FREDERIC BASTIAT ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD AND A BAD ECONOMIST

Mankind's Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)
Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)

The American news media has a good business model. Suffering, sex, violence, and so forth attracts viewers, but is the news media’s business model good for us? When they show us suffering, what is the first thought of the news media and its too often mindless admirers? It is a crisis! The government has to do something!

Why the government? Well, it makes for a good story. The reporters can point their cameras at somebody and tell us what he is doing or not doing.

Is our government always supposed to do something? Why? When there is a problem, how far ahead does the news media look? Doesn’t the news media always gravitate to the next crisis? Do they actually give much thought to anything?

Consider Frédéric Bastiat‘s observation on the importance of foresight.

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause–it is seen. The others unfold in succession–they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference–the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.

This explains the fatally grievous condition of mankind. Ignorance surrounds its cradle: then its actions are determined by their first consequences, the only ones which, in its first stage, it can see. It is only in the long run that it learns to take account of the others. It has to learn this lesson from two very different masters–experience and foresight. Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. (from here)

Over the last couple of centuries, our nation has accumulated many unjust laws. In each instance a large segment of the population conspired together to make “other people do the right thing”. In others words, some busybodies insisted upon making everyone else do things their way.

What has been the result? Here are some examples.

  • We have a public education system that worked at first. Then our leaders slowly stripped it of any religious content. Our knowledge of civics is also abysmal. Man on the street interviews have become a national joke.
  • Some time back too many of us started letting our leaders ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted what they promised. Now our president routinely issues executive orders everyone knows are unconstitutional.
  • We created the Fed to prevent bank runs. Now we have a fiat currency that steadily loses value, and our banking system gives everyone the shivers.
  • We passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The income taxes that that amendment allowed were only supposed to affect the top one percent.
  • To allow the direct election of senators, we passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.  Now the Federal Government has more raw power than all the state governments combined. Perhaps a Convention of the States could change that. Perhaps.
  • Social Security once looked like a humane way to save the elderly from poverty. Now that costly system threatens to go bankrupt.
  • More and more our healthcare system, responsible for prolonging so many lives, is government-run. Such a system will almost certainly lead to rationing. Then we will die waiting in line to be treated.
  • We created a great safety-net to prevent the effects of poverty. Who anticipated those generous welfare programs would encourage greater social ills such as unwed motherhood?
  • In the name of civil rights, our great and glorious leaders decided to protect everyone’s “rights”. Now many think their “rights” are something “the man” owes them.

Earlier this year I wrote PART 4 FOR BOTH “HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING” AND “GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS”. That post included a section on The Seven Christian Virtues. That section describes how and why those who believe in government have worked to pervert the virtues of our people.

To have foresight is to be wise, and it is worth remembering that wisdom is something we each must learn. Our government cannot give us wisdom. It is also worth remembering that virtue is something we each must practice. Our government cannot be virtuous for us.

School Board Waffling…, AN EMAIL FROM THE FAMILY FOUNDATION

The Family Foundation of Virginia sent out the email below today.

action-alertVictoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Prince William County School Board members plan to vote tomorrow and they need to hear from you!  The Board is scheduled to vote on the school district’s newly proposed restroom/locker room policy at its meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, September 21, at 7 pm.

At the Board’s last meeting two weeks ago, parents and concerned citizens made their voices loud and clear that these kinds of changes to our schools’ so-called “non-discrimination” policies are dangerous, demeaning, unnecessary, and fraught with legal landmines. Since that time, the Board has been inundated with emails and phone calls from both sides. But we understand that the majority have come from those opposing this change.

We are also hearing that several Board members are still on the fence about how they’ll vote tomorrow.

We believe this politically-motivated policy change can be defeated, but the school board members need to hear from the people that matter most to them – parents and residents.

Please CLICK HERE to email Board members and urge them to protect the safety and privacy rights of all school children and vote no on proposed changes to the so-called “non-discrimination” policy.

Also, if at all possible, please plan to attend Wednesday’s meeting to support the privacy rights of our school children! 

You can also sign up to speak during public comment.  To sign up, you must notify the Board Clerk by phone at 703.791.8709 or by email at pwcsclerk@pwcs.edu.

As you reach out to School Board members, here are some talking points for you to keep in mind:

1)    The policy is unnecessary. Official documents reveal that PWCS has had NO incidents, complaints, or problems relating to people who identify as transgender in the past 10 years! This is a classic “solution in search of a problem.”

2)    The policy is illegal. Both state (Dillon Rule) and federal law (Title IX), as well as the U.S. Constitution (fundamental right to bodily privacy; free exercise of religion) prohibit this kind of policy. Passing it will be in direct violation of the law. The Department of Education’s “guidance documents” have no force of law.

3)    The policy is dangerous. Allowing biological boys into girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and rooms for over-night school trips puts students in real danger of assault, emotional trauma, and violates their dignity and privacy rights.

4)    Major lawsuits over similar policies are currently underway in state and federal courts. The Virginia Supreme Court is currently hearing a case on this same policy from Fairfax County Schools. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has already intervened to stop enforcement of a similar policy in Gloucester County, VA. It makes no sense to ram this change through in light of the lawsuits already underway.

5)    The policy will subject PWCS to serious liability and could cost the taxpayers millions. Not only is it likely that the School Board will be immediately sued over the legality of the policy, but the School Board will likely be liable for any harms that occur to students as a result of these policies (including the violation of students’ Constitutional right to bodily privacy). Millions of taxpayer dollars will be diverted away from education in order to defend countless lawsuits.

With enough public outcry from concerned parents, it is not too late to stop these dangerous policies that jeopardize the safety and dignity of every public school student in Prince William County.  Even in Fairfax County the school board has postponed making drastic changes due in part to citizen input.  Other school boards in Virginia have rejected the President’s bullying.  But the school board needs to hear from you!

What: Prince William County School Board Meeting

When: Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 7:00 pm

Where: Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center, 14715 Bristow Rd., Manassas, VA 20112

We hope to see you there!

The Family Foundation of Virginia is a good organization. Check it out.

Here is The Family Foundation of Virginia‘s blog post on the Prince William County School Board’s September 7th meeting.

IMPORTANT SCHOOL BOARD UPDATES FOR SEPTEMBER 21st MEETING

school.pngIn THE BATTLEFIELD FOR EVERYBODY’S DREAMS AND EVERYBODY’S COVETOUSNESS, I cited Frédéric Bastiat‘s great work, Essays on Political Economy, to demonstrate the true problem with Socialism. There are no fixed limits to Utopian dreams. Instead of each of us pursuing our own definition of happiness, Socialism creates a battlefield, a bloody field of strife within we each strive to impose our own values upon each other.

What has Socialism done to our education system? Instead being a place where parents see to the instruction of their children, ensuring that their children obtain basic life skills and learn about their parents’ faith and traditions, school has become the Utopian’s primary indoctrination center. Our schools have become a place where any absurdity can be justified.

Here is an email from the Chairman of the PWC Republican Committee. Continue reading “IMPORTANT SCHOOL BOARD UPDATES FOR SEPTEMBER 21st MEETING”

THE GROWING POWER OF GOVERNMENT AND THE THREAT TO LIBERTY: ELECTION 2016

declaration of independence

OF A POST TO COME promised to compare the governing approaches of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with respect to two issues.

  • The growth of the power of government.
  • The protection of our rights.

The Growth Of The Power Of Government

Why is it a problem when government is powerful? Government exists to protect our rights. Yet the power we give our government makes government itself a threat to our rights. Therefore, we must choose between giving the government just enough power and giving it too much.

  • To give our government the resources it needs to defend our rights, we must give our leaders the authority to tax us and spend our money. Nevertheless, the more we allow our government to tax and spend, the more we work for government instead of ourselves. At some point, we risk slavery.
  • Some decisions which effect a people must be made jointly. Thus, government must sometimes make decisions we would otherwise make for ourselves. So it is that in a nation of free men and women, we have laws that restrict us from harming each other (traffic laws, for example). In a nation of slaves, however, the laws just list a few trivial decisions that the leaders permit the people to make for themselves.

Here is a table that summarizes where the candidates stand.  Not certain the information is correct? Then check their web sites. I have only provided links where their positions are not available on their own websites.

ISSUE Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Taxing and Spending Favors tax simplification and reduction Favors increased taxation and spending (inferred from lengthy list of proposals)
Healthcare Private market solution Doubling down on Obamacare
School Choice For School Choice. Will end Common Core Against School Choice. Favors Common Core.
Immigration Favors extreme vetting Open borders/put new immigrants on the dole
Government Regulations Committed to reducing regulations Defends the current regulatory regime
Free Trade Opponent of the big trade bills Helped to craft TPP

To be continued: The Protection Of Our Rights