954 comments posted · 20 followers · following 6

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Stimulus vs Austerity 2.0 · 0 replies · +2 points

That an unfettered free-market tends to concentrate power for the very simple reason that there will always be more people who need "food on the shelves" as it were than there are those who control the supply of food.

There could not very well be more people producing food than those consuming it. What you are calling a "concentration of power" is simply the division of labour. The beauty of the division of labour is that it allows individuals to get very good at their narrow tasks, leading to increased production--a crucial ingredient of increased consumption.

The supply of food (or anything else) is not "controlled" only by the producers, but by the consumers as well. The way in which consumers direct production (supply) is by casting votes with currency on the goods that they prefer--this is the "democratised power" of the marketplace. Profits are earned by the businesses that best satisfy consumer wants; profits are signals to entrepreneurs to shift production to where consumers want it.

The alternative to having fewer food producers than food consumers is having an equal number of food producers and food consumers. This would amount to a world in which every family spends all of its hours farming its tiny plot of land, with a few succeeding to subsistence, the rest perishing.

The goal is not to have resources diversified for the sake of it; and it is certainly not to diversify resources to people and places where they will be ineptly and unproductively employed. The goal is to have resources "pooled" to their most efficient and desired uses. Resources on their own do not "lessen suffering". They must be put to productive use. Some people are better at productively using resources than others. It is the objective of the unfettered market to put the resources under the command of those who know what to do with them, you can call it "concentrating power", but it is really a concentration of efficiency--in the same way that you "concentrate the power" of catching fish to your fishing rod instead of to your wristwatch.

Thus those who control can hold out beyond a "fair" price until someone breaks and takes a price for their labour that only serves to prolong their existence, not end their suffering.

Economics is a value-free science. A "fair price" is a moral (value) judgement, and completely erroneous to economics (especially so for an uber subjectivist who says that "morality is just a figment of our imaginations"). The only objective way in which we can employ the term "fair price" is to say that any price agreed upon by both parties to the transaction is fair, if either party thought the price unfair, the transaction would not take place.

Furthermore, your scenario is unrealistic. If the bounty of nature were such that food-yielding land amounted to no more than some tiny swatch of the earth, or that only one or two well-endowed geniuses knew how to turn a buffalo into Buffalo wings, then there would be no human existence to prolong. If Big Bad Corp. wants to obtain a monopoly over food production it would require buying-up every little square of farmland along the Reading Railroad. What price would the last remaining little farmers deem "fair" when their land prices are soaring due to shrinking supply and their sales (food prices) are booming due to speculators reacting to the concentration of market share? How difficult is it for remaining producers to out-compete a company that is expending so much capital on land acquisition?

According to the logic of the Iron Law of Wages, we could as easily say that those who control the supply of resources must inevitably accept prices that "only serve to prolong their existence[s], not end their suffering[s]", because the manufacturers of final goods can "hold out beyond a fair price until someone breaks". It is never assumed (and shouldn't be) that land rents and raw materials will earn their owners merely a meager subsistence. But they, like labour, are resources required as inputs for the production of final goods; and they are subject to the same determinants of price.

As Hayek's coach, Ludwig von Mises, wrote:

The age of laissez faire for which the iron law and Marx's doctrine of the historically determined formation of wage rates claim validity witnessed a progressive, although sometimes temporarily interrupted, tendency for real wage rates to rise. The wage earners' standard of living rose to a height unprecedented in history and never thought of in earlier periods.

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Against leaders debates · 1 reply · +5 points

I can already hear the shouted slogans:

"Do you smell what the Bloc is cookin'?"

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Against leaders debates · 3 replies · +2 points

I thought we'd reserve that for Question Period.

And my money's on Hulk Harper.

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Against leaders debates · 7 replies · +17 points

In the interest of increasing viewership of our political debates, why not adopt a format that has proven itself successful?

I'm suggesting, of course, making the debates a reality TV series. The show will consist of weekly debates. Each week, viewers will telephone vote for the candidates they thought performed best; the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated from the race. The last remaining candidate gets to form the government. We'll call it: So You Think You Can Govern; or, Canada's Next Top Minister.

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Carney: This time it's... · 1 reply · +1 points

...there is a considerable amount of irrationality in commodity pricing as a result of such policies as quantitative easing and so forth. The fiat money has had to go somewhere, and one of those places has been to drive up commodity prices, esp. oil.

Do your fellow graduates of the Robert Mugabe School of Monetary Policy know that you are blaspheming in this way?

I take it then that you have recanted your "money is just a token", let's print our way out, prescriptions for economic health. I'm glad to see it.

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - The difference between... · 0 replies · +1 points

That's some catch, that Catch-22.

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - The return of economic... · 1 reply · +2 points

What happens to those whose standards of living depend on cheap credit when interest rates spike?

What happens when working people's pension funds collapse?

What happens to fixed incomers when inflation accelerates?

What happens to the booming number of retirees relying on government cheques when people stop buying treasury bonds?

What happens to small businesses when taxes increase?

What happens when governments can't meet their pension promises to their public sector unions?

What happens when the yuan appreciates and all the cheap imported goods become less cheap?

What happens to capital goods when investment declines?

13 years ago @ Macleans.ca - Church of Scientology ... · 1 reply · +3 points

"This so-called new religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants designed to take away the money of fools. Now let us say the lord's prayer 40 times, but first let's pass the collection plate."

13 years ago @ Ludwig von Mises Insti... - Portugal's Plight: Soc... · 0 replies · +1 points

An informative read. Thanks.

13 years ago @ Ludwig von Mises Insti... - Conservatism vs. Liber... · 1 reply · 0 points

Is not the history of liberalism--prior to the modern era in which "liberalism" became just a euphemism for "welfare-statism"--the history of the struggle for individual rights--freedom of expression, freedom of trade, freedom of religion--in opposition to the absolute Church/State monarchs of Europe, i.e., the Conservative Order?