The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars


We’ve all heard about the tragedy of the commons.  The left apparently takes it as a reason for strong regulation, while the rest of us are out here waving our arms, screaming and going “no, no, no.  Regulation has a cost. The tragedy of the commons is not having well defined rights, like the right to property.”

(In fact we know that the more things are owned in common, or nebulously in any country, the more that country is likely to be a sh*thole.  For instance if things belong to the tribe, or even the extended family group, there are good chances the tragedy of the commons will operate.  And far less incentive to excel.  But that’s something else.  Tribalism is a problem. Always.  A discussion for another time.)

What the left always fails to get is what I’ll call The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars.

You see, part of the problem is the mental framework.  To the left any money earned anywhere in the country automatically belongs to the government. This confirms my suspicion that at heart, deep inside, they think of the normal form of government as feudalism. This is because I’ve seen very old land deeds and other documents from when  Portugal was a monarchy and it read something like “his majesty, graciously allows his subject so and so to exert ownership over this parcel of land” the underlying conceit being that the whole land of the whole country belonged to the king, and it was in his purview to hand it out to whomever he pleased for as long as he pleased, while it still belonged to him.  (The documents I saw were for things like house plots, not fiefdoms, incidentally.)

The left seems to be going off the same book when they say things like “How will you pay for the tax cuts?” as if the government is OF COURSE entitled to all your money, and if you’re getting some back, that part must be compensated for.

This goes hand in hand with their idea only the government does anything worthwhile, including demanding the president (at least if Republican) do something about things over which he has no power.  “What are you going to do about unemployment?” “What are you going to do about anti-semitism” or “What are you going to do about hurricanes?” (The later and the whole antropogenic global warming climate change obsession, btw, give new meaning to the “everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it” joke.)

Because of these frameworks, they miss what taxes cost.

Yes, sure, government invests in medical and scientific research. Government pays people money that gives them more comfortable lives than they would otherwise have. Government does a lot of things.

But are these the same things that private individuals would do, given the same money  in their pocket, instead of paid in taxes to spend as they wished?

I don’t know if any formal studies have been done, but we know that countries with more state funding inevitably lose out in both innovation and wealth to those who allow individuals to keep more of their money.

Look, it’s something like France, which had a massive, extremely complex research and implementation program for what would be CHEAP audio and visual calls all over their country.

They were immensely proud of it and in the late seventies, when I was taking French, we watched little movies about how great it would be in 10 years or so, and there were articles about it and…

And it was still not implemented when the personal computer overtook it and made video calls all over the world for very little a reality. And yes, I do know how much the government put into developing the internet. What I don’t know is how much faster and more functional it might have been without that.  Sure, it might also not have existed. But what would have existed INSTEAD?

Here’s the thing: contrary to what the left thinks, when you leave wealth in the hands of the individuals, they don’t just flush it down the toilet or build gigantic bins that they fill with money, in which they go for a refreshing swim every day.

People do things with that money.  And even if all they do is buy stuff (thereby allowing someone else to accumulate wealth) or invest it, that money gets aggregated and finds things to do, as it were.  Wealth goes to work on things that seem interesting, might be interesting, or are otherwise likely to make money for the individuals who hold the wealth.

Individuals have money to start new businesses that would never have existed if they’d paid that money in taxes.  Or they “invest” in free time and a really nice garden, which in turn lifts the spirits of people who invent something because they feel better than they would otherwise.

The left insists that if they leave money in individual hands, it will just be “wasted.”  (Because, you know, no money spent on a vast a apparatus, most of it a jobs program for useless paper pushers or power-hungry martinets is ever wasted.)

How do they know? Have they tried leaving enough money in the hands of those who earn it to make a difference?

Not in the twentieth century.  Though we can infer from the fact that the most sclerotic, dying countries are the highest taxed ones, that perhaps what government considers “best” and what we consider “best” are not the same.

Not just taxes, but regulations too weigh heavily on possibilities.  Sure, the left sees “lands saved” (or created. oop) when say, regulations curtail oil drilling.  But what I see is energy taking up an excessive amount of every family’s money,  wealth that would otherwise be freed for other investments, for starting businesses, even “just” for fun.

The problem we have is that leftists lack utterly in imagination. They see the “pristine” plots of land, or the things government does with our money and they find it good.

But they’re mind’s-eye blind.  They can’t see the wealth that has been consumed for almost 100 years now say on the war on poverty to create chronic poverty having instead been used by individuals to create, to invest, to build, so that, in that parallel world in which money stayed in individual hands, we now have interplanetary travel, colonies all over the solar system, and squid farms on mars that feed all of humanity.

Their lack of vision, their killing of possibilities without the slightest thought to them: That is a tragedy.


292 thoughts on “The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars

    1. That’s the thing.

      People don’t forget that and most people start deciding if they get no credit of some kind or another (money, acclaim, sex, whatever) for building things beyond their immediate needs, why bother building them.

  1. Yes, everyone complains about the weather, but only a fool would think he can do something about it.
    (2018 update)

    1. As I’ve told someone once, “I’m not so arrogant to think that I have more power than the average volcano, or the sun.”

      The interesting thing I’ve discovered with this reply is that the average Lefty thinks of the volcano’s emissions as being somewhat ‘natural and constant thus the Earth compensates for that’ in some way and ‘doesn’t damage the environment or affect it negatively’ (and thus, ditto the Sun) but people DO, somehow, because (Insert) list of reasons which boil down to ‘pollution and so-called overpopulation’ that doesn’t ever take into account human foibles like corruption, etc, because humans are magically both incredibly destructive yet pure of intentions.

      1. It must be very trying if one has children in school these days. The baloney is knee deep, and hard to resist for even gifted kids.

        1. No kidding – I have assured my daughter that if she has children, I will home school them myself, from the time they can talk, rather than turn them over the the public schools. Even if ours in Texas are still mostly OK. The Daughter Unit did get a ration of political correctitude in her own education, and I can only think that it has gotten even worse since then.

  2. And it was still not implemented when the personal computer overtook it and made video calls all over the world for very little a reality. And yes, I do know how much the government put into developing the internet.

    Wasn’t most of that paid in the form of “we want a tool to do X, Y and Z, which is a thing we need to do to do our legitimate job” rather than “gosh, let’s research how to build this for The People”?

    1. Yes, the government (actually, the hated “military-industrial complex”) built the internet’s basic structure, but what produced the dynamic wealth-generating internet as we know it was private investment, establishing things like Compuserve, AOL, Prodigy, Facebook and the other establishments created to monetize the new opportunities represented by the internet.

      Without that private development the internet would have remained a communications system for government diktats, an economic deadweight managed by bureaucrats shouting, “You kids get off my web!”.

      1. The government built the internet. But it didn’t take off until AFTER they let go of it and opened it up to everyone.

        1. Video games. Which, btw, was about the very first thing done over arpanet. Text games… and watching each letter come appear on the screen o n e a t a t i m e.

            1. Heh. Keep in mind that it was one of the major drivers of home video purchases … and that, reputedly, one of the first six movie cameras sold by Edison was taken to Argentina to make “blue” movies.

              1. Vice–gambling, porn, prostitution, drugs– and art (where they don’t overlap) are almost always the early adopters of new technologies, and given the amount of money to be made in vice, almost always drive the further development.

            2. Pr0n, and family history, ironically enough, which, as I understood it, always contended with each other as the number one use of the internet….

              (And with the digitizing of documents around the world, family history was even able to give pr0n a run for their money on images…although, with movies the way they are now-a-days, probably not so much now….)

              1. James Lardener wrote a fascinating history of the first stage if the Video Revolution, called FAST FORWARD. It includes titbits like the meeting where the studio executive types were bitching about the rental business and their lawyers had to explain to them the principle of ‘first sale’.

                i.e.; you sell somebody a copy of something, you no longer own it. What they then decide to do with that copy, absent a contract that they signed, is nunyo bidness.

                  1. Which almost entirely failed to go over. The rental people just waited until the sale copies were released.

                    It’s a fascinating story, fairly well told.

                    1. Not in my experience. Rental stores bought multiple rental copies, and ended up selling them as previously viewed tapes once the rush was over and the normal sale copies were available. Heck, my poor worn out VHS copy of The Crow was a PVT bought for me by a friend that was assistant mgr of the store and knew that tape had only gone out 4 times. A rental store that didn’t have rental copies available the day that the movie first came out didn’t last very long in this market.

          1. Which is the lesser version of 0bama’s “You didn’t build that!” or 0bama’s latest, even bigger boner “That oil glut because of Fracking in the US is because of me!” [ignore that “You can’t drill your way to lower prices!”]
            Gore’s would be akin to Jimmy Carter claiming to have invented beer brewing, because he passed the law that allowed home brewing and spawned the micro-brewery when folks learned beer doesn’t have to be sex in a small boat, and from 5 companies done in the billions of gallons, cheaply as possible.

            1. On the other hand Mr. Obama can legitimately claim credit for incentivizing eight years of very robust firearm sales.
              Trump, not so much.

              1. Well, just after election day, a few gays were persuaded to get a gun because Trump was supposed to want to stick them in consentration camps. They were confused when a ton of “evil” libertarians and conservatives gladly offered free lessons and help choosing which weapon to purchase.
                “What’s that you say? You no longer trust your government and want to protect yourself from it? Well come on down and join the party! It’s fun over here.”

          2. I was working at MCI in 1999 when the kerfuffle about Al Gore supposedly having claimed to have invented the Internet came up. One of MCI’s senior VPs at the time was Vinton Cerf, one of the people who could make a credible claim to the title “Father of the Internet,” and I asked him about what Gore had said. Cerf said that he had worked closely with Gore on funding, and without Gore’s efforts the Internet would still be a research network rather than what it was becoming. (Cerf (who I haven’t seen since the turn of the century) always seemed flattered by the title “Father of the Internet” but was always careful to point out that many others were involved and nothing that he did would have changed a thing without their efforts.)

            Al Gore “inventing” the Internet is one of those myths that just caught on among Gore’s detractors, just as Bysh41’s detractors “knew” that he was so out of touch that he was amazed by an ordinary supermarket scanner. (It wasn’t an ordinary scanner for that time, but a newer advanced model that did things that we take for granted now like weigh produce and (sometimes) read munged barcodes.

            1. What Gore actually said was not that he “invented” the Internet, but that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Which is still a claim he has no right to: even if he did say “This is a good thing; let’s fund it”, the claim to have “created” the Internet belongs to Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Jon Postel, and others like them. Al Gore’s actual claim is mockable, and it’s a shame that people distorted it to say “invented” rather than “created”. We should mock what leftists really said, rather than strawmen versions of what they said.

              1. Cary, NC, near Raleigh. I was in Data Services, I came to MCI when they bought Tymnet from BT. What’s left of it after Bernie Ebbers’ Worldcom fraud, a bankruptcy and a merger is now part of Verizon Business. MCI pulled most of the data stuff to Cary when they pulled it together under the Data Services heading. Once Data Services was pretty much all in one place they set up a group that dealt with anything that resembled a dial-up modem. Since I had spent most of the past ten years mostly working on modem issues I landed there, and all of us got to teach each other about the systems that we knew.

            2. I remember those early days, and Gore did, in fact, have a large impact on how the public/commercial internet developed. It also helped that he pushed (heavily) for subsidizing the cost of hooking up schools with the cabling they needed to have. If he hadn’t, most of the schools I worked at would not have had access.
              That one thing, in addition to helping schools bring in computers, also helped with the SmartBoard revolution. And, that, kids, was a Game-Changer for teachers. I can eliminate paper handouts, leave work for the sub, record a lesson, access interactive apps (that help even if the school has limited access to computers), and modify work in different languages and larger font (for vision impaired students).
              Yeah, he may be an arrogant asshole (what do I mean, MAY?), but his push was the driving force for much of what followed.

      2. Actually, Compuserve, AOL, GEnie, FIDONet and the other first generation online services were completely privately built – and they weren’t connected to the internet, and were ENTIRELY stand-alone networks.

        AFTER DARPA opened things up to the world, THEN all the various online services were connected together, and could exchange messages. Only email at first, but once HTML and the NCSA Mosaic browser were developed, THEN they started to grow “like Topsy”.

        1. There was also something called BITNet (standing for “Because It’s Time Network”), which was a group of universities setting up their own store and forward network for e-mail. In the early days of the Internet’s availability to everyone, I’d occasionally come across an e-mail address with a .bitnet suffix.

          1. There was also the UUCP network where universities would connect to each other (including dial-up intermittent connections) to pass mail around, uucp addresses have ! in them.

            I actually had a case in the very early ’90s where it made sense to setup a UUCP hop for e-mail (non-profit that couldn’t afford a full-time connections, so I had a firewall that auto-dialed out if anyone in the office tried to access the Internet, and dialed out periodically to check for e-mail for anyone in the domain)

            1. I used a uucp link for over ten years, dialing in to a local university’s VAX cluster. I had it bridged to my BBS as well, so users could get internet mail.

            2. a lot of BBSes did, too… i dunno how it worked, but you could send mail from bbs to bbs to bbs. replies were sometimes a loooong time coming.

          2. I was surprised that $HOUSEMATE hadn’t ever used bitnet at all, considering computing history and involvement and that I had. It’s once of those little oddities in the universe. Not really important, just a bit odd.

          3. When on Kwajalein in the early ’90’s I was co-SYSOP for the island RelayNet (started and run by guys from the ham radio club). Don’t know what they have there now (I haven’t been back for 20 years) but I’ll bet it’s a tad more advanced than that.

        2. Those early services did participate in the passing around of the Usenet threads. It was slower (wasn’t everything then?), but even independent bulletin boards had that capability.

    2. DARPA developed the technology, they built a Proof of Concept (although they didn’t know that’s what they were doing).

      During this time you had to have pull or connections to get access to the ARPANET (work at the right company, attend the right school, etc)

      Prodigy, AOL, and other dial-up services started once AT&T’s monopoly power was broken by the courts and people were allowed to connect their own devices to the phone lines.

      Later on, the Government opened up access to the Internet and individuals, private companies, started connecting their systems together using this technology (some had earlier connections with proprietary technology). Email and Webservers were put up and hosted by individuals and companies. Companies got into the business of providing connections for other companies. Companies paid Billions to run wire and fiber connections.

      The Internet was not built by the Government, it was built by Capitalism, everyone out to make a buck by providing something that someone else was willing to pay for.

      1. While Compu$erve and a few other online services had their very own modem pools things didn’t really take off until the networking companies created modem pools that allowed dial-up access to the networks. They were there for online banking, brokerage, linking small offices that didn’t rate a full-time leased line to the mainframe at HQ, and early forms of e-commerce, though it was generally for businesses or hospitals ordering supplies. But that mainly happened during business hours. As 5 pm approached in each time zone there was one final flurry, and then things dropped off rapidly. By 6 pm the modem pools were sitting there all over the US, thousands of modems with tens of users.

        The modems were there, the data switches were there, the leased line tying the local switches to the network were there, and none of them were making any money after 6 pm. So when the early online services wanted to expand into smaller markets without building bigger modem pools they were able to cut a deal with the networks. ANY use of the modem pools that the online services paid for between 6 pm and 7 am was basically found money. (This explains why daytime access to networks cost so much, the networks charged the commercial rate in the daytime and a much lower rate at night.)

        All of those busies when trying to call Prodigy (which at first exclusively used Tymnet except for one local pool near their main office for employees and beta testers) or AOL stemmed from the fact that for a few years deployment of more modems by the networking companies was driven by daytime use because the business users paid the freight. As I used to painfully explain over and over to people on the online services that I used at the time the busy signals would only cease when online services became big enough that they were the financial driver for deployment of more modems. That finally started to happen, but dial-up Internet access started to take off at the same time. The projects at Tymnet to expand the number of modems in local pools switched almost overnight from adding more modems to removing modems and canceling the associated POTS phone lines.

            1. I saw it in the theatre, liked it ok, but suspected that the computers ‘shown’ were about as realistic as the swords or ray guns in most other Hollywood epics. Written too much for plot and too little for what was actually possible.

  3. The tragedy of the commons is not having well defined rights, like the right to property.

    There have been numerous studies and books over the last decade or two addressing the question of why Hispanic America (Mexico and areas South) has failed to prosper as well as Canada and the USA. While we all know it is because raaaaacism and American colonial oppression, all of those studies seemed to conclude that the lack of strong property rights, protected by rule of law, was the primary factor.

    Hmmmmph! Economists — what do they know?

      1. Krugman doffed his economist hat when he started taking those NY Times paychecks, and has’t put it back on since.

        1. He writes one thing in his NYT column and the exact opposite in his textbooks. There are examples floating around the web.

          1. Of course – the text buyers are looking for economics, the NYT is buying propaganda with a veneer of economics.

    1. Which is also why a lot of reservations in the U.S. fail to thrive. The pieces of land are held in some of them by the tribe, and when it takes years to get a permit to do anything, well, you’re not as likely to do anything.

      1. I recall a story (alas any details are long gone, so the truth coefficient might be rather small) of an East block(?) emigre to the USA going to the local police station… only to be shocked that they told him if he wanted to start a business, he should just go start it. They didn’t issue permits for such things, as such weren’t needed.

        And yes, I know there are business licenses and various permitting requirements depending on the nature of the enterprise.

    2. This is why I consider property taxes the least bad taxes. Unambiguous designation of who has the right to use which property adds tremendously to the value of the property and the free time of the owner; if some of that added value goes to pay the costs of producing those rights, including title registries, courts, police, and armed forces (you don’t want the Red Army to squat on your farm, right?), it still leaves you much better off than if you had to defend your own rights, unaided.

      1. I view it more like extortion. “Nice property you have there. Pay up or we’ll take it from you.”

        The defenses you spoke of are from “the commons”; they apply to everyone, whether they own property or not.

      1. If oil is discovered on your land in the US you get rich. Whereas in Argentina, you get dispossessed of your property so the state can get rich.

  4. Opportunity costs and the law of unintended consequences.

    Those’ll get central planners every time.

    1. BUT, but, but! Their intentions are soooo goooooood!!! Doesn’t that override the unpleasant realities of the actual results!?!?

      1. I once visited Hell, {the one in MI} (and I have the t-shirt. “Go to Hell!” “Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt.”). The road there was not paved. Maybe it was just all those good intentions I missed.

        1. I read a T-shirt that said, “There’s a stairway to Heaven, and a Highway to Hell. That tells you something about the number going to each destination.”

  5. Because of these frameworks, they miss what taxes cost.

    The attraction of Socialism is that it makes benefits highly visible and hides well all of its costs. The tragedy of Capitalism Free Market Economics is that it makes the costs highly visible while obscuring how that produces benefits.

    Socialists do not understand opportunity costs, nor the perils of bureaucratic fiefdom. They miss what taxes cost, they miss what experts don’t know, they like their nice predictable society without disruptions inflicted by new technologies that give rise to unpredictable innovations.

    1. I’m not sure the Free Market obscures the benefits, but rather some people are so blind to the results while benefiting from them at the same time. Electric appliances have such obvious benefits that I don’t think modern Americans truly recognize them anymore unless they’re quite old or from really poor rural areas. Just think about how much time we spend washing clothes these days, and then think about how long it would take you to do if you had to do them by hand with a wash board or beat them on a rock down by the river.

      1. What is obscured is the fact that it is the free market, and only the free market that has produced, for example, washing machines. Even when command economies produce such goods, they virtually never invent them.

        1. That is as someone can sense a need (real or perceived) and attempt to fill it. If right, great. If wrong… oops. But that someone can just go ahead and try. No need to convince some bureaucrat to get approval to try. And the ‘safe’ bureaucrat answer is “No.” as that doesn’t disturb that comfortable (for the bureaucrat!) status quo.

          1. Another happy thing about the free market is if one exec shoots your idea down, you can find another (or go and do it yourself). If the State Committee For New Things shoots you down (figuratively), you’re pretty much stuck… and you better keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you.

            1. if one exec shoots your idea down, you can find another

              For example, when American automakers and auto unions expressed zero interest in W. Edwards Deming’s ideas about “continuous improvement” in favor of “more chrome, bigger fins, and planed obsolescence” he was able to sell Japanese automakers on the concept.

              1. And while it might kinda cool to have a car with fins… there’s a reason I drive a ‘dull’ “foreign” car.. built in the USA (alright, California) and in a plant built by/for a US automaker.

              2. Admittedly, the Japanese had the “advantage” of starting from a very level, read scorched earth, playing field. They had to build infrastructure from scratch rather than retrofit new technologies into an existing late 19th early 20th century infrastructure.
                And I am old enough to get the joke in Back To The Future playing on the switch where Made in Japan stopped meaning junk and became synonymous with quality electronics and automobiles.

                1. I can’t help but wonder, though, whether it was Japan’s “advantage” of having to start from scratch, or America’s “advantage” of having unions that ensured that any employee out to improve things would be beaten down, to prevent making the other employees looking bad, and striking against any sort of improvement in machining, from forges to robots, that would have meant less jobs for union employees.

                  Of course, unions were powerful in no small part because of government laws giving them power, above and beyond mere right to association….

                  1. unions were powerful in no small part because of government laws giving them power, above and beyond mere right to association

                    Never forget that union members have the right to engage in violence in the process of their collective bargaining.

                    Yeah, surprised me too, but when some scabs got thrashed during the UPS strike back during the Clinton Administration it came out that the SCOTUS had indeed nodded.

                    Per Wiki:
                    United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the federal Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934, known as the Hobbs Act, does not cover union violence in furtherance of the union’s objectives.

                    The case involved a labor strike in which members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) fired rifles at three utility company transformers, drained the oil from another, and blew up a company substation. The labor union in question was seeking a higher-pay contract and other benefits from their employer, the Gulf States Utilities Company which is now part of Entergy. The federal government tried the defendants under the Hobbs Act.

                    The Court ruled that “The Hobbs Act, which makes it a federal crime to obstruct interstate commerce by robbery or extortion, does not reach the use of violence (which is readily punishable under state law) to achieve legitimate union objectives, such as higher wages in return for genuine services that the employer seeks.”

                    1. read that quote again, it doesn’t give unions the right to use violence, it states that violence is covered and punishable under state law.

                      It just said that it was not covered under that one federal law.

                    2. In any state in which unions form a significant political block — Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, New York … — you can be absolutely confident in your criminal complaint against a union thug for damaging your car while filling in during a strike (or pulling you out of that car and having a heart-to-heart talk about workers’ rights) will get the thorough and complete investigation it deserves.

              3. When Ford got tired of Knudsen’s ideas, he went to GM. And under his aegis, GM started to outsell Ford.

                He was the guy who really innovated the assembly line by taking away the files and hammers and telling the workers that if it came off the line unusable, it was unusable — no manual fixes!

                1. Bill Knudsen is a primary focus (along with Henry Kaiser) of Arthur Herman’s excellent book about America;s tooling up to fight WWI, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. Highly recommended, in “print” or audio version. A key insight is that FDR had the mother wisdom to give Knudsen his head rather than listening to the micro-managers the New Deal had put into power.

                  One of several hour-long presentations by the author.

                  “A rambunctious book that is itself alive with the animal spirits of the marketplace.”—The Wall Street Journal

                  “A rarely told industrial saga, rich with particulars of the growing pains and eventual triumphs of American industry . . . Arthur Herman has set out to right an injustice: the loss, down history’s memory hole, of the epic achievements of American business in helping the United States and its allies win World War II.”—The New York Times Book Review

                  “Magnificent . . . It’s not often that a historian comes up with a fresh approach to an absolutely critical element of the Allied victory in World War II, but Pulitzer finalist Herman . . . has done just that.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

                  “A compulsively readable tribute to ‘the miracle of mass production.’ ”—Publishers Weekly

                  “The production statistics cited by Mr. Herman . . . astound.”—The Economist

                  “[A] fantastic book.”—Forbes

                  Freedom’s Forge is the story of how the ingenuity and energy of the American private sector was turned loose to equip the finest military force on the face of the earth. In an era of gathering threats and shrinking defense budgets, it is a timely lesson told by one of the great historians of our time.”—Donald Rumsfeld

                  “World War II could not have been won without the vital support and innovation of American industry. Arthur Herman’s engrossing and superbly researched account of how this came about, and the two men primarily responsible for orchestrating it, is one of the last great, untold stories of the war.”—Carlo D’Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War

                  “It takes a writer of Arthur Herman’s caliber to make a story essentially based on industrial production exciting, but this book is a truly thrilling story of the contribution made by American business to the destruction of Fascism. With America producing two-thirds of the Allies’ weapons in World War II, the contribution of those who played a vital part in winning the war, yet who never once donned a uniform, has been downplayed or ignored for long enough. Here is their story, with new heroes to admire—such as William Knudsen and Henry Kaiser—who personified the can-do spirit of those stirring times.”—Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War

                  1. An excellent book, and makes a good “back to back”/”compare & contrast” with Adam Tooze’s “The Wages of Destruction” (about the Nazi economic system).

            2. and if the free market – multiple tries – shoots down your “good idea”, you might get the clue that it wasn’t such a good idea after all, and try another. Which is less likely if you’ve embarrassed the State Commissar for New Things by failing to make your last approved good idea work well.

              1. Or not being able to make the “brilliant idea” of the Commissar for New Things work because it’s not actually possible, and get shot as a “wrecker”.

        2. In 1980 I spent 3 weeks in USSR. Our Intourist Guide to us to an Industrial museum. That showed the products produced in the area. Yes this actually existed.
          Toward the end of the trip, in Moscow, I wanted to get some jeans and stuff washed and asked how much it would cost. I was told $50 in Rubles! I was shocked and asked why so much. I was told that they would be washed by HAND. I asked why were they doing that wasn’t there a washing machine available. They said no the ones the Hotel had were used for the sheets and stuff they couldn’t use them. It also meant that they didn’t have ACCESS to washing machines.
          I then thought back, I had not seen ONE coin Laundry anywhere we had been. No wonder the people were able to tell who the tourists were. There is a vast difference in clothes washed by HAND and those washed by machine.

      2. Another positive effect of automatic washing machines is your clothes will last longer than banging with a rock or using a washboard.

        1. Banging your clothes with the heads of SJWs is not recommended. While harder than rock the pudding inside is likely to leak.

          1. Then there’s that nasty film of patchouli, stale weed, and BO that clings to many of them. Not a recipe for brighter brights.

      3. They take the benefits as nothing more than their due, and the natural and spontaneous way life is. Then they are annoyed at their lack of power.

        1. Not just new clothes, but dealing with old, out-of-fashion American clothes has had ripple effects worldwide. Even the tiny fraction donated or recycled, when dropped off in poor countries for a nominal cost or even free, has undermined businesses from small clothing manufacturers to handwork like Sarah’s mother used to do.

          1. A friend of mine pointed out to me years ago that donating t-shirts to charity is immoral, because they almost all end up in Africa, suppressing the local textile businesses (which are the easiest way to an industrial revolution in a country)

            1. Here, the choice is used clothes from overseas, or cheap, shoddily made clothing from China.
              Meanwhile, the government is upping the tariffs on a lot of imported good, supposedly to support national industries. The thing is, a lot of the PRC owned and run shops effectively smuggle in a good majority of their merch, effectively undercutting any nationally made items.

            2. Not really; the clothes provide a resource and fill the extremely low end demand– it changes the equation, but the industry is suppressed by cultural issues*, not imported clothes.

              Even with donated clothes, little kids are running around naked, or nearly so.

              * isn’t that a nice way to say that making money or building stuff means you’ll be killed for it?

    2. My dad once pointed out that government’s taxation of the people really took off when the payroll deduction was put in place. Before, you got your bill, and you were aware just how much those thieves were costing you.
      Now, most of the taxes are hidden. Few complain. Particularly when they contemplate that “windfall” of a tax refund.

      1. But with increased predation on the moon ferrets nothing will hold the moon rabbit population in check and the whole ecosystem will go out of balance.

  6. They feel that money that spent by individuals is rashly spent because they aren’t the ones controlling the money.

    1. THIS. They have utter contempt for us and think we are too stupid to make decisions for ourselves. This is the fundamental essence of leftist ideologies.

        1. Exactly. It is this hatred and contempt that shows that given power and the belief they can get away with it, they will put those of us they have contempt for in mass graves or in ovens to dispose of the bodies.

        2. And yet a dingbat who’s public pronouncements would embarrass Miss South Carolina 2007 is held up as the rising star of the new Democratic party.

          1. She manages to get elected and has the requisite propaganda organs to squelch knowledge of said errors. Plus the population has been maleducated to the point that feeling and first blush rules.

            1. The question is will she still be a Representative in two years time, once the novelty/ relatively young & attractive thing wears off.
              She could go the Alan Grayson route, and manage to be obnoxious enough to lose in a solid Blue Dog precinct.
              Or, she can be the Millennial Maxine, and stay there until either age takes her, or some fresh new kid rises up to take the seat.

              1. Probably safe until someone comes up from her left. Or a more “purebred” representative

              2. I fully expect her to loose in the primary next time. The fact that she won is a sign of how disgusted the Democrats in that district are of the status quo, but she is putting her foot in her mouth a LOT, so it wouldn’t take a much more polished Democrat to point out how inexperienced and wrong she is.

                I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Republicans make a real effort in that district as well. They didn’t this last time because they were up against a ‘safe’ seat, one of the most powerful people in Congress in a 90%+ Democrat district. Any political strategist (of any party) would have said that the incumbent was going to win

        3. Of course, it not that they know so much, but in the words of the late, great Ronald Reagan (among, I’m sure, others) so much of what they know ain’t so. And the ‘common folk’ have enough common sense to see through the BS.

    2. They also ignore that money spent, even if on the most superfluous useless thing, is good for the economy and therefore good for the people.

      For instance, I bought the parts to put together (yet another) guitar. Since I already own a (small) number of guitars, and I don’t play anywhere but at home for my own amusement (IE, I’m not in a band, don’t use it for income), the progressives might feel that I am HORDING resources. Except, the company that I ordered the guitar body from employs people. The company that makes the guitar bridge employs people. And so on and so on (there are a lot of parts in a guitar)… If it weren’t for guitar nerds like me who can’t NOT buy another one (or build another one in my case) those companies wouldn’t exist. The people who work for them wouldn’t have a job.

      What would those people do then? Probably go on the dole, since Government sure isn’t going to be buying guitar parts. So, the money gets spent anyway*. In my version, there are goods and services exchanged, creating wealth and increasing the economy. In the progressive version, even more money gets taken from the fewer people that still have jobs, and is given to those who no longer have jobs. And more importantly, no goods or services are exchanged and no wealth is created.

      * and no, Xr. Progressive. It does NOT get spent more efficiently. Claiming that government spending is more efficient is a damn lie.

      1. And that’s when the government isn’t trying to shut down your supply line. Viz. the Gibson guitar company which was *alleged* to be using wood that *may* have been obtained in violation of *foreign* law. While at the same time the C. F. Martin company was using the same materials unmolested. Seems the Gibson execs tended to support conservative causes while the Martin execs backed ‘liberal’ ones. Which one did the Obama justice department go after?

        Gotta luv that when Gibson eventually got the wood back, they used it to produce a special ‘here’s my two middle fingers’ ‘Government’ model series II GS axe.

        1. Thanks for the link. I haven’t been keeping track of what happened in the Gibson Tone wood kerfluffle. Nice to see they got it back and made something cool out of it.

          1. You are most welcome. Note the “pair of Dirty Fingers+ humbuckers” in the descriptive text.

            And no, AFAIK, I am not related in any way with the guitar Gibsons.

      2. For many it is more efficiently. More money siphoned from the rubes who work means more for the mandarins to skim. Government is its own interest. Just as someone who owns a company would vote against allowing an upcoming competitor to exist unless they get something for nothing, government flunkies vote to give themselves more power and control to rule and ectort.

        1. I’ve independently come up with “Offline-Cortex” and “Obstructed-Cognition.” I love how her name lends itself so well to this stuff.

    1. > The “climate” agenda, properly known as the scaremongering of of the priests of the religion of manmade global warming

      A good way to wind up one of them who tries to go all “sciency” on you (most of whom don’t know the first thing about sceince) is to point them at:

      and challenge them to produce a graph that demonstrates that either the number or the intensity of hurricanes making landfall in the United States has increased in the last century.

      Hint: you won’t get one. What you’ll get instead is a bunch of screeching and character assassination, followed by a banning if the True Believer can pull it off.

      Once in a great while you’ll get one who tries to argue that the total number of hurricanes on record has increased (rather than just the ones making landfall in the United States), which is a garbage metric because hurricanes that didn’t make landfall weren’t recorded (or even, sometimes detected) until we got good satellite imagery. The correct number to use here is the one for which we actually have a full data set.

      1. They may F&^*%ing Love Science, but that doesn’t mean that they actually, you know, have anything to do with the actual mechanics of science or any of that hard, western imperialistic math stuff.

        1. I just figured it out!

          That page has improper punctuation– they “F-ing love,” as opposed to “sacrificially love” or “infatuation love” or “fascination love” science.

          You know, they appreciate the short term, selfish pleasure it can be used for.

              1. Nyah – you need something catchier, something in today’s vernacular, without that off-putting “R-Word.” Something like:

                Science is my be-aitch!

                This has the benefit of accurately portraying their relationship toward Science as that of Dom to Sub (no insult to actual Doms and/or Subs intended; unlike contemporary Proglodytes they employ safe words.)

          1. They love it from afar, but science doesn’t even know their name, and they will never screw up the courage to go talk to it and learn about it.

        2. The Progressive Left loves Science the way a Westboro Bab-tist (no connection to any actual Baptists) loves Theology. I.E. they don’t actually know any, they just quote out of context a few passages that superficually fit their prejudices.

            1. Actually, engineering is all-out Conservative.

              Your bridge stands or it falls. Your rocket hits its target or misses. You can’t make up facts, interpret them with mystery algorithms, redefine your terms, or oh-look-a-squirrel.

              Liberals don’t like that sort of thing *at all*. They’re more into “feelz.” You know, like that pedestrian bridge in Florida, which *had* to be correctly designed and manufactured because it was designed and built by the Right People… Engineering doesn’t care about your gender alignment or your academic credentials.

      2. Not to mention that the definition for hurricane categories changed somewhere along the way. So, it appears that storms are strengthening if you just look at category, but some of those storms would have been a category lower under the old definitions.

        1. Did a bit about Texas hurricanes for one of the Luna City books – basically, there may have been horrific hurricanes when there was no one there but local natives to note their presence … and since they didn’t have written records, who would know? Spanish treasure fleets coming from Mexico and South America may have taken note of horrific storms … but basically, record-keeping with regard to hurricanes along the Texas Gulf Coast (and elsewhere) didn’t even begin until there were sufficient literate and record-keeping settlers present. And systematic record-keeping with regard to weather? Not until the latter quarter of the 19th century.

          1. If the natives remembered them, they would have a story about how the Mother Wind made the ocean swallow all the coastal villages, and that is why they don’t have the entire village on the coast anymore, and the progs would brush it aside as silly superstition.

    2. “…are very explicit in their desire to use their push to eliminate fossil fuels as a means to implement “racial, economic and social justice”,..”

      Cheapest, reliable, easiest to use fuel does the most to implement racial or economic “justice”. Poorer people (and for sake of argument we’ll accept that this encompasses racial minorities) aren’t *helped* by making energy more expensive. Fossil fuel can be carried in a bucket. It requires the least possible level of infrastructure to deliver power and mobility to undeveloped or depressed areas via fossil fuels.

      1. That cuts to the heart of the problem. What they say and what they mean are often two different things. They are in no way looking for justice but rather to rule over the plebes. Matthew 7:15-20 seems quite appropriate.

        1. See, if they allow the Poor to gain any real wealth, then the Poor won’t listen to their Betters any more. The Progressives went through that with The Working Class after WWII. They had all KINDS of plans for the betterment of The Working Class, but sadly the Workers had either A) just had several years of being lined up, counted off, and shouted at or B) several years of lucrative work in ‘vital industry’. The Workers wanted split level ranch houses, not Bauhaus Worker Apartments. The Workers wanted cars with tailfins, not Public Transportation. The Workers wanted a hi-fi that played Cool Jazz, not community concerts of Mahler.

          The Workers left the Progressives at the altar. And the Progressives aren’t taking any risk of THAT happening again.

          1. The Progressives moved on to the Minorities, but while slow, a lot of them are jilting the Plantation, and joining the Bourgeois. Turns out that Blacks and Hispanics aren’t especially fond of cement boxes or city buses either. Meanwhile, the various Asians just skipped the dole entirely.
            So, the old minorities are slowly becoming passe in Progressive eyes.

            Next stop is to make everyone a Special Snowflake Victim, slot them into their Official Victim Group, and tell them that only Government can save them.

      2. Without a personally owned vehicle, one’s employment options are seriously limited- which is another opportunity cost.

        1. That depends where you live. If you are in an ultra dense urban area (New York, San Francisco), using a car can be more effort than getting around another way.

          However in most of the country (including sprawling large urban areas like Los Angeles), not having a car is a very significant problem (even Uber doesn’t work well when the distances are significant)

          1. Some what additionally mitigated if one has a park & ride option. Where getting to the park portion is available via taxi/uber (Portland Metro). Or the option to telecommute.

          2. One problem is that people in the dense urban areas with plentiful mass transport tend to think that everyone else lives in dense urban areas with plentiful mass transport, and support policies that favor mass transport while penalizing individual vehicles. Even where it doen’t make any sense at all.

            1. This is part of what caused the Riots in France over the last week, changes that aren’t _that_ big a deal for people in dense urban areas, but really hurt the people outside of those areas.

              This is one of the things that makes the US Constitution so great, it didn’t create a national ‘winner takes all’ majority vote, it balanced things so that a few densely populated areas could not dominate the rest of the country (That was initially to protect against the big Southern States like Virginia, but it also protects us from the crazies in California and New York, at least for the most part)

              1. Gasoline taxes, paid primarily by individually* owned and operated vehicles, provide significant subsidies to mass transit (which typically operate inefficiently and uneconomically — see recent stories about NY’s and DC’s subways, where among other things permissive treatment of turnstile jumping inverts the insights of the “Broken Windows” policing philosophy.

                *Commercial vehicles either get their fuel taxes rebated or written off as deductible business operating expense. If not, the cost is passed along to the consumer.

            2. Even when one lives in the same town, it works this way.

              We don’t have mass transit like trains/subways. But we do have county buses. One school district has removed school buses from the HS level, but issue free student bus passes for the county bus system(*). Our district, same city, tried to do the same. BUT for a good 60% of the students, that means a good 90 minutes or more bus ride either to or from school, or for some both ways. To use the county bus system to go to HS, our kid would have had to catch a bus to downtown, switch buses, then take the route to the HS, reverse to come home. A minimum of 90 minutes. We are about 4 road miles from the HS. It is about 10 miles to downtown, another 10 miles back to the HS. The proposal got shouted down, then voted down, embarrassing, to the school board dismay (especially for the know it all who proposed it).

              (*) Alternative to county bus, one could walk or ride bike (meant crossing major rail lines & county 5 lane highway, from our area), or could drive if legal & had access to a car (with accompanying expensive parking spot hunting license), or parents could drop off/pickup (which for us meant taking time from work, which meant me**).

              (**) First two years of kid’s HS, hubby’s commute for take/pickup shared duties meant a 400 mile round trip 😉

              1. Growing up, I lived fairly rural. So that meant we were second on, and second to last off the bus. A trip of about an hour or so.
                Right before we moved to town, we figured out that a short, 3 minute bike ride through the woods to a friend’s house put us on a far later/ earlier stop, which meant more time for fun. Good lesson.

                1. Aren’t rural bus routes great? Get up at 5 to do chores so you can get on the bus @ 630 to get to school by 9. Learn to do homework while bumping over gravel roads.

                  1. My small town has school buses running at 0530. School doesn’t start until 0845.

                    If the trip back from the school to the bus stop takes the same amount of time, that means some students are spending almost as much time on the bus or standing out in the parking lot at the school waiting to be let in as they do in class.

                    (every school around here, students must stand outside in the weather – there aren’t even any porches or covered areas – until the building is opened at the appointed hour. *Because*, that’s why…)

              2. part of that, thought, is cities and counties’ fixation on using public transit to get people into and out of downtown, when what they actually need is ‘rim’ routes to move people around it.

                1. Very much so. I have a 43 mile one-way drive to work (Simi Valley to Pasadena) and work two blocks from the light rail system. It should be a perfect use case for me to use public transportation. But there are a few problems

                  1. The train doesn’t go from Simi to Pasadena, there’s one train that goes from Simi to Downtown LA and another one that then goes to Pasadena. This extra distance means that the commute is 2 hours by train, vs 1 hour by car

                  2. since the fares are based on the distance traveled, it costs me $20/day for a train ticket, which is more than the diesel for my 1984 full size Blazer (not counting maintinance)

                  3. one of the two trains I need to take has 4 runs into LA in the morning, and 4 runs out of LA in the evening (and only one going the opposite direction). If that doesn’t match my schedule, I am out of luck

                  It would work fairly well if I actually worked in downtown LA, but it just isn’t worth the time and hassle as it is

                  1. yep, i had to get from Duarte to Tarzana for 3 1/2 years, and part of the route depended on a city shuttle that only ran on time half the time.

                    1. The ONLY time I have used the Lane Park & Rides is 1) Fairgrounds for county fair. 2) University classes. Both instances it wasn’t the convenience, it was the blasted parking at the destination, or rather lack. As far as downtown itself, pretty sure it has the plague. If you have a shop downtown, so sorry, not shopping there.

            1. It’s the ‘this doesn’t hurt me but it hurts my enemy’ mindset. Same as all the folks crying over the poor refugees that live in gated communities, celebrities and politicos with armed security saying no one needs a gun, or govt workers, living in the richest communities in the country, cannot see that other parts are hurting and can’t just wave a wand and change jobs. Extremely corrosive.

  7. The biggest cost of Leftism, well besides the bodies, is the opportunity cost. All the things you don’t have because the money was spent (wasted?) on something else.

    To make it worse, it’s not just that you spent tax receipts on one gov’t program instead of another, or you took money from the people as taxes, instead of letting them keep it and use it themselves. No, indeed the worst and most expensive opportunity costs aren’t economic, they’re regulatory. All the products, drugs, you name it, that you’re not allowed to buy. Like for example a toilet that flushes, or a diesel pickup that doesn’t need that hideous DEF. Oh, it gets worse! All the cancer drugs that aren’t available because of the onerous FDA, all the healthcare facilities that don’t exist because of “needs-based” regulation. It gets worse yet! All the businesses that *never get started* because regulatory compliance is too hard. You never get to buy *their* products. And one more point, although I could go on: regulations are one of the *primary* ways that monopolists and oligopolists use to suppress upstart competitors. Yes, all the way down to your kid’s lemonade stand.

    The thing about opportunity cost is that you can’t see it. You cannot see what Could Have Been. But it’s a real cost, oh boy is it real.

    1. And the true horror stories of the babies that are required to be let die in National Health Service hospitals because NHS cannot treat them and must not be allowed to seek care elsewhere because that would undermine NHS authority.
      Do keep in mind that if it’s true for a few babies it’s also true for a vast number of adults as well, just not as likely to make the international news.

  8. The entire concept of estate and inheritance taxes comes from the feudal system, wherein one a person died, their estate and heirs had pay the monarch for the right to retain the use of the crown’s property. This is one of the reasons I consider such taxes to be among the most repugnant of taxes that a government can impose because it carries the implication that all property and wealth belong to the crown and we only have use of it by the grace of the monarch.

    1. They may have had a similar tax– I am not up on feudal taxes– but the modern American version is to prevent feudalism or any copy-cats by raising the price to just have land and not be productive with it.
      Kind of like squatter’s laws that can’t be countered via lawfare. Reading up on Chesterton’s political theories can give an eyeful of the nasty that can come without prevention.

      (In many areas, it is vastly balanced in the wrong way. None the less….)

    2. No, it is VERY simple. First the inheritance is INCOME to the people who inherit therefore subject to Income TAX.
      Also The Government didn’t like that Families could pass down wealth basically forever keeping the Families Powerful, that was NOT FAIR. (Besides at the time these Families were Republican) So the Government increased the Tax on inheritance. The Families OF COURSE used LAWYERS and ACCOUNTS to find ways around this tax and Stayed Powerful. The slightly wealthy and wealthy in LAND or Business couldn’t afford L&A and got SHAFTED. But the Progs LIKED the SOUND of the TAX and even though it did not work, they fought to keep it. After all it was STILL the Republicans it hurt most.

        1. Used to be the family farm could partition part of to sell to pay the owed taxes, & keep a major portion of the farm for the next generation. But that spawned sprawl development or mini non-producing farm-ets. Can’t have that. Now to pay the farm taxes, they have to sell to mega farms, thus the demise of family farms, which has in turn lead to those who “sell” to conservation groups, thus becoming tax except land, but keep most of their farming or ranching rights …

          Mostly ranches. But there are heritage farms which looses some rights, but maintains most, especially for the family farm.

          1. And also explains the rise of ‘corporate farming’. Axel Abelard has spent a lifetime building up his farm. In order to keep the government from taking half of it when he dies and leaves it to his children, he incorporates. When he retires (or dies), the next family member in line of succession steps up to the CEO plate, no inheritance involved at all.

  9. …“his majesty, graciously allows his subject so and so to exert ownership over this parcel of land” the underlying conceit being that the whole land of the whole country belonged to the king, and it was in his purview to hand it out to whomever he pleased for as long as he pleased, while it still belonged to him….

    No intrinsic difference between that, and “either pay the property tax that we deem fit, or we will rescind your right to ‘own’ that land. Also, if we decide we want possession, we’ll just eminent-domain it.” Well, the feudal system was perhaps more open about who actually owned the land…

    1. “Ownership” means “has exclusive control of”. Unless you are prepared to defend your claim to the land personally against all comers, land “ownership” is always something that comes from the gov’t, kingly or otherwise. The difference here is that in a monarchy (put aside details like constitutional monarchies and other modern high-falutins) you not only have to get your exclusive claim from the gov’t, you have no right to a say in the matter, or any other involving that gov’t. Here, you still have to get your exclusive claim from the gov’t (we don’t allow personal claim-defending beyond very, very narrow limits, for public safety reasons), but it’s a gov’t you have a voice in, a gov’t that (in theory) guarantees you certain rights etc. The “land ownership” part may not be intrinsically different, but that’s because of its nature, not the social systems involved. The social systems themselves are very different, and I think this makes the “land ownership” intrinsically different. But that last is just IMO.

    2. Not really. The fact is that any property right beyond “you have the right to what you can keep” only exists because of governments that punish theft. Expecting property owners to pay a tax to support the system that allows them to keep property without guarding it at all times and punishing those who try to free-ride on the system is entirely justified.

          1. Of course they are. Now, I do agree that one of the proper roles of government is to protect property and punish theft. I even agree that citizens ought to fund this. Even with taxes. Property taxes, however, offend me at a level that other taxing schemes do not. Because they are antithetical to the protection of property itself since someone might “own” property that is not producing an income. Which ought to be a property owners right, no matter if it’s a residence that isn’t producing an income, or a strip of land alongside a highway or ranch land that is let go to nature.

            The logical chain between the state collecting property tax or else you’ve no right to the property at all and no protection of your ownership of it, leads directly and with no “stopping at ‘go'” to eminent domain confiscation because someone *else* can produce more tax revenue for the state with your property than you do.

            1. Eminent domain should be a whole lot harder than it is. Years ago there was theme-park down here in Florida (don’t remember the name atm) that the owners just wanted to have a nice, relaxed place where families could go without having to pay a huge amount. It had a couple attractions. A Raptor show, Pretty girls swimming in mermaid costumes (I think… That might have been another park). It was nice.

              The Gov took it because they “weren’t making enough money” and the Gov wanted more in taxes. Note, Not because the place wasn’t paying their taxes. As far as i know they were all paid up. The Gov took it because they thought that if the business was run differently (more profitably), it would generate MORE tax revenue. The owners refused to charge more for entry, and refused to monetize various things, so they had to go.

              Government shouldn’t be able to do that.

              1. That’s right up there with the Tacoma accessor that decided to “recalculate” taxes based on what the owner would pay if their land was divided into tiny plots and turned into a full on development. (He got smacked.)

                The whole point of eminent domain is that it has to be public use, not assumed benefit that might hit the public– so roads, yes, ‘but we get more taxes’! no.


                1. The Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts tried that, and may still have that structure for all I know. Farms vanished like snowflakes in a blast furnace.


                2. I’d be SO TEMPTED to have a little ‘accident’ involving something frighteningly named with horrific publicity… at t+1 microsecond of the decision. No, I am NOT always nice. I am merely Mostly Harmless. Mostly.

            2. You can only say you own property if you can

              1) Protect it from any and all takers


              2) Have a government protect it, or at least punish those who violate it.

              That means that whatever conditions the government imposes on putative property owners in order to use its force to protect that property is legitimate. Therefore any taking of that property by the government cannot be considered theft. Your slippery slope does nothing to change the underlying reality. If you dislike the conditions your government imposes in order to secure your property rights, you should use any and all means to change your government.

              1. So if an invading army beats the government they aren’t stealing or taking over, it was never property in the first place?

                Do I need to have the capability of repelling a Kardashev III civilization?


                You would do well to turn your brain on before turning your typing fingers on.

                1. So if an invading army beats the government they aren’t stealing or taking over, it was never property in the first place?

                  That is the place you get when you start randomly redefining things as unacceptable for preferred outcomes- you have to ignore the difference between “invading army” and “gov’t isn’t doing exactly what I want.”

  10. The left despises private property rights. NYC Mayor DeBlasio has stated very expressly on several occasions that he thinks that America’s greatest problem is the existence of private property rights and he thinks it would be better if government controlled all property, told people where they could live, how much it should cost, etc. He is considered part of the “mainstream” of the Democratic Party, which of course shows hoe openly towards communism, albeit an identity based Neo-Communism (or Communazism as I prefer to call it) that the Democrats have moved towards.

    1. At least he was honest about it, referring to his “socialist instinct” or some such. Much of the rest of the Democratic Party is of the same opinion, merely less honest about it.

    2. I saw that DeBlasio thing the other day. I’m saddened (and a little shocked) that he wasn’t run out on a rail the minute those words came out of his mouth, even in NYC. Guess some of my fellow human beings are a LOT more comfortable under the master’s whip than I am.

      1. Maybe too soon? After all must be plausible deniability, while his guardians are looking the other way for a plausible oops?

  11. Quote:
    wealth that would otherwise be freed… even “just” for fun.

    who provides the fun? how many jobs does Disney have? do they do _anything_ other than to provide “fun”? then add in the rest of Hollywood etc.

    1. David Lang, you will report to your government-assigned Fun Center for your distribution of Mandatory Fun.

      -Bureau of Fun

  12. I think this is covered by Frédéric Bastiat’s saying about “what is seen and what is not seen.”

    I read For Us the Living when it first came out, and Heinlein pretty much spelled out what you are calling the leftist model. He assumed that money that a business uses to pay interest on bank loans vanishes from the economy, leaving too little purchasing power to pay for the economic output of the society, and leading to depressions. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that over time, savings and dissavings tend to average out the same; for every working person who is putting away money to buy a house or start a business, a parent is taking out money for college tuition or a retiree for living expenses. Fortunately Heinlein got better in his economic thinking.

    1. > He assumed that money that a business uses to pay interest on bank loans vanishes from the economy, leaving too little purchasing power to pay for the economic output of the society, and leading to depressions.

      I got the sense there was a little more to it than that, but admit that I didn’t fully understand Heinlein’s explanation. I’ve got Douglas’s book bookmarked for a careful read when I get some free time.

      There were some similar ideas in Beyond This Horizon.

      It seems self-evident that, in an expanding economy, the government (or government-equivalent) must create more money by some mechanism if prices are to remain stable.

      I am not sure why our present system of letting the rakeoff from that expansion process go to the banks rather than (as Heinlein’s societies did) cutting a check to every citizen, is necessarily optimal, or even desirable.

      1. Just as a factual matter, why do you think the “rakeoff” goes to the banks? I used to have a savings account; it paid me interest on the funds I had in it. The bank was able to do that because it was lending that money out to other people who paid interest to use it. Of course I stopped bothering with a savings account when the interest it paid dropped to a tiny fraction of 1%, but then we don’t have a free market economy.

        But even if you suppose banks are the ones who are keeping all the interest they earn on loans—that doesn’t lead to a lack of spending. Banks don’t just pile their money up in a huge money vault like Scrooge McDuck. They lend it out so that they can earn more interest. And when money is lent, the borrower spends it, either on consumer goods or on capital assets, labor, and inventory.

        As to Heinlein’s ideas, he provided an economic simulation game in FUtL. I’m a gamer; I sat down and went through a few rounds of it. That’s what led me to my conclusions about what he was saying. I would have to find a copy of FUtL and play through the game again to go into more detail, though.

        As to money expansion, if you use gold as money, there’s a cost of production for it: You have to dig it out of the ground, assay it, refine it, and so on. If the purchasing power of an ounce of gold is more than the cost of producing that gold, people will produce more, and the currency supply will expand; if it’s less, they’ll stop. That’s exactly the same kind of negative feedback stabilization that controls a home thermostat, and it will tend to keep the purchasing power of money from increasing. (It’s not so good at keeping it from falling—consider what happened to Spain when they imported specie from Mexico and Peru!—but as a rule, it’s more reliable than the decisions of government officials.)

        You can get many of the same benefits by having competitive banking, IF you don’t have compulsory “deposit insurance”; banks that make too many unsound loans will face bank runs, and won’t be able to get other banks to bail them out. The Federal Reserve system, in the United States, took away that mechanism—and in doing so, ensured that instead of single banks getting into trouble, it would be possible for the entire banking system to get into trouble in a huge way. Or, on the other hand, that could be avoided by having really rapid inflation, such as we have had since World War II, to the point where cars cost more than houses used to. The trouble with our current sort of money creation is that it’s almost impossible for it to provide actually stable prices; and having the average citizen get the profits of currency expansion just guarantees that you’ll never have stable prices. As Heinlein himself pointed out in his comments on what elderly people wanted when he was running for Congress. . . .

        1. American filmmakers once understood and explained to audiences how banking worked, as exhibited in this scene from Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life:

          This scene is actually a reprise of one played by Walter Huston in Capra’s 1932 American Madness, but I couldn’t find the relevant clip.

        2. > But even if you suppose banks are the ones who are keeping all the interest they earn on loans

          I know how bank accounts and loans work, dude, but we’re not talking loans and deposit accounts in the first place (or at least I wasn’t). We’re talking about expansion or contraction of the money supply, which is an entirely different thing.

          > As to money expansion, if you use gold as money, there’s a cost of production for it

          I wasn’t talking about gold, either, but in any case the gold supply is only loosely coupled with the rest of the economy. While there is SOME coupling (if the energy sector expands, the price of exploiting some gold mines will go down, leading to more gold to pay for the new oil).

          However, the important word here is “loose”, as your example of the economy of Spain post-colonization shows.

          The point here is that if the economy expands, the money supply also needs to expand, and our current system puts control of this (and the profits from it) in the hands of private banks (even if they’re dressed up as the “Federal Reserve”).

        3. I closed my savings account in the early 1980s. Interest was less than 1%, plus they started charging a monthly “maintenance fee”. And at that time the Fed was *admitting* to 17% or so inflation. What the real inflation rate was, who knows…

          Funny, all those “compound interest” problems we had to work out in school, interest was 5% or more, compounded monthly. There was none of *that* to be found anywhere…

    2. He assumed that money that a business uses to pay interest on bank loans vanishes from the economy
      Hmmmm, when will we get more on Sowell’s BRWL? This is the section on economic middle-men, and why they are looked down upon.

      letting the rakeoff from that expansion process go to the banks
      But it doesn’t go to “the banks”, it goes to the people working for the bank, and the owners of the bank, and the people who have loans from the bank, and *insert It’s A Wonderful Life speech*.

      The ‘problem’ with Big Banks is that a section of those recipients is far removed from the customers, and visibly collecting a lot of that money (though perhaps small as a %age).

    3. The best was when Heinlein had LL running the general store and printing the money. The people wanted to start controlling the money and wanted to know what he was doing. He said he based the money on an amount of grain and based his prices on what he could get for the grain. They asked him what he did when there was to much money. He told them he BURNED IT! The people were flabbergasted. It was a fun read and a true explanation of what money was.

      1. Most people never grasp that ‘money’ is a shared fantasy. It is a handy way to get around the mess and limitations of a barter system, but it ALWAYS has its feet firmly planted in mid-air.

        Sure, money redeemable for some commodity is SLIGHTLY less unstable than fiat money, but what do you do with your gold-backed money when some damned fool discovers a mountain of the stuff? Or when some new application for gold suddenly ties up all the available supply?

        Money is an abstract storage unit for pieces of human life. Which is why any time I hear the phrase “If it saves just one life, it will be worth it” I know damned well that it won’t be.

        1. In 1880, Aluminum cost $12/pound, in 1930 it cost $0.20/pound (if you were to adjust for inflation this is roughly $20/pound to $0.20/pound)

          imaging what this would have done to any money that was tied to ‘the aluminum standard’ at the time.

          As for the gold standard, it’s estimated that there are ~20M pounds of gold in seawater, just waiting for someone to discover a way to extract it efficiently (completely ignoring what we may find in some asteroids)

          1. And yet in 1918, an ounce of gold would buy a nice suit. In 2018, an ounce of gold will buy a nice suit.

            1. In places where gold rushes were happening, the buying power of gold went down considerably, and silver was often substituted.

        2. In many of Jack Vance’s stories, “money” is based on the SVU, “Standard Value Unit.” That was the market value of one hour of unskilled labor.

          Alas, that’s quite variable over geographic areas…

          1. IIRC, Gerrold had something similar in the Chtorr verse – the Casey, for KC (Kilo Calorie) of grunt labor.

  13. Where Keynes (and all those who follow him) went wrong was in assuming that government spending and consumer spending were exactly the same with regards to aggregate demand. This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what the economy is and why it exists. The economy doesn’t exist to create jobs or move money around, those are processes used to achieve a purpose. The whole reason we have an economy is to satisfy our need and desires. Private spending occurs when a consumer believes that the good he’s buying will satisfy one of his needs or desires and the producer believes that he’ll be able to use the money to satisfy his needs or desires in the future. Government spending, on the other hand, exists to satisfy political desires. Only by sheer accident does government spending align with consumer demand. Increasing government spending in the face of economic slowdowns – when consumers and producers are uncertain of the future and save money to hedge that uncertainty – merely prevents the politically connected malinvestments to survive rather than liquidated so that the resources can be put to better use (cough GM cough cough).

    1. Not just by sheer accident. When we decided that there were just too darn many kids in the schools here, and passed a vote by two-thirds majority to build a new high school, that government spending alligned pretty well with the wishes of the voters. Back in the ’90s.

      I’d be in favor of requiring a two-thirds approval of states for spending bills-as in, sixty-seven senators to pass.

  14. I don’t think the Leftist ringleaders care about wealth. Their touchstones are power…and even more, status. Their fantasy world really IS feudal, a world of Lords and Serfs. And, of course, we are to be the Serfs.

    This also explains why the Left is so very fond of a highly progressive income tax. It’s not a tax on the Truly Rich, they have shelters and protections that cut their tax rate. It’s the Payer Class of professionals, small businessmen, and skilled craftsmen who take the tax whip at full force.

    1. Call me a cynic, but I think their intention is to prevent more Americans from becoming wealthy. They can cope with an occasional Bill Gates, Sergei Brin, or Mark Zuckerberg – those are almost as rare as mega-jackpot lottery winners. But they’re scared of lots of Americans achieving a few million dollars wealth, and especially of them being able to pass it on to their families undiminished, to build upon. A large coterie of people running around out there as exemplars of hard work paying off, of judicious saving and expenditures paying off, of lots of examples of people not being dependent upon government handouts or just barely getting by, is a challenge to the Social Democrat model that is really at the heart of the modern Democratic Party (and abroad, to the various foreign social democrat parties). A lot of people with a few million dollars makes challenges to the establishment on the political front a lot easier, and that is something else that scares them.

      1. > They can cope with an occasional Bill Gates, Sergei Brin, or Mark Zuckerberg

        Indeed, they largely are those people.

        Try suggesting a net worth tax rather than an income tax and see how many Kennedys, Heinz-Kerrys, Warren Buffetts, and DuPonts sign off on that.

        1. Yeah, it does seem that better than half of the people who make it big either started as mildly left, or drifted that way after success – possibly a result of school indoctrination or immersion in an environment populated by people subject to same. Even the Old Money has gradually shifted leftward, possibly naturally, possibly because they think they could stay in charge, possibly because successive generations of their youth have been subject to leftist indoctrination in school and by the media.

          1. 1. Which party is more pay to play?
            2. Which party wants the Gov to pick winners and losers?
            3. Which party requires you to be like them in order to helped by them?
            4. Once you get to that level of Wealth which party controls the Media that gives all the EGO BO to those they APPROVE OF and ATTACKS those they don’t.

            Only look how reviled the Koch Brothers are. They are TRAINED by the media, just like some week Republican Politians and Judges.
            It takes courage to stand by principles that are not Popular with the Media and those in Entertainment and the Elites. Few have it.

      2. Okay: You’re a cynic.

        But that doesn’t mean you are wrong. The thing is, creation of “New Wealth” often comes at the expense of “Old Wealth.” Automobile millions came at the expense of horse breeders and the folks whose livings came from trains. Train money came at the expense of canals and such shipping. Television fortunes drained value from radio and film fortunes, except for those who figured how to convert their skills to the new media, as many vaudevillians did when faced by the advent of film and radio.

        That’s the key, of course: being willing to make the effort to adapt. Adapting is inconvenient, while buying and selling politicians and press flacks is old hat to old money.

        1. “Oh, T H E M, they’re N E W money.” & implied raised from the dirty masses. Even though the “new” money has been inherited over (only) a couple of generations; haven’t married into the old money enough to have “washed” it.

          Lord help those where the family is still engaged in whatever* raised their status (Trump enterprises anyone?) Yes. He started with help (a lot of help) from his wealthy father (who wasn’t exactly “old” money either), but he worked to build it up, with more than a few failures.

          * Unless, of coarse, whatever is “sexy” & they are of the “correct” politics … Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Nike, etc.

    2. For not caring about wealth, the leaders of socialist societies sure manage to acquire a lot of it. IIRC, Hugo Chavez’s daughter bacame a billionaire, and others (Maduro especially) seem to be doing a lot better than the peasants proletariat.

      1. Money tends to find it’s way to those in power. He who has the gold might make the rules, but he who has steel will often get the gold.

        1. Exactly! After all, look at the wealth held by the Clintons who (paraphrase) were “Flat broke when we left the White House.”

          The key to Socialism is you do not have to create wealth — something which requires at least minimal competence — to control wealth, and control of wealth is what matters (just ask the trustees of the Ford Foundation.) It is far harder to sell the public on a better mousetrap than it is to sell them on a wealth redistribution scheme, in part because in the first instance they understand that it is their own money at risk.

          1. Socialism is like pretty much every other Ponzi scheme. You let the marks think they’re going to get rich on other people’s money… but it’s the guys running the scam who get wealthy.

      2. They only corral that stray wealth to protect less enlightened people from the taint. It is a terrible sacrifice they make, and one insufficiently appreciated. They like to keep it on the QT so that folk will not praise their sacrifices excessively.

    3. Just look at how many of them have “charitable” foundations, where a significant chunk of “donations” get laundered into airfare, housing,cars, etc for the board. Who just happen to be the rich politicians and their allies. In addition there is a difference in how physical wealth creation is treated differently from ephemeral. Make widgets and over produce one quarter? Pay tax on that inventory. Run a middleman service like most online providers and not only do you not have those costs but to an extent get treated differently.

      1. What’s his face sold his *own* life story to his *own* charitable foundation for how many millions of dollars?

        1. Tax FREE dollars because HE does NOT pay taxes like the rest of us.
          The Gov refuses to force HIM to pay. Because Reasons: STFU!!!

        2. I believe the take was a meagre half million* or so, but as I tend to ignore details about how political scam artists shuffle their walnuts I admit I may have missed a decimal point.

          A quick DDG reveals it to be $531,000 … which is about six decimals right of what I would value it as.

        3. Al Sharpton sold the rights to his life story for $531,000, in fact, so technically not even a single million. The idea is apparently that the National Action Network (the charity in question) can then turn around and sell the rights themselves to interested producers for a considerable profit, so the charity has another source of revenue after Sharpton steps down in a year or so.

          One may reasonably be skeptical of this claim’s veracity or completeness, or still find the amount eyebrow-raising, or indeed ask why Sharpton didn’t just grant the rights if his intentions are so altruistic. But this is an example of the phenomenon discussed in the last post: find out everything currently known before drawing conclusions.

    4. Note that the group of Marx’s opprobrium wasn’t the Aristocracy, but the middle class Bourgeois.
      Aristos can usually fit fairly well into a Communist government without too much trouble. The Bourgeois have this persistent attachment to their property and the fruits of their efforts.

    5. It isn’t even that the Truely Rich have shelters. The Truely Rich mostly aren’t Rich from anything that qualifies as taxable income. They live on Capitol Gains, which is taxed at a much lower rate than the Socialist scum want to put on income.

      1. Admittedly they say they want to increase it. But the folks it will hit are the ones that can’t structure their stock to evade raxes and buy indulgences from legislation

  15. The more I look at government funding for the sciences, the more I think it locks out or drastically slows innovation. Everyone goes where the money is, and if researching, for example, prions means no chance of a government bureaucrat stamping “yes” on your funding application, then (a) you aren’t going to follow that line of research, and (b) you are going to shun those who do. And you’ll be warned when you head into innovative territory by your funding department. The fact that you even have one is probably a sign of dysfunction. It could almost be called government funding disorder, except you won’t get funding for that.

    Interestngly? Ironically? Sadly? Eisenhower often gets quoted for his warning about the military-industrial complex, but never for the warning in the very same speech about the federal bureaucracy-research complex.

    1. It’s a spiral. Govt wants a certain outcome and writes grant for it. Researcher gets grant and acts on it. Not only will his results include that more testing and analysis are needed, but if he knows that future grants are contingent upon the narrative it will be followed.

    2. Positive feedback loop. Which works as such things do – you get oscillation if you’re lucky. If not lucky, you get boom where and when you do not want boom.

    3. Hey, you stole my spiel about Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. 🙂

      And though he didn’t specifically address it in that address, he was even more adamantly opposed to federal government control in the field of education.

    4. Which is why, at least for a time, it was fashionable to tie whatever your research topic was into global warmingclimate change.

  16. we know that countries with more state funding inevitably lose out in both innovation and wealth to those who allow individuals to keep more of their money
    More state funding also kills charity. It’s obvious even in places where state charity goes through the church.

    1. Look at how often private charity and generosity is portrayed as a horrific failure of society. The mere *existence* of a fund-raiser or collection-can is held up as proof that we *don’t* take care of people.

      Up is down, black is white, intolerance is tolerance, refusing to judge by race is racist, prosperity is oppression, inclusion is exclusion, exclusion is inclusion, his free speech is censorship of you, and getting people fired for bad-thought makes you a good-person.

  17. They see the “pristine” plots of land
    Which, weirdly, is conservative. “Let’s keep things just as they are” is the essence of original ‘conservatism’.

  18. “The problem we have is that leftists lack utterly in imagination.”

    No, I think there’s a lot of imagination there; the problem is that among the genuinely sincere and idealistic variety of leftist, it is (ironically) inefficiently distributed — they spend too much time imagining what some perfect future society could be, and what it will be like to live there, and not nearly enough time imagining exactly how it could actually feasibly be built. (Including imagining at least some of the possible Unintended Consequences — nobody can ever anticipate all of these, but it can be lifesaving to at least think of some of them.)

    The recently-elected Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is a perfect example of this problem: she has lots of ideas about what she wants the American federal government to do, not all of which may in fact be bad, but does not appear to plan out how these things can be paid for beyond what is needed to make a 280-character tweet sound superficially plausible to those who know even less than she does. (I myself know very little about economics or U.S. budgets but I have at least the virtue of knowing I don’t know, which means I know enough to want more information than most politicians typically provide.)

    1. The Left indeed has more imagination. They use it to create a fantasy world that they like and then project that fantasy on the real world and act as if their fantasy IS the real world. They convince others that the fantasy is reality. Because their fantasy SOUNDS so good, people believe it. Once the Left is in control their fantasy works for a time but then REALITY jumps up and hits them. They paper over it and use propaganda to patch their fantasy but reality hits again and again. See full cycle in Venezuela nearing end and Sweden past tipping point and starting slide.

      1. I’d say it wasn’t so much having more imagination as it’s lacking the imagination to also look for potential problems & weaknesses; while possessing the wisdom to not fool yourself.

  19. This blogpost is underscored, over and over again, in the book “Economics in One Lesson”, by Henry Hazlitt. The lesson is given in the first chapter — in a single sentence of the first chapter — and the remaining chapters describe the lesson in practice.

    What is the lesson? “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

    If only more people understood that one lesson….

  20. Speaking of squids….

    I bemoan the fate of the prairie squid. The beak of the prairie squid constitutes the main material used in making aircraft “stealthy.” They are on the verge of extinction. The lowly prairie squid has given its life in the pursuit of freedom.

    1. The stealthiness of the prairie squid’s beak often makes them very hard to find; perhaps they’re just hiding better…

    2. This wouldn’t have been a problem had prairie squid farms not been banned on account of them being an endangered species. We are thus forced to harvest them from the wild, using the special “Scientific Research” exception….

  21. I’m reminded of how Isaac Arthur describes the stars: “Billions of beautiful bonfires, built of burning libraries”

    His point is unless we over turn the laws of thermodynamics, every erg of energy burned in every start in the universe is shot out into the void providing nothing more than momentary illumination that may never be seen by anyone, and ultimately wasted.


    It’s one of those beautiful ideas in theory, but it would create an instant, locked-in market for solar panels at the current rate, because there’s no incentive to lower costs. As they put it in Casino, “Why mess with a good thing?”

    (And, we can’t forget all the other issues, including increasing housing and rental costs, fire deaths (firefighters won’t work on roofs with solar panels unless it’s a dire emergency), etc, etc, etc…)

    1. Not only that, but it’s *ridiculous* to hold out for better technology — we’re *obviously* at the peak of solar technology right now, so we should *force* everyone to adopt it!

      And if, perchance, someone comes up with something even better, well, California won’t need to buy it, because they already have their houses outfitted!

      (I also seem to recall hearing about a certain region of California — suspiciously close to Washington and Oregon — that has given up hope on ever seeing sunlight in their lifetimes, but nonetheless hope their children will see sunlight someday — and who, for some reason, wonder why they need solar panels….)

      1. The ocean edge of San Francisco is a fog belt in the summer. Putting solar panels on a house there is stupid. This is the danger of ideological bureaucracy, a Procrustean landlord who endangers his “guests”.

        There is a very good reason we do not have a national building code. The needs of Minnesota, Miami and San Diego are not the same. California is the size of many countries (159 K sq miles), with much variation in climate, danger of earthquakes, mud slides, fires, floods, and democrat dictators.

  23. This confirms my suspicion that at heart, deep inside, they think of the normal form of government as feudalism.

    Close, but with classes more like 1984, more lackeys than can be sustained, and without any personal responsibility for them (aka anarcho-tyranny) — some sort of bureaucratic quasi-feudalism.
    If they find themselves in a slightly more classic quasi-feudal system with strong boundaries, but also strong personal responsibility enforced… well, Stalin did this back in 1930-s (as the only way to fix stupid clusterfluffle they created, just like their horribly failing economy had to be saved with “New Economical Policy”), and they still cry.

  24. Look, it’s something like France, which had a massive, extremely complex research and implementation program for what would be CHEAP audio and visual calls all over their country.

    At least, it was outflanked by something new, not just outpaced. And didn’t look too well before. My pet peeve is methane.
    Early 1990-s: «Now, slurping methane layer right into tankers is going to be tricky, but no big deal. Even without that, there’s free fuel in every septic tank, the only problem is need to build infrastructure. And since storing metanhydrate in a fridge gives half of capacity but is easier, safer and cheaper than liquid by an order of magnitude or so…»
    [subsidies happen] [Energiewende happens] [more subsidies happen]
    Scroll to 2016: «…so we had to grow more corn for the XBOXHUGE digester, but then it exploded into spray of stinky sludge, poisoned 70 acres and killed all the sheep there…»
    That’s “the real WTF”.

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