How to save the economy the Austrian way

(The Depression) The Single Men's Unemployed A...
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Everytime a Mises.org article happens to fall into my field of vision, I am usually either stunned by the idiocy displayed or I simply burst our laughing at the absurdity and this latest one which even claims to be watered down in order not to be considered “unserious” by the current US Administration, is no break from this rule.

So after the introduction which attempts to claim the high ground of consistency and morality, we get an attempt at an analogy, which of course is made to showcase the Austrians as the rational good guys

If an allergic man has been stung by a bee, I don’t know what to do except rush him to the hospital and maybe scour the cupboards looking for Benadryl. But I’m pretty sure drawing blood from his leg, in order to inject it into his arm and thus “stimulate his immune system,” is a bad idea on numerous accounts

Unfortunately this analogy can easily be turned around to put the Government in the place of the hospital and whoever you don’t like in the place of the crazy ad-hoc injection doctor. If anything, one would see how this analogy would be to the detriment of the Austrians, as one could imagine that their reaction in this case would not be to do fucking nothing. After all, you shouldn’t be helping someone who took such risks and his death would imrpove the gene pool.

But hey, as long as the author is so proud of his metaphors, who am I to complain. Moving right along to his actual (*shudder*) recommendations.

After the mandatory fault blaming on the Gov’ment and declaration of his undying faith that were the state to go away everything would turn into pink bunnies and unicorns by the magic of the free markets, we get to the “serious” proposals:

Eliminate the personal and corporate income tax

And just to show everyone that he’s not joking around, he complements this with his very modest proposal to “blow up the IRS building”. ‘Cause that’s how he rolls, dawg!

Aside from the silliness of blowing up buildings, he doesn’t really explain to us why that is a good idea. I suppose that we need to take him as his word that it’s all in our best interests and it will not simply lead to public resources being wasted since there would be no money to repair them. No, the free market would find a way.

Also look forward however to the rise of epidemics of easily preventable diseases through vaccination. But hey, as long as the rich are protected, let the rabble die. It would certainly thin out the labour supply and increase their minimum wage (more on that below) so it’s all good eh ?

Unfortunately, dismantling the Social Security system will have to wait

Not that would do much good without any funding behind it. We’re going to go back to the good ol’ days where being poor means staying poor and you’ll be lacking any means to get back on your feet. Look forward to no security at an old age, no matter how hard you’ve worked the rest of your life. All wonderful stuff that people were struggling to fix a century ago but nowadays, they have become obsolete for the Austrians through the free market.

The author continues

The loss of some $1.5 trillion in annual tax receipts sounds absurd, but the actual figure would be lower, because of “supply-side” effects.

What could be better than supply side economics. This wonderful myth that has proven to not work anywhere but is still touted around on faith. But yeah, apparently removing tax incomes would provide a “stimulus to the economy”, as with the money injection to the banks I guess. Ah faith. What a wonderful thing.

Auction off all government assets progressively

Because we all know that private owners always do things better for the public than the government. Just look at Enron and General Motors. And privatizing things like water has always turned out for the best right?

At this point, I am starting to get quite annoyed at the author simply proposing random “free market” moves (Very similar to the ones the US has been taking for the last 30 years) and asserting that it will be for the best, at which point you think that we are supposed to trust him or be already convinced of the Austrian theory’s validity.

Eliminate the DEA and the SEC.

The author cites as an example Madoff who was not caught by the regulations and thus this proves that they are worthless. Nevermind that their powers to regulate Wall Street have been frowned upon, reduced and/or taken away by the US neoliberal politics. Basically the author is saying “The Agencies that we had to prevent this kind of thing failed after we limited their ability to do so, so the best thing to do now is to remove them altogether.”

Of course the continued existense of Madoff and the rest of the Wall Street implosion pretty much proves that the self-regulation of the markets is nothing more than a fairy tale. Expect the Madoffs to multiply in the future once there is not fear of being caught at all.

It is especially funny to see his proposal about drugs. Although I am one of those who would say to dismiss the war on drugs because it is counter-productive, restricts freedoms and it’s main purpose is to simply increase the prison slave labour, the author’s argument is that simply a stern talk and a watching of Requiem for a Dream will make people “just say no”, and even if they don’t, well, who cares.

Cut the Pentagon budget in half.

Finally, one of the few things that I think he’s not going far enough. Of course the military/imperialist budget is not necessary but not because it’s more than enough to protect US Americans from “Iranian Tanks” as the author uses as an argument, but because the reason for the budget is simply to enrich the war lobby. Which incidentally is privately owned, so where’s this trickle down effect I’ve been hearing so much of? His arguments once again display the authors half-assed understanding of how the world works.

Eliminate the Department of Education

Oh just brilliant. Because what we need right now is more unskilled workers. We can never have enough MacDonald servers afterall and having so many of them will certainly help keep the wages high..oh wait. No it won’t. If there’s one thing that will happen through the destruction of education opportunities is another descent into mysticism and religion and the destruction of the high level job market.

The authors argument is that not everyone deserves a higher education (only the born rich I guess) and hey, we’re saving money in the short term aren’t we? When has the short term been a worse investment than the long term?

Cancel all the pending “stimulus” and other bailout packages

Although I agree that the current “solution” implemented is wrong, the author presents this act for all the wrong reasons. He simply wants to “wipe the state clean” and let everything rebuild. He does nothing more than take the stand the liberals had as the Great Depression struck and they refused to save the banks. That of course turned out just dandy in the long term and only the banks suffered, right?

Of course the authors greatest failing is that he simply considers the bank itself, not the people who have their money saved in it. The folding of the major banks would mean that millions would lose all their life’s savings, loans would grind to a halt (even moreso than now) and a long period of rebuilding would happen while the economy reconstructed. Untold suffering for millions is what the author’s proposal is promising but as long as we stick to free market principles, I guess it’s worth it.

Allow unrestricted immigration

Hey, one thing I agree with. Oh wait, it was too good to be true…

So long as the incoming folks had a secure job in which the employer (a) paid three years in advance on any state and local taxes that would accrue from the employment and (b) bought at least a $100,000 house for the immigrant and his or her family.

Aaaahahahaha. Right. So basically the point is moot from the get go, as such wealthy or prestigious immigrants are probably allowed in now anyway. But hey, as long as it helps to “sell the package somehow”…

Abolish the minimum wage.

Wait, you need to read the whole quote

That — coupled with the elimination of the income tax — will take care of unemployment within 6 months.

If your goal is simply to “take care of unemployment” then this might be true but if you goal is to have people employed with a wage they can live a decent life instead of 3rd world situations, then you’re probably going to fail. Sure, you’ll get more employment but it’s going to be the employment of a bare subsistence wage, if that at all.

And with that the author finishes his proposal. Of course all of this is generally the kind of delusion the Austrians promote, that somehow anything can change by pleading with the Government to implement their “moderate proposals” which are generally watered down versions of their positions. Centuries of the same thing have proven more than enough already that nothing changes through such requests, especially not when the State is there to protect and support those at the top.

Watered down Socialism becomes Social Democracy and watered down Austrianism becomes Neoliberalism. Both in the end don’t achieve what they set out to do but rather betray their principles in order to retain their positions. You cannot reason with a system who’s continued existence relies on being “unreasonable” to your ideas.

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29 thoughts on “How to save the economy the Austrian way

  1. Although I don't like to defend the mealy-mouthed Mises Institute, you seem to be committing the same fallacy than he is, in some cases. Eliminating the Department of Education would not eliminate education. Eliminating the SEC would not eliminate investment security. The role of the Department of Education is not to educate people (to say the least) and the role of the SEC is not to protect people's investments.

    The faster we can get the government's corruptive influence out of these areas, the faster people can start organizing their own.

    1. It is true that it wouldn't eliminate education altogether but it would eliminate for the majority of the people who won't be able to pay for it. Read his actual words on it and you'll see him claiming that not everyone is allowed a higher education and that this is somehow good to boot.

      Similarly for the Social Security. It wouldn't eliminate it altogether, but rather for everyone who can't afford it.

      1. "It is true that it wouldn't eliminate education altogether but it would eliminate for the majority of the people who won't be able to pay for it."

        No, you're just committing the same fallacy again. All we need is to replace government schools with public schools.
        (of course ideally we shouldn't have schools at all, but until we can do that, public schools will have to do)

        "Read his actual words on it and you'll see him claiming that not everyone is allowed a higher education and that this is somehow good to boot."

        Given how useless higher education is for most people, I'd be tempted to agree with him, although of course I don't want anyone to be *forced* not to have a higher education.

        "Similarly for the Social Security. It wouldn't eliminate it altogether, but rather for everyone who can't afford it."

        How's that? You already have to pay for Social Security. It's not free. That money's stolen from you to finance a bankrupt system based on a Ponzi scheme. How's that Anarchist?

        1. No, you're just committing the same fallacy again. All we need is to replace government schools with public schools.

          Please explain to me how we can have public schools without a government in a capitalist system.

        2. Given how useless higher education is for most people, I'd be tempted to agree with him, although of course I don't want anyone to be *forced* not to have a higher education.

          The problem in this case is not that the education is useless, but rather that the system we have now cannot utilize the education people get and/or the education system is broken in the sense that it does not educate people with the skills that will be useful.

          Just because this system is broken does not mean that the solution is to leave people uneducated and allow only the wealthy to have higher education available which will then be useful (of course) since there will be less people with one and thus a higher demand.

          But forcing people not to have higher education is exactly what will happen when you allow only the wealthy to have one.

          1. Well that's the issue isn't it- the idea that education has to be "useful" to the system instead of producing intelligent, healthy, happier human beings.

          2. You can produce intelligent, healthy and happy human beings all you want but those beings would still have to have a skill that is of use to the society, whether that society is Capitalism or Anarchism/Communism. The difference is that what is "useful" in a Capitalist society generally does not merge with what makes people intelligent, healthy or happy.

        3. How's that? You already have to pay for Social Security. It's not free. That money's stolen from you to finance a bankrupt system based on a Ponzi scheme. How's that Anarchist?

          Because not everyone pays for Social Security, not when they can't afford it. Because people pay for it according to their means and then (theoretically) are guaranteed at least some security. Yes, the system is corrupt but it is still better than what the alternative would be in a capitalist system.

          1. But that doesn't justify the theft used to sustain it, unless you believe that "the ends justify the means." I must say I am extremely dubious of that ideology.

            Either way, I think the actual function of the Social Security system is not to help people, but rather to help create a class of people whose livelihood depends on the State. Theoretically it's supposed to give some security, but I'd like to see the actual statistics on how much you input v how much you get back versus what one could do with savings.

          2. I'm a utilitarian; the ends do justify the means. If you were to refuse that as a utilitarian yourself, then it would mean that there are some means that we can never use, and thus "never using these means" becomes the end that is justified by any means. Basically it's an absurd position.

          3. I'm a utilitarian, the ends do justify the means. If you were to refuse that as a utilitarian yourself, then it would mean that there is an end that we can never cross, and thus "never crossing this end" becomes the end that is justified by any means. Basically it's an absurd position.

          4. As for the effect of social security, I can't provide you with hard data of course but it does seem to have some powerful positive effects on societies.

            It is possible that one could do more with the savings, but social security is more about helping those who don't have savings at all.

  2. I don't understand what you mean by "public media" but certainly churches are not exactly the best example of uncorrupted institutions.

    Be that as it may, even if I grant that charity schools are possible, you're not fixing the problem. Nothing in that setup would prevent corruption and on top of that you're introducing the prisoner's dilemma.

    1. I don't see how corruption would be worse than it is in the government. That's sortof a high bar of corruption for anyone else to beat! As for free riders, well, it obviously can be overcome by ideology, otherwise none of these public organizations would exist. In fact, the free rider problem applies more to the State, which forces people to support a gigantic socio-economic entity instead of local communities.

      1. I don't disagree that local communities would be better, but take away the government and leave the Capitalist system intact and those local communities would be disintegrated in no time.

        Corruption is not something inherent in the Government but in any large institution with no practical accountability. Let Capitalism run amok and its concetration of wealth would create similar such institutions (and corruption) in the future, but also with no accountabiltiy to anything but their bottom line.

  3. As for free riders, well, it obviously can be overcome by ideology, otherwise none of these public organizations would exist.

    I wasn't talking about free riders, but about the fact that the people not contributing to the "public" institutions would have a competitive advantage and thus an incentive to defect. Eventually everyone would defect and those public institutions would be no more.

      1. Uh no. If there is a public school and I do not provide any money to it but rather use my (now extra) money to send myown children to a better private school, I'm not free riding am I?

          1. So what, you're replacing forced taxes by force of arms to forced taxes by force of public outcry? First of all, how is that practically different? What we have now is simply the same moral apect passed into law. If you are not about giving people a choice in the practical sense, then go all the way pass it into law, don't hide behind morality.
            Second, If you do leave them a choice, then why would the that person give two fucks about what the unwashed masses think, especially when he's coming out better?

          2. Because you're basically telling me that unrestrained Capitalism is better in providing the social services we have now!

          3. No, my point is, you already support mutual aid and social coherency. So why are you badmouthing it? I'm not arguing for "unrestrained capitalism," I don't even know what that means. Any capitalist system is by definition restrained.

  4. I am all for these things but I also recognise that they cannot work if you leave the capitalist system intact. I am not badmouthing those things, I am arguing against the idea that you can reach them from where the Mises.org author left you.

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