The March of History | Mises vs. Marx (Epic Rap Battles)

Is history marching inevitably towards centrally planned socialism, as Karl Marx proclaimed? Or is the best path to continued progress and expanding prosperity liberal, democratic capitalism as recommended by Ludwig von Mises?

The Definitive Capitalism vs. Socialism Rap Battle (Transcript) – Via AIER

The “Essence” of the Free Market | Thomas Sowell

A good chunk of chapter four of Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell read:

Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell.  

Click Ron Swanson to the right to go to my CRONY CAPITALSIM page.


Economic Systems

The most fundamental fact of economics, without which there would be no economics, is that what everybody wants always adds up to more than there is. If this were not true, then we would be living in a Garden of Eden, where everything is available in unlimited abundance, instead of in an economy with limited resources and unlimited desires. Because of this inherent scarcity—regardless of whether a particular economic system is one of capitalism, socialism, feudalism, or whatever—an economy not only organizes production and the distribution of the resulting output, it must by its very nature also have ways to prevent people from completely satisfying their desires. That is, it must convey the inherent scarcity, without which there would be no real point to economics, even though the particular kind of economy does not cause that scarcity.

In a market economy, prices convey the inherent scarcity through competing bids for resources and outputs that are inherently inadequate to supply all the bidders with all that they want. This may seem like a small and obvious point, but even such renowned intellectuals as the philosopher John Dewey have grossly misconceived it, blaming the particular economic system that conveys scarcity for causing the scarcity itself. Dewey saw the existing market economy as one “maintaining artificial scarcity” for the sake of “personal profit.”1 George Bernard Shaw likewise saw “restricting output” as the principle on which capitalism was founded.2 Bertrand Russell depicted a market economy as one in which “wealthy highwaymen are allowed to levy toll upon the world for the use of indispensable minerals.”3

According to Dewey, to make “potential abundance an actuality” what was needed was to “modify institutions.”4 But he apparently found it unnecessary to specify any alternative set of economic institutions in the real world which had in fact produced greater abundance than the institutions he blamed for “maintaining artificial scarcity.” As in many other cases, the utter absence of factual evidence or even a single step of logic often passes unnoticed among the intelligentsia, when someone is voicing a view common among their peers and consistent with their general vision of the world.

Similarly, a twenty-first century historian said in passing, as something too obvious to require elaboration, that “capitalism created masses of laborers who were poverty stricken.”5 There were certainly many such laborers in the early years of capitalism, but neither this historian nor most other intellectuals have bothered to show that capitalism created this poverty. If in fact those laborers were more prosperous before capitalism, then not only would such a fact need to be demonstrated, what would also need to be explained is why laborers gave up this earlier and presumably higher standard of living to go work for capitalists for less. Seldom is either of these tasks undertaken by intellectuals who make such assertions—and seldom do their fellow intellectuals challenge them to do so, when they are saying things that fit the prevailing vision.

Social critic Robert Reich has likewise referred in passing to twentieth-century capitalism as producing, among other social consequences, “urban squalor, measly wages and long hours for factory workers”6 but without a speck of evidence that any of these things was better before twentieth-century capitalism. Nothing is easier than simply assuming that things were better before, and nothing is harder than finding evidence of better housing, higher wages and shorter hours in the nineteenth and earlier centuries, whether in industry or agriculture.

The difference between creating a reality and conveying a reality has been crucial in many contexts. The idea of killing the messenger who brings bad news is one of the oldest and simplest examples. But the fundamental principle is still alive and well today, when charges of racial discrimination are made against banks that turn down a higher proportion of black applicants for mortgage loans than of white applicants.

Even when the actual decision-maker who approves or denies loan applications does so on the basis of paperwork provided by others who interview loan applicants face-to-face, and the actual decision-maker has no idea what race any of the applicants are, the decisions made may nevertheless convey differences among racial groups in financial qualifications without being the cause of those differences in qualifications, credit history or the outcomes that result from those differences. The fact that black-owned banks also turn down black applicants at a higher rate than white applicants, and that white-owned banks turn down white applicants at a higher rate than Asian American applicants,7 reinforces the point—but only for those who check out the facts that are seldom mentioned in the media, which is preoccupied with moral melodrama that fits their vision.i Among the many differences among black, white and Asian Americans is that the average credit rating among whites is higher than among blacks and the average credit rating of Asian Americans is higher than among whites.8

In light of the many differences among these three groups, it is hardly surprising that, while blacks were turned down for mortgage loans at twice the rate for whites in 2000, whites were turned down at nearly twice the rate for Asian Americans.9 But only the black-white comparison saw the light of day in much of the media. To have included data comparing mortgage loan denial rates between Asian Americans and whites would have reduced a moral melodrama to a mundane example of elementary economics.


Among the other unsubstantiated notions about economics common among the intelligentsia is that there would be chaos in the economy without government planning or control. The order created by a deliberately controlled process may be far easier to conceive or understand than an order emerging from an uncontrolled set of innumerable interactions. But that does not mean that the former is necessarily more common, more consequential or more desirable in its consequences.

Neither chaos nor randomness is implicit in uncontrolled circumstances. In a virgin forest, the flora and fauna are not distributed randomly or chaotically. Vegetation growing on a mountainside differs systematically at different heights. Certain trees grow more abundantly at lower elevations and other kinds of trees at higher elevations. Above some altitude no trees at all grow and, at the summit of Everest, no vegetation at all grows. Obviously, none of this is a result of any decisions made by the vegetation, but depends on variations in surrounding circumstances, such as temperature and soil. It is a systemically determined outcome with a pattern, not chaos.

Animal life also varies with environmental differences and, while animals like humans (and unlike vegetation) have thought and volition, that thought and volition are not always the decisive factors in the outcomes. That fish live in the water and birds in the air, rather than vice versa, is not strictly a matter of their choices, though each has choices of behavior within their respective environments. Moreover, what kinds of choices of behavior will survive the competition that weeds out some kinds of responses to the environment and lets others continue is likewise not wholly a matter of volition. In short, between individual volition and general outcomes are systemic factors which limit or determine what will survive, creating a pattern, rather than chaos.

None of this is difficult to understand in the natural environment. But the difference between individual, volitional causation and constraining systemic causation is one seldom considered by intellectuals when discussing economies, unless they happen to be economists. Yet that distinction has been commonplace among economists for more than two centuries. Nor has this been simply a matter of opinion or ideology. Systemic analysis was as common in Karl Marx’s Capital as in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, and it existed in the eighteenth century school of French economists called the Physiocrats before either Marx or Smith wrote about economics.

Even the analogy between systemic order in nature and in an economy was suggested by the title of one of the Physiocratic writings of the eighteenth century, L’Ordre Naturel by Mercier de la Rivière. It was the Physiocrats who coined the phrase laissez-faire, later associated with Adam Smith, based on their conviction that an uncontrolled economy was not one of chaos but of order, emerging from systemic interactions among the people competing with, and accommodating to, one another.

Karl Marx, of course, had a less benign view of the pattern of outcomes of market competition than did the Physiocrats or Adam Smith, but what is crucial here is that he too analyzed the market economy in terms of its systemic interactions, rather than its volitional choices, even when these were the choices of its economic elites, such as capitalists. Marx said that “competition” creates economic results that are “wholly independent of the will of the capitalist.”10 Thus, for example, while a new technology with lower production costs enables the capitalist to lower his prices, the spread of that technology to competing capitalists compels him to lower his prices, according to Marx.11  

Likewise in his analysis of downturns in the economy— depressions or economic “crises” in Marxian phraseology— Marx made a sharp distinction between systemic causation versus volitional causation:

A man who has produced has not the choice whether he will sell or not. He must sell. And in crises appears precisely the circumstance that he cannot sell, or only below the price of production, or even that he must sell at a positive loss. What does it avail him or us, therefore, that he has produced in order to sell? What concerns us is precisely to discover what has cut across this good intention of his.12  

Neither in his theory of economics nor in his theory of history did Marx make end results simply the carrying out of individual volition, even the volition of elites. As his collaborator Friedrich Engels put it, “what each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed.”13 Economics is about the pattern that emerges. Historian Charles A. Beard could seek to explain the Constitution of the United States by the economic interests of the individuals who wrote it, but that volitional approach was not the approach used by Marx and Engels, despite how often Beard’s theory of history has been confused with the Marxian theory of history. Marx dismissed a similar theory in his own day as “facile anecdote-mongering and the attribution of all great events to petty and mean causes.”14

The question here is not whether most intellectuals agree with systemic analysis, either in economics or elsewhere. Many have never even considered, much less confronted, that kind of analysis. Those who reason in terms of volitional causation see chaos from conflicting individual decisions as the alternative to central control of economic processes. John Dewey, for example, said, “comprehensive plans” are required “if the problem of social organization is to be met.”15 Otherwise, there will be “a continuation of a regime of accident, waste and distress.”16 To Dewey, “dependence upon intelligence” is an alternative to “drift and casual improvisation”17—that is, chaos—and those who are “hostile to intentional social planning” were depicted as being in favor of “atomistic individualism.”18

Here, as in other cases, verbal virtuosity transforms the arguments of people with opposing views into mere emotions. In this case the emotion is hostility to social planning. That hostility is presumably due to the leftover notions of a by-gone era that society can depend on “the unplanned coincidence of the consequences of a vast multitude of efforts put forth by isolated individuals without reference to any social end,” according to Dewey’s characterization of those with whom he disagreed.19 By the time John Dewey said all this—1935—it was more than a century and a half since the Physiocrats first wrote their books, explaining how competitive markets systemically coordinate economic activities and allocate resources through supply and demand adjustments to price movements.

Whether or not one agrees with the Physiocrats’ explanations, or the similar and more sophisticated explanations of later economists, these are the arguments that would have to be answered if such arguments were not so widely evaded by reducing them to emotions or by using other arguments without arguments. Professor Ronald Dworkin of Oxford, for example, simply dismissed arguments for systemic causation in general, whether in the economy or elsewhere, as “the silly faith that ethics as well as economics moves by an invisible hand, so that individual rights and the general good will coalesce, and law based on principle will move the nation to a frictionless utopia where everyone is better off than he was before.”20

Here again, verbal virtuosity transforms an opposing argument, rather than answering it with either logic or evidence. Moreover, as of the time when Professor Dworkin made this claim, there were numerous examples of countries whose economies were primarily market economies and others whose economies clearly were not, so that empirical comparisons were readily available, including comparisons of countries composed of the same peoples—East Germany versus West Germany or North Korea versus South Korea, for example. But verbal virtuosity made both analytical and empirical arguments unnecessary.

Economic competition is what forces innumerable disparate individual decisions to be reconciled with one another, as transactions terms are forced to change in response to changes in supply and demand, which in turn change economic activities. This is not a matter of “faith” (as Dworkin would have it) or of ideology (as Dewey would have it), but of economic literacy. John Dewey could depict businesses as controlling markets but that position is not inherent in being ideologically on the left. Karl Marx was certainly on the left, but the difference was that he had studied economics, as deeply as anyone of his time.

Just as Karl Marx did not attribute what he saw as the detrimental effects of a market economy to the ill will of individual capitalists, so Adam Smith did not attribute what he saw as the beneficial effects of a market economy to the good will of individual capitalists. Smith’s depictions of businessmen were at least as negative as those of Marx,21 even though Smith is rightly regarded as the patron saint of free market economics. According to Smith, the beneficial social effects of the businessman’s endeavors are “no part of his intention.”22 Both in Adam Smith’s day and today, more than two centuries later, arguments for a free market economy are based on the systemic effects of such economies in allocating scarce resources which have alternative uses through competition in the marketplace. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the conclusions, this is the argument that must be confronted—or evaded.

Contrary to Dewey and many others, systemic arguments are independent of any notions of “atomistic individualism.” These are not arguments that each individual’s well-being adds up to the well-being of society. Such an argument would ignore the systemic interactions which are at the heart of economic analysis, whether by Adam Smith, Karl Marx or other economists. These economic arguments need not be elaborated here, since they are spelled out at length in economics textbooks.23 What is relevant here is that those intellectuals who see chaos as the alternative to government planning or control have seldom bothered to confront those arguments and have instead misconceived the issue and distorted the arguments of those with different views.

Despite the often expressed dichotomy between chaos and planning, what is called “planning” is the forcible suppression of millions of people’s plans by a government-imposed plan. What is considered to be chaos are systemic interactions whose nature, logic and consequences are seldom examined by those who simply assume that “planning” by surrogate decision-makers must be better. Herbert Croly, the first editor of the New Republic and a major intellectual figure in the Progressive era, characterized Thomas Jefferson’s conception of limited government as “the old fatal policy of drift,” as contrasted with Alexander Hamilton’s policy of “energetic and intelligent assertion of the national good.” According to Croly, what was needed was “an energetic and clear-sighted central government.”24 In this conception, progress depends on surrogate decision-makers, rather than on millions of others making their own decisions and exerting their own efforts.

Despite the notion that scarcity is contrived for the sake of profit in a market economy, that scarcity is at the heart of any economy—capitalist, socialist, feudal or whatever. Given that this scarcity is inherent in the system as a whole—any economic system—this scarcity must be conveyed to each individual in some way. In other words, it makes no sense for any economy to produce as much as physically possible of any given product, because that would have to be done with scarce resources which could be used to produce other products, whose supply is also inherently limited to less than what people want.

Markets in capitalist economies reconcile these competing demands for the same resources through price movements in both the markets for consumer goods and the market for the resources which go into producing those consumer goods. These prices make it unprofitable for one producer to use a resource beyond the point where that resource has a greater value to some competing producer who is bidding for that same resource, whether for making the same product or a different product.

For the individual manufacturer, the point at which it would no longer be profitable to use more of some factor of production—machinery, labor, land, etc.—is indeed the point which provides the limit of that manufacturer’s output, even when it would be physically possible to produce more. But, while profitability and unprofitability convey that limit, they are not what cause that limit—which is due to the scarcity of resources inherent in any economic system, whether or not it is a profit-based system. Producing more of a given output in disregard of those limits does not make an economy more prosperous. On the contrary, it means producing an excess of one output at the cost of a shortage of another output that could have been produced with the same resources. This was a painfully common situation in the government-run economy of the Soviet Union, where unsold goods often piled up in warehouses while dire shortages had people waiting in long lines for other goods.25  

Ironically, Marx and Engels had foreseen the economic consequences of fiat prices created by government, rather than by supply and demand, long before the founding of the Soviet Union, even though the Soviets claimed to be following Marxian principles. When publishing a later edition of Marx’s 1847 book, The Poverty of Philosophy, in which Marx rejected fiat pricing, Engels spelled out the problem in his editor’s introduction. He pointed out that it is price fluctuations which have “forcibly brought home to the individual commodity producers what things and what quantity of them society requires or does not require.” Without such a mechanism, he demanded to know “what guarantee we have that necessary quantity and not more of each product will be produced, that we shall not go hungry in regard to corn and meat while we are choked in beet sugar and drowned in potato spirit, that we shall not lack trousers to cover our nakedness while trouser buttons flood us in millions.”26

On this point, the difference between Marx and Engels, on the one hand, and many other intellectuals of the left on the other, was simply that Marx and Engels had studied economics and the others usually had not. John Dewey, for example, demanded that “production for profit be subordinated to production for use.”27 Since nothing can be sold for a profit unless some buyer has a use for it, what Dewey’s proposition amounts to is that third-party surrogates would define which use must be subordinated to which other use, instead of having such results be determined systemically by millions of individuals making their own mutual accommodations in market transactions.

As in so many other situations, the most important decision is who makes the decision. The abstract dichotomy between “profit” and “use” conceals the real conflict between millions of people making decisions for themselves and having anointed surrogates taking those decisions out of their hands.

A volitional view of economics enables the intelligentsia, like politicians and others, to dramatize economics, explaining high prices by “greed”j and low wages by a lack of “compassion,” for example. While this is part of an ideological vision, an ideology of the left is not sufficient by itself to explain this approach. “I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur de rose,” Karl Marx said in the introduction to the first volume of Capital. “My stand-point,” he added, however, “can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.”28 In short, prices and wages were not determined volitionally but systemically.

Understanding that was not a question of being on the left or not, but of being economically literate or illiterate. The underlying notion of volitional pricing has, in our own times, led to at least a dozen federal investigations of American oil companies over the years, in response to either gasoline shortages or increases in gasoline prices—with none of these investigations turning up facts to support the sinister explanations abounding in the media and in politics when these investigations were launched. Many people find it hard to believe that negative economic events are not a result of villainy, even though they accept positive economic events— the declining prices of computers that are far better than earlier computers, for example—as being just a result of “progress” that happens somehow.

In a market economy, prices convey an underlying reality about supply and demand—and about production costs behind supply, as well as innumerable individual preferences and trade-offs behind demand. By regarding prices as merely arbitrary social constructs, some can imagine that existing prices can be replaced by prices controlled by government, reflecting wiser and nobler notions, such as “affordable housing” or “reasonable” health care costs. A history of price controls going back for centuries, in countries around the world, shows negative and even disastrous consequences from treating prices as mere arbitrary constructs, rather than as symptoms and conveyances of an underlying reality that is not nearly as susceptible of control as the prices are.

As far as many, if not most, intellectuals are concerned, history would show that but does not, because they often see no need to consult history or any other validation process beyond the peer consensus of other similarly disposed intellectuals when discussing economic issues.

The crucial distinction between market transactions and collective decision-making is that in the market people are rewarded according to the value of their goods and services to those particular individuals who receive those goods and services, and who have every incentive to seek alternative sources, so as to minimize their costs, just as sellers of goods and services have every incentive to seek the highest bids for what they have to offer. But collective decision-making by third parties allows those third parties to superimpose their preferences on others at no cost to themselves, and to become the arbiters of other people’s economic fate without accountability for the consequences.

Nothing better illustrates the difference between a volitional explanation of economic activity and a systemic explanation than the use of “greed” as an explanation of high incomes. Greed may well explain an individual’s desire for more money, but income is determined by what other people pay, whether those other people are employers or consumers. Except for criminals, most people in a market economy receive income as a result of voluntary transactions. How much income someone receives voluntarily depends on other people’s willingness to part with their money in exchange for what the recipient offers, whether that is labor, a commodity or a service. John D. Rockefeller did not become rich simply because he wanted money; he became rich because other people preferred to buy his oil, for example, because it was cheaper. Bill Gates became rich because people around the world preferred to buy his computer operating system rather than other operating systems that were available.

None of this is rocket science, nor is it new. A very old expression captured the fallacy of volitional explanations when it said, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Yet volitional explanations of prices and incomes continue to flourish among the intelligentsia. Professor Peter Corning of Stanford University, for example, attributes high incomes to personality traits found supposedly in one-third of the population because “the ‘free market’ capitalist system favors the one-third who are the most acquisitive and egocentric and the least concerned about fairness and justice.”29 This description would apply as readily to petty criminals who rob local stores and sometimes shoot their owners to avoid being identified, often for small sums of money that would never support the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The volitional explanation of high incomes lacks even correlation, much less causation.

The tactical advantage of volitional explanations is not only that it allows the intelligentsia to be on the side of the angels against the forces of evil, but also that it avoids having to deal with the creation of wealth, an analysis of which could undermine their whole social vision. By focusing on the money that John D. Rockefeller received, rather than the benefits that millions of other people received from Rockefeller—which provided the reason for turning their money over to him in the first place, rather than buying from somebody else—such transactions can be viewed as moral melodramas, rather than mundane transactions for mutual advantage. Contrary to “robber baron” rhetoric, Rockefeller did not reduce the wealth of society but added to it, his own fortune being a share in that additional wealth, as his production efficiencies and innovations reduced the public’s cost of oil to a fraction of what it had been before.


Among the consequences of the economic illiteracy of most intellectuals is the zero-sum vision of the economy mentioned earlier, in which the gains of one individual or one group represent a corresponding loss to another individual or another group. According to noted twentieth-century British scholar Harold Laski, “the interests of capital and labor are irreconcilable in fundamentals—there’s a sum to divide and each wants more than the other will give.”30 This assumption is seldom spelled out this plainly, perhaps not even in the minds of most of those whose conclusions require such an implicit zero-sum assumption as a foundation. But the widespread notion, coalescing into a doctrine, that one must “take sides” in making public policy or even in rendering judicial decisions, ignores the fact that economic transactions would not continue to take place unless both sides find these transactions preferable to not making such transactions.

Contrary to Laski and many others with similar views, there is no given “sum to divide,” as there would be with manna from heaven. It is precisely the cooperation of capital and labor which creates a wealth that would not exist otherwise, and that both sides would forfeit if they did not reconcile their conflicting desires at the outset, in order to agree on terms under which they can join together to produce that output. It is literally preposterous (putting in front what comes behind) to begin the analysis with “a sum to divide”—that is, wealth—when that wealth can be created only after capital and labor have already reconciled their competing claims and agreed to terms on which they can operate together to produce that wealth.

Each side would of course prefer to have the terms favor themselves more, but both sides must be willing to accept some mutually agreeable terms or no such transaction will take place at all, much less continue. Far from being an “irreconcilable” situation, as Laski claimed, it is a situation reconciled millions of times each day. Otherwise, the economy could not function. Indeed, a whole society could not function without vast numbers of both economic and non-economic decisions to cooperate, despite the fact that no two sets of interests, even among members of the same family, are exactly the same. The habit of many intellectuals to largely ignore the prerequisites, incentives and constraints involved in the production of wealth has many ramifications that can lead to many fallacious conclusions, even if their verbal virtuosity conceals those fallacies from others and from themselves.

Intervention by politicians, judges, or others, in order to impose terms more favorable to one side—minimum wage laws or rent control laws, for example—reduces the overlapping set of mutually agreeable terms and, almost invariably, reduces the number of mutually acceptable transactions, as the party disfavored by the intervention makes fewer transactions subsequently. Countries with generous minimum wage laws, for example, often have higher unemployment rates and longer periods of unemployment than other countries, as employers offer fewer jobs to inexperienced and low-skilled workers, who are typically the least valued and lowest paid—and who are most often priced out of a job by minimum wage laws.

It is not uncommon in European countries with generous minimum wage laws, as well as other worker benefits that employers are mandated to pay for, to have inexperienced younger workers with unemployment rates of 20 percent or more.31 Employers are made slightly worse off by having to rearrange their businesses and perhaps pay for more machinery to replace the low-skilled workers whom it is no longer economic to hire. But those low-skilled, usually younger, workers may be made much worse off by not being able to get jobs as readily, losing both the wages they could earn otherwise and sustaining the perhaps greater loss of not acquiring the work experience that would lead to better jobs and higher pay.

In short, “taking sides” often ends up making both sides worse off, even if in different ways and to different degrees. But the very idea of taking sides is based on treating economic transactions as if they were zero-sum events. This zero-sum vision of the world is also consistent with the disinterest of many intellectuals in what promotes or impedes the creation of wealth, on which the standard of living of a whole society depends, even though the creation of more wealth has lifted “the poor” in the United States today to economic levels not reached by most of the American population in past eras or in many other countries even today.

Just as minimum wage laws tend to reduce employment transactions with those whose pay is most affected, so rent control laws have been followed by housing shortages in Cairo, Melbourne, Hanoi, Paris, New York and numerous other places around the world. Here again, attempts to make transactions terms better for one party usually lead the other party to make fewer transactions. Builders especially react to rent control laws by building fewer apartment buildings and, in some places, building none at all for years on end.

Landlords may continue to rent existing apartments but often they cut back on ancillary services such as painting, repairs, heat and hot water—all of which cost money and all of which are less necessary to maintain at previous levels to attract and keep tenants, once there is a housing shortage. The net result is that apartment buildings that receive less maintenance deteriorate faster and wear out, without adequate numbers of replacements being built. In Cairo, for example, this process led to families having to double up in quarters designed for only one family. The ultimate irony is that such laws can also lead to higher rents on average— New York and San Francisco being classic examples—when luxury housing is exempted from rent control, causing resources to be diverted to building precisely that kind of housing.

The net result is that tenants, landlords, and builders can all end up worse off than before, though in different ways and to different degrees. Landlords seldom end up living in crowded quarters or on the street, and builders can simply devote more of their time and resources to building other structures such as warehouses, shopping malls and office buildings, as well as luxury housing, all of which are usually not subject to rent control laws. But, again, the crucial point is that both sides can end up worse off as a result of laws and policies based on “taking sides,” as if economic transactions were zero-sum processes.

One of the few writers who has explicitly proclaimed the zero-sum vision of the economy—Professor Lester C. Thurow of M.I.T., author of The Zero-Sum Society—has also stated that the United States has been “consistently the industrial economy with the worst record” on unemployment. He spelled it out:

Lack of jobs has been endemic in peacetime during the past fifty years of American history. Review the evidence: a depression from 1929 to 1940, a war from 1941 to 1945, a recession in 1949, a war from 1950 to 1953, recessions in 1954, 1957–58, and 1960–61, a war from 1965 to 1973, a recession in 1969–70, a severe recession in 1974–75, and another recession probable in 1980. This is hardly an enviable economic performance.32  

Several things are remarkable about Professor Thurow’s statement. He reaches sweeping conclusions about the record of the United States vis-à-vis the record of other industrial nations, based solely on a recitation of events within the United States—a one-nation international comparison when it comes to facts, rather than rhetoric. Studies which in fact compare the unemployment rate in the United States versus Western European nations, for example, almost invariably show Western European nations with higher unemployment rates, and longer periods of unemployment, than the United States.33 Moreover, the wars that Professor Thurow throws in, in what is supposed to be a discussion of unemployment, might leave the impression that wars contribute to unemployment, when in fact unemployment virtually disappeared in the United States during World War II and has been lower than usual during the other wars mentioned.34  

Professor Thurow’s prediction about a recession in 1980 turned out to be true, though that was hardly a daring prediction in the wake of the “stagflation” of the late 1970s. What turned out to be false was the idea that large-scale government intervention was required to head off more unemployment—that, in Thurow’s words, the government needed to “restructure the economy so that it will, in fact, provide jobs for everyone.”35 What actually happened was that the Reagan administration took office in 1981 and did the exact opposite of what Lester Thurow advocated—and, after the recession passed, there were twenty years of economic growth, low unemployment and low inflation.36

Professor Thurow was not, and is not, some fringe kook. According to the material on the cover of the 2001 reprint of his 1980 book The Zero-Sum Society, “Lester Thurow has been professor of management and economics at MIT for more than thirty years.” He is also the “author of several books, including three New York Times best sellers, he has served on the editorial board of the New York Times, as a contributing editor of Newsweek, and as a member of Time magazine’s Board of Economics.” He could not be more mainstream—or more wrong. But what he said apparently found resonance among the elite intelligentsia, who made him an influence on major media outlets.

Similar prescriptions for active government intervention in the economy have abounded among intellectuals, past and present. John Dewey, for example, used such attractive phrases as “socially organized intelligence in the conduct of public affairs,”37 and “organized social reconstruction”38 as euphemisms for the plain fact that third-party surrogate decision-makers seek to have their preferences imposed on millions of other people through the power of government. Although government is often called “society” by those who advocate this approach, what is called “social” planning are in fact government orders over-riding the plans and mutual accommodations of millions of people subject to those orders.

Despite whatever vision may be conjured up by euphemisms, government is not some abstract embodiment of public opinion or Rousseau’s “general will.” Government consists of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges—all of whom have their own incentives and constraints, and none of whom can be presumed to be any less interested in the promotion of their own interests or notions than are people who buy and sell in the marketplace. Neither sainthood nor infallibility is common in either venue. The fundamental difference between decision-makers in the market and decision-makers in government is that the former are subject to continuous and consequential feedback which can force them to adjust to what others prefer and are willing to pay for, while those who make decisions in the political arena face no such inescapable feedback to force them to adjust to the reality of other people’s desires and preferences.

A business with red ink on the bottom line knows that this cannot continue indefinitely, and that they have no choice but to change whatever they are doing that produces red ink, for which there is little tolerance even in the short run, and which will be fatal to the whole enterprise in the long run. In short, financial losses are not merely informational feedback but consequential feedback which cannot be ignored, dismissed or spun rhetorically through verbal virtuosity.

In the political arena, however, only the most immediate and most attention-getting disasters—so obvious and unmistakable to the voting public that there is no problem of “connecting the dots”—are comparably consequential for political decision-makers. But laws and policies whose consequences take time to unfold are by no means as consequential for those who created those laws and policies, especially if the consequences emerge after the next election. Moreover, there are few things in politics as unmistakable in its implications as red ink on the bottom line is in business. In politics, no matter how disastrous a policy may turn out to be, if the causes of the disaster are not understood by the voting public, those officials responsible for the disaster may escape any accountability, and of course they have every incentive to deny having made mistakes, since admitting mistakes can jeopardize a whole career.

Why the transfer of economic decisions from the individuals and organizations directly involved—often depicted collectively and impersonally as “the market”—to third parties who pay no price for being wrong should be expected to produce better results for society at large is a question seldom asked, much less answered. Partly this is because of rhetorical packaging by those with verbal virtuosity. To say, as John Dewey did, that there must be “social control of economic forces”39 sounds good in a vague sort of way, until that is translated into specifics as the holders of political power forbidding voluntary transactions among the citizenry.


1 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2000), p. 43.

2 Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (New York: Brentano’s Publishers, 1928), p. 208.

3 Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1928), p. 230.

4 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action, p. 65.

5 Aida D. Donald, Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Basic Books, 2007), p. 10.

6 Robert B. Reich, Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (New York: Vintage Books, 2008), p. 21.

7 Harold A. Black, et al., “Do Black-Owned Banks Discriminate against Black Borrowers?” Journal of Financial Ser vices Research, February 1997, pp. 185– 200.

8 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Report to the Congress on Credit Scoring and Its Effects on the Availability and Affordability of Credit, submitted to the Congress pursuant to Section 215 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, August 2007, p. 80.

9 United States Commission on Civil Rights, Civil Rights and the Mortgage Crisis (Washington: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2009), p. 53.

10 Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1909), Vol. III, pp. 310– 311.

11 Karl Marx, “Wage Labour and Capital,” section V, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955), Vol. I, p. 99. See also Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, pp. 310–311.

12 Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value: Selections (New York: International Publishers, 1952), p. 380.

13 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence 1846–1895, translated by Dona Torr (New York: International Publishers, 1942), p. 476.

14 Ibid., p. 159.

15 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action, p. 73. “Unless freedom of individual action has intelligence and informed conviction back of it, its manifestation is almost sure to result in confusion and disorder.” John Dewey, Intelligence in the Modern World: John Dewey’s Philosophy, edited by Joseph Ratner (New York: Modern Library, 1939), p. 404.

16 John Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology (New York: Modern Library, 1957), p. 277.

17 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action, p. 56.

18 Ibid., p. 50.

19 Ibid., p. 65.

20 Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), p. 147.

21 Adam Smith denounced “the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers” and “the clamour and sophistry of merchants and manufacturers,” whom he characterized as people who “seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public.” As for policies recommended by such people, Smith said: “The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (New York: Modern Library, 1937), pp. 128, 250, 460. Karl Marx wrote, in the preface to the first volume of Capital: “I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur de rose. But here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My stand­point, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.” In Chapter X, Marx made dire predictions about the fate of workers, but not as a result of subjective moral deficiencies of the capitalist, for Marx said: “As capitalist, he is only capital personified” and “all this does not, indeed, depend on the good or ill will of the individual capitalist.” Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1919), Vol. I, pp. 15, 257, 297.

22 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, p. 423.

23 My own sketch of these arguments can be found in Chapters 2 and 4 of my Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, fourth edition (New York: Basic Books, 2011). More elaborate and more technical accounts can be found in more advanced texts.

24 Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1989), pp. 44, 45.

25 See, for example, Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov, The Turning Point: Revitalizing the Soviet Economy (New York: Doubleday, 1989), pp. 141, 170; Midge Decter, An Old Wife’s Tale: My Seven Decades in Love and War (New York: Regan Books, 2001), p. 169.

26 Frederick Engels, “Introduction to the First German Edition,” Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy (New York: International Publishers, 1963), p. 19.

27 John Dewey, Characters and Events: Popular Essays in Social and Political Philosophy, edited by Joseph Ratner (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929), Vol. II, p. 555.

28 Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 15.

29 Peter Corning, The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 125.

30 Harold J. Laski, Letter to Oliver Wendell Holmes, September 13, 1916, Holmes-Laski Letters: The Correspondence of Mr. Justice Holmes and Harold J. Laski 1916–1935, edited by Mark DeWolfe Howe (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1953), Vol. I, p. 20.

31 Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., “Business World: Shall We Eat Our Young?” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2005, p. A13.

32 Lester C. Thurow, The Zero-Sum Society: Distribution and the Possibilities for Economic Change (New York: Basic Books, 2001), p. 203.

33 Beniamino Moro, “The Economists’ ‘Manifesto’ On Unemployment in the EU Seven Years Later: Which Suggestions Still Hold?” Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, June-September 2005, pp. 49–66; Economic Report of the President (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009), pp. 326–327.

34 Theodore Caplow, Louis Hicks and Ben J. Wattenberg, The First Measured Century: An Illustrated Guide to Trends in America, 1900–2000 (Washington: AEI Press, 2001), p. 47.

35 Lester C. Thurow, The Zero-Sum Society, p. 203.

36 “The Turning Point,” The Economist, September 22, 2007, p. 35.

37 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action, p. 53. See also p. 88.

38 Ibid., p. 89.

39 Ibid., p. 44.

Nick Freitas | Today, we discuss one of the greatest economists of our time—his books, articles, and thoughts on wealth, poverty, and how politicians ignore economics for political gain.


Starring comedian Andrew Heaton, EconPop takes a surprisingly deep look at the economic themes running through classic films, new releases, TV shows and more from the best of pop culture and entertainment. Heaton brings a unique mix of dry wit and whimsy to bear on the dismal science of economics and the result is always entertaining, educational and irreverent. It’s Econ 101 meets At The Movies, with a dash of Monty Python.

I, Pencil

I, Pencil – FINAL CUT from Nicholas Tucker on Vimeo.

The “Original ‘I-Pencil'”

Socialism Has Never Been Tried (Mantra’s of the Left)


I wish to post some ideas and thoughts by others here that will allow a framework to reply to such a challenge. Many professors will infect young minds with this idea, which is, “you cannot criticize Marxism, socialism, or the like because its ‘pure form[s]’ have never been implemented on earth.” To which I would reply to said professor that he then would not be able to criticize Christianity, Republicans, Capitalism, etc…. because the ideal they hold has never been purely implemented on earth. [In Christianity I would note that the faith was modeled perfectly in the man of Christ Jesus.]

So if you have a professor who is harping on Capitalism, Bush, Republicans, Reagan, Newt, Ted Cruz, whomever…, you just need to point out that since  FDR’s “New Deal” and Johnson’s “Great Societyall they are really criticizing is regulation and redistribution. Because we are far from a truly free-market.

So, what are some good resources to build a cumulative case or allow deeper — non-sophomoric thinking as the author of The Politically incorrect Guide would say — on this subject? While I responded to the person where I work with the quick answer of, “that is essentially copping out of dealing with what is produced by such beliefs,” my thinking on the matter goes beyond how I could or can express it in the work environment. This frustration of quick interactions has led me partly to blog on various topics so not only myself, but others can access this “nugget” if-you-will for both personal edification and learning or linking to friends, co-workers, and family that you discuss this issue with. Especially young people at university.

I do wish to note that just because I am posting items by others below, it does not imply I fully agree with their position stated or worldview. For instance I use Student of Objectivism’s (SO) video (spliced with a quick “baked in the cake” precursor), while I enjoy and agree with Ayn Rand on many points… on many others I disagree. I CAN recommend wholeheartedly — for the lover of theology that really wishes to understand the political divide — a book by Thomas Sowell entitled, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. While this is a must read for any political junkie, it is all the more powerful for one who believes in The Fall of mankind, objective grounding of ethics, man’s spark of life/creativity as well as mankind’s depravity. So to all the pastors and apologists that read this… add that book into your reading hopper.

Okay, I wanted to begin with this chapter, at least the opening pages of it, the chapter can be seen below.

In it the author notes that “baked into” socialism is serfdom… by violence if necessary. Scott Huber of Brightlight Books comments well on this idea and the book:

Williamson ended Chapter 1 (see that summary here) with the observation (from Hayek) that socialist planners always lead an economy on the “road to serfdom”. This is because socialist economic planning cannot work because the planners cannot have enough information or knowledge to make the proper economic decisions. So, in lieu of having enough knowledge to properly make economic decisions, they opt for varying and escalating levels of coercion to enforce their Plan.

In Chapter 2, he begins by refuting what he calls the high school debater’s trick of claiming that socialism in “theory” is great (and true and just and compassionate, etc.) but it just gets screwed up in practice.

Not so, he says:

In truth, the theory behind socialism is deeply flawed: it is intellectually narrow, inhumane, and deeply irrational in that it fails to account for the ways in which knowledge works in a society. Socialism in theory is every bit as bad as socialism in practice, once you understand the theory and stop mistaking it for the common and humane charitable impulse.

Here is a key question? How is economic value determined? Next, we can ask a slightly different set of questions: How should economic value be determined and, perhaps more importantly, by whom?

Williamson argues that on the issue of determining economic value Marx (and every socialist) is a moralist. How so?

Because for Marx, and every other socialist, the value of economic activity, which is to say the value of any product or service, is (or more precisely should) be objectively related to the labor of the worker who produces it. This contrasts with the subjective approach of the capitalist marketplace which basically says that the value of a product or a service is related to how people in the marketplace subjectively value it.

In other words, let’s say you spend a lot of time, human labor, and other resources to produce something. The socialist approach to value says that your product is, at least roughly, worth the sum of the costs required to produce it especially the labor costs. To price it higher or lower is an injustice.

Marx’s analysis is morally normative [i.e. what should be] in that he insists that, since labor is the measure of value, wages must equal the price of the product. The mere existence of profits – squeezing economic value out of a product beyond what workers are paid – for Marx was proof of capitalist’s exploitation of workers. It was indistinguishable from outright theft.

And, according to Williamson, it’s this moral (and moralizing) context that fuels Marxists’ and other socialists’ revolutionary fervor. Note Marx’s most famous quote: The point of philosophy is not merely to understand the world, but to change it. And at the point of a gun if necessary, which it usually is since free people do not readily cooperate with the revolution.

“Communism is a great idea, it just hasn’t been tried properly.” Leftist fellow travelers rush to embrace every Marxist experiment, champion the system and agitate for it to be copied in their own country. …and then walk away when it inevitably fails; searching once again for the next soon to fail utopia. Communism has been tried over 40 times in the last 100 years and has produced egregious results in every iteration. This video shows every application and deep dives into half a dozen examples, comparing before and after Communism was tried as well as comparing examples directly with free and mixed market neighbors.(Via VOTE NIXON)

And one should note that ALL of the above have a current application to what we are seeing the Democrats implementing. Socialized Medicine. And who better to explain this to us that the Gipper himself:

Walter Williams makes this real for us in a way that should perk the interest of those who love and cherish freedom:

Mao Zedong has been long admired by academics and leftists across our country, as they often marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving his little red book, “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung.” President Barack Obama’s communications director, Anita Dunn, in her June 2009 commencement address to St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral, said Mao was one of her heroes.

Whether it’s the academic community, the media elite, stalwarts of the Democratic Party or organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club and the Children’s Defense Fund, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism — a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Today’s leftists, socialists and progressives would bristle at the suggestion that their agenda differs little from those of Nazi, Soviet and Maoist mass murderers. One does not have to be in favor of death camps or wars of conquest to be a tyrant. The only requirement is that one has to believe in the primacy of the state over individual rights.

The unspeakable horrors of Nazism didn’t happen overnight. They were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for “social justice.”

Social Justice. This social justice always leads to repression, from the NAACP asking the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask to be investigated, to, Dr. Benjamin Carson being audited after his prayer breakfast speech by the IRS. These are murmurings of the greater end that always ends in violent repression. From pro-lifers being threatened on university campuses, to suppression of free speech, to… eventualy, the outgrowth — naturally — to violent repression. The difference between Marxism, Socialism, Communism, and Fascism, is a matter of degrees, only:

A Marxist will scream at you, argue and fist-fight you down the road to his dream, as he carries your belongings and says, “They belong to the collective”.

A Socialist will grab you by the hand or the hair, and beat you on the head with a stick and drag you along, as they make you carry your own belongings and tell you they, “Belong to the collective”.

A Communist will get behind you and make you carry your own belongings to his dream, as he points a gun to the back of your head, and kicks you in the back and screams at you, “They belong to the State”… as in the collective.

A Fascist will will have your neighbor carry your belongings, and shoot you if you do not agree with his dream of “Centralized Authority, and it all belongs to the State”,… the collective”.

…a matter of degrees.

(I cry every time I watch the beginning of this.) This footage is a great example of how Democrats are joined at the hip with radicals. The example comes by way of the two radical Democrat women making my point:

Question is, which is our temperature to stop this from going further in our country?

And any person should acknowledge why someone should “fear” government more than business. In fact, I made this point on my FB outgrowth of this blog in talking to my liberal friend:

…the point was to show how the Obama admin is stacking the books with GM. You see, when the government chooses winners-and-losers instead of getting contracts with private companies (like Ford, GM, etc.), they are invested to [i.e., forced to] only choose a government run business and stock their fish (so-to-speak) with GM fleets… leaving the non-government company to flounder.

This next audio deals with the differences of the Koch brothers, in comparison to the Left’s version of them, Soros. There are many areas that one can discuss about the two… but let us focus in on the main/foundational difference. One wants a large government that is able to legislate more than just what kind of light-bulbs one can use in the privacy of their own home. Soros wants large government able to control a large portion of the economy (see link to chart below), and he has been very vocal on this goal. The other party always mentioned are the Koch brothers. These rich conservatives want a weak government. A government that cannot effect our daily lives nearly as much (personal, business, etc) as the Soros enterprise wants. And really, if you think about it, what business can really “harm” you, when people come to my door with pistols on their hip… are they a) more likely to be from GM, or, b) from the IRS?

The possibility of them being from the IRS is even more possible with the passing of Obama-Care [i.e., larger government]. So the “fear” (audio in next comment) I think the Left has of “Big-Business” is unfounded, and the problem comes when big-business gets in bed with big-government. Here I am thinking of (like with the penalties that were found to be Constitutional in the recent SCOTUS decision) a government that can penalize you if you do not buy a Chevy Volt, or some other green car in order to save the planet. When this happens, guys coming to my door because of unpaid (hypothetical… but historical examples abound of the tax history of our nation) “fines” are likely to be IRS agents because of a personal choice made in the “free-market.”

Appendix: If the above example didn’t inspire any liberal fear (forced to go green or be penalized), maybe this one will?

…First, the government needs to issue a mandate that all households must own at least one firearm. We will need a federal agency to ensure that people aren’t just buying cheap BB guns or .22 pistols, even though that may be all they need or want. It has to be 9mm or above, with .44 magnums getting a one-time tax credit on their own. Let’s pick an agency known for its aptitude on firearms and home protection to issue required annual certifications each year, without which the government will have to levy hefty fines. Which agency would do the best job? Hmmmm … I know! How about TSA? With their track record of excellence, we should have no problems implementing this mandate.

Don’t want to own a gun? Hey, no worries. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts says citizens have the right to refuse to comply with mandates. The government will just seize some of your cash in fines, that’s all. Isn’t choice great? Those fines will go toward federal credits that will fund firearm purchases for the less well off, so that they can protect their homes as adequately as those who can afford guns on their own. Since they generally live in neighborhoods where police response is appreciably worse than their higher-earning fellow Americans, they need them more anyway. Besides — gun ownership is actually mentioned in the Constitution, unlike health care, which isn’t. Obviously, that means that the federal government should be funding gun ownership….

…read more…

(See More)

The Pilgrims could have benefited from sound theology which would have dissuaded their (and should ours) experiment with “communal” activities:

Many Americans believe socialism to be a form of social kindness by the government. But true socialism isn’t a social safety net. It is when the government controls most prices, businesses, property, and other aspects of economic life. The historical record of socialism has been wrecked or stagnating economies and flagrant human rights violations. The truth borne of a hundred years of hard experience is that people do not prosper in socialist countries.


According to the teachings of the Bible, government should both document and protect the ownership of private property in a nation.

The Bible regularly assumes and reinforces a system in which property belongs to individuals, not to the government or to society as a whole.

We see this implied in the Ten Commandments, for example, because the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:15), assumes that human beings will own property that belongs to them individually and not to other people. I should not steal my neighbor’s ox or donkey because it belongs to my neighbor, not to me and not to anyone else.

The tenth commandment makes this more explicit when it prohibits not just stealing but also desiring to steal what belongs to my neighbor:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exod. 20:17).

The reason I should not “covet” my neighbor’s house or anything else is that these things belong to my neighbor, not to me and not to the community or the nation.

This assumption of private ownership of property, found in this fundamental moral code of the Bible, puts the Bible in direct opposition to the communist system advocated by Karl Marx. Marx said:

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.

One reason why communism is so incredibly dehumanizing is that when private property is abolished, government controls all economic activity. And when government controls all economic activity, it controls what you can buy, where you will live, and what job you will have (and therefore what job you are allowed to train for, and where you go to school), and how much you will earn. It essentially controls all of life, and human liberty is destroyed. Communism enslaves people and destroys human freedom of choice. The entire nation becomes one huge prison. For this reason, it seems to me that communism is the most dehumanizing economic system ever invented by man.

Other passages of Scripture also support the idea that property should belong to individuals, not to “society” or to the government (except for certain property required for proper government purposes, such as government offices, military bases, and streets and highways). The Bible contains many laws concerning punishments for stealing and appropriate restitution for damage of another person’s farm animals or agricultural fields (for example, see Exod. 21:28-36; 22:1-15; Deut. 22:1-4; 23:24-25). Another com­mandment guaranteed that property boundaries would be protected: “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Deut. 19:14). To move the landmark was to move the boundaries of the land and thus to steal land that belonged to one’s neighbor (compare Prov. 22:28; 23:10).

Another guarantee of the ownership of private property was the fact that, even if property was sold to someone else, in the Year of Jubilee it had to return to the family that originally owned it:

It shall be a Jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan (Lev. 25:10).

This is why the land could not be sold forever: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23).

This last verse emphasizes the fact that private property is never viewed in the Bible as an absolute right, because all that people have is ultimately given to them by God, and people are viewed as God’s “stewards” to manage what he has entrusted to their care.

The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Ps. 24:1; compare Ps. 50:10-12; Hag. 2:8).

Yet the fact remains that, under the overall sovereign lordship of God himself, property is regularly said to belong to individuals, not to the government and not to “society” or the nation as a whole.

When Samuel warned the people about the evils that would be imposed upon them by a king, he emphasized the fact that the monarch, with so much government power, would “take” and “take” and “take” from the people and confiscate things for his own use:

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

This prediction was tragically fulfilled in the story of the theft of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite by Ahab the wicked king and Jezebel, his even more wicked queen (see 1 Kings 21:1-29). The regular tendency of human governments is to seek to take control of more and more of the property of a nation that God intends to be owned and controlled by private individuals.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 261-263.

Our Founders Hated “Direct Democracy”

(Originally posted in April of 2015. New media added)

…the Founders hated democracy and left behind a REPUBLIC OF HIERARCHY, not a Democracy of Equality

Take note of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution reads:

  • “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government

I tell my kids that we do not have a democracy, but a Democratic REPUBLIC; and I am basing these on the Constitution and the authors (and signers) understanding of it (commonly referred to as “original intent”).  Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America but chose not to.  In fact, they made very clear that we were not – and never to become – a democracy:

James Madison (fourth President, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the “father” of the Constitution) – “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general; been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

John Adams (American political philosopher, first vice President and second President) – “Remember, democracy never lasts long.  It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.  There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration) – “A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils.”

Fisher Ames (American political thinker and leader of the federalists [he entered Harvard at twelve and graduated by sixteen], author of the House language for the First Amendment) – “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction.  These will provide an eruption and carry desolation in their way.´ /  “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be liberty.”

Governor Morris (signer and penman of the Constitution) – “We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate… as [it has]  everywhere terminated, in despotism….  Democracy!  Savage and wild.  Thou who wouldst bring down the virtous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.”

John Quincy Adams (sixth President, son of John Adams [see above]) – “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”

Noah Webster (American educator and journalist as well as publishing the first dictionary) – “In democracy… there are commonly tumults and disorders…..  therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government.  It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.”

John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence) – “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.”

Zephaniah Swift (author of America’s first legal text) – “It may generally be remarked that the more a government [or state] resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.”

CATO Article:

Critics have long derided the Electoral College as a fusty relic of a bygone era, an unnecessary institution that one day might undermine democracy by electing a minority president. That day has arrived, assuming Gov. Bush wins the Florida recount as seems likely.

The fact that Bush is poised to become president without a plurality of the vote contravenes neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution. The wording of our basic law is clear: The winner in the Electoral College takes office as president. But what of the spirit of our institutions? Are we not a democracy that honors the will of the people? The very question indicates a misunderstanding of our Constitution.

James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy will the direct, unrefined will of the people.

Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these two-fold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.

What about the democratic principle of one person, one vote? Isn’t that principle essential to our form of government? The Founders’ handiwork says otherwise. Neither the Senate, nor the Supreme Court, nor the president is elected on the basis of one person, one vote. That’s why a state like Montana, with 883,000 residents, gets the same number of Senators as California, with 33 million people. Consistency would require that if we abolish the Electoral College, we rid ourselves of the Senate as well. Are we ready to do that?

The filtering of the popular will through the Electoral College is an affirmation, rather than a betrayal, of the American republic. Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Nonetheless, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. In the 2000 election, for example, Vice President Gore could have put together a plurality or majority in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest, and California.

The victims in such elections would be those regions too sparsely populated to merit the attention of presidential candidates. Pure democrats would hardly regret that diminished status, but I wonder if a large and diverse nation should write off whole parts of its territory. We should keep in mind the regional conflicts that have plagued large and diverse nations like India, China, and Russia. The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.

Second, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, but even in our own time we have found that devolving power to the states leads to important policy innovations (welfare reform).

If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.

How did the terms “Elector” and “Electoral College” come into usage?

The term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.” In the Federalist Papers (No. 68), Alexander Hamilton refers to the process of selecting the Executive, and refers to “the people of each State (who) shall choose a number of persons as electors,” but he does not use the term “electoral college.”

The founders appropriated the concept of electors from the Holy Roman Empire (962 – 1806). An elector was one of a number of princes of the various German states within the Holy Roman Empire who had a right to participate in the election of the German king (who generally was crowned as emperor). The term “college” (from the Latin collegium), refers to a body of persons that act as a unit, as in the college of cardinals who advise the Pope and vote in papal elections. In the early 1800’s, the term “electoral college” came into general usage as the unofficial designation for the group of citizens selected to cast votes for President and Vice President. It was first written into Federal law in 1845, and today the term appears in 3 U.S.C. section 4, in the section heading and in the text as “college of electors.”

5 Socialism Myths (John Stossel)

Socialism is now as popular as capitalism among young people. That’s because they are being told nonsense. So in this video (and the next) we’ll debunk socialism myths.

Many young people love socialism. They don’t like capitalism. They don’t notice what capitalism give them. They protest in Nikes, and tweet about it from their iPhones. In this video, I continue where I left off in my last video, and debunk more myths about socialism.

Covid Used As Opportunity To Change Society

For some reason I cannot read at home, so the only time I actually do read is on Friday’s after work I go to a local pub and read at the bar while having a few beers. This was a portion worth adding to the record here:

No one expressed it more clearly than Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at Yale University, epidemiologist, and AIDS activist. On March 23, Gonsalves tweeted: “As a friend of mine said this weekend: ‘There are no natural or social laws preventing us from remaking the economy for the next 18 months, the next years, or forever…. There are only political and cultural barriers, barriers we must overcome….‘”

Similarly, Michael Hiltzik, a left-leaning columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote in May that the coronavirus could boost plans for universal basic income-government provided welfare payments for all. (In October, actress and liberal activist Jane Fonda would express an even blunter take: “I just think Covid is God’s gift to the left.”)

Alex Berenson, Pandemia: How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2021), 113.

5 Socialism Myths: Part 1 (John Stossel)

Socialism is now as popular as capitalism among young people. That’s because they are being told nonsense.

  • After the fall of the Soviet Union, I thought everybody would realize that socialism brings misery. But no, “intellectuals” like Professor Noam Chomsky convinced many that it was capitalism that was “a grotesque catastrophe,” and “The Soviet Union … was about as remote from socialism as you could imagine.” But that’s ridiculous. Economist Benjamin Powell explains that when the Soviets made private business illegal, “that’s about as close as the world ever saw to the purest socialist end of the spectrum.” That’s “Myth 1”. Whenever socialism fails people always say, “but that wasn’t ‘real’ socialism.” In this video (and our next) we debunk 5 ridiculous myths about socialism.

Capitalism or Socialism: Which One Is More Democratic? (Prager U)

What is the difference between free-market capitalism and democratic socialism? And which system is actually more fair and responsive to the needs of the people? Here’s a hint: names can be deceiving. Dinesh D’Souza has the answers.

They Say Scandinavia But They Mean Venezuela (Prager U)

What do Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want America to look like? They say they want America to emulate Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden. But do their proposed policies reflect that? Or do they point down a darker path? Debbie D’Souza, a native Venezuelan and political commentator, investigates.

Jim Jones and His Utopian Goals

(UPDATED – first posted late 2010) Jim Jones was a hard-core atheist/socialist. It wasn’t a “religious cult,” rather, it was a cult in Marxian ideology. Here is one example from a sermon of his:

Remember, as NATIONAL REVIEW makes the point, “Willie Brown, Walter Mondale, and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter ranked high among his [Jim Jones] supporters.” Continuing with the line of historical connections between “Leftism” and Jim Jones, NR also clearly reports that the media still gets their biased views mixed up with reality:

But the first draft of history depicted the political fanatics as Christian fanatics, despite the group’s explicit atheism and distribution of Bibles in Jonestown for bathroom use. The words “fundamentalist Christianity” were used in a New York Times article to describe Jones’s preaching. The Associated Press called the dead “religious zealots.” Specials on CBS and NBC at the time neglected to mention the Marxism that animated Peoples Temple.

Beyond the ideology that inspired Peoples Temple’s demise, the media whitewashed the politicians who aided and abetted them.

Learning that San Francisco mayor George Moscone appointed Jim Jones to the city’s Housing Authority Commission, a body of which he quickly became chairman, piqued my curiosity, which led to my writing Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco. This revelation, particularly shocking in light of the fate of his tenants in Jonestown, led me to come across this: Willie Brown, who would become the speaker of the California State Assembly and then mayor of San Francisco, compared Jim Jones to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Harvey Milk described Jonestown as “a beautiful retirement community” helping to “alleviating the world food crisis.” California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally actually made a pilgrimage to Jonestown that led to a gushing reaction typical of ideological tourists.

The politically inspired delusions of San Francisco Democrats proved contagious. Jimmy Carter’s running mate, Walter Mondale, met with Jim Jones in San Francisco in 1976. Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, found Jones so impressive that she campaigned with him, ate with him, allowed him to introduce her during a campaign speech, telephoned him, and put him in touch with her sister-in-law, Ruth Carter Stapleton. Friends in high places suppressed investigations in the United States, misled officials in Guyana into dismissing allegations against the lunatic in their midst, and biased State Department hands into siding with Jones in his fight with outraged relatives of the captives in his concentration camp….

THE CITY JOURNAL has a short review of Daniel Flynn’s book, “Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco.”

Is “Social-Justice,” Justice?

(**From late 2011) Dennis Prager opines in short about how the Left changes things (in this case, “Justice”) — be hyphenating a word or core value.

“Social Justice” is a term you hear almost every day. But did you ever hear anybody define what it actually means? Jonah Goldberg of the American Enterprise Institute tries to pin this catchall phrase to the wall. In doing so, he exposes the not-so-hidden agenda of those who use it. What sounds so caring and noble turns out to be something very different.


Karl Marx: 1st To Suggest Political Genocide On Massive Order

(originally posted June 2013)

What is the deadliest thing mankind has ever encountered in history? Disease, famine, nuclear weapons? Not even close. By sheer body count, it’s an idea. One that thrives on absolute power and control, and will stop at nothing to achieve complete domination. This is the story of the deadliest virus in the world, COMMUNISM. You can’t kill an idea, but ideas can kill you. We must fight this virus to survive.

You always hear that the right is fascist, WRONG! Here is a short clip from a documentary that is able to respond quite well to this charge. One should watch the whole DOCUMENTARY, its cheap enough. But this snippet can be used as a great — embeddable — answer to the left leaning challenge that Nazism and Marxism is any different.


  • the very cannibalism of the counterrevolution will convince the nations that there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terrorism.” — Karl Marx, “The Victory of the Counter-Revolution in Vienna,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 7 November 1848.  (See entry of 29 Jan. 2007)
  • “By the same right under which France took Flanders, Lorraine and Alsace, and will sooner or later take Belgium — by that same right Germany takes over Schleswig; it is the right of civilization as against barbarism, of progress as against stability. Even if the agreements were in Denmark’s favor — which is very doubtful-this right carries more weight than all the agreements, for it is the right of historical evolution.” — Friedrich Engels, Neue Rheinische Zeitung 10. Sep. 1848 (See entry of 8 Jan. 2005)
  • “And as for the Jews, who since the emancipation of their sect have everywhere put themselves, at least in the person of their eminent representatives, at the head of the counter-revolution — what awaits them?” — – Karl Marx, Neue Rheinische Zeitung 17. Nov. 1848)
  • “Every provisional political set-up following a revolution requires a dictatorship, and an energetic dictatorship at that.” — Karl Marx, Neue Rheinische Zeitung 14. Sep. 1848
    (See entry of 9 Jan. 2005)
  • “Among all the nations and sub-nations of Austria, only three standard-bearers of progress took an active part in history, and are still capable of life — the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars. Hence they are now revolutionary. All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary holocaust. [“world storm” ? J.D.] For that reason they are now counter-revolutionary. …these residual fragments of peoples always become fanatical standard-bearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character [A general war will] wipe out all these racial trash [Völkerabfälle – original was given at Marxist websites as “petty hidebound nations” J.D.] down to their very names. The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.” — Friedrich Engels, “The Magyar Struggle,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, January 13, 1849

  • “We discovered that in connection with these figures the German national simpletons and money-grubbers of the Frankfurt parliamentary swamp always counted as Germans the Polish Jews as well, although this dirtiest of all races, neither by its jargon nor by its descent, but at most only through its lust for profit, could have any relation of kinship with Frankfurt.” — Friedrich Engels, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 29. Apr. 1849 (See entry of 17 Jan. 2005)
  • “Germans and Magyars [of the Austro-Hungarian Empire] untied all these small, stunted and impotent little nations into a single big state and thereby enabled them to take part in a historical development from which, left to themselves, they would have remained completely aloof! Of course, matters of this kind cannot be accomplished without many a tender national blossom being forcibly broken. But in history nothing is achieved without violence and implacable ruthlessnessIn short, it turns out these ‘crimes’ of the Germans and Magyars against the said Slavs are among the best and most praiseworthy deeds which our and the Magyar people can boast in their history.” — Friedrich Engels, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 15 February 1849 (See the entry of 6 April 2005)
  • “To the sentimental phrases about brotherhood which we are being offered here on behalf of the most counter-revolutionary nations of Europe, we reply that hatred of Russians was and still is the primary revolutionary passion among Germans; that since the revolution hatred of Czechs and Croats has been added, and that only by the most determined use of terror against these Slav peoples can we, jointly with the Poles and Magyars, safeguard the revolution. … Then there will be a struggle, an ‘unrelenting life-and-death struggle’ against those Slavs who betray the revolution; an annihilating fight and most determined terrorism  not in the interests of Germany, but in the interests of the revolution!” — Friedrich Engels, “Democratic Pan-Slavism” Neue Rheinische Zeitung 15. Feb. 1849  (See entry of 16 Jan. 2005 and 3 April 2005)
  • only by the most determined use of terror against these Slav peoples can we, jointly with the Poles and Magyars, safeguard the revolution there will be a struggle, an ‘inexorable life-and-death struggle’, against those Slavs who betray the revolution; an annihilating fight and ruthless terror not in the interests of Germany, but in the interests of the revolution!”  — Friedrich Engels, “Democratic Pan-Slavism, Continued,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 16 February 1849 (See entry of 29 Jan. 2007)
  • “We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.” — Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels “Suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung”, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, May 19, 1849 (See entry of 29 Jan. 2007)
  • “The workers must try as much as ever possible to counteract all bourgeois attempts at appeasement, and compel the democrats to carry out their present terrorist phrases. They must act in such a manner that the revolutionary excitement does not collapse immediately after the victory. On the contrary, they must maintain it as long as possible. Far from opposing so-called excesses, such as sacrificing to popular revenge of hated individuals or public buildings to which hateful memories are attached, such deeds must not only be tolerated, but their direction must be taken in hand, for examples’ sake. …from the first moment of victory we must no longer direct our distrust against the beaten reactionary enemy, but against our former allies [the democratic forces], against the party who are now about to exploit the common victory for their own ends only. … The arming of the whole proletariat with rifles, guns, and ammunition should be carried out at once [and] the workers must organize themselves into an independent guard, with their own chiefs and general staff, to put themselves under the order, not of the [new] Government, but of the revolutionary authorities set up by the workers. … Destruction of the influence of bourgeois democracy over the workers [is a main point] which the proletariat, and therefore also the League, has to keep in eye during and after the coming upheaval. …to be able effectively to oppose the petty bourgeois democracy. In order that [the democratic party] whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the first hour of victory, should be frustrated in its nefarious work, it is necessary to organize and arm the proletariat.” — Karl Marx “Address to the Communist League” March 1850, cited in E. Burns (ed): A Handbook of Marxism 1935, p.66-68.
  • “Removed and expelled members, like suspect individuals in general, are to be watched in the interest of the League, and prevented from doing harm. Intrigues of such individuals are at once to be reported to the community concerned.” — Rules written by Karl Marx and others for the Communist League (Art. 42) 1850 (See entry of 18 Jan. 2005)

  • “Society is undergoing a silent revolution, which must be submitted to, and which takes no more notice of the human existences it breaks down than an earthquake regards the houses it subverts. The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.” — Karl Marx, “Forced Emigration”, New York Tribune 1853 (See entry of 29 Jan. 2005)
  • “Even with Europe in decay, still a war should have roused the healthy elements; a war should have awakened a lot of hidden powers, and surely so much energy would have been present among 250 million people that at least a respectable battle would have occurred, in which both parties could have reaped some honor, as much honor as courage and bravery can gain on the battlefield.” — Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, “The Boring War”, 1854 (See entry of 13 March 2005)
  • “Those dogs of democrats and liberal riff-raff will see that we’re the only chaps who haven’t been stultified by the ghastly period of peace.” — Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels (Letter, 25 February 1859) (See entry of 11 Feb. 2005)

“Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets.

the real work is done by the Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loan-mongering mysteries by concentrating their energies upon the barter trade in securities Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment, there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan. The smartest highwayman in the Abruzzi is not better posted up about the locale of the hard cash in a traveler’s valise or pocket than those Jews about any loose capital in the hands of a trader The language spoken smells strongly of Babel, and the perfume which otherwise pervades the place is by no means of a choice kind.

Thus do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowners The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afforded to their oppressors still remain to be told.

The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.”

— Karl Marx, “The Russian Loan”, New York Daily Tribune, 4 January 1856 (See entry of 20 May 2009)