30 November 2009

Independence of the Fed

Independent? Of you and me, to be sure, but not independent of Goldman, B of A, JPMorgan Chase, and the other old boys up there in the big city.
Robert Higgs dishes it out to Big Ben.

25 November 2009

Who Wins at War

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Hermann Goering, President of the Nazi Reichstag

20 November 2009

Regulation is Big Bikkies

It is often said that deregulation, especially during the last eight years, is one of the central causes of the financial crisis.... In fact, during the last eight years, federal spending on regulation in the category of finance and banking has gone up notably. This trend is similar to the one we have seen in the last 50 years.

Overall, it is hard to argue that deregulation of the financial services industry was rampant in Washington when the spending on finance and banking regulatory agencies kept growing so fast.
Veronique de Rugy at the American.

12 November 2009

Deregulation Myth

A popular myth among leftists is that the financial crisis was caused by "deregulation". Of course, when pressed on exactly what deregulation was involved, they usually can't give an answer, revealing a blind faith that whatever the problem it had to involve lack of regulation.

Among the minority of leftists that can give a more specific description of what regulation was lacking, the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagal act (which prohibited companies from pursuing both commercial banking and investment banking) is the most common reply. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever of that having any negative role.

The companies that contributed the most to the bubble and subsequently suffered the most were companies that were either pure mortgage institutions like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, pure investment banks like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers or an insurance company (AIG which invested heavily in Credit Default Swaps that insured dodgy mortgages). None of those companies had been affected by the repeal of Glass-Steagal.
Stefan Karlsson on the Deregulation Myth.

07 November 2009

Moral Defect with Democracy

I wish to claim that democracy’s gravest defect has little or nothing to do with the defects traditionally ascribed to it. I maintain that its severest defect, indeed, a flaw so critical that it gives democracy the potential to destroy civilization, pertains to its effect in corrupting the people’s moral judgment...

If you or I were to threaten a neighbor with violence unless he handed over a specified sum of money, we would be universally recognized as engaged in extortion or attempted robbery.... Likewise, if I were to send a private Predator drone to Pakistan to fire explosive missiles into villages, killing women, children, and other innocent persons, I would be seen as a monstrous mass murderer, and demands would be made that I be apprehended and “brought to justice” or killed.

Yet when President Obama causes deaths in this way, no such demands are made. How did Barack Obama come by the right to kill innocent people? By democratic election to the presidency of the United States, of course. Most people actually believe, and act on the belief, that mere election to a political office can endow a person with standing to disregard the moral requirements applicable to people in general.....

Everybody understands, however, without any advanced instruction in the matter, that murder and robbery are wrong, and that no one has a justifiable right to bully his neighbors simply because he does like the way in which they are conducting their lives..... (yet) most people give a moral pass to such criminal actions when democratically elected functionaries take them. This presumed moral immunity by virtue of election to public office is... a montrous mistake in moral reasoning....
Robert Higgs on Democracy’s Most Critical Defect.