Tag: capitalism

The Means of Consumption


One of the great intellectual tragedies of the Left — which, it should be noted, pale in comparison to its practical tragedies — is that it’s focused discussion on how goods are produced, rather than how they are consumed.

This is hardly surprising: not that Marx or Engels knew a damn thing about it, but working conditions in the 18th and 19th centuries were downright brutal. Mines, pollution, and back-breaking, mind-killing drudgery were hardly innovations but, even if we stipulate that portrayals of pre-industrial farming are highly romanticized, at least there was something about work in the open air that could be made attractive with enough polish. Coal mining and textile mills have never attracted the kind of poetical praise that farming and shepherding once did, and for good reason.

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Dear WSJ Wine, I do love many WSJ offerings, including most especially Wall Street Journal in the Morning. However, I must make my concerns regarding your wine offerings known. Tonight, my husband and I opened FOUR bottles from the most recent shipment and found, quite literally, one of them drinkable, and that was about the […]

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Should Food Be a Commodity?


Every second Monday something miraculous happens in my kitchen. One minute the cupboards are bare: the next minute groceries are delivered right on to the kitchen counters. I use Grocery Gateway, owned by Longos, to order groceries on the internet and have them delivered as they say, “right on to your kitchen table!” Fabulous!

This week, it occurred to me to wonder at the tremendous amount of human effort that had been involved in bringing such a rich harvest to my home. Grapes from Chili, oranges from California, tomatoes from Ontario: everything had been collected from such widespread parts of the world. I thought of the owners of the farms and orchards, the workers who had picked the crops, the transport people who had brought everything together to Toronto, Canada. Then there were the people who had made up my order, and those who had brought it to my door and delivered it with a smile. I felt grateful to them all, and willingly paid the price asked for such a service.

Divvy Up the Hardware, Destroy the Software


6860127956_1483c85086_zLike Marx, Lenin believed that capitalism had solved the problem of production and that the state could simply expropriate the commanding heights of industry and produce wealth for the “common good.” He declared that “any literate person” was capable of managing any part of the economy, from banks to factories. Very quickly, however, he learned that running a business was far more complex than he had ever imagined. With political commissars in charge, production plummeted, people starved, and peasants rioted.

What Lenin never understood is that real wealth does not lie in the factory itself – the hardware – but in the knowledge of the entrepreneurs and managers who planned, built, and established the myriad procedures by which it is run. The real wealth lies in the software – the information and procedures stored in the minds of the people who operate the factory. Confiscating the hardware left the Bolsheviks with useless hulks devoid of the essential software that had enabled them to create wealth.

Leftists of the “you didn’t build that” mindset from Barack Obama to Elizabeth Warren are speeding us down the same dead end road that Lenin traveled nearly a century ago. They see wealth in materialistic, static terms; as something that can be doled-out until everyone is “equal.” They don’t realize that wealth is created in the software: the laws and institutions that protect the freedom necessary for individuals and entrepreneurs to work and create. Should they destroy those laws and institutions in their blind race toward their vision of equality, they will succeed only in destroying America’s wealth.

Solving Non-Problems at the Speed of Government


claytonAn anti-trust lawsuit that shows again the absurdity and irrationality of anti-trust laws:

The case involves two plaintiffs, Melanie (Tucker) Wilson and Marianna Rosen. Both are consumers who purchased audio downloads and iPods directly from Apple. They argue they paid more for iPods than they would have paid if Apple hadn’t violated antitrust regulations. In a 2010 filing, the plaintiffs said they “suffered injury” to their property “in the form of overcharges.” A third plaintiff, Somtai Troy Charoensak, dropped out of the case.

In case you didn’t follow that, the article elaborates:

A Homily for Pope Francis: The Problem with Capitalism


8723683376_8e3e907a37_zEven at their best, people are arrogant, prideful, avaricious, covetous, and irrational beings, capable of the most horrendous evil. We are also the first to declare ourselves enlightened and inculpable. We convince ourselves that material and technological advancement is somehow evidence that we are on a path to irreversible redemption. We rationalize that this is somehow an ascendant, political path. We’re on the right side of history, we like to think. We fashion ourselves as noble creatures while ignoring the worst kind of news, rationalizing an inexhaustible historical archive of evidence proving otherwise.

That’s not to say that human beings are not capable of amazing invention, cooperation, and compassion.  We are. Our laws, customs, norms, institutions and moral codes provide us with a framework for civility and order. Domesticated humans have evolved as both fragile and advanced creatures, but like all domesticated animals, we are also capable of nearly immediate reversion to our undomesticated selves.

Capitalism, as we in America describe it, rests on a single principle: the right to property. This right extends to both the tangible and intangible, ones stuff and the fruit of ones labor. No person or institution has the right to take what is not theirs without the consent of the owner and just compensation. We make a single exception to this principle; we allow the government to take, that is to tax. However this taking is limited to what is necessary to fund and execute a finite number of collective functions.

The Economics of The Walking Dead


250px-PhilipBlakeTFGAs has been pointed out in nearly every commentary on AMC’s The Walking Dead, the series is best when it focuses less on the horrors of shambling zombies than on those committed by survivors against each other.

Through the first two seasons, most of these came from hot-blooded emotions such as fear and desperation; ordinary people making bad — even evil — decisions under duress, rather than out of malice. That changed in the third episode of the third season with introduction of Philip Blake, aka the Governor.

A former nobody, Blake rose to be the leader of the biggest and most successful survivor camp in the region. Under his leadership, the town of Woodbury remains safe, open, and well-fortified; if you looked past the barricades and the piles of undead that are stacked around them, the place almost looks cute.

What’s The Republican Vision?


375px-Jeffrey_Tucker_Freedomfest_2013I am currently teaching an entrepreneurship class to middle school-aged women. One thing that I keep bumping up against is the difference between the concepts of vision and planning.

All the girls are bright, ambitious, and they are all about “doing,” and they all have plans. I keep trying to tell them that plans will work and fail — but without a vision — there is little motivation to go on. On their own, plans can only take you so far; the equivalent of 100 miles or so. Coupled with vision, however, and they can take you across the galaxy. That’s why elevator pitches to raise money, hire people, or make sales are more matters of vision than planning.

I’ve asked a few times here on Ricochet what the Republican vision is.

God Bless Cardinal Pell. (And Margaret Thatcher. And, for that Matter, Capitalism.)


From an article in the London Spectator describing the changes Pope Francis is making in the curia:

154078-cardinal-george-pellThe Pope has begun his attack on the Curia by placing its scandal-ridden financial structures under the control of a new department with unprecedented powers: the Secretariat for the Economy. Its first prefect is Cardinal George Pell, the conservative former Archbishop of Sydney.

Immigration: The Long-Term Solution (Update)


1000px-Flag_of_Honduras.svgA few weeks ago, I argued that the long-term solution to the United States’ immigration problem is for Latin America become a place worth living in. While Latin Americans are both ultimately responsible for their situation and the only ones capable of fixing it, I suggested that we may be able to offer some help around the edges.

Lo and behold, some folks are trying to do that in an incredibly ambitious way: by attempting to carve out semi-autonomous, privately-run areas within Honduras called ZEDEs. Though required to abide by Honduran law, ZEDEs will be able to set their own local rules, maintain their own police forces, and run their own courts through a collaboration between private corporations and local citizens. The objective — besides making money — is to create model free cities that can be emulated outside the ZEDEs.

Reason recently sent a film crew to Honduras and shot a series of four five-minute documentaries on ZEDEs. Take a watch when you have a few minutes:

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As Chris Anderson considers in his free audiobook Free: The Future of a Radical Price, the internet didn’t introduce the concept of profiting by offering “free” products, but it has certainly empowered such market approaches.  “Try before you buy” typically involves a demo (a mere taste of the complete product) or a timed trial after […]

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Relearning Everything


In a world where access to the sum total of all human knowledge is only a few clicks away, human ignorance of history remains a rather magnificent thing to behold. We are born blank slates, without an ounce of knowledge or wisdom. Theoretically, 12 years of training at expensive government daycare centers (or schools) is designed to combat this ignorance. Yet not a day goes by where old, discredited ideas aren’t repackaged and presented anew as a recent stroke of brilliance.

From The Guardian today, we receive the wholly novel idea that if something is important (like tampons), it should be free. As this is the first time we’ve ever considered the question of whether the government can create better access to things people need than the free market, I will allow the author a full hearing before erupting in riotous laughter.

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*This post is 100% Fi-Con approved, as it doesn’t deal with anything so tedious or trivial as children, marriage, or religion. A common refrain is that Americans are losing their entrepreneurial spirit — we don’t take enough chances, start enough businesses, and dare to become our own bosses with all the risks that entails.  And […]

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Who Doesn’t Want a Drawbridge Sometimes?—Aaron Miller


In Ed Driscoll’s latest podcast, James briefly describes what he calls “the drawbridge effect”: successful business owners using their acquired power and resources to prevent others from following their success. Is this scenario truly common? If it is common, is it as selfish as it first appears?

Imagine that you could afford to build a house on a beautiful secluded beach. Soon others discover that shore and more houses are built. Then the condos and hotels come, along with little tourist shops and restaurants. Eventually, home owners are driven out by rising property taxes. Those that remain are faced with a very different beach experience than the one they bought into.

When Is Capitalist-American History Month? — Marion Evans


In my view, one of the big problems with education nowadays is the fact that children are taught about wealth redistribution before they are taught about wealth creation. In order to redistribute something, you have to create it first. That is, unless you believe that wealth just grows on trees. I have an open mind. But I have many trees in my yard and I am still a working stiff.

Therefore: wealth-grows-on-trees hypothesis is rejected!

A Personal Note on Larry Kudlow — James Pethokoukis


Tonight is the final episode of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report.” Now Larry Kudlow isn’t retiring, thank goodness. He’ll still pop up regularly on the network’s programs as senior contributor.

But early evening Monday through Friday won’t be quite the same without Larry’s lively recap and spot-on analysis of the day’s business and political events, as well as his infectious testimony on the wonder-working power of economic freedom.

The Elite Distaste for Black Friday


Ah, Black Friday: The day wealthy whites are applauded for judging lower-class folks who are just trying to buy affordable gifts for their kids.

Huffington Post’s mocking headline blares “THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT!” followed by bold black and red stories of consumerism gone wild. New York’s Gawker features “The Best Walmart Thanksgiving Day Fight Videos” (I won’t dignify them with a link), while coastal elite news anchors cluck about the barbarians at the Target security gate.