In the Mutualism group on Facebook, a user posted the following Proudhon quotation:

‎”Every possessor of lands, houses, furniture, machinery, tools, money, &c., who lends a thing for a price exceeding the cost of repairs (the repairs being charged to the lender, and representing products which he exchanges for other products), is guilty of swindling and extortion.” – Proudhon

The quotation was accompanied by a skeptical set of examples (following Proudhon’s list) meant to appeal to the reader’s intuition and, I presume, lead them to conclude that Proudhon was full of it and that there is nothing wrong with charging for the use of something you own. The upshot is that today’s mutualists, if they agree with Proudhon, are full of it too. Read the rest of this entry »



June 2, 2011

charley2u, over at the unique and intriguing Marxian blog Re: The People, wrote a post (which looks like it will be part of a series of posts) answering my call for eir perspective of FOFOA’s unique and intriguing hyperinflation prediction. Be sure to check it out, along with the rest of both blogs.

Nanny State

June 7, 2010

It can be a very effective technique in debate to take your opponent’s statement and reword it to make your own point. Steven Landsburg shares with us what he would have written if he had been the writer for a New York Times article on New York State’s proposed minimum wage law for nannies (emphasis added):

New York state may soon become the first state to restrict employment opportunities for nannies.

The state Senate passed a bill this week that would prohibit New York’s approximately 200,000 household workers from accepting any position that does not include paid holidays, overtime pay and sick days.

Opponents say the step will bring unnecessary hardship to thousands of women—and some men—who have found employment because of labor markets that operate freely, except for constraints imposed by the federal minimum wage.

Yes, if only they wouldn’t pass this minimum wage law, we could get back to the free market. As Kevin Carson might say, “Jesus, vulgar much?”: Read the rest of this entry »

Generic Reasons

February 2, 2010

Taking this with the appropriate grain of salt (the author has an obvious incentive to make the claims he does), this is a wonderful analysis of exactly why any “health care reform” that doesn’t include the abolition of the FDA and other regulatory monopolies in favor of a competitive system of regulation and tort is not serious about health care reform. It also makes clear the difference between “free market” and “freed market.” When opponents of free markets talk about the free market, what they work with are things like the current generic prices (what could be more free market then manufacturers competing over an off-patent molecule?) because things like the FDA are just taken for granted. It’s time we had a real discussion about the costs of health care instead of the same old generic talk.


January 28, 2010

Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

President Barack Obama, State of the Union speech, 01/27/2010

Many people (I imagine) will be quick to accuse the Prez of hiding the truth beneath layers and layers of rhetoric in his speech. I think they are being unfair. Who else commits the Broken Window Fallacy by actually talking about broken windows? Say what you will, but he’s no obscurantist.

Izzy Serious?

January 26, 2010

From Eddie Izzard’s website:

It has come to our attention that various ticket agencies are offering Eddie tickets at extortionate marked-up prices. Frustratingly this is something that is out of our control despite the imposing of a 6 ticket limit per purchase policy. Eddie was particularly adamant that ticket prices should be kept to a minimum. £30 outside London and £35 in London. If you want to purchase tickets at the original price, check only or go direct to the venues. If you can’t find a specific seat or ticket you want, then try the other sites (which are all ticket scalper or ticket tout sites and who will charge you a lot more for your purchase – for no reason. Just for their profit). Until legislation is passed, the only way to stop scalpers is to not use their websites.

Stick to comedy, not economics, Eddie. I particularly love the last sentence. I think I’m going to adopt my own version of it:

Until the state solves the problem, the only way to solve it is anarchism.

Ministry of Production

October 2, 2009

At the time of this post, Wikipedia says:

The economic calculation problem is a criticism of socialist economics, or more precisely central economic planning. It was first proposed by Ludwig von Mises in 1920 and later expounded by Friedrich Hayek.

However, Hayek himself would tell you that Mises was not the first to make the argument. In his Collectivist Economic Planning (1935), he published an English translation of Enrico Barone’s paper, “The Ministry of Production in the Collectivist State” from the Italian Giornale degli Economisti in 1908.

Robert Vienneau posted a fun excerpt from this paper that I’m reprinting below. Of particular note is the use of the term ‘anarchist production’ to contrast with the Ministry of Production; not even Mises would go there. Also interesting is the emphasis on experiment, which has a mutualist spirit to it. You will also get a glimpse of what Enrico might have said if asked about firms classed as “too big to fail”.

25. But it is frankly inconceivable that the economic determination of the technical coefficients can be made a priori, in such a way as to satisfy the condition of the minimum cost of production which is an essential condition for obtaining that maximum to which we have referred. The economic variability of the technical coefficients is certainly neglected by the collectivists; but that it is one of the most important sides of the question Pareto has already very clearly shown in one of his many ingenious contributions to the science.

Enrico Barone

Enrico Barone

The determination of the coefficients economically most advantageous can only be done in an experimental way: and not on a small scale, as could be done in a laboratory, but with experiments on a very large scale, because often the advantage of the variation has its origin precisely in a new and greater dimension of the undertaking. Experiments may be successful in the sense that they may lead to a lower cost combination of factors; or they may be unsuccessful, in which case that particular organization may not be copied and repeated and others will be preferred, which experimentally have given a better result.

The Ministry of Production could not do without these experiments for the determination of the economically most advantageous technical if it would realize the condition of the minimum cost of production which is essential for the attainment of the maximum collective welfare.

It is on this account that the equations of the equilibrium with the maximum collective welfare are not soluble a priori, on paper.

26. Some collectivist writers, bewailing the continual destruction of firms (those with higher costs) by free competition, think that the creation of enterprises to be destroyed later can be avoided and hope that with organized production it is possible to avoid the dissipation and destruction of wealth which such experiments involve, and which they believe to be the peculiar property of ‘anarchist’ production. Thereby these writers simply show that they have no clear idea of what production really is, and that they are not even disposed to probe a little deeper into the problem which will concern the Ministry which will be established for the purpose in the Collectivist State.

We repeat, that if the Ministry will not remain bound by the traditional technical coefficients, which would produce a destruction of wealth in another sense – in the sense that the greater wealth which could have been realized will not be realized – it has no other means of determining a priori the technical coefficients most advantageous economically, and must of necessity resort to experiments on a large scale in order to decide afterwards which are the most appropriate organizations, which it is advantageous to maintain in existence and to enlarge to obtain the collective maximum more easily, and which, on the other hand, it is best to discard as failures.

27. Conclusions. From what we have seen and demonstrated hitherto, it is obvious how fantastic those doctrines are which imagine that the production in the collectivist regime would be ordered in a manner substantially different from that of ‘anarchist’ production.

If the Ministry of Production proposes to obtain the collective maximum – which it obviously must, whatever law of distribution may be adopted – all the economic categories of the old regime must reappear, though maybe with other names: prices, salaries, interest, rent, profit, saving, etc…

It is worth noting, as David A. Reisman does in Schumpeter’s Market, that “Barone…wanted market socialism. They should, Hayek believed, have gone for the free market instead.”


August 28, 2009

Thom Hartmann = Economics FAIL.

I have to wonder why Thom is afraid to take it all the way. Why not really embrace the idea and push for a retirement age of 30 coupled with a mandatory 4-hour workweek maximum? That should result in even more prosperity, tax revenues (because we need more of those) and lower unemployment.

Butts in seats! That’s the ticket, baby! And screw you if you worked your ass off for thirty years to finally get that senior position at age 55. Can’t you see that Junior here needs your job? He’s obviously just as qualified. I’m off to break some more windows.

For comparison’s sake, put George Reisman’s suggestions (I’m so losing leftie points for this) next to Harmann’s.