're being deceived then to not know. If we know then we are much better able to do something about it.

Jimi G said...

And just what is that "something" you propose, Steven? Or did you miss paragraph 2 of my post?

My suggestions for something to do when confronted with the knowledge that all politics is pure bullshit:

1. Head for the hills.
2. Move out of the country and hope the country you land in is more "benign" than the one you left.
3. Stay put and take it in the ass, which includes complaining, protesting, and all other forms of time/energy-wasting activities that will have no effect on the status quo.

Please feel free to enlighten me with other viable strategies. I'm all ears.

However, to grant your premise, I admit I would rather know than not know. I don't know why this is the case, it simply is. Perhaps it allows me to maintain my aura of smug cynicism so important to my self-esteem. :)

steven said...

Jimi, first you say that ignorance is bliss. Then you say that you would rather know than not know.

Which one is it?

Thank you for granting my premise. I appreciate it.

Jimi G said...

"Jimi, first you say that ignorance is bliss. Then you say that you would rather know than not know. Which one is it?"

As I wrote, I would rather know. This does not change the fact that ignorance is bliss. What it means is that bliss is not high on my list of priorities. Or perhaps that I get some sort of twisted pleasure out of knowing. I'll look into this and get back to you forthwith.

"Thank you for granting my premise. I appreciate it."

I find arguments are easier to deconstruct and the rebuttals have more weight when I grant the other's premise. You're welcome!

Missing from your reply, however, was any solid reason why knowing is more productive, or how one is able to change the situation by knowing. I'll wait.

steven said...

jimi, I found this Harry Browne quote today. It may not be the response you wanted, but I think it has applications to this discussion:

"Working to acquaint people with our message isn't always as much fun as sitting around thinking the American people aren't smart enough to understand our superior ideas, but it's a lot more productive."

That would be the "something" that I propose.

Jimi G said...

OK, I understand what you're getting at Steven.

Harry Browne, again granting the premise that he's an authority, thinks that "working to acquaint people with our [sic]* message ... is a lot more productive."

Relying on empirical evidence and not intuition for proof, I again ask how this can be measured. I contend that not only can it not be measured, but that all evidence points to libertarian efforts to educate being futile, and perhaps utterly counter-productive** in the net.

There is a meta-productivity that I will agree exists -- proselytizing libertarianism certainly gives libertarians something to do, and to the extent that they profit from it, it is as productive as any form of entertainment, such as pro football, filmmaking, dance, etc.

However, if one is measuring political productivity, it is as time-wasting an enterprise as can possibly be conceived.

* I do not permit my inclusion in collective pronouns such as "we" or "our" without my express written consent, therefore Browne's use of the word "our" has no meaning to me personally.

** I admit I have no empirical evidence for this claim, anymore than a proponent of libertarianism has for the claim that it does net good. However, my intuition based on world events leads me in this direction.

steven said...

By the way, Jimi, I FINALLY got around to reading that article you recommended last May: "The Myth of the Rule of Law", by John Hasnas. It was excellent. Actually, I started to read it last May but didn't finish it. I don't think I was ready for it back then. But now it makes a lot of sense. Thank you for the recommendation.

D. Saul Weiner said...


You are right that we are still vulnerable to the predation of ignorant politicians. But that might not be the case if there were a critical mass of people who understood economics, for example enough to elect Ron Paul. I know that you are a non-voter, so I don't want to rehash all of this. Of course, the State could continue its predations in the face of massive popular resistance. In such case, it would at least be clear to the people that this whole "government of the people, by the people, for the people" notion is a sham.

Jimi G said...

Steven, I'm very glad to hear that you read Hasnas' article. Read everything that he posts on his website. There's one article there that deals with a concept he terms a "zone of inviolability" that exists around each individual, in the context of two actual legal cases. Fascinating stuff.

Saul, in a vacuum I would agree with you, that a "critical mass of people who understood economics" could change things. Like Galbraith (or was it Keynes), when I am confronted with new facts, I will change my opinion. My opinion now is that either economics is too difficult for people of average intelligence to truly grasp, or perhaps the stranglehold that the State has on most individuals instills them with my kind of cynicism and resignation. Maybe a little of both, or more.

Like I wrote, take pleasure in the meta-productive activity of discussing libertarianism, even if doesn't change a thing politically. We're all entitled to pursue self-actualization. Honor Nock and present the world with one improved unit.

Mass movements (especially Paul's campaign) will never achieve liberty, anarchy, or radical individualism, or whatever term you like -- they can only end in the kind of political oppression we now experience. Only individuals reasoning to similar conclusions independently will provide a strong enough foundation for liberty to become the norm.