Fragmented Friday Obsessions

I woke up this morning thinking pensive thoughts.  We are simply in a time right now in which economic interventionism (what is often sloppily called “socialism,” even when that term does not really obtain) rules the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of people.  Since sentiment is anterior to logic, I’m not sure what can be done about it.  I get tired of saying the same stuff over and over again.  Certain kinds of circumscription of mind can prevent people from seeing the truth of a given matter, so it’s often a waste of time to issue homilies on the gold standard, the subjective theory of value, etc.

Another thing that has been on my mind is the certain kind of school teacher mentality that seems to come along with being a Statist.  “What’s with this phase of Catholic libertarians?” someone asked on Facebook, to which I replied that said “phase” is a solid 500 years old, going back to the School of Salamanca.  Of course, people who act so self-righteously don’t care much for facts, so I doubt that this made much of an impression.  What matters most to these people is that everyone sit up straight, raise their hand, and wait to be called on like good little boys.  When the teacher calls on me, I will not have a question, just an observation:  The emperor has no clothes.

Statists love the idea of power being exercised.  It doesn’t matter if it works.  After all, when classical liberalism has been employed throughout history, peace and prosperity have reigned.  But over and over again humanity opts for a violent form of government:  dictatorship, monarchy, or democracy.  To their credit, monarchists understand the pitfalls of democracy.  But their own theory is lacking.  One need only consider the Tudors, the Hohenzollerns, and the Hapsburgs to understand this.  The closest we should ever get to monarchy again is toy castles and drawbridges.

Catholics everywhere who think that they have to cheer every time the pope farts are dutifully defending his encyclical Caritas in veritate.  This document is full of economic falsehoods, and still I’ve only read to paragraph 36.  At least the pope criticizes intellectual property and tariffs.  One of the central, if not the central, error of this letter so far is the false opposition that is set up between the individual and society.  All one needs to do is read Mises’ Human Action, pp. 145-157.

3 Responses

  1. This document is full of economic falsehoods, and still I’ve only read to paragraph 36.

    If we are to treat economics as a science, then there is an obligation to carefully distinguish between actual data, hypotheses, and theories which have been subjected to repeated experimental verification and peer review; if we conflate all of these, and give them equal credence under the blanket title of economics, then I suggest that we are not engaged in a very scientific effort at all.

    With that in mind, could you provide some examples of the various “economic falsehoods” that you’ve discovered?

    • Hi Paul,

      One example is what I mention in my last sentence: the false opposition that is set up between society and the individual.

      But there are others. For instance, this encyclical does not take account of the Theory of Subjective Value, which is widely accepted. The pope says that goods of equal value are traded, but this is not true. If I go around the corner to the store and buy a bag of potato chips for $1, something happens at the moment of exchange. At that time, the merchant decides that the dollar is more valuable to him than the potato chips, and I as the consumer decide that the potato chips are worth more to me than my dollar. This is how wealth is created. Otherwise, we are just wasting our time trading resources like we’re playing a game of hot potato (no pun intended viz. the chips!).

      Yes, economics is full of theories, and as a musician I like to make fun of music theorists, but raw data are only raw data, and as Richard Weaver, Platonic Idealist that he was, said, knowledge does not exist at the sensate level. So data and facts are, it would seem, different from knowledge and truth. This is a rather verbose way of saying that I do think that incorrect theories, or ignorance of correct theories, can be discerned as falsehoods. Of course it’s all a matter of ratiocination, which is why the debate will go on for eternity!

      • To a third party, it may look as goods of equal value are traded between two parties. He may even be amused by the exchange he witnesses because he himself places no value on the goods exchanged!

        However, to the two parties conducting the exchange, each does so because he values the others’ good more than the good he himself possesses.

        Strictly material and monetary measures and definitions of value (and profit) are not only materialistic, but grossly incomplete.

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