Smoot-Hawley and the New Deal are hardly the only examples of government actions making a panic worse.
Thomas Sowell recounts several instances in which governments turned small problems into major ones by using blunt force—often price controls—to respond to public panic about rising costs of a given commodity.
One of the more famous examples of this is the gasoline crisis of the 1970s, which started when the federal government took a small problem (temporary high costs of gasoline) and turned it into a big one (a national shortage).
As Sowell explains, however, there was not an actual scarcity of gasoline. There was nearly as much gas sold in 1972 as the previous year (95 percent, to be precise).
Similar examples kind be found throughout history, from the grain shortages in Ancient Rome brought about by Diocletian’s “Edict on Maximum Prices” to the mortgage crisis in 2007.
It is no coincidence that crises—foreign wars, terrorist attacks, and economic depressions—have often resulted in vast encroachments of freedom and even given rise to tyrants (from Napoleon to Lenin and beyond). In his book Crisis and Leviathan, the historian and economist Robert Higgs explains how throughout history, crises have been used to expand the administrative state, often by allowing “temporary” measures to be left in place after a crisis has abated (think federal tax withholding during World War II).
Like an economic panic, pandemics incite mass fear, which can lead to flawed and irrational decision making.
By Barry Brownstein
A new survey conducted in the United States by the Campaign for Free Speech found 51 percent of Americans agreed with this statement: “The First Amendment goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America and should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of today.” 48 percent thought, and a majority of millennials agreed, “hate speech” should be outlawed. An astonishing 54 percent of millennials thought jail time should be the consequence penalty for hate speech. Hate speech was not defined in the survey.
In a future democratic socialist administration mired in economic collapse, is it a stretch to predict that protection of free speech will continue to wane making criticism of government policies verboten?
If disagreement over the number of genders can’t be tolerated, surely disagreements on a debt jubilee or a wealth tax wouldn’t be tolerated either.
By Dan Mitchell
“Communists claim that their ideology represents the downtrodden against the elite, yet the evidence from Cuba shows wretched material deprivation for most people.
In Hong Kong, by contrast, incomes have soared for all segments of the population.”
How important are key individuals in shaping the success or failure of economies? …Neil Monnery’s A Tale of Two Economies is in some sense a polemic against historical determinism, at least insofar as promoting economic reforms is concerned.It stresses the importance of two single individuals, one a great man for many, one an obscure official and political unknown to the most, in shaping the destiny of their respective countries. …Ernesto “Che” Guevara and John Cowperthwaite. …Monnery insists that both of them were “deep and original thinkers.” …The key difference between the two was perhaps that Cowperthwaite had a solid education in economics… Neither the way in which Hong Kong progressed, nor Cuba’s, were thus inevitable.
Monnery points out that Hong Kong’s success happened not because Cowperthwaite and his colleague were trying “to plant an ideological flag,” but because they were “professional pragmatists.” …Then the success of relatively libertarian arrangements in Hong Kong perpetuated itself. …Cowperthwaite tested what he knew about classical economics when he “first arrived in Hong Kong, in 1945” and “was put in charge of price control.… He soon realized the problems with attempting to set prices low enough to meet consumer needs but high enough to encourage supply, and in a dynamic environment.” He opposed subsidies that he saw as “a brazen attempt to feed at the trough of government subsidies.” …Cowperthwaite is a hero to Monnery, who emphasises his competence, and even more, his integrity.
What Advances & Virtues Do We Really Owe to the Enlightenment?
Is being “Woke” the Dark Side of Enlightenment Thinking?
Several of the arguments in this case have credence on their face for different reasons.
There is the idea of an agreement or contract: “I do this, if you do that.” One should not break a contract carelessly.
Or, the “fairness” argument where one side seems to want to change the rules after the game started; that doesn’t seem right.
And, then there’s the constitutional rule of law argument: Congress holds the power of the purse when it comes to public monies. Enough said.
Bottom line…and in a different case, Qliance found this out the hard way…when you get in bed with the gov’t, expect to get screwed!
Forum for Healthcare Freedom
Governor Bradford recorded in his diary that everybody was happy to claim their equal share of production, but production only shrank. Slackers showed up late for work in the fields, and the hard workers resented it. It’s called “human nature.”
The disincentives of the socialist scheme bred impoverishment and conflict until, facing starvation and extinction, Bradford altered the system. He divided common property into private plots, and the new owners could produce what they wanted and then keep or trade it freely.
Communal socialist failure was transformed into private property/capitalist success, something that’s happened so often historically it’s almost monotonous. The “people over profits” mentality produced fewer people until profit—earned as a result of one’s care for his own property and his desire for improvement—saved the people.
“For decades, German families had been separated from one another between East Germany and West Germany. Post-World War II, the East German government—the German Democratic Republic (GDR)—constructed this physical barrier to define their territory separately from the government of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The main distinguishing characteristic between the two governments? A generalized sense of freedom and liberty versus socialism and oppression.
The Berlin Wall served the GDR’s main purpose: “to permanently close off access to the West.” Between 1949 and 1961, West Germany provided East Germans with a pathway toward democracy and capitalism.”
Individual liberty is never fully realized without economic freedom, which includes strong private rights & a climate conducive to self-determination.