Author Archives: Tom Mullen

If you’re really against fascism, repeal the New Deal root and branch

fdr signingIf there is one thing the American political right and left agree on, it’s that the other side is fascist. The left thinks Trump is Mussolini; the right points to Big Tech suppressing political dissent. We even have an organization that styles itself, “AntiFa,” its chief means for fighting fascism being to dress all in black and beat its political opponents with clubs.

We live in interesting times.

But for all the accusations of fascism, justified or not, no one ever makes mention of the overtly fascist institution that dominates a large part of our lives: the New Deal.

No, I don’t mean the Green one, proposed by democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others. I mean the now hoary, 88-year-old New Deal inspired directly by Mussolini’s fascism and praised both by Adolph Hitler and Il Duce himself.

This isn’t to equate the whole of Roosevelt’s governance to Hitler’s or Mussolini’s. But in economic terms, Roosevelt was in lockstep with the fascists.

Fascism rejected socialism’s government ownership of the means of production. For this reason, the left imagines fascism to be an extreme form of capitalism. It isn’t. Fascism was more anti-capitalist than it was anti-socialist, according to Mussolini himself.

As Mussolini wrote, “Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere…The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others.”

Fascism left business ownership in private hands, but at state direction. Business owners may have retained title ownership, but they largely produced what the state told them to produce, sold at prices dictated by the state, and made future plans based upon the needs and dictates of the state, rather than their individual interpretation of market signals.

FDR did precisely the same things under the pretense of fighting the Depression. The Supreme Court struck down a few of his worst abuses, but the fascist regulatory structure he built not only remains in place to this day; it has continued to metastasize.

Fascism was also anti-democratic. It was “opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority,” wrote Mussolini. Thus, the rules governing society, including economic activity, were made by an unelected bureaucracy taking its direction from a supreme leader who embodied the state and therefore the spirit of the nation.

The New Deal is similarly anti-democratic. Not only does it transfer myriad decisions previously made by private business owners to the government; it allows those decisions to be made by unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch.

This unconstitutional transfer of legislative power from Congress to the executive was rationalized away by New Dealers and their SCOTUS enablers by drawing an arbitrary distinction between legislation and “regulation.” This is dishonest. Whenever government officials write enforceable directives that either require or prohibit human action, they are legislating, no matter what those written directives are called.

These regulations are presented to the public with benign motivations like safety and fairness, just as Mussolini posited his fascist state, “concentrates, controls, harmonizes and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure.”

In effect, they amount to the government dictating the minute details of business operations to the owners.

This has several deleterious effects. First, it stifles creativity. Enforcing compliance with hundreds of thousands of regulations naturally tends towards all businesses being run the same way. Revolutionary improvements like the assembly line and mass production could never have occurred under the New Deal.

Who knows what innovation has been stifled since?

Second, all this compliance has a cost, which is much more easily borne by large firms than small ones. As time goes by and the regulatory burden gets heavier, the advantage of large firms over small widens. This has the effect of promoting consolidation and elimination of marginal producers.

In a laissez faire market, there is always a natural tension between large firms with economies of scale and smaller ones that can adapt more quickly to changing market conditions. Both the cost burden of regulation and its stifling of innovation neutralize the strengths of smaller firms and tilt the playing field dramatically towards large ones.

Yet, ironically, the New Deal is most staunchly defended by progressives who claim to oppose big business and support “the little guy.”

Third, the New Deal inevitably leads to what we now call, “regulatory capture,” meaning the large corporations themselves writing the regulations that govern them. When the government’s job is merely to prosecute crimes and referee civil actions, it can be accomplished by competent attorneys. But when the government aspires to regulate the minute details of business operations, it requires in-depth knowledge of the regulated industries, including understanding of sophisticated machinery and other technologies, supply chains, specific market conditions, etc.

Only an industry insider can provide that level of expertise. And so, the government must go to these insiders for recommendations on how to make their own industries “safer,” “fairer,” etc. Naturally, the government will turn to the largest firms, understood to be the most efficient, and who also have the money to lobby.

Anyone truly committed to ridding America of fascism should concern themselves less with what politicians they don’t like say or post on social media and instead support repealing the New Deal root and branch.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Every year will be 2020 if Americans don’t resist Covid-19 measures now


cuomo whitmerIf you wonder how state governors and so-called “public health” bureaucrats can continue to impose lockdowns even though the evidence is overwhelming they don’t work, just consider smoking bans.

Governments around the U.S. and the world began imposing them at the beginning of this century, claiming second hand smoke (aka “passive smoking”) caused lung cancer, heart disease, and a number of other serious diseases.

Now, even if that were true, it would still be the right of private property owners to decide whether to allow smoking on their premises or not. But it wasn’t true.

It’s been seven years since a large study showed no correlation between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Heart disease has not decreased as the banners promised, either. Yet, the bans remain in place.

The TSA will celebrate its 20th birthday next year. It has never caught a terrorist and still consistently fails to detect 95% or more of the dangerous items carried through security on its own tests. It, too, will never go away.

If Americans don’t resist them, business closures, travel bans, contact tracing and the rest of Covid-related government insanity will be here to stay. Any who don’t believe that should ask themselves why Erie County is renovating a historic building into a “Covid-19 response hub.” Not even a government would be so obtuse as to make a long-term capital investment like this to address a problem that will be over in a few months.

All of history shows governments don’t give up power unless they are forced to do so. As a new year dawns, Americans are faced with a clear choice: resist now or spend the rest of their lives reliving 2020 over and over again.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Another day, another Covid “news” article where the reporter questions nothing

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Another day, another article in the Buffalo News where the so-called journalist questions nothing, is curious about nothing, and acts literally as a propagandist for the politician.

If “gatherings” are to blame for higher deaths, then why are over half the deaths in nursing homes, which are completely locked down, including not even allowing the residents to congregate with each other? Why are New York State’s hospitalizations and deaths so much worse than Florida’s, which has no restrictions, no capacity limits on restaurants or bars, and no enforced masked mandates?

By the way, what is the total for deaths from all causes in December 2020, December 2019, and December 2018? Are total deaths really higher? By how much? Are deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions all lower by close to exactly the number of Covid deaths, as a study found for the U.S.  between March and September?

And how many deaths does the wise county executive estimate have been caused by Covid lockdowns? Will no one ever ask this question? Because that number is not zero. It was uncontroversial a year ago to say every one percent increase in unemployment nationwide causes 30,000 deaths. So how many Erie County deaths have been caused by the unemployment resulting from lockdowns?

These are questions I thought of in seconds as I read the article, but apparently never occurred to the so-called journalist. It’s almost as if she thinks her job is just to write down what the government tells her and repeat it to the population without question.

If that’s the case, why have journalists?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What will our Ozymandias say to the future?

ozymandias-percy-shelley-with-poem-34054575160_c4cc6a68e0_bI’ve often wondered what historians of the future will think about us and our demise while sifting through the rubble of our civilization. There are many volumes on the reasons for the fall of Rome. We know what happened to the Spanish, French and British Empires. The Mayan collapse is still somewhat mysterious, although there are theories.

But when it comes to us, this mighty civilization that rose out of the Age of Reason and accomplished wonders in 400 years that eclipsed those of the previous 4,000, what will they conclude?

That, ironically, after surviving the bubonic plague, cholera, several world wars, and many natural disasters, we were finally done in by mass hysteria over a virus that, compared to the great epidemics of history, was rather unremarkable.

And round the decay of our colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands will stretch far away.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The absurd proposition of Covid-19 lockdowns

brand-quarantine-coronavirus-CONTENT-2020

Among the most glaring deficiencies of cherished ideals like democracy and “the rule of law” is they allow the dumbest policies to be enacted with the consent of but a tiny percentage of people with IQs above 100. And most of that tiny percentage have ulterior motives.

Boy, are we ever feeling that pain now.

Somehow the American public has accepted without question the bizarre proposition that asymptomatic people must prove they don’t have a disease before exercising most of their rights. That is the reasoning behind locking down all of society until widespread testing or a vaccine is available.

Liberty is dead until this evil notion is banished.

On the contrary, it is the responsibility of people at high risk of being seriously affected by this virus to protect themselves or be protected by their loved ones. They don’t have a right to lock up the rest of the world in a futile attempt to avoid all risk.

Not possessing this power individually, they can’t possibly delegate it to a government, even if you believe in that hogwash popularly known as representative government.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The government can’t make realities like scarcity go away

magicWhenever I point out the predictable (and often predicted) negative consequences of a particular government intervention, someone will invariably come back with, “Oh yeah, what’s YOUR solution, smartypants!”

Like that’s some sort of zinger.

In almost every case, the inquisitor is looking for me to propose an alternative government solution, when the obvious recommendation implicit in my post was, “Stop letting the government…”

No matter how high the past failures mount up (drug war, education, health care, war on “terror”), they’re always ready to call in the government again.

It’s almost as if they can’t confront the reality that, as the great John Bender put it, “The world is an imperfect place; screws fall out all the time.” They are constantly looking for someone, usually a politician, to wave a magic wand and make realities like scarcity go away.

How many examples will it take? How many thousands of repetitions do they require before every day isn’t their first day?

What would it take for people like this to acknowledge:

1. Some problems can’t be solved. We just have to learn to live with them.

2. In a world of scarce resources, the voluntary cooperation of the market always produces the best outcomes.

3. In that same world, the government always produces the worst outcomes.

Freedom is impossible without confronting reality.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

When the Coronavirus Shutdown is over, will anyone blame their governments for the economic devastation they caused?

The Dow and S&P 500 were both down nearly eight percent, the largest drop since 1931 according to data from LPL Research. FULL CREDIT: Fotosearch/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The expectation that governments (local, state, federal) allowing people to go back to work in a few weeks or a month will mean the economy will immediately be just like it was in January is delusional.

Long-term and permanent damage is being done. Some businesses will close. Some will never rehire all the staff they once employed.

Risk aversion will skyrocket because there is no reason to believe governments won’t do this again in the future, perhaps perennially over less and less significant threats.

Would you put your life savings into a business knowing the government might close it down indefinitely next flu season?

Will anyone bother to track the increased suicide and drug overdose rates caused by massive unemployment?

Will anyone bother to track the increased mortality rates of other illnesses untreated, either during the shutdown or because of the government-inflicted economic depression after it?

Will anyone question the wisdom of previously allowing the FDA to limit competition in drugs and medical supplies (face masks, ventilators, etc.) resulting in shortages when we needed them most?

Will anyone point to these and other obvious negative consequences of government policies and not ask for more government to address them?

In other words, is there any chance we emerge from this epidemic bearing any resemblance to a relatively free and prosperous society?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

‘Inflation is low’: The Federal Reserve’s Scam of the Century

MW-HG082_jay_po_20190321070916_ZQIn the wake of the federal government’s $2 trillion fiscal monstrosity and the Federal Reserve’s even more monstrous promise to create new money and credit with no limit whatsoever, it is a good time to reiterate a point I’ve made before: the claim that “inflation” has been low over the past ten years is a scam.

No, I’m not talking about the real definition of “inflation” being the creation of new money and credit, rather than the resulting rise in prices. Nor am I merely claiming the inflation rate is underreported due to all the tricks played with the numbers (hedonic adjustments, substitution, etc.).

I’m saying the claim that prices are not higher because of all the previous quantitative easing is a bald-faced lie. It represents perhaps the biggest gaslighting of an entire population in human history. And because it’s been so successful, the Fed is about to do it again.

The Fed reports the consumer price inflation rate over the past ten years as ranging from about 1.5% to 2.4%, not counting a few outlying years. The average from 2010 – 2019 was 1.77%. The Fed then tells us that low number proves its massive inflation of the currency during the last decade “hasn’t resulted in inflation,” by which they mean a rise in the price of consumer goods. But it has.

The key to this deception is its false premise: that one should compare the prices of goods and services this year to what they were last year. That’s the wrong comparison.

The correct comparison would be between what prices are today vs. what they would be without quantitative easing. Perhaps they wouldn’t be higher at all. Perhaps they would be lower.

Perhaps they should be lower.

Obviously, we don’t get to do a controlled experiment where we relive the past ten years with the Fed’s printing press shut down. But we can look at other factors influencing prices and draw some reasonable conclusions.

One major factor is automation. Donald Trump got elected largely based on his claim that unfair trade deals have destroyed American manufacturing, sending manufacturing jobs overseas. This may play well with unemployed Rust Belters, but there is one problem: American manufacturing hit its all time high in 2007, long after NAFTA and long before Trump got into politics.

It wasn’t trade deals that took away the jobs; it was automation. That means the American economy is producing far more manufactured goods with far fewer people. And this trend isn’t limited to the manufacturing sector. It is ubiquitous across the economy, from robots in warehouses to automated kiosk ordering in fast food restaurants.

So dramatic has been this trend that another presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, campaigned on the idea that we need a “universal basic income” because of all the jobs being eliminated.

Yang’s argument rests upon an old fallacy, but one thing is certain: Automation represents a huge deflationary force on consumer goods prices, as does a host of other trends like ever more powerful computing capabilities, web retail replacing brick and mortar stores, etc.

For these reasons and others, GDP has continued to rise, albeit modestly, during the mass retirements of the baby boomers. So, the increase in total goods produced combined with the decreased demand represented by retiring baby boomers should result in falling consumer prices.

Instead, the Fed’s QE and other monetary inflation interventions – injecting massive amounts of new dollars into the economy – have overcome massive price deflationary forces to make consumer prices rise modestly when they should have been falling.

Falling prices raise real wages, even when nominal wages don’t rise. To put it in topical terms, if the price of toilet paper falls from $2 per roll to $1 dollar per roll, you can buy twice as much toilet paper without getting a raise. Ditto consumer goods in general.

The Fed has a whole story about why falling prices would be catastrophic. But falling prices are what naturally happens as society produces more per capita.

Don’t believe me? Take another look at the Fed’s inflation table, this time from 1800 – 1899, most of which time the U.S. was on a gold standard.

If you make a spreadsheet multiplying a basket of goods costing $100 in 1800 by the inflation rate each year, you’ll see something quite startling.

Nevermind, I did it for you.

That’s right. Prices fell dramatically over the course of the 19th century. A basket of goods that cost $100 in 1800 cost only $48.94 in 1899. That means one could buy twice as much with the same wages in 1899 as one could in 1800.

Falling prices are the natural result of a more productive economy. But as the Fed’s inflation table also shows, it has always overcome this natural tendency and made prices rise (the Fed was created in 1913). That same basket of goods that fell from $100 in 1800 to $48.94 in 1899 cost $1,498.45 in 2019. It should have cost something like $24.00, or even less considering accelerating innovation.

Yes, monetary inflation eventually raises wages, too, but always more slowly than it raises consumer goods, making wage earners poorer while the beneficiaries of inflation – mostly in the financial sector – get richer.

Get it yet? You’re being ripped off on a massive scale. You’ve been ripped off by the monetary system your whole life as automation and other innovations allowing society as a whole to produce more goods and services should have made prices fall even faster than usual.

You’ve been had. And now the Fed is going to use its disinformation about consumer prices to take you again.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The Government Declares War on Market Prices Just When We Need Them Most

Price Gouging Summed UpMarket prices are the foundation of civilization. They are the signal that tells producers how much of any one thing to produce. They tell consumers how much to consume or whether to consume a product at all. The reason retailers don’t normally throw away eighty percent of their stock is because market prices tell them how much to have on hand at any one time to meet current demand.

When they miscalculate and buy a little too much, they still don’t typically waste their stock. They put it on sale and meet the demand at a lower price.

To the extent the market is allowed to set prices, producers generally produce what consumers want to buy in the quantities they want to buy. When all supply is consumed and large amounts of consumers are not left with unmet demand, it is referred to as the market “clearing.”

The government is always and everywhere at war with market prices. Regulations creating barriers to entry limit supply, artificially inflating prices. Price controls, including “anti-price gouging” laws override market prices, creating shortages. Subsidies to producers (farm subsidies, for example), allow producers to limit supply, artificially inflating the price.

Federal Reserve monetary inflation juices up demand, both on the consumer side and the producer side, creating overconsumption, low savings rates, malinvestment and imprudent debt. This ongoing war on the market price of money, a.k.a. “the rate of interest” does all sorts of damage in the real economy. It directs companies to borrow money to expand production of products for which there is no real demand. That in turn sends workers into these zombie industries.

Even without an external problem like the coronavirus (and the much more harmful government response to the coronavirus), bubbles created by monetary inflation eventually pop. Then all the malinvestment is exposed, the imprudent debt defaults, and the workers employed in unprofitable ventures get laid off. This is the market telling everyone where the mistakes were made.

Right now, we have two economic crises at once. We have state governments literally ordering people to stop producing goods and services in an attempt to combat the spread of the virus. Whether that is the best course of action is a subject for a different time. That it is doing massive economic damage is indisputable.

That damage has caused a second crisis: it has popped the economic bubble blown up by the Federal Reserve over the past twelve years. The market is responding by trying to adjust prices to their market levels. It is lowering the artificially high prices of stocks. It will lower the artificially high price of real estate. The price of oil has fallen both because of the anticipated reduced demand and the increased supply from Russia and OPEC increasing their oil production.

But not all prices are falling. Given the surge in demand, the market is trying to raise the price of items like toilet paper, certain medical supplies and other essential items.

All these price adjustments by the market are essential for our well-being. They are the cure for the economic disease caused by the government response to the virus and the previous twelve years of monetary inflation and artificially low interest rates.

What is the government doing in response? It is escalating its usual, conventional war on market prices to a nuclear war. It is punishing suppliers of essential goods for raising prices. It is ramping up monetary inflation to historic levels to keep stock prices artificially high and unprofitable businesses alive to go on producing products for which there is no demand. At a time when market prices are more essential to our survival than ever, the government is doing more to override them than ever.

This is not an academic theory that only works on a graph in a classroom. This plays out before our very eyes in the form of essential goods not available to us at any price.

Why is there no toilet paper available? Ask most people and they will say it is because of “hoarders.” These are people who bought far more than they needed in anticipation of future shortages. The people who arrived at the store after the toilet paper is sold out vilify them. Others might just call them prudent.

The same people who vilify hoarders also vilify “price gougers.” They don’t seem to grasp the obvious cause/effect relationship here. If it weren’t for artificial limits on price, i.e., “anti-price gouging” laws, the price of toilet paper would rise dramatically with the surge in demand and the so-called hoarders would not be able to buy nearly as much. That would leave far more for everyone else. The toilet paper market would find the optimal price level where the greatest number of people could get what they need.

We may be able to laugh off the shortage of toilet paper, but when it comes to food, water, medical supplies and other important items, shortages are no laughing matter. Why are there not enough ventilators right now? Because government regulation raises the price of entry into the market and lengthens the lead time for new production. If not for these artificial barriers, hundreds of new ventilator producers would seize the opportunity to enter the market and sell ventilators.

Instead, the government is considering ordering companies who make related items to make ventilators instead. That will only result in less efficient production of ventilators and shortages in the products those manufacturers would otherwise produce.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the government overriding market prices. Every economic policy the government undertakes is at its root an attempt to do so. Every single one makes us poorer than we would be if the government did nothing.

The free market doesn’t produce perfect outcomes. It’s an imperfect world. But a free market produces the best possible outcomes in the real world of scarcity and occasional disasters. Prices are the lifeblood of the free market. They are what make it produce the best outcomes. Every time the government overrides market prices, it makes things worse – in most cases, unfortunately, to thunderous applause.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The State and Federal Governments’ Coronavirus Response Will Dwarf Economic Damage Done by FDR

depression-1During the 1930s, FDR managed to prolong the depression he inherited for over a decade by unleashing a vast array of wrongheaded economic interventions on an economy trying to correct itself from the malinvestments that occurred during the 1920s.

Whenever a financial bubble pops, prices fall from their artificially high levels, seeking their true, market level. This is the market’s way of liquidating the malinvestments and imprudent debt that resulted from prior central bank monetary inflation, which artificially raised prices and lowered the cost of borrowing and investing.

Many of FDR’s New Deal interventions proceeded from the economically idiotic belief that preventing prices from falling would help. So, for example, he used taxpayer funds to pay farmers to produce less crops at the same time many were going hungry. By lowering the supply of crops, he hoped to raise their prices.

But he never ordered people to produce nothing at all.

Today, the federal and state governments are doing just that, albeit for supposed public health reasons rather than economic ones. State governments are in many cases ordering most of their populations to stop producing anything whatsoever, while the federal government promises to reimburse their losses.

Reimburse them with what money, you ask? Good question.

Regardless, the economic devastation that will result from this economy-wide shutdown will dwarf the damage FDR did during the so-called “Great Depression.” If simply limiting production caused a decade-long crisis (and it really didn’t end until after WWII), ceasing production altogether will obviously be worse. How much worse depends upon how long the insanity lasts.

As far as that is concerned, never underestimate a government.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.