Tag Archives: Freedom

Do we now need permission to be free? by Tim Black

We’ve devolved into a system where everything that is not permitted is prohibited. In other words, everything we now do is at the sufferance of the government. From Tim Black at spiked-online.com:

As Britain was heading into lockdown on 23 March 2020, UK health secretary Matt Hancock was busy introducing the accompanying legislation in parliament. ‘To defeat [Covid-19]’, he said, ‘we are proposing extraordinary measures of a kind never seen before in peacetime’.

He was underselling them. In their repressiveness, their illiberalism and often their sheer arbitrariness, the ‘extraordinary measures’ the government was then about to impose on British society had never been seen before in wartime, either. They exceeded powers granted by the Defence of the Realm Act 1914. And they went beyond those of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939. These were draconian pieces of legislation, placing people and property at the service of the state. But they certainly didn’t authorise the de facto imprisonment of every single citizen in his or her home.

Because that is what Hancock’s ‘extraordinary measures’ amounted to: the quarantining of everybody, regardless of health. As Lord Justice Hickinbottom described it, the government’s response to Covid represented ‘possibly the most restrictive regime on the public life of persons and businesses ever’.

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Freedom saves lives too, by Simon Black

The places that exercised a light touch (relative freedom) for the coronavirus outbreak did no worse and often did better than places that exercised full coronavirus totalitarianism. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

On the evening of December 12, 1799, George Washington, who at that time was 67 years old and happily retired from public life, came down with a minor cold and sore throat.

The next day he lost his voice and began having trouble breathing.

On the morning of December 14, his wife Martha sent word to several doctors asking them to come to the Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon.

Three different doctors arrived, and each of them performed a ‘bloodletting’ to treat George Washington.

Bloodletting was a popular treatment at the time in which a physician attempted to ‘drain’ sickness from the body by deliberately bleeding the patient.

But when Washington’s condition failed to improve, the doctors doubled down on the bloodletting. They were certain that their approach was the correct one.

Modern historians estimate that doctors removed FORTY PERCENT of Washington’s total blood supply that day.

In addition, one doctor also gave Washington an enema, and another gave Washington a potent mixture to induce vomiting.

So not only did Washington lose an incredible amount of blood, he was also extremely dehydrated.

Big shocker— his condition worsened further, and finally that evening— December 14, 1799— George Washington passed away.

We’ll never know what might have happened if Washington had just laid in bed and drank tea.

But it’s hard to imagine that removing 40% of his blood and completely dehydrating him helped the situation.

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Freedom vs. Liberty: How Subtle Differences Between These Two Big Ideas Changed Our World, by Brian Miller

A definitional distinction between freedom and liberty has had enormous real world ramifications. From Brian Miller at ammo.com:

“I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.”

The terms “freedom” and “liberty” have become clichés in modern political parlance. Because these words are invoked so much by politicians and their ilk, their meanings are almost synonymous and used interchangeably. That’s confusing – and can be dangerous – because their definitions are actually quite different.

“Freedom” is predominantly an internal construct. Viktor Frankl, the legendary Holocaust survivor who wrote Man’s Search For Meaning, said it well: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way (in how he approaches his circumstances).”

In other words, to be free is to take ownership of what goes on between your ears, to be autonomous in thoughts first and actions second. Your freedom to act a certain way can be taken away from you – but your attitude about your circumstances cannot – making one’s freedom predominantly an internal construct.

On the other hand, “liberty” is predominantly an external construct. It’s the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. The ancient Stoics knew this (more on that in a minute). So did the Founding Fathers, who wisely noted the distinction between negative and positive liberties, and codified that difference in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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Socialism Never Works, by John Stossel

Once you shut down economic freedoms you inevitably have to shut down political freedoms. From John Stossel at townhall.com:

Socialism Never Works
Source: AP Photo/John Bazemore
 

Last week, I reported on two myths about socialism. My new video covers three more.

Myth No. 3: Socialism works if it’s “democratic.”

As the Democratic Socialists of America put it, “Society should be run democratically — to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.”

Sounds nice. If socialists are elected, then we’ll have a more just society.

But Venezuela’s socialists were elected.

“They can start off democratically elected,” says economist Ben Powell, director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, but “once they centralize control over the economy, it becomes impossible to ‘un-elect’ them.”

Hugo Chavez was elected but became an authoritarian who chose his successor, Nicolas Maduro. Maduro now gets “elected,” by having opponents arrested and “ordering state employees to vote for him or they lose their job,” says Powell.

“Socialism always becomes authoritarian?” I ask.

“Everywhere you try socialism, that’s what you get,” he replies. “It’s hard to exercise political freedom if you don’t have economic freedoms. If you’re dependent upon the state for your livelihood, you lose your ability to use your voice to oppose (the state) because you can be punished.

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Historical lessons in prosperity vs. poverty, by Simon Black

The preconditions for prosperity are few and simple, but they are profound. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

As the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan had a lot to prove.

So he set his eyes on the biggest prize in the known world at the time: southern China.

Kublai Khan completed his conquest of China in 1279, forging a new empire and creating the Yuan dynasty.

The Mongols were known for their expensive habits— they liked war and women especially. So when the money started to run out, administrators in the Yuan dynasty started printing paper money.

Yuan officials weren’t the first to come up with this idea; the government from the prior Song dynasty had also printed paper money. But there was a huge difference—

Paper currency from the Song dynasty, known as guanzi, was backed by copper, silver, and gold coins.

The Yuan currency, however, was backed by nothing. So whenever the government started to run out of money, they simply printed more.

By 1350, Kublai Khan had been dead for decades. But the Yuan dynasty’s economic overseers were still printing paper money like crazy. And it was causing severe hyperinflation across China.

People’s lives were turned upside down by the government’s fiscal irresponsibility, and rebellions broke out across the country.

By 1368, the Yuan dynasty had completely collapsed, and a destitute peasant farmer-turned-monk named Zhu Yuanzhang rose up to become Emperor and found the new Ming Dynasty.

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Get Used to Living under “Subsidiarity” after The Great Reset, by Mark E. Jeftovic

Freedom under The Great Reset is the freedom to live your own life as long as you follow their rules. From Mark E. Jeftovic at bombthrower.com:

It means they set the rules, and you get to follow them any way you want.

#Davos2021 starts today.

We’ve all been hearing a lot The Great Reset lately, new slogans abound such as Build Back Better, the New Normal, and what seems to be a “new” model called “Stakeholder Capitalism” is being espoused (although it is not new, I wrote about the pendulum swinging from stakeholder supremacy to shareholder supremacy back in the days of Milton Friedman in the inaugural post for this site).

Recently I decided it would be helpful challenge my own reflexive inclination to suspect that we were all being collectively screwed by our institutions, yet again.  I wondered if these momentous shifts were simply one of those tectonic phase shifts that occur throughout history and that I shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that it’s some disingenuous and ultimately malevolent  pseudo-reality being imposed from above.

It is fitting that on this  first day of #Davos2021 I outline my arc in which I tried to suspend disbelief around The Great Reset narrative, forcing myself to pose the question:

What if The Great Reset was getting a bad rap?

Maybe it’s true that the world has changed irrevocably, and that change hasn’t been driven or captured by a razor thin scab of elites at the top of the socio-economic pyramid who are setting the agenda. The idea of a reset may be well founded, after all when I first started writing about wealth inequality and crony capitalism over a decade ago, I called it “Rebooting Capitalism”.

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If Ever There Were a Time for a Stateless Society, This Is it! by Gary D. Barnett

If government was gone it would be like a 200 pound weight was lifted from the shoulders of honest people everywhere. Now is the time for honest people to make it happen. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com:

“How I wished during those sleepless hours that I belonged to a different nation, or better still, to none at all.”

~ Winfried Georg Sebald, “Vertigo” 1990

Why is it that mankind believes and practices the insanity of government and rule, and allows people they ‘believe’ to be like them to be their lord and master? Why do Americans that grew up believing in freedom think that they cannot survive unless they serve under a dominant tyrannical governing system? Is it that all men except those voluntarily chosen to hold political office are completely stupid, corrupt, and villainous, and cannot function without an emperor or president to control them? Is it that they have been taught to believe that they do not have the power to defend themselves, but if they choose a claimed ‘leader’ and give him power over them, that he will protect them? Is it because they have been fooled into believing these lies, and have forever lived as an oppressed society without knowing the real truth? Or is it that the masses understand that the spectre of government allows them to gain for themselves by using a proxy strongman to plunder and steal from their neighbors so that they can benefit from that armed robbery?

How did any ever come to the conclusion that a life under rule was superior to a life of freedom? How does one answer such a contradictory question, without assuming that most all the American population must be either completely brainwashed beyond any recognition, or is too mentally and physically weak by nature to resist servitude? The result of allowing a ruling class to sit atop a throne of authority, while giving those same rulers the power to make all law, means that the entire populace other than that small upper class, have no option except to live as slaves. In other words, most all in this country whether they realize it or not, have voluntarily accepted slavery as their lot in life. This cannot be blamed on the evil despotic members of society that claim, hold, and abuse power, because the people gave them that power willingly. Therefore, all fault lies with the people themselves, and the only solution necessary in order to regain freedom is for the people to demand and take it.

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What to Expect in 2021: Madness, Mayhem, Manipulation and More Tyranny, by John W. Whitehead

He’s undoubtedly right. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

What should we expect in 2021?

So far, it looks like this year is going to be plagued by more of the same brand of madness, mayhem, manipulation and tyranny that dominated 2020.

Frankly, I’m sick of it: the hypocrisy, the double standards, the delusional belief by Americans at every point along the political spectrum that politics and politicians are the answer to what ails the country, when for most of our nation’s history, politics and politicians have been the cause of our woes.

Consider: for years now, Americans, with sheeplike placidity, have tolerated all manner of injustices and abuses meted out upon them by the government (police shootings of unarmed individuals, brutality, corruption, graft, outright theft, occupations and invasions of their homes by militarized police, roadside strip searches, profit-driven incarcerations, profit-driven wars, egregious surveillance, taxation without any real representation, a nanny state that dictates every aspect of their lives, lockdowns, overcriminalization, etc.) without ever saying “enough is enough.”

Only now do Americans seem righteously indignant enough to mobilize and get active, and for what purpose? Politics. They’re ready to go to the mat over which corporate puppet will get the honor to serve as the smiling face on the pig for the next four years.

Talk about delusion.

It’s so ludicrous as to be Kafkaesque.

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State or Private Law Society On Dealing With Corona, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Freedom works better than coercion for just about every state of the human condition, including epidemics and pandemics. From Hans-Hermann Hoppe at lewrockwell.com:

Thomas Jacob: Professor Hoppe, you are known as a critic of the state and of political centralization. Doesn’t the coronavirus prove that central states and central government regulations are necessary?

On the contrary.

Of course, the various central states and international organizations, such as the EU or the WHO, have tried to use the COVID-19 pandemic to their own advantage, i.e., to expand their power over their respective subjects; to try out how far one can go with ordering other people around in the face of an initially vague and then systematically dramatized danger of a global epidemic. And the extent to which this has succeeded, up to and including a general house arrest, is frightening.

But if the course of current events has demonstrated anything, it is not how necessary or efficient central authorities and decisions are, but conversely how critically important decentralized decisions and decision-makers are.

The danger emanating from an epidemic is never the same everywhere, for everyone, at the same time. The situation in France is different than that in Germany or Congo, and conditions in China are not the same as in Japan. And within diverse countries, the threat level differs from region to region, from one city to another, between urban and rural areas, depending on the demographic and cultural composition of the population. Moreover, there is a whole range of greatly differing assessments and proposals concerning what and what not to do in the face of this threat level, all put forward by equally “certified scientific experts.” Therefore, any centralized, nationwide (in extreme cases, worldwide) measure to avert danger – a “one-size-fits-all” model – must from the outset seem absurd and inappropriate.

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How to Triumph in 2021 or Die Trying, by MN Gordon

The only thing worse than being a “loser” is being a “winner.” From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders.  We had reached the naked soul of men.” — Ernest Shackleton

One Essential Insight

Welcome to 2021!

The New Year’s edition of the Economic Prism is a place of wild conjecture.  This is where we squint our eyes and peer out 12 months through our proprietary prism and report back what we discover.

Make no mistake, 2021 will be the year where everything under the sun happens precisely as it should.  Some good.  Some bad.  Each day shall unfold before you with reciprocal imbalance.  You can bet your bottom dollar on it.  But what else?

Will gold top $3,000 per ounce?  Will bitcoin hit $100K?  What about the S&P 500, the yield on the 10-Year Treasury note, and the price of oil?

Will collateralized loan obligations (CLO) be roiled by mass corporate defaults?  Will Walmart run out of toilet paper?  Are we fated for complete social distortion?  Did WWIII just commence in the South China Sea?

The answers to these questions we’re leaving to you this year.  Trust your gut.

After a dismal 2020, and with Joe Biden returning to the White House, we’re eschewing predictions of the 12 months before us.  Why bother?  The Fed’s already said it will leave interest rates near zero through 2023.

Instead, we’re doing something different.  With humility and modesty we’ve zeroed in on one essential insight.  Our objective is to provide you something of practical value; something that’ll help you navigate through the 2021 unknown.

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