Short Selling Shares and Economic Law
Extraordinary speculative profits are possible with minor risk if you verify the truth, properly use logic, and keep it private. The establishment will continue to make war and milk the public. If you understand exactly how they are doing this, you can protect yourself and profit far beyond the norm. If you are short selling shares that the establishment is short, your risk level is low and potential for profit high. This is not investment activity or undertaking a market risk. It is speculative profit in time of civil war.
Properly done, short sellers have less risk and more potential gain than insiders. The key is to have good information. Because the speculator does not bear the insider’s cost of promotion, his risk is less and his potential for gain greater than even the establishment insider.
The successful speculator applies critical thinking to the truth. This is not always easy but it is always worthwhile.
Economic Law – The Rule of Law and Freedom
Question and Answer Format
Read more of: The Art of Speculation during Civil War
Q: What is economics?
A: Economics is human action in the field of buying and selling services and products.
Q: What is law?
A: Law is a rule, a useful description that has some predictive value.
Q: What is economic law?
A: Economic law concerns human action as it relates to the buying and selling of services and products.
Q: Is economic law a science?
A: Yes, but since it concerns human action, it is not a physical science.
Q: How do economic laws differ from the laws of physical science?
A: In the sense that both may be defined as useful descriptions they are exactly the same.
Q: What do you mean by a useful description?
A: Useful in the sense that they have some predictive value.
Q: Do economic laws have less predictive value than the laws of physical science?
A: Economic laws have just as much predictive value as the laws of any other science.
Q: Why then is economics not generally taught as a science?
A: There are two reasons. 1. It is not possible to measure much having to do with human action as precisely as it is possible to measure matters having to do with physical objects. 2. Economic discourse has been perverted for political purposes.
Q: In what way has economics been perverted by politics?
A: In much the same way that religion was used during the Middle Ages to sanctify central authority, economics has been used to justify state intervention in the free market. The theory of the divine right of kings has been replaced by the state’s promotions of general welfare.
Q: Why is it not possible to measure human action as precisely as it is possible to measure matters having to do with physical objects?
A: To the extent that a person does something, it is possible to measure that action. We can, for instance, measure whether a person buys or does not buy something at a particular price and at a particular time.
Q: So what is the problem?
A: To the extent that economic laws are based on what one person does at a particular time at a particular place there is no problem. The problem arises when that action is used to predict a different person’s action or the same person’s action at a different place or time.
Q: Why is this a problem of measurement?
A: The problem has to do with measuring value. We may know that John paid two dollars for a glass of Coke in New York City on January 1, 2012 but that only means that John valued the Coke at that place and at that time more than he valued the two dollars.
Q: Are all economic valuations then subjective?
A: Yes. We can report the fact of a price paid or of prices paid as for instance in reporting a market value. We cannot measure the value any one person, much less a group of people, places on, for instance, a glass of Coke except to say, in this instance John, in New York City, on January 1, 2012, valued it more than 2 dollars. We can only know ordinal values: the Coke first and the 2 dollars second.
Q: Doesn’t this result in the study of economic laws being of little value?
A: No. Every science has its limitations. For instance, it would be ill-advised to use the laws of gravity to explain electricity or the economic effects of the concentration of state monopolies.
Q: What is required in order to postulate or discover economic laws or useful descriptions that have predictive value in the exchange of services and products?
A: An understanding that all individual action is the product of a choice between subjective valuations of competing alternatives. There is, however, a very important limitation. Since it is impossible to measure the amount of a subjective value or the distance between subjective values, it is impossible to accurately add, subtract, multiply, or divide numerical values as they relate to economic activity.
Q: Why do economists use all sorts of statistical data to measure and predict the money supply, business cycles, interest rates, GDP, etc?
A: Most economists are in the service of special interests to justify some intervention into the free market for the benefit of a special interest group or central authority. They need the illusion of certainty. Statistics are used to both obfuscate and justify. They are useful tools of political manipulation. They are not very useful in explaining or predicting because all value is the product of an individual subjective judgment that by its nature cannot be measured except with ordinal numbers.
Q: If it is true that economics is used for political purposes to manipulate, then perhaps I should not waste my time studying economics.
A: Any science can be misused. Economics is not the only science that has been used for political purposes. Meteorology is another example. But just because some people have a political agenda with regard to global warming does not mean we should all abandon the study of weather.
Q: How can I know the truth? How can I know that I am being misinformed concerning economic matters?
A: A thing cannot at the same time be and not be. If all value is subjective, then it is not true that value is dependent upon labor, capital invested, or material input. If it is true that subjective values cannot be accurately measured except by ordinal numbers, then all projections based on adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing are inherently unreliable and most likely lies. If, however, the prediction is based on individual subjective value judgments of current or future market participants, then there is a basis for considering the analysis to have some value. That is not to say that a prediction will come true but only that it has a sound grounding.
Q: I want to learn economics. I want to learn useful descriptions that have predictive value concerning the exchange of goods and services. I want to learn how to apply economic laws to predict human behavior to my personal economic well-being. I want to become wealthy. What should I do?
A: To start, let us confine the discussion to economic laws. Becoming wealthy requires application and that involves a much broader scope of inquiry including personality traits and ethics.
Q: Will you also discuss the broader question concerning how I could use an understanding of economic laws to become wealthy?
A: Yes, but only if you pass the ethics tests.
Q: Ethics tests? I do not understand.
A: You will, later.
Q: Okay, I will wait. Let’s start with economic laws. Where is the beginning?
A: For man, in the buying and selling of goods and services, the beginning is a subjective valuation concerning various alternatives. We know this to be true from both observations and introspection. If you wish to dispute this first premise, please say so.
Q: What do we call these subjective valuations of alternatives?
A: Let’s call it a value scale. The first premise is that all value is subjective. The second premise is that people prioritize their values. So, for instance, between three alternatives, there would be a first, second, and third ordinal valuation. We know this to be true from both observation and introspection.
Q: But people make mistakes all of the time. They do things that are bad for them. How can you be sure they have correctly prioritized their values?
A: By the objective criteria of what is done. If a person only has 150 cents and is offered a Coke, orange juice, or coffee each for 150 cents and he buys the Coke then that proves that, between these three alternatives, he valued the Coke as number one. It is irrelevant that one minute later he regrets his choice and wishes he had bought the coffee. Subjective valuations may change by the second and do not require any logical foundation or agreement with anyone. The only way we have of knowing what they are is by recording individual conduct and that is an objectively measurable criteria.
Q: What is the third economic law?
A: That the only way we have of measuring anything on an individual’s value scale is by recording what a person buys or sells at a particular time and place and therefore the value scale information will be incomplete to the extent that any item on the scale is not bought or sold everywhere and at all times.
Q: Can you summarize the first three laws?
1. All value is subjective.
2. People prioritize their values.
3. The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
Q: How is this a science?
A: Economics can be a science if we apply the scientific method to its study. The conclusions we derive from our study of economics will be valid and true if we start with premises that are true and then correctly apply the laws of logic.
Q: Can controlled experiments be used in economics?
A: Controlled experiments are problematic due to the issue of measuring value. If the science of economics is based on measurements of overt human actions and limited to expression in ordinal numbers, then the science of economics will be no less scientific than any physical science.
Q: Why is it that economists make so many errors in predicting the future?
A: All science has its limits. Extending economic laws beyond the boundaries of their own limits is a major error. Remember: All value is subjective, impossible to measure exactly, different for different people, and subject to change over time.
Q: In the 1975 introduction to his book, which at that time was the most widely used college economics textbook, Professor Paul A. Samuelson wrote that the USSR’s superior central planning system would result in the USSR’s GDP overtaking the USA’s GDP before the end of the 20th century. Mr. Samuelson had received the Nobel Prize for economics. Why was this Nobel laureate so wrong?
A: First, I would like to correct a common error. There is no Nobel Prize for economics. Mr. Nobel did not provide for such a prize in his testament. The economic prize is awarded by a committee of the Swedish parliament associated with administering the testament and is funded by Sweden’s taxpayers’ money, not Mr. Nobel’s testament. It is called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It is politically funded and controlled. The politicians have sought to control public perceptions concerning economic policy by attaching themselves to the prestige of Mr. Nobel’s testament. They have misused this prestige to promote their own interventionist socialist economic policies. Mr. Samuelson was awarded the prestige of the “Nobel” prize because he served the political interests of the people who controlled the awarding of that prize. Mr. Samuelson called himself a “’modern’ economist . . . in the right wing of the Democratic New Deal economists.” See: nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1970/samuelson-bio.html.
Q: So, you are telling me that I cannot rely upon the predictions of a recognized authority?
A: Yes. And, moreover, I am telling you that the institutions that sanctify what is authority in matters of economics have been corrupted by the political process.
Q: Can you prove this to me using the three fundamental economic laws?
A: I will try.
Q: Please proceed.
A: Okay. Let us start with the first principle of logic or mathematics: A thing cannot at the same time be and not be. Either a centrally planned socialist economy, the USSR, is superior, in that it results in a larger GDP than a free market system, the USA, produced over a period of time from 1975 to 2000 or it is not superior in that it does not result in a larger GDP.
Q: Are there two sides to this argument?
A: Yes. Mr. Samuelson maintained that the central planning socialist model was superior to the disorganized free market. Professors Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard maintained that the central planning socialist model was doomed to failure. See: www.mises.org. Socialist planners could not rationally compute because:
1. All value is subjective.
2. People prioritize their values.
3. The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
Q: That much you set down as the three fundamental economic laws. Are you now going to postulate a fourth economic law or clarify or apply one of the three already discussed?
A: I will now try to extend the third economic law, clarify it, and apply it.
Q: Remind me again. What was the third economic law?
A: The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
Q: Are there any additional facts you need to establish in order to proceed?
A: Yes. Free market pricing signals provide reliable indications of value that business people could rely upon to make decisions concerning what, when, where, and in what quantity to produce goods and services. Mr. Mises and Mr. Rothbard maintained that the “disorganized” free market pricing mechanism was the essential organizing factor around which rational decision making could be organized because it is the only way values can be measured in useable units of information. Without this free market pricing information the socialist central planner could not make any rational decision concerning what, when, where, and in what quantity to produce goods and services.
Q: So, what does that prove?
A: The events from 1975 to 2000 seem to have proved that Mr. Samuelson was in error and Mr. Mises and Mr. Rothbard were correct.
Q: What do you mean?
A: It is an undisputed fact that the USSR did not economically overtake the USA. This was in part because socialist central planners were unable to make rational economic decisions. They lacked reliable information concerning values. That much should not be open to serious dispute. The record of USSR error in economic calculations is available to anyone who cares to look at the results in plain view.
Q: I agree that no one can seriously argue to the contrary. But, what does this mean for the science of economics?
A: The history of the USSR’s economic collapse, the results of central planning in Cuba and North Korea, and all of recorded economic history support the premise that the only practical way to get useful information concerning the value of goods and services is by recording the price at which they are bought and sold in a free market. So, to apply rule number three: The ability to measure any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity, we may add that if we want the information to be timely and accurate (useful), it must be freely available and not the product of coercion (it must be the product of a free market). If it is coerced, it is likely to be inaccurate and untimely. Only in a free market will the information be readily available as price signals freely made by consenting participants.
Q: Okay, let me see if I understand this correctly. In the case of a national economy, only through the free choice of millions of economic players can the price information provided by their buying and selling activity give useful practical information concerning value. Without this accurate value information it is impossible to make any rational decision concerning what, when, where, and how much to produce. It would seem axiomatic to me that without knowing how much it will cost to produce something and how much it is worth when produced, you could not know if you have added or subtracted value by the proposed economic activity. It would also seem axiomatic that adding value is rational and subtracting value is irrational. That is, if the goal is to increase economic well-being, it is necessary to know the value of what will result from the adoption of any project and this cannot be rationally predicted if you do not have accurate information concerning the value of goods and services . . . How could any rational human being argue to the contrary?
A: Mr. Samuelson did argue to the contrary.
Q: How do you explain Mr. Samuelson’s error?
A: Let me try to do so by further elaborating on the corrupting influence politics can have on economic discussion.
Q: Please continue.
A: The institutions that sanctify what is authority in matters of economics have been corrupted by politics.
Q: How have you proved that?
A: There are two possible and mutually exclusive explanations for Mr. Samuelson’s error:
1. He was not intelligent enough to discern the truth or,
2. He was intelligent enough to discern the truth but chose to write a falsehood.
Q: Where are you going with this?
A: You have stated: “It would seem axiomatic to me that without knowing how much it will cost to produce something or how much it is worth when produced, you could not know if you have added or subtracted value by the proposed economic activity. It would also seem axiomatic that adding value is rational and subtracting value is irrational. That is, if the goal is to increase economic well-being, it is necessary to know the value of what will result from the adoption of any project and this cannot be rationally predicted if you do not have accurate information concerning the value of goods and services . . . How could any rational human being argue to the contrary?”
Q: I think I know where you are headed. Are you saying I conceded the point?
A: It seems to me that for the purposes of this conversation you have conceded the proposition that a person of normal intelligence would understand that a free market is essential to knowing what the value of goods and services are and therefore essential to rational economic planning. Without rational economic planning the USSR could not overtake the USA economically. Therefore, it follows that there are two possibilities: Mr. Samuelson was not intelligent enough to discern the truth or he was in the service of some political group as a propagandist.
Q: Was there anyone who ever thought Mr. Samuelson was not smart?
A: I exclude the possibility that Mr. Samuelson was unintelligent. Socialism was doomed to failure from its inception. It contained the seeds of its own destruction. Mr. Samuelson was an intelligent person. From the foregoing, I suggest I have made the case that Mr. Samuelson was awarded the “Nobel” prize for economics by bureaucrats in Sweden, not because he spoke the truth but because he spoke falsehood in the service of socialist bureaucrats and their handlers. This is not to suggest there was any overt knowing conspiracy to lie. Rather, the bureaucrats, politicians, and handlers that control the award process look in the mirror and like what they see and are incapable of sanctifying anyone that does not uphold their socialist views. Mr. Samuelson was politically controlled or motivated to spread erroneous propaganda in the service of a force other than truth. Mr. Samuelson publicly identified himself as a Democratic New Deal economist. Can you imagine a mathematician or biologist identifying himself as a Democratic New Deal mathematician or biologist?
Q: Who else should I not trust to tell me the truth about economics?
A: Anyone under the influence of government bureaucrats, politicians, or their handlers, anyone who has a self interest in telling a falsehood, and anyone corrupted by taking money or honor from any of the foregoing. Anyone getting a pay check directly or indirectly from the government is suspect. This includes most professors teaching at government-funded universities. Most private universities also accept government funding for various programs and are therefore suspect. Additionally, many private foundations have come under the influence of collectivist, central planning, one-world government Fabian Socialists.
Q: You paint a very dark picture. Are things really that bad?
A: No, they are much worse.
Q: Why is that?
A: It is a matter of incentives. Behind every request to intervene in the free market is a small group that may have much to gain and therefore is willing to spend a lot of time and energy to obtain, for instance, a subsidy to grow sugar beets. On the other hand, there is everyone else who stands to lose a small amount and so is not willing to spend a lot of time, energy, or money to fight the sugar beet growers’ request. The sugar beet grower may stand to gain 10,000 Euro while each member of the general public may only lose 10 cents per day.
Q: There are people who understand this is wrong. Why don’t they do more to prevent it?
A: Most of the people who understand economics are busy making money in the private sector. Those who do not or cannot often find government or academic jobs. It is unreasonable to expect that people dependent on the good will of government will publish articles calling for a decrease in government funding and authority. Additionally, the private sector businessman is not specifically benefited by a free market. He profits from the difference between the cost to produce and the price at which he can sell. As long as the rules do not change during the process, the businessman has just as much opportunity to profit by the difference between the bid and the ask in a partly socialist system as in a free market system. Indeed, he may have better opportunities for profit if he has political influence in a socialist or partly socialist economic system.
Q: So who is benefited by a free market system?
A: Everyone in general but no one in particular. Economic laws apply equally to a free market and a partly free market. It is just that the results are different under different conditions. The laws stay the same.
Q: I thought you were going to propose a fourth law that only a free market can provide practical, accurate, and timely information concerning the value of goods and services.
A: This begins to sound like a value judgment. I do not wish to engage in polemics. Perhaps we can say that based on the existing evidence, the free market system provides the most useful practical information about the value of goods and services so that market participants can make timely and rational decisions. This is inherent in rule number three: the measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity. If we understand that in order for the information to be reliable, buy and sell activity must be freely made and not coerced, we can conclude that free market price signals provide the only known reliable, practical, and useful information concerning value in a working economy.
Q: I am confused, perhaps you can summarize.
1. All value is subjective.
2. People prioritize their values.
3. The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
Most of what is published concerning economics is political propaganda. It is deliberately designed to mislead. This includes the Nobel Prize for economics. How, why, and to whom it is awarded have been compromised and corrupted by politics. This corrupting influence pervades almost all reputable establishment institutions including universities and foundations. It is possible to understand what the truth is and what political propaganda is by applying the three fundamental laws of economics. Based on existing evidence, it appears that a free market pricing system is essential to a rational organization of production because it is the only known practical way to get useful information concerning the value of goods and services to market participants. It may be sufficient to say that this is so because all value is subjective. It follows that anyone who tells you that value is dependent on the investment of labor or capital is in error. Furthermore, anyone who adds, subtracts, multiplies, or divides economic statistics to prove that this or that policy to subsidize or prohibit an economic activity will be beneficial for the economy is seeking to mislead you.
Q: So, who can I rely upon to tell me the truth?
A: You should rely upon yourself. Do you understand the three fundamental principles of economics? Do you dispute that they are true?
Q: I thought I was going to ask the questions.
A: Okay. Let us leave it at that. What is your next question?
Q: Can you give me a little more help on the issue of where and from whom I can get truthful information to advance my understanding of economics?
A: Start by reading yesterday’s news.
A: You can compare what they said would happen to what in fact happened. Then you can know who told the truth and who did not.
Q: Can you give me an example?
A: Yes: Mr. Samuelson’s projection that the USSR would from 1975 by 2000 overtake the USA economically with Mr. Mises’ and Mr. Rothbard’s prediction that the Soviet economy would collapse.
Q: You have a good point. Clearly, the establishment “Nobel” laureate got it very badly wrong. Tell me more about the people who got it right. How could they know?
A: They understood and applied the three fundamental principals of economics: 1. All value is subjective. 2. People prioritize their values. 3. The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
They were both members of the Austrian School of Economics. They were both proponents of free market economics. Neither was able to secure a prestigious academic post while Mr. Samuelson was able to.
Q: Do you really mean to imply that there are respected members of the establishment, including “Nobel” laureates, who are really no more than political propagandists?
A: At this point, it should be clear to everyone that the USSR’s Marxist Leninist economists were really no more than political propagandists whose function was to sanctify the communist party’s monopoly of political power. Religion was used during the Middle Ages in much the same way to sanctify central authority. Today, economic propaganda is used to justify state intervention in the free market. The theory of the divine right of kings has been replaced by the state’s promotions of general welfare. We have nothing to gain and much to lose by closing our eyes to the truth. If you want to learn economic laws, you must be willing to face the truth. Perhaps you will have to unlearn falsehood before you can learn truth. The process may not be pleasant but it will be rewarding.
Q: Okay. I understand the importance of the three fundamental principles of economics but why have you spent so much time discussing the problem of political propagandists?
A: It is just as important to recognize a falsehood as it is to know the truth. This is especially useful if everyone else is acting on false information and you know it is false information. This can lead to very interesting situations you can exploit to protect your financial interests and to profit from business and investment opportunities. Knowing when you are being misinformed may be very important. Since most of what is written concerning economic issues is propaganda, it is especially important to correctly classify this information as false. Any one false premise may cause the conclusion to be erroneous. It therefore bears repeating that most of what is written about economic issues is false.
Q: What is the best political system to promote economic well-being?
A: One that permits and promotes a free market.
Q: Why is that?
A: A free market is the only known way to get useful, accurate, and timely information concerning the value of goods and services to market participants so they can make timely and rational decisions concerning what, where, and in what quantity to produce goods and services. In addition, private ownership provides the incentive and discipline required for the system to operate efficiently. Having your property at risk to loss provides the required concern while the opportunity to profit provides the required positive motivation.
Q: What is the worst political system to promote economic well-being?
A: One that does not permit a free market.
Q: But all systems provide for some form of regulation. There is no such thing as a completely free market. Aren’t you talking about an abstract utopia?
A: Freedom is a relative concept. As long as man perceives reality through the five senses, he will experience a duality and an apparent conflict. We understand cold only in relationship to hot, wealth in relationship to poverty, and freedom in relationship to slavery. This does not mean, however, that freedom is a meaningless concept any more than slavery is a meaningless concept. There are measurably significant variations in results dependent on the degree of freedom or lack thereof in any economic system.
Q: So, may we view freedom and slavery as opposite poles on a continuum?
A: Yes. More freedom is better than less freedom. Slavery is detrimental to increasing economic well-being. Freedom promotes economic well-being.
Q: Can you be more specific?
A: Every government action that interferes with a free market decreases economic well-being and every government action that promotes a free market increases economic well-being.
Q: Should governments then stay out of the way and do nothing?
A: No, there are legitimate actions governments need to take to promote a free market economy.
Q: Like what?
A: Protecting personal and property rights, enforcing contracts, and promoting civil order. If your neighborhood is ruled by criminal gangs, this will definitely prevent the smooth operation of a free market. The criminal gangs will engage in coercion so that market participants will be unable to freely buy and sell.
Q: So, some government interference in the free market can be good for economic well-being?
A: No. When government agents put bandits in jail, they are eliminating a source of coercion and an impediment to free economic choice. The enforcement of the rule of law promotes voluntary social interaction and cooperation. Free markets cannot exist without a very healthy respect for the rule of law. That these are relative concepts does not make them any less true. All interference with a free market decreases economic well-being and all promotion of a free market increases economic well-being. Governments have a legitimate role to play in protecting a free market. Protecting is not necessarily interfering.
Q: How do we know when protecting becomes interfering?
A: The question must be formulated precisely: Does the proposed action promote or interfere with economic freedom? Also, who benefits and who loses in the short term, in the long term? Generally, governments interfere in the free market by prohibiting or subsidizing and they do so to benefit a small, powerful, well-connected group to the detriment of everyone else.
Q: Why do people permit this if it is detrimental to everyone?
A: A free market benefits everyone in general and no one in particular. We discussed this earlier, the problem of incentives. The small, powerful, well-connected group with much to gain from a subsidy is prepared to put a lot more effort into getting the subsidy than everyone else who loses just a little.
Q: Is that the only reason?
A: No. Ignorance is another major reason. People are often fooled by the arguments put forward by those promoting government interventions in the free economy. They may incorrectly believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. This is generally because people have a tendency to look only at the short term benefit to the group being subsidized and ignore the long term results to the recipients of the subsidy and to other groups or everyone else.
Q: Can you give me an example?
A: Sugar beet growers in the EU get a short term benefit in the form of a subsidy for growing sugar beets. In the long term they may benefit more if they were forced to find economic activity that produced products or services that a free market system would voluntarily pay for. The public certainly would. The subsidy sugar beet growers receive is minus handling costs for tax collection and disbursement. The subsidy raises the costs to everyone else by higher prices, higher taxes, or both. Furthermore, it misallocates capital. Absent the subsidy, business people would not invest money in growing sugar beets in the EU. Instead, they would invest their capital in producing products and services for which a demand existed without a subsidy.
Q: This is getting very confusing. Can you please simplify the matter for me?
A: The EU sugar beet growers, the politicians, their handlers, and their paid propagandists argue that the EU sugar beet industry needs to be protected. They point out the benefits to gainful employment and tax receipts to EU countries from keeping this economic activity within the EU. They appeal to our charitable nature and patriotism: Let us help our less fortunate local growers; let us protect them from unfair competition from cheap labor abroad. What they do not point out is the following. There are no free lunches. Every government program has a cost. The government does not produce anything. It only consumes. It must pay for everything it consumes by taxes, borrowing, or inflating the money supply. Either the government taxes everyone to pay for the subsidy, borrows the money to pay for the subsidy, or gets the money to pay for the subsidy by increasing the money supply. The borrowing merely delays when the tax is paid. Inflating the money supply steals the purchasing power of everyone else holding existing currency units and may therefore be viewed as a deceptive tax. Whatever benefit the sugar beet grower gets is more than offset by the cost in increased tax, delayed tax, or deceptive tax. Additionally, there is the cost of administration. The direct cost of administration includes the cost to collect tax revenue and the cost to administer the subsidy program to disburse the subsidy to beet growers.
There is also the cost to the rest of society. If the price of sugar is raised by, for example, imposing an import tariff on sugar produced outside the EU, everyone, including candy manufacturers, is put at a disadvantage. Their costs go up. They are less able to compete with candy manufacturers outside the EU who have a lower cost for sugar. This distortion of free market pricing sends false signals concerning real demand and real costs to market participants. This results in all sorts of market dislocations. Real market demands may not be met because resources are diverted to sugar beet production only because of the subsidy. In addition, it promotes politics over production. It elevates those who divide the production over the producers.
Q: Well, I accept that a free market pricing mechanism is essential to rational decision making and that a free market in the ownership of the means of production is necessary to both hold accountable and motivate management. That you have shown to be the case from the application of the three basic fundamental rules of economics and what we know from the collapse of the USSR and the rest of economic history to date. I cannot find any flaw in your reasoning nor can I dispute any of your premises. Accordingly, so far, I can say that your science is sound. Nevertheless, I am bothered by what I see as a tendency on your part to moralize. You say that inflating the currency is a deceptive tax. Isn’t this just a value judgment on your part that has no basis in science?
A: No. It is an accurate description. The people who already hold the currencies pay by the loss of purchasing power that is now transferred to the newly created currency. Since the general public pays and the government gets to use the newly created money it is correct to call it a tax. It is deceptive in that no one in government ever explains how this works, puts it to a vote, or asks the holders of existing currency for their permission to take some of their purchasing power from them in this manner.
Q: It seems to me there is a very serious moral issue here. Deception is wrong. Doesn’t inflating the money supply amount to stealing?
A: I will not argue with your characterization. A free market cannot exist without the rule of law and the rule of law cannot exist without a free market.
Q: This is the first time I have ever heard it put that way. Is this an original thought on your part?
A: I think I am summarizing what should be obvious to everyone.
Q: Let me see if I have got this right. You cannot have a free market without the rule of law because without the rule of law people may be subject to coercion and contracts might not be enforced. A free market presupposes voluntary consensual relations without the initiation of the use of coercive force. Have I got that right?
Q: Okay, second half: Why would it be that you could not have the rule of law without a free market?
A: I will start the discussion with a question. Name me a country that has the rule of law without a free market economy.
Q: There you go again. I am to ask the questions and you are to give the answers, okay?
A: Very well, what is your next question?
Q: Is there now or has there ever been a country that has or had a civilized rule of law without a free economy?
A: Relatively speaking, no, if you mean by a civilized rule of law that voluntary contracts are respected and enforced and people are free to live in peace and are not subject to arbitrary state action. The issue is addressed by the definition of a free market. In a free market economy there is freedom for all participants. In the law of the jungle there may be freedom of action for the strongest and lack of freedom for everyone else.
Q: Suppose three rich businessmen get together and form three separate political parties that control the government. Suppose further that they pass laws benefiting themselves exclusively at the expense of everyone else. These laws are passed by parliament, signed by the president, and enforced by the courts, but are they in accord with the rule of law simply because they were enacted and enforced in accordance with the law of the land?
A: The rule of law supposes something higher than a formal compliance with the law of the land. In your example the political and legal systems are used to take money from the general population and give it to three people.
Q: But, if the government is democratically elected and follows the law as accepted by the majority, isn’t that following the rule of law?
A: Democracy may be described as two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner. The same analogy applies to the politics of economic issues. The two-wolf majority can vote for a tax that applies only to sheep and benefits that apply only to wolves. This certainly would be democratic and may well follow the law of the land but is it the rule of law? At what point is the lamb justified in resorting to violent action to protect person or property? The answer to your question is that it depends on your definition of the rule of law and whether the legitimacy of the rule of law comes from human beings or some higher source. It may be that society predates government and that a government, to be legitimate, must be limited to protecting the person and property of society’s members. It may be that if a government goes beyond that, it becomes illegitimate.
Q: Is it not then a moral issue?
A: Yes, it is a moral issue.
Q: So, why are we discussing it? What relevance does it have to economics?
A: We spent a lot of time discussing how politics have distorted the discussion of economic issues. If most of what passes for economic discussion is really political propaganda and you understand this then you are at a significant advantage to people who accept political propaganda as truth and act on it. Understanding that something is false is important. Understanding why people disseminate falsehoods is even more important. In an environment where say over 97 percent of what is written about economic issues is political propaganda, it may be essential for you to remember clearly why this is so. Otherwise, you may be swept away by the propaganda, forget it is propaganda, and do many foolish things, acting on falsehoods as if they were truth. Accordingly, it is essential to clearly understand the moral issue underlying why people disseminate falsehoods as truth.
Q: Okay, so why is it that people disseminate falsehoods as truth in the discussion of economic issues?
A: The problem is that, on a moral level, many people are prepared to steal when given the opportunity. This is especially so when they do not believe they’ll be caught or punished. Studies have shown that 80 percent of the general public will steal if provided the opportunity to do so under circumstances in which they think they are not being watched or otherwise held accountable.
Q: From where do you get the 80 percent figure?
A: There have been numerous studies. Every company running a store, bar, or restaurant is faced with this issue. Studies reveal that the 80 percent cuts across age, education, gender, and ethnicity.
Q: Can you please apply this to the three business people who control the government and enrich themselves at everyone else’s expense?
A: What is the difference between the three business people and the example of the two wolves and one lamb? Most people would immediately understand there is something morally wrong with two wolves voting to eat one lamb for dinner. Is it any less morally wrong to take the lamb’s property in this way? Can a majority of cannibals morally put you in a pot to boil your flesh and then eat it? Can they vote to take all or part of your property without your consent? Can a government morally do that which an individual cannot?
Q: But the example of the three business people is different. They were elected by the voters. They had the consent of the voters.
A: Now you have hit upon the reason why over 97 percent of what is written about economic issues is falsehood.
Q: How is this a moral issue?
A: The three business people/politicians could not have been elected if they had honestly explained to the voters, “If elected we will pass laws resulting in our economic advantage and your economic disadvantage.” They needed to disseminate falsehoods. They needed to lie about economic issues in order to fool the sheep. For instance, they needed to say, “Subsidizing sugar beet growers is good for our economy.” The reality is that it may be to the short term benefit of the sugar beet growers and to everyone else’s disadvantage. For this short term advantage, the sugar beet growers spent time, energy, and money. Some of the money undoubtedly went into the pockets of the three businessmen/politicians. They did not have the consent of the voters. The voters were lied to and misled. An agreement requires knowing consent by at least two parties. A fraudulently obtained agreement is not consensual. Without consent by one party there is no agreement.
Q: So, how could they have obtained the consent of the voters in a morally correct manner?
A: By honestly disclosing what they intended to do and what the consequences of that would be.
Q: Can you give me more details of such a disclosure?
A: Yes. They could have said, “We wish to use the instrumentalities of government to pass and administer laws and regulations that benefit ourselves and those who finance our election. You should understand that if you give us this power, we will benefit ourselves at the expense of everyone else. Furthermore, we will support such further intervention in the free market as we determine necessary to buy enough support to maintain our power.”
Q: Could any group get elected on such a platform?
A: Yes, if enough voters believe they are getting more benefit from government intervention than it is costing them and they have low enough moral standards or other priorities.
Q: I find that hard to believe. Can you give me an example?
A: I will give you two examples: a cannibal tribe in Africa and the Russian Federation. All empires are cannibalistic in tendency. There are many historical instances and current situations where economic well-being is not the determining factor in how a society orders its economy.
Q: I am unclear on your moral point here. Can you please summarize?
A: Economic propaganda is used to fraudulently obtain the public’s consent to a system that benefits those with political power at the expense of those without. The victims are frequently complicit in the fraud in that they consent in the expectation that they will be able to “steal” more in benefits than they have to pay in taxes and obstructionist regulation. Thus, to the extent that the moral standard of the rulers and the ruled is low, this fact supports a system with more intervention in the free market. All sorts of economic falsehoods are disseminated in order to hide what is really happening: stealing.
Q: So, your conclusion please?
A: A genuinely free market economy cannot exist without a high moral standard as expressed in the rule of law. Who sets that standard may be beyond the scope of this discussion. For some it is self-evident and for others an unproven prejudice that the rule of law comes from an organizing intelligence or creator that is higher than mere human beings. It appears that people who argue for situational ethics also tend to support interventionist policies.
Q: How does this relate to the three fundamental laws of economics?
A: If action is coerced or fraudulently obtained it may be false and so cannot be reliably used to make rational decisions. It will therefore result in a lower living standard. This relates to the third law. Additionally, it is a major disincentive to market participants.
Q: Relate this again to the moral issue please.
A: I have sought to explain why the moral issue is important. A low moral standard explains why there is so much falsehood in the discussion of economic issues. If you do not understand this then you may forget that over 97 percent of what is written concerning economic issues is political propaganda. For the beginning student this is the most difficult thing to understand but it is also the most important. It requires that you honestly look at yourself in the mirror and evaluate your own moral level. You cannot correctly apply economic law to your advantage if you continue to behave at a low moral level, if you are yourself corrupted, for instance, by using the coercive mechanisms of state political power to line your pockets. And to repeat, if you can distinguish the truth from political propaganda and so remember what is false, you will have an advantage over all those acting on falsehood. In this way you can use the knowledge of economic law to your personal economic advantage. The moral issue is central to your personal economic success. You will have great difficulty seeing clearly if you’re living a lie.
Q: You are saying that without a high moral standard, I will be unable to see the truth.
Q: Is this an economic law?
A: No. We have now moved from discussing economic laws to how we can profit from using them. The correct application of economic laws to real investment and business situations presents many additional problems.
Q: Earlier you said you would teach me how to apply economic laws to my personal financial advantage but only if I passed a moral test. Have I passed it?
A: No. The test is not an abstraction. It must be understood and passed in the real world of human action. It is not what I say but what you do that is determinative of the issue.
Q: I do not believe it is necessary for me to have a high moral standard to make a lot of money. Take the example of the three businessmen with three political parties who pass laws favorable to their economic interests. They can become very rich without high moral standards. They have very low moral standards yet they can become very rich indeed.
A: You are right that they can become very rich. You are wrong in characterizing them as businessmen. They are not making money based on economic principals. They are making money based on theft. Our discussion here deals with the issue of how to apply economic laws in order to become wealthy. If you wish to study the laws of how to become wealthy by theft, I suggest you start by reading ”The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and “The Prince” by Machiavelli.
Q: Are you suggesting that I do not have a high enough moral standard to apply economic laws to become wealthy?
A: No. I am pointing out to you that there are two altogether different roads to wealth and that altogether different rules apply to each.
Q: No one is a saint. Can I travel a middle road?
A: Perhaps we all do. Perhaps every time we are less than moral, we are less able to see the truth. Perhaps the loss from being unable to see the truth is greater than the gain we have from living with falsehood. Perhaps we only harm ourselves when we engage in force or fraud. Perhaps there is a creator to whom we will have to give an accounting.
Q: Perhaps I need more moral guidance than economic education?
A: If you want to be successful, you need both. The same applies to the broader question of the economy. You cannot have a free market without the rule of law and you cannot have the rule of law without a free market. The moral issue inherent in the concept of the rule of law is unavoidable. The study of economics concerns what people do in buying and selling goods and services and moral issues affect people’s behavior in that buying and selling of goods and services.
Q: Are you saying that without a high moral standard I cannot successfully use economic law to become wealthy?
A: No, I am saying that it will be harder.
Q: How does this relate to economic law as you have expressed it in the three basic principles?
1. All value is subjective.
2. People prioritize their values.
3. The measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy and sell activity.
A: Each of these principles is true and 97 percent of what passes for economic discussion is false. In coming to any conclusion concerning an economic issue you must form premises in a logical construct to have a valid conclusion. In order for the conclusion, in addition to being valid, to also be true, the premises must be true. Living a lie may result in your mind fooling you into thinking that a lie is true and that will result in error. A high moral standard for your own conduct will help you see the truth about everyone else’s conduct. A low moral standard and the truth do not appear to go together. How difficult will it be for you to see the truth in the application of all three laws to the problem at hand when 97 percent of what you are told is false?
Q: What is the mathematical probability?
A: .000027 if we have a 3 percent chance cumulatively three times (.03 x .03 = .009 x .03 = .000027).
Q: It seems like I have virtually no possibility of coming to the right conclusion concerning an economic issue unless I have a high moral standard. Is that what you are saying?
A: The odds are very much against you. Using the math above, your chances are only 7 in 37,037.
Q: For financial and business success, how important is integrity?
A: I believe that the three most important things for business success are integrity, integrity, and integrity. Being honest will help to keep your own analysis honest. A reputation for integrity will assure you a constant flow of people who want to do business with you.
Q: Are we still discussing economic laws?
A: What should now be clear from our discussion of the three fundamental laws of economics is that they all concern the subjective states of individual human beings. So does the issue of integrity. Lack of integrity interferes with the smooth working of economic laws because it interferes with the peace and harmony of people’s subjective states.
Q: Are you proposing another economic law?
A: Yes. Let us call this the first law of applied economics.
Q: What is the first law of applied economics?
A: Personal integrity advances the peace and harmony of people’s subjective states and so promotes the correct application of economic laws. Dishonesty destroys harmony and so makes the correct application of economic laws more difficult.
Q: Is this a universal law?
A: I do not understand your question.
Q: Where or when does it not apply?
A: The more advanced the division of labor, the more it applies. Perhaps in a primitive tribe, it would be more effective to be a good hunter, one who misleads and then kills the prey. The more advanced an economy is, the more division of labor and the more dependent people are on others honestly fulfilling their promises.
Q: So, integrity is central to effective economic interaction in an advanced economy?
A: Yes. It is central to the rule of law. The opposite may be required in war.
Q: Can you connect this for me to economic law?
A: Integrity is essential to the rule of law and the rule of law is essential to a prosperous economy because without the rule of law we would not have practical useful information concerning the price of goods and services and so be unable to plan rationally. So, since integrity is essential to rational planning and rational planning is essential to a prosperous economy, it follows that integrity is essential to a prosperous economy.
Q: Is integrity then essential for the advantageous operation of economic law at the community level and the personal level?
A: Yes. All of this is inherent in the third law, the measurement of any person’s value scale is limited by the amount of objective information we have concerning a person’s buy or sell activity.
Q: What causes inflation?
A: Inflation is caused by increasing the money supply.
Q: I thought that inflation was an increase in prices. Is that not so?
A: The traditional definition of inflation is an increase in the currency units and that causes an increase in prices.
Q: Can prices go down while there is an increase in the money supply?
A: Yes, if the increase in currency units is less than the increase in production of goods and services.
Q: When would there be a decrease in prices?
A: If there was no increase in the money supply and there was a two percent increase in production, there would be roughly a two percent decrease in prices.
Q: Is deflation bad?
A: That depends on your personal financial position. In the last example where the money supply stayed constant and there was a two percent increase in productivity, everyone would benefit equally from a two percent decrease in prices. Borrowers, however, might find it two percent more difficult to pay off their debt as the real value of money increases by two percent. Then again, in a society that expected a two percent deflation rate, that fact would be factored into the cost of credit and so the interest rate may be lower than when there was a two percent inflation rate.
Q: I am interested in learning more economic laws that I can apply to advance my economic well-being. I am not really interested in the mechanics of inflation rate computations. Please teach me more applied laws of economics. Perhaps you think I am not ready to learn more applied laws?
A: A theoretical framework laid out in an orderly manner may provide a useful analytical tool. You should understand what is before you decide what to do about it.
Q: Good point; so what should I understand next?
A: Concerning inflation you should understand what does not cause it.
Q: Why is that important?
A: Because 97 percent of what is written about inflation is a deliberate attempt to mislead.
Q: So what is not the cause of consumer price inflation?
A: Everything except an increase in the supply of money. Inflation is not caused by an increase in the price of oil, labor, interest rates, etc. It is not caused by a wage price spiral.
Q: If that is so, why is there so much said and written about the wage price spiral, etc?
A: In order to deflect attention from the fact that politically powerful forces are stealing.
Q: Stealing what and from whom?
A: Stealing the purchasing power of existing money held by its existing owners.
Q: Can you clarify please? I do not understand how this happens.
A: You are not supposed to understand. If everyone did, it would be impossible for the thieves to get away with the theft. Let’s say there are 100 people on an island and all are producing and trading their excess production. Let us further assume that they use USA dollars as a medium of exchange and that the total money supply is $100,000 or $1,000 per person. Now suppose one of the 100 people on this island is a printer and he prints an additional $100,000 and uses it to buy goods and services from the other 99 people on the island. Everyone would understand that this counterfeiting is theft. Now suppose we have a 300 million person economy and the government or a private central bank with government backing increases the money supply by 3 percent each year and does so by expanding credit through the banking system. Is this theft? Is it theft on a smaller or on a larger scale?
Q: Are you referring to the USA?
Q: Are you suggesting that the USA has a private central bank?
A: It is a fact that the Federal Reserve System is privately owned by the large commercial banks in the USA.
Q: How is the USA dollar inflated by the Federal Reserve?
A: By the creation of credit through bookkeeping entries. Credit is money. Literally, they create money or credit out of thin air. The system is deliberately difficult to understand so the public won’t object to the theft of purchasing power from holders of the existing money supply. Almost everything about the system is a lie starting with the name Federal. This gives the impression that it is a governmental agency. It is not. It is privately owned, controlled, and operated for the benefit of its private owners. It is a private cartel operated for the benefit of the cartel members.
Q: I am shocked. How could such a thing happen?
A: The central banks of both the UK and France were privately owned until after WWII. The cartel or monopoly power to issue a nation’s money has throughout history been the most sought after and fought over of all political privileges. The Federal Reserve is the third time the USA has had a private central bank. The first and second were closed down by presidents Jefferson and Jackson respectively. You should not be shocked. Most of what is written about economics is designed to advance the interests of politically powerful groups. It is not truth. It is designed to mislead. If you are still shocked then you do not yet fully understand our prior Q and A.
Q: How does this fit into the laws of economics?
A: We have discussed how integrity is essential to the advancement of economic prosperity because of the need for useful information concerning value and the limitation on that information as expressed in the third law of economics. You may recall that what we know about a person’s value scale is limited to what we know about what has been bought or sold. This is complicated by a manipulative system developed to hide a constant theft of purchasing power from the holders of existing money. Money is one half the value of every transaction. How can the real value of anything be known if the value of money is continually manipulated? In answer to this problem, I propose a law of applied economics as follows. In the application of any law of economics it is essential to determine the truthfulness of each premise used to come to a correct conclusion. Furthermore, since so much of what is written is a deliberate plan to mislead, it is essential to know the motivation of the party providing the information. So, in the practical use of economic laws it is essential to know the motivation of anyone providing information in order to properly determine the reliability of that information.
Q: Do we need to know any facts beyond what people buy and sell?
A: The price at which people buy or sell is an objective standard only if there is a consistently reliable unit of measure. When money is tied to a commodity there is a basis. When it is tied to debt, it is a promise without a connection to a commodity and so without any basis except the police power of the state enforcing legal tender laws.
Q: Are you saying that unless there is a commodity-backed currency, the information expressed in currency units is unreliable?
Q: How does that relate to your first law of applied economics: In the practical use of economic laws it is essential to know the motivation of anyone providing information so that you may properly determine the reliability of that information?
A: Perhaps it may be helpful to ask the following question. What is the reliability of information expressed in fiat currency and what is the motivation of the people who have imposed a fiat currency regime to supplant a commodity-backed currency? Since half the value of every transaction is expressed in currency terms the issue is very important to the study of economics.
Q: You are not making sense. The average person does not consider the issue at all. He just uses whatever currency is required. Please clarify.
A: You are correct as far as you go. The average person does not consider the issue but that is because he is accustomed to having imposed upon him the possible use of force and fraud to compel his use of fiat currencies.
Q: What force and fraud?
A: Fiat currencies continue to be accepted in the market place because at one time they were tied to a gold standard. The modern banking system can be traced to the goldsmiths of Vienna, Italy during the 1500’s. Merchants would deposit their gold for safe keeping with goldsmiths and the goldsmiths would give merchants paper receipts for the deposited gold. The merchants started to use the paper receipts for the gold in commercial transactions. This was easier for the merchants than physically delivering gold. Soon the goldsmiths started to issue more receipts than they had gold and so the fractional reserve banking system got its start. Fraud occurred when the goldsmiths issued more receipts than they had gold on deposit. They could do this because only a small number of their clients asked for the delivery of their gold at any one time. The force occurred when governments passed legal tender laws requiring creditors to accept paper instead of gold in the payment of debt.
Q: I am having great difficulty following your point. Please explain in more easily understandable terms.
A: I will try with another historical example: the year 1066. That was the year William the Conqueror left Normandy, now northern France, with an invading force to overtake England. William declared himself king, took control of all the land, and demanded tribute from the Anglo Saxons and Celts. If tribute was not paid to the military representing the Normans, the local population was very badly sanctioned. In time the tribute was called taxes and the military was replaced by bureaucrats called tax collectors. If you read the Magna Carta, which defines the rights of Englishmen, you will find roughly the following. The Lord created the earth. JC is the Lord’s only begotten son. The pope is JC’s representative on earth. The pope granted England to the king of England in return for payment and loyalty. The King granted parts of England to the noblemen in return for payments and loyalty. Therefore the peasants living on the land of the noblemen must pay taxes because they are ruled by divine right.
In order to make it easier to collect tribute the peasants were taught that this was their religious duty. Collection in monetary units rather than eggs, milk, wheat, etc. further simplified the process and provided an additional opportunity to hide the taking by force of a new ruling class. Direct application of brute force is very costly and inefficient. It is much easier to steal by deception. Also, taking once amounts to much less than what can be collected over a period of years. And so we have in every modern society a group that may be characterized as net tax payers and a second group that may be characterized as net tax receivers. The elite of the net tax receivers are generally referred to as the establishment and they are the ones that control the government. It is generally not possible for them to continue in their privileged position when a majority understands what is really happening. Therefore, all forms of deception are used to hide the truth. That is why 97 percent of what is written about economics is falsehood. This includes what is written about inflation and the monetary system.
Q: Please relate this back again to inflation.
A: Inflation is an increase in the supply of money. Money includes credit. The new money takes purchasing power away from existing money. The holders of existing money lose. The recipients of new money gain. If there is a private central bank permitted to create new money at will out of thin air, it has the ability to steal all the liquid and most of the non-liquid wealth of the society where the monetary units being inflated is used. In an advanced economy, the people with the power to issue a society’s money at will are the true rulers. Everyone else is paying them tribute and most people do so without knowing it.
Q: So maybe the third law of applied economics should say something about the importance of knowing the truth?
A: I propose the following laws of applied economics.
The first law of applied economies is: Personal integrity is essential. This is because personal integrity advances the peace and harmony of people’s subjective states and so promotes the correct application of economic laws. Dishonesty destroys harmony and so makes the correct application of economic laws more difficult. The second law of applied economics is: Know the motivation of people providing you with information. In the practical use of economic laws it is essential to know the motivation of anyone providing information so that you may properly determine the reliability of that information. Remember that 97 percent of what is written about economic matters is intended to mislead you. The third law of applied economics is: Value, exalt, and verify the truth absolutely. The common thread is to prevent the acceptance of a false premise as this would make the conclusion unreliable.
Q: All three laws of applied economics have to do with the truthfulness of the premises in applying the three fundamental laws of economics. Can’t we just say that truthfulness in the application of the fundamental laws of economics is essential when applying the fundamental laws?
A: Yes. The first law, integrity, has to do with the truthfulness of the person applying the fundamental laws of economics. The second is concerned with the truthfulness of people providing you with information and the third with verifying the truthfulness of the first two. The critical point is that if your premises are correct, that is truthful, and you correctly, that is logically, apply the fundamental laws of economics, then your conclusions will be correct in that they will be both valid and truthful.
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