Tag Archives: economy

China is surpassing the U.S. economically because it is freer than it was; America is less free

Outwardly, everyone condemns the Chinese government, run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Their society is authoritarian and “anti-democratic” while in America, as the song goes, “at least I know I’m free.”

Yet, no one seems to believe freedom leads to greater economic prosperity or human happiness. Inherent in every political discussion about China is the idea that authoritarianism produces better results and the United States is handicapped by its devotion to freedom. Americans enviously note that when China’s central government decides to do something, they are not encumbered by adversarial processes inherent in the U.S. Constitution.

This is also the assumption underlying the trade wars. China has “taken advantage of” the United States by being more economically mercantilist while the United States has foolishly allowed its industry to migrate to China and other countries because of relatively freer trade policies.

That is demonstrably false. Manufacturing still comprises about the same percentage of real GDP as it has throughout the post-WWII period. The problem with American manufacturing isn’t the amount produced but what is produced. American manufacturing is far too skewed towards producing weapons and other items without utility, misdirected by a monetary system that allows resources to be directed towards unproductive ends.

The emergence of China as an economic power certainly provides the United States new competition, but that emergence is not a result of China’s authoritarianism. On the contrary, China’s economy has grown exponentially in the past thirty years because it is significantly less authoritarian, especially in the economic sphere, than it was previously.

Americans never seem to ask themselves why a country with four times the population didn’t have a much larger economy than the United States during the twentieth century. The answer is simple: communism. China had as authoritarian an economic system as has ever existed in human history. While they are by no means laissez faire now, they are far more “capitalist” in relative terms. This is the key to their success, not the authoritarianism that remains from the communist years.

The United States, on the other hand, is relatively less free than it was at almost any time in its history, with the exception perhaps of the 1930s and 40s. And its trajectory is towards more and more government intervention into the economy and life in general.

The United States became the most powerful economy in the world for the same reason the United Kingdom, comprised of two tiny islands with relatively small populations, was the most powerful before the United States. It had the freest markets. It was the most “capitalist,” for lack of a better single word.

The United Kingdom squandered its wealth trying to maintain a vast global empire that gave its government prestige but drained its wealth and led it to debauch its currency. Sound familiar? Empire may be made possible by capitalism, but it is not an inherent part of capitalism. Empire is anti-capitalist. Capitalism is about property rights and voluntary exchange. Empire demands taxes and misdirection of capital into production of arms and other imperial necessities that do not add to the happiness of the taxpayers.

Weapons, soldiers, and military infrastructure beyond what is needed for defense have no utility. Sooner or later, the productive part of the imperial economy can no longer afford to subsidize the unproductive part.

This has been the end of every empire in history. It is also the reason the USSR had a much more painful transition from communism to capitalism than China – it had an empire of other communist republics draining its already misdirected resources.

While the global standing army the United States maintains is a significant reason for its economic decline, it is not the only reason. In all areas of economic and social life, America has become less free with each passing year.

Americans have become accustomed to its government surveilling its phone calls, e-mails, and financial transactions. The New Deal regulatory structure, under which bureaucrats in executive branch agencies make most of the laws by fiat, rather than Congress in an adversarial process, continues to metastasize. Its entitlement programs, designed to cover the last few years of life, now demand the resources to cover decades of life beyond retirement.

The privilege of printing the world’s reserve currency has done the most damage to the dynamism of the American economy. All inflation leads to malinvestment, but the inflation made possible by the global dollar standard has led to bubbles that very well may comprise half of U.S. GDP.

Certainly, there are millions of people employed in the cartoonishly bureaucratic education and healthcare industries who are adding no value to consumers. As guaranteed student loans have redirected trillions towards the education industry, millions of administrative jobs have been added to the system that aren’t necessary to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Meanwhile, the education results continue to decline.

Healthcare is in much the same shape. That part of the industry on the cutting edge, where profits and losses are still available, which operates under the most capitalist circumstances, continues to produce miracles of innovation. But the rest, the heavily subsidized, increasingly bureaucratic part, is sclerotic and in decline.

In many ways, routine American medicine is still practiced the way it was in 1970. Why? Because it has no reason to improve. It’s on the dole, with half of all healthcare spending comprised of government spending. There is no reason to improve medical or business practices when your income is guaranteed by taxpayers. See the DMV.

Just ask yourself why you’re still asked to fill out multiple forms capturing your insurance information when the office already has it. In fact, they wouldn’t even give you the appointment until they not only got your insurance info but verified your eligibility with the insurer. But they still ask you to write it down on two different forms when you get to your appointment. Non-subsidized industries cannot afford inefficiencies like this.

What made America richer and more powerful in the past was being significantly freer than any other country in the world. And by “freer,” I do not mean more “democratic.” Democracy was not the key to American freedom; it was limited government. It was the fact that the vast majority of American economic and social life was not up for a vote. Rather, most decisions were left to the discretion of the private sector and the individual.

What made China destitute during the same period was its complete lack of freedom. There was nothing else keeping China from building the economy it has today. But since the late twentieth century, America has headed in one direction on the freedom scale and China in the other. It is not unreasonable to ask whether they haven’t now met at a point far lower than America’s freer past.

There is no reason for Americans to fear China eventually having a larger economy than the United States. That would be the natural result of having so much larger a population. But if America wants to regain its economic power in a post-dollar dominated world, it must stop imagining China’s success to be a product of its remaining authoritarianism and get back to what created America’s wealth in the first place: far more limited government, freer markets, and maximum individual liberty.

Tom Mullen is the author of It’s the Fed, Stupid and Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Did Omicron Really Kill the Economy or Was It Something Else?

I canceled cable in June 2020. I made that decision for two reasons:

1. It no longer provided value to me. Until Coronasteria, I was able to watch the so-called news programming, filter out the spin and propaganda, and obtain some knowledge of things happening in the world. As of the beginning of the Covid Regime, that was no longer possible.

2. I didn’t want to subsidize evil. That may sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t. And I don’t want a single dollar of mine helping to perpetuate it.

But I still need to know what they’re telling everyone else. So, virtually every morning, I dutifully visit the websites of CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc. and see what today’s menu of falsehoods has to offer.

I’ve noticed what hasn’t been on the menu the past few days: Covid. At least not the screaming headlines we’ve grown accustomed to over the past two years. Instead, most are leading with the news that Old Man Biden killed a BIG TERRORIST (it turns out he blew himself and his family up during a raid by US special forces).

But the most interesting story featured near the top of a mainstream news site was on CNN, which said, “America’s economic recovery is about to go into reverse.”

The White House is preparing for a dismal jobs report on Friday following ADP’s report earlier this week that the economy lost 301,000 jobs in January. The booming Biden economy seems to have hit a speed bump.

The media want to blame the Omicron virus, but that doesn’t make much sense. No businesses were closed because of Omicron. If you want to blame the knock-on effects of the 2020 lockdowns, or perhaps the disruption caused by Biden’s attempted vaccine mandates, that might be more plausible.

Or maybe it’s because the Federal Reserve is so far keeping its promise to slow down quantitative easing (QE) by $30 billion per month through March and end it completely by March 31.

If Jay Powell doesn’t blink first, we may be about to see how much of the post-lockdown recovery was real and how much was merely malinvestment caused by monetary inflation. The answer might be frightening.

If you want to know who really runs the economy (hint: it ain’t presidents or the free market), download a free e-book copy of It’s the Fed, Stupid here.

It’s also available in paperback here. It’s priced at a pre-hyperinflation level so grab a few copies for friends if you can.

It makes a great introduction to the government’s most economically damaging institution for liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, and independents alike.

Tom Mullen is the author of It’s the Fed, Stupid and Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

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.

China becoming the largest economy would be great for Americans

trump-xi-wall-street-1069240Here’s another little piece of evidence that whatever made the American psyche one inclined towards freedom is long dead: the irrational fear China may surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy.

So what?

China’s population is five times larger than the U.S. population. It should be the largest economy in the world. If both countries had laissez faire free market systems, China would have the largest economy in the world and that would be great for the Chinese, for Americans, and for the rest of the world. It would mean an enormous increase in the world supply of goods and services, making the average inhabitant of this planet richer, just as the industrial revolution made richer the inhabitants of the countries in which it occurred.

Anxiety about China’s economy being larger than ours is born out of statist, collectivist thinking, in which the individual is subordinate to the glory of the state collective. In a word, it’s dronethink.

The only reason the U.S. economy has ever been larger than China’s is because it was relatively freer than China’s – by orders of magnitude during China’s communist era. The reason that gap is closing is because China, while still by no means a laissez faire free market, is becoming relatively freer, while the US is becoming relatively less free.

The only way for China to become the largest economy is by continuing to make its markets and, eventually, its entire society freer. Whether it will do so or not remains to be seen. The freedom momentum there has slowed somewhat recently, although the momentum here is in entirely the other direction.

Anyone who wants to live in a freer, richer, and safer world should hope both Americans and Chinese have the good sense to clean house in their respective governments and establish a laissez faire system in both countries, resulting in both becoming far more productive. Yes, China’s economy would then  become the largest economy in the world and that would be just fine.

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.

Amazon’s NYC Pullout Shows Economy Is Rigged, Just Not the Way Most People Think

cuomoandbezos4Amazon announced Thursday it will not build a new headquarters in New York City, citing the backlash from union leaders and some lawmakers over the nearly $3 billion in government incentives included in a deal to bring the company to NYC. Those leaders treat Amazon’s decision as a victory. For Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, it’s a defeat, as they led the effort to lure the company to New York.

No matter how it’s spun, the facts don’t change. This decision represents billions in lost tax revenues for the city and state, over and above the $3 billion in incentives. Amazon won’t be employing an estimated 25,000 additional New Yorkers. And many millions more in business with local vendors will not occur.

To opponents of the deal, a principle has been defended: Giant corporations like Amazon shouldn’t be offered tax “subsidies” to come in and “exploit” local workers and the community. But this theory raises several questions.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

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.

Why the Bull Market May Be a Jedi Mind Trick

Publication1The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that over 300,000 jobs were created in February, making it the best single-month total since July 2016. And unless you’ve been exploring the Arctic Circle or were kicked off Twitter for expressing politically incorrect views, you know that’s just the latest “great” news about the booming economy, bull market in stocks, and, best of all, the significant new job creation since Donald Trump became president.

Certainly, there is no denying that the stock market has continued to rise, with the S&P 500 up over 27 percent since 11/7/2016, as of this writing. But as for the overall economy and, specifically, job creation, even the Trump-hating liberal media seems to have fallen for an economic Jedi mind trick. Regardless of single-month spikes like the one that occurred last month, it only takes one click of the mouse to see that job creation continued to fallin 2017, as it had the previous two years. Looking at yearly totals over the past ten years, job creation looks a lot more like a protracted version of the last business cycle leading up to the 2008 crash.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

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.

Obama has state of the delusion speech shovel ready

TAMPA, February 12, 2013 — Pundits are already atwitter over tonight’s annual exercise in political posturing. The question many are asking is whether Obama will stay on the attack against his Republican opponents or attempt to use the speech to identify areas where he can work with them.

The real question is whether the president will make a single remark that bears any resemblance to reality.

The State of the Union address (SOU) has always been little more than a nationally televised stump speech. As all presidents believe that anything happening anywhere in the country is a direct result of their policies, none have ever wanted to paint a less than rosy picture about the supposed “state of the union.” After all, if it’s in a bad state, it must be their fault.

However, with the U.S. now in full-fledged collapse, the speeches have become so detached from reality that they should be called “state of the delusion” addresses.

The speech is interminably long, but let’s look ahead to the main areas it will cover and try to separate fantasy from reality.

The president will remind us that he inherited an economy in shambles, which is true. He will hope that listeners draw the inference that his predecessor was wholly at fault for this, but that isn’t close to true. Every president since at least Teddy Roosevelt contributed to the problem, with the largest contributions coming from Democrats.

It will really turn bizarre when Obama starts talking about “the recovery” that’s underway. We’ll be told that while we’re not out of the woods and there is still “a lot of work to do (i.e., more government meddling to accomplish),” new jobs are being created, new industries are flourishing and things are generally looking up.

In reality, the United States is in a depression, just like the one in the 1930’s, and it’s being prolonged for all of the same reasons. The official numbers say that unemployment has been hovering around 8 percent, but that’s only because they’ve changed the way unemployment is measured. If they measured it the same way that they did in the 1930’s, unemployment would be the same as it was in the 1930’s.

As an aside, there isn’t any substantive economic distinction between “recession” and “depression.” Politicians just decided to stop calling them depressions to con the public. After a while, they started believing their own bovine waste products.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Romney-Obama debate as competitive as professional wrestling

TAMPA, October 4, 2012 — The early consensus after last night’s debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that it was a win for Romney. That depends upon how you define “win.”

Certainly, Romney came off as more confident in his answers, while the president seemed distracted at times. However, if this was a battle of ideas, then the outcome was about as uncertain as professional wrestling. Anyone who was listening could tell that this wasn’t a real fight. Big government was the predetermined winner the minute that Romney was nominated.

Yes, Romney made a few references to “competition” and “private markets,” as did Obama. But neither of them is interested in giving free markets a try. In that sense, Obama was at least a little more honest, except when he made the ironic statement that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system.”

The first segment concerned the economy and “creating jobs,” something the government has no role in whatsoever in a free market. The only valid government policy to create jobs from a free market perspective is one that stops the government from doing what it’s already doing. Neither man proposed this.

For many decades, the federal government has employed the same ruse in an attempt to centrally plan the economy while at the same time claim it is fostering free enterprise.

Step One: Tax the living daylights out of everybody and everything.

Step Two: Give “targeted tax cuts” to firms in sectors the central planners think should grow.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…