Here we go again….Alan S. Blinder: When Greed Is Not Good

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics | Posted on 12-01-2010

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Alan S. Blinder wrote another half witted op-ed about financial regulation and Wall Street’s return to “greed”. As all half witted intellectuals, he recognizes a symptom, but never questions the source. Here is a paragraph where he talks about Adam Smith.

When economists first heard Gekko’s now-famous dictum, “Greed is good,” they thought it a crude expression of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”—which is one of history’s great ideas. But in Smith’s vision, greed is socially beneficial only when properly harnessed and channeled. The necessary conditions include, among other things: appropriate incentives (for risk taking, etc.), effective competition, safeguards against exploitation of what economists call “asymmetric information” (as when a deceitful seller unloads junk on an unsuspecting buyer), regulators to enforce the rules and keep participants honest, and—when relevant—protection of taxpayers against pilferage or malfeasance by others. When these conditions fail to hold, greed is not good.

via Alan S. Blinder: When Greed Is Not Good – WSJ.com.

Binder says “in Smith’s vision, greed is socially beneficial only when properly harnessed and channeled”, and I’m guessing he thinks the geniuses in Washington should be the ones to do the harnessing and channeling. Is Binder really this ignorant, or is he so trapped in his own reality that he can’t see past his old ideas? By giving Washington the power to “harness and channel” Wall Street, the economy or anything else, you create the source of corruption. Washington has become Wall Street. Look at who occupies the White House staff. This isn’t just Obama. This was Bush as well.

Greed is only harmful to society when the negative results of greed are forced on society instead of the source of the greed. In this case, Wall Street’s greed led to subprime mortgages, but instead of them being harmed by the negative results, they used government force to dish the negative results on the tax payers.

People aren’t typically greedy, despite all the negative comments by the like of Blinder. Something usually entices you into greed. Someone sees the chance of unearned profits, and they get…. well “greedy” for it. In this case, Wall Street got greedy because the Fed was printing “free” money. Who benefits from this money? Well, the banks are the ones who get the money first before it’s devalued. They get to loan it out and make their profit before the damage is done. In their ability to do this, because of the Fed, would they not be making unearned profits? It would be no different than a man giving you $1,000 and saying go ahead lend that out at whatever interest rate you can to make a profit. You pay the man back one percent interest and keep the rest. You really don’t have any risk there. Inflation is typically three to four percent. Hmm, just think how much you can make with no risk if you make even more of these loans. What if you loaned out $1 million? Now you can see where greed comes from.

If we didn’t have the Fed in bed with Wall Street bankers, we wouldn’t have had the easy money that created the last bubble in which Wall Street so enriched themselves. Then when the bubble burst did Wall Street have to take their punishment? Nope. Because of government force and collusion, they were able to force all of America to pay the bill.

What Blinder doesn’t understand is the problem isn’t an unregulated “invisible hand”. The problem is because of government the “invisible hand” now has a gun in it. When there is a gun, this is when “greed is not good”.

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Health Care Reform – First up for rationing? Mammograms

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government, Health Care | Posted on 18-11-2009

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This morning on Morning Joe, they had on NBC’s medical expert to discuss the government’s medical panel’s recommendation that women should wait till they’re 50 for mammograms, and then only get them every two years.

So the death panels are not real? This is your death panel. If government controls health care, either this task force or some other central planning board will decide these type of issues based on cost. No panel can be independent when it is funded by the government. Also, their answer has to have a question. What was the question? Who posed the questions, and why? If I tell my wife, we need to cut our coffee budget by $50 a month, she is going to look and say, “well we really don’t need to have a cup of coffee after lunch, so I’d say we only have coffee in the morning going forward. That should reduce our cost.” This is similar to how this is being decided. We only have so much money for health care (thanks to the government), so do we really need to start mammograms at 40? Is the extra cost worth the saved lives? Under government controlled health care, the value of your life will be determined by these boards, or as Sarah Palin correctly called them, death panels.

I love how this lady starts putting down the Susan G. Komen charity.  Apparently, she doesn’t know what freedom is all about. No one is forcing people to donate time and money to this charity. People who have been touched by breast cancer donate to fight breast cancer. This is what real compassion is all about. Of course, that is great until it interferes with government policy. Now, she decides to turn it into greed.

Next, she says, (paraphrasing) “This is rationing. We ration food, sleep, etc.” Yes that is true, but we ration it based on our own personal choices and needs. The government does not force rationing. We decide what foods we want based on the money we have and the need we want to fulfill. This is how the free market works, and why you don’t need a government agency telling you how often you can eat meat (oh this did happen when the government controlled the economy during WWII). Only government creates unnecessary rationing.

When talking about rationing, she says, “Let’s take money to invest in ‘new treatment tools’” OK, this is silly. Treatment only matters if you are identified first, so they don’t do you any good if you aren’t getting tested. Also, who is the government to decide where money should be invested. If there is demand for mammograms by women, then it should be up to the woman and the doctor where that money should be invested. Are we to believe that companies aren’t investing in new technologies when there are so many people touched by breast cancer and so much money flooding into fighting breast cancer? If there is a need, the market will meet it.

But to her, this is “smart health care rationing”. I’m sure the Soviets and the Chinese thought they were doing smart rationing as well when tens of millions died of starvation. The problem is you can’t have a person or group of people who aren’t party to the transaction being the decider of rationing. Rationing is done by consumers and suppliers based on needs and pricing.

You have to love how compassionate she is about it though. It only saves 1 out of 2000 she says.  I guess one person doesn’t count. Joe has a great point. If that’s your relative, you don’t care if it’s only one out of two million. Also, this is voluntary. If it saves only one in 500,000, who cares as long as people want to get mammograms and doctors are willing to provide the service. Oh wait, that’s right. It is against the public good once government takes over health care. Also, what they are saying is confusing. It isn’t one life is saved out of 2000. It is one person is identified out of 2000 to have cancer. That does not sound too bad to me. Hopefully, it will eventually be only one out of 10,000. This has to be one of the most stupid reasons for not having mammograms. “Not enough people have cancer, so we shouldn’t check.” The government doesn’t mind when the poor spends hundreds of dollars per month on the lottery when their chances are one in millions. Oh, but that benefits the government . Never mind.

Then she talks about we don’t scan for these other things till 50 like colon and prostate cancer. So what. Could that be because those don’t normally occur till 50, and because maybe men just aren’t as prudent about things like that?

Next she delves off into the sex and the breast. I have no clue what that has to do with whether it’s worth having mammograms that catch cancer early, so I’ll just skip past it before I start blushing.

As with all media, there is no question as to whether the government should even have a role or say in this. Joe Scarborough says “We’ve been able to afford these fiscally(that means government money) in the past, and we just can’t anymore.” I’m sure glad he’s a Republican. He doesn’t even understand the market and that government is creating this shortage. Nor does he realize this is a free society, and the government should have nothing to do with these decisions.

As with all consumer purchases, this is not the place for the government to be involved. It should be up to a woman and her doctor. If a woman wants to get mammograms at 40 and every year, that should be her perogative. This is what I’ve been saying in all my post. If you ask the government to give you something, you give up your liberty. Ask them to pay for your health care, and you give up your right to have  your mammogram.

So, I wonder what’s next?

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Lessons from Honduras

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government | Posted on 16-11-2009

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While reading this article in the Wall Street Journal this morning, it struck me that we have some lessons we should learn ourselves.

This is not to suggest an endorsement of the status quo. Cardinal Rodríguez has plenty of criticism for a system that has left so many Hondurans mired in poverty while a small number live extravagantly. He denounces the lack of equality under the law which has damaged economic mobility. “In Latin America, when you have money, you can buy justice.” Such corruption is what led to “the implosion” of political parties in Venezuela,” he says. “And in the vacuum there was this messiah, Chávez, who came. This is the danger in all our nations.”

Yet the cardinal also recognizes progress since the birth of the constitutional democracy in 1982. “Now the army is respected, because they have dedicated themselves to the constitutional role of defending the law and the borders.” The trouble, he says, is that with the advent of democracy, “the political parties took politics as an industry for enrichment. We need to change that.”

Cardinal Rodríguez sees the rule of law as an important link to development. “The key is to assure justice,” he says, “because if you don’t have legal security, you are not going to invest. Investment is very important. With investments there are more jobs for our people.”

Speaking of investors, the cardinal says, “of course they are not all saints,” and human rights must be protected. “But what should we do without those jobs?” he asks. Then he adds, “Maquilas [assembly plants] are especially important for women, because their jobs have been a source of dignity. When they earn their own money they are no longer slaves to the macho man in their lives, who often is not even their husband.”

Honduras will hold a presidential election on Nov. 29, and many hope Mr. Zelaya will soon be a bad memory. Yet the struggle for liberty, and the social justice that comes from equality under the law, will continue. Cardinal Rodríguez says he hopes the political class has learned a lesson. Amen to that.

via Mary O’Grady: The Cardinal and the Constitution – WSJ.com.

Cardinal Rodríguez mentions that because of corruption in Venezula, the populace turned to “this messiah, Chavez”. Hmm, sounds familar. Because Americans were fed up with government manipulation by Wall Street and the excesses of bad monetary and fiscal policy, we fell for the very demagogic but vague messiah, Barack Obama. Americans, in wanting to corruption removed from Washington, turned to a corrupt politician to do it. Sadly, Obama is turning out to be the most corrupt. He’s in bed with Wall Street and the Fed.

The Cardinal then goes on to explain that investors aren’t angels, but they are the ones who create the opportunities for the rest of society to participate in the economy. This participation is what brings dignity, not the government.

Social justice is usually code for socialism, but I love how the Cardinal turns it, “the social justice that comes from equality under the law”. He is right, social justice comes from equality under the law. It does not come from government coercion of one group to the benefit of another. The very act of coercion is the destroyer of “social justice”.  Good call Cardinal, and Amen to that. Let’s just hope Americans wake up and realize that the government is not our messiah, and that we should not be looking to the government to impose “social justice”.

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Milton Friedman – Greed

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Video | Posted on 07-11-2009

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If you read my first post you know capitalism and the free market have nothing to do with greed. Greed is a derogatory term used to undermine self interest. Everyone pursues their own self interest, even the bleeding heart liberal who shouts compassion from the roof tops. True compassion comes from the person who earns and then voluntarily gives up part of their earnings to help another. Compassion is not sacrificing your fellow man for your belief in your own, false altruism. Milton doesn’t argue the word greed, but he pretty much shuts Phil Donahue down.

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Federalist Papers – Hamilton argues for a free market

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Government, History | Posted on 03-11-2009

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In the Federalist Paper No. 12, Hamilton is arguing for the Constitution and the Union by discussing the benefits of the Union to raising revenue for the government. Quickly, Hamilton highlights something modern day socialists somehow forget, that through self interest, what they call greed, all members of society benefit.

Hamilton writes, “The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen,” except for modern day socialists, “to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of their political cares.” What Hamilton is saying is all enlightened (educated) men of this time period recognize that commerce (free trade) is the best way to build national wealth. Because this is known to be true, enabling free trade has become the object of their policy.

He continues, “By multiplying the means of gratification, by promoting the introduction and circulation of the precious metals, those darling objects of human avarice and enterprise, it serves to vivify and invigorate all channels of industry and to make them flow with greater activity and copiousness.” Here Hamilton is stating the government should encourage trade by “multiplying the means of gratification”. He talks about precious metals as “those darlings objects of human avarice and enterprise”. Basically, he is saying money and the want of more money (avarice or as socialist like to say, greed) drives people to work more and to produce more for society (enterprise).

“The assiduous merchant, the laborious husbandman, the active mechanic, and the industrious manufacturer – all orders of men look forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to this pleasing reward of their toils.” What? You mean all these men look forward to earning profits? Those bastards! Hamilton recognizes that it is the reward of profits that causes the merchant, the farmer (husbandman), the mechanic, and the manufacturer to be productive, and the more reward the more productive they will be. He uses words such as assiduous (unrelenting) merchant, laborious (extreme effort) husbandman, active (involving physical effort)  mechanic, and industrious (working energetically) manufacturer.  He uses these words to emphasize it’s the profit motive that creates these behaviors. With no profit motive, you do not have the productiveness of these men.

Next Hamilton discusses how everyone benefits from the free market, even those who think they don’t. “The often-agitated question between agriculture and commerce (basically labor and businessmen) has from indubitable experience received a decision which has silenced the rivalship that once subsisted between them, and has proved, to the entire satisfaction of their friends, that their interests are intimately blended and interwoven.” Notice that Hamilton basically says that the interest of both labor and businessmen are interwoven. Government cannot benefit the laborers by punishing the businessman. In doing so, he also punishes labor.  He continues, “It has been found in various countries that in proportion as commerce has flourished land has risen in value. And how could it have happened otherwise? Could that which procures a freer vent of products of the earth, which furnishes new incitements to the cultivators of land, which is most powerful instruments in increasing the quantity of money in a state – could that, in fine, which is faithful handmaid of labor and industry in every shape fail to augment the value of that article, which is the prolific parent of far the greatest part of the objects upon which they are exerted? It is astonishing that so simple a truth should ever have had an adversary;” Apparently, it still has it’s adversary in modern day politicians, socialists, and labor unions, who believe that free markets don’t help everyone. But Hamilton explains, how could you increase the value of one without increasing the value of the other? You can’t increase the value of what labor produces without increasing the value of labor. Both parties benefit.

Lastly, “and it is one among a multitude of proofs how apt a spirit of ill-informed jealousy, or of too great abstractions and refinement, is to lead men astray from the plainest paths of reason and conviction.” Wow, Hamilton points out that jealousy leads men astray from reason and conviction. How true is this in modern society? While everyone truly knows that government produces nothing, many today still want the government to intervene in the free market because of jealousy. They are jealous of the rich. Because of their jealousy, they are blinded to reason which would highlight the errors of their ways. Does this remind you of the tax the rich argument? They need to pay their fair share! Who cares if they have benefited society more by creating jobs, services, products, etc. They don’t deserve that much more than the poor. Low and behold though, when government takes more of their money, they don’t create as many jobs, services, products, etc, and we are all worse off because of it. These are simple truths, but jealousy, as Hamilton points out, leads us astray from reason.

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Wait till health care is treated like GM

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government | Posted on 29-10-2009

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As I’ve explained in previous posts, the free market in order to make the most profit utilizes resources to their highest and best benefit. Efficiency reigns. Government always has the opposite effect. Government intervenes in order to divert resources for political means. What this does is lower our economic output and value, in other words, it lowers our standard of living below what it would other wise be. Here is a perfect example of the government not caring what’s best, but instead they care what is politically best for the politician. So much for self-interest being the purview of the free market.

By NEIL KING JR.

Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg was no fan of the $58 billion federal rescue of General Motors Co., saying he worried taxpayer money would be wasted and the restructuring process would be vulnerable to “political pressure.” Now the lawmaker says it’s his “patriotic duty” to wade into GM’s affairs.

Along with Montana’s two Democratic senators, the Republican congressman is battling to get GM to reinstate a contract with a Montana palladium mine nullified in bankruptcy court. “The simple fact is, when GM took federal dollars, they lost some of their autonomy,” Mr. Rehberg says.

Federal support for companies such as GM, Chrysler Group LLC and Bank of America Corp. has come with baggage: Companies in hock to Washington now have the equivalent of 535 new board members — 100 U.S. senators and 435 House members.

Since the financial crisis broke, Congress has been acting like the board of USA Inc., invoking the infusion of taxpayer money to get banks to modify loans to constituents and to give more help to those in danger of foreclosure. Members have berated CEOs for their business practices and pushed for caps on executive pay. They have also pushed GM and Chrysler to reverse core decisions designed to cut costs, such as closing facilities and shuttering dealerships.

via Politicians Butt In at Bailed-Out GM – WSJ.com.

Wow, can’t wait till these jackasses taking over health care and are making political decisions with our lives.


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TARP Should Not Be Extended – WSJ.com

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government | Posted on 27-10-2009

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Are we really going to hand over health care to a government who enslaves our future generations to bail out their buddies on Wall Street? TARP was sold as a bailout of banks in respect to freeing up credit. It turned out to be a slush fund to spread the wealth around to the wealthy.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program will expire on December 31, unless Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner exercises his authority to extend it to next October. We hope he doesn’t. Historians will debate TARP’s role in ending the financial panic of 2008, but today there is little evidence that the government needs or can prudently manage what has evolved into a $700 billion all-purpose political bailout fund.

We supported TARP to deal with toxic bank assets and resolve failing banks as a resolution agency of the kind that worked with savings and loans in the 1980s. Some taxpayer money was needed beyond what the FDIC’s shrinking insurance fund had available. But TARP quickly became a Treasury tool to save failing institutions without imposing discipline (Citigroup) and even to force public capital onto banks that didn’t need it. This stigmatized all banks as taxpayer supplicants and is now evolving into an excuse for the Federal Reserve to micromanage compensation.

TARP was then redirected well beyond the financial system into $80 billion in “investments” for auto companies. These may never be repaid but served as a lever to abuse creditors and favor auto unions. TARP also bought preferred stock in struggling insurers Lincoln and Hartford, though insurance companies are not subject to bank runs and pose no “systemic risk.” They erode slowly as customers stop renewing policies.

TARP also became another fund for Congress to pay off the already heavily subsidized housing industry by financing home mortgage modifications. Not one cent of the $50 billion in TARP funds earmarked to modify home mortgages will be returned to the Treasury, says the Congressional Budget Office.

via TARP Should Not Be Extended – WSJ.com.

Those who love the government and think they will serve justice up on a platter of compassion, need look no further than the scam of TARP that was pulled on the American public. I’m sure the Wall Street Journal was all for the bailouts, and now they say the government didn’t enforce discipline. How do you force discipline on companies by bailing them out. The free market delivers discipline by the prospect of failure. When that failure option is removed by the government, discipline goes with it. This is a great lesson in A) don’t trust the government when it tells you something has to be done right away or society will suffer and B) government would sell your children in to slavery quicker than you can say TARP if that is what it takes to bailout their buddies. Don’t believe me, that is exactly what they did.

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Health Care Reform – The red herring of the pre-existing condition

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Government, Health Care | Posted on 17-10-2009

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Earlier this week, I posted a two part series on how to fix the health care crisis. The solution was to get rid of third party payer in respect to the purchase of health care and insurance. Immediately, I got and was glad to have received the red herring question of the pre-existing condition.

Let me start off by saying, that I have a child with special needs. My 9 year old son has cerebral palsy and has gone through years of physical therapy and occupational therapy to be able to walk on his own. He still wears braces on his legs. In additions, my niece has a severe case of autism, so bad that she is fed through a feeding tube. I say this because I know personally what parents have to deal with when it comes to pre-existing conditions.

With that said, free markets and freedom in general are principles on which this country was founded. Principles are meant to be applied in all circumstances, because they prevent us for choosing the wrong path. Our founders knew this. It is by veering off these principles that we are in the mess we are in now. Just because there is a hard issue to be addressed, doesn’t mean we throw away our principles. We don’t teach our children principles to guide them through life, just to have them toss them aside at the first circumstance that challenges their principles. Principles are meant for the hard issues. The are not meant for the easy issues.

“OK buddy. Enough preaching already.”

Agreed! We must start off this topic discussing the morality of government health insurance. Then we will move on to the economics of the issue.

In Thomas Paine’s great work “Common Sense”, he lays out how and why governments come into existence. He describes a civilization with two people, and how with two people you do not need government. Those two people can discuss their problems and come to a solution directly. As more and more people come into this society, they can no longer work out their disagreements directly. There are just too many of them, and they have other duties that require their attention and time. This is when government comes into existence. They decide to appoint select members of the society that they believe will represent their best interests. Those representatives will then setup laws and rules that protect all members of the society. What are they protecting each member of society from? They are protecting them from each other. They are making sure that one member doesn’t use coercion on another member. This coercion can be in the form of theft, fraud or even murder. This is how government is supposed to function in a free society. I think we would all agree that the government that functions in this manner is a just and moral government.

If we all agree to that, then we must acknowledge that coercing someone against their will directly or through the government is an immoral act. This is why the free market is always moral, and all other systems are immoral. The free market allows people, in pursuit of their own interest, to peacefully without coercion come to an agreement on trading a product or service between themselves. Both parties in the transaction walk away from the transaction better than before.

As soon as the government becomes involved, with the exception of preventing coercion (contract law, prosecuting fraud and extortion, etc), they then become the coercive power. Just because they may be acting on something that the majority agrees with doesn’t mean that coercion is now moral. I’m sure the best case of this was slavery. The majority approval for the government coercion did not make slavery moral. Immoral acts are always immoral.

What I am leading up to here is having the government force any individual to pay for another individual’s health insurance is immoral. Also, forcing an individual to buy his own insurance is immoral. In a free society, people are free to pursue their self interest. They are free to be miserly, charitable or neither. They are free to be successful, and they are free to fail. This is a just and moral society. As discussed earlier, this is a principled society. As soon as you veer away from this principle, no matter what your intentions, you then cannot say that another act of coercion, say Wall Street millionaires taking our tax dollars, is immoral.

I know this may sound like great theory, but the truth is life would be much better if we stuck to the principles of our founding fathers. I think we all know and agree to that, but then for some reason we immediately find that this special circumstance is different. It isn’t different. Our founding fathers had many reasons and opportunities to take the path we are now taking. They decided to take the principled stand. They decided to take it for us. George Washington could have easily been a king. He could have setup a monarchy that would have passed from generation to generation. Read history, and you will find how easily he could have done this. People were begging him to be king. Instead, he stood on the principles they professed during the revolution, and he stepped down after two terms.

Now, enough of my moral argument. Morals are great, and we’d all be better off if we lived by them, but how will the free market address the question that prompted this blog?

The free market operates in this manner. Individuals need many things for survival and pleasure. Because they cannot meet all their needs by their own action and invention, they offer what they are best and most efficient at creating and delivering for something they need that someone else is best and most efficient at creating and delivering. This is what is known as the division of labor. For society to benefit the most from everyone’s production, this must be voluntary and with out compulsion. When voluntary, people will seek to offer what they can create better and in more supply than everyone else. They do this based on their self interest. The more value they can create the more they will be able to get from others through trade. When government bureaucrats decide who should do what, you end up with people producing things that they are less efficient at producing. This results in a lower quality of life for us all.

This is apparent even in the most obscure products and services that are offered today. Do you think in government controlled economies, people with a fetish for purple, prince garbed, frog figurines could ever find the product they seek? In the free market, even products and services that seem so obscure that they wouldn’t be worth producing are produced. They are produced because there is a need, there is someone who can produce it, and there is a price at which both agree the product is worth producing and purchasing.

In the market of pre-existing medical conditions, this type of innovation would undoubtedly take place as well. There would be entrepreneurs that see a need that needs met. Typically, these entrepreneurs have experience themselves with being on the needing side of the tracks. They found that they couldn’t meet their own need through the market, so they say “Hey, I see an opportunty here. Why don’t I offer this to society. There has got to be many more people out there with the same need.” As we know, this happens every day, and this is why we as Americans progress so quickly. This is why the internet in a very short time went from bulletin boards to what we have today, where you can make video conference calls across the globe for FREE!

That is not to say you would not have some progress under a government controlled economy. The problem is you would only have progress in the areas that some bureaucrat, special interest or the majority believe should be pursued. If your child suffers from a less common ailment, you are out of luck.

With the free market, you will see innovation so much faster, and you will see prices of those innovations quickly drop. How much did a little 20″ LCD screen cost just 10 years ago? Politicians love to blast the rich, but guess who will fund that new medical treatment your child or you need? When it is first developed in the free market, it will be expensive. That is because of all the research and development costs that went into innovating the product or service. The rich will be the only ones who can afford it. There are only so many rich people, and eventually the manufacturer will have to figure out how to make it cheaper to gain access to a larger market. In this process, all the other companies that participate in the creation of the product will also be pursuing reductions in production costs. This will create a butterfly effect, which will result in rapidly declining prices. I know people think it isn’t fair for the rich to be the only ones who can afford it at first, but under the government controlled market or a market with out the rich, the innovation wouldn’t have taken place.

As I said previously, when you remove the third party payer from the insurance purchase, you will quickly see incentives to live healthier. According to the CDC, chronic illnesses that are caused by life style choices account for 75% of all health care expenditures. It would be a far stretch of the imagination to believe that this number would not be drastically effected if those life style choices were punished via higher premiums. A large decrease in chronic diseases would undoubtedly reduce insurance rates, and it would reduce the cost of health care in general.

Also removing the third party payer from the day to day health care purchases would drastically increase competition and lower prices for normal health issues. This would help those who have pre-existing conditions by allowing them to get the regular medical care at a fair price. Personally, this was my major issue when searching for insurance. My son’s pre-existing condition prevented him from getting even catastrophic care. The reason being is they assumed there would be a large amount of day to day care. I wasn’t concerned with day to day care. My concern was catastrophe. I needed coverage for the care that you can’t plan for. With the decrease in the cost of day to day care that would result from paying out of pocket and increased competition, you would see insurers more inclined to cover those who have pre-existing conditions. One can easily imagine an insurance company running a new marketing campaign stating that is is the “Only insurance company to offer coverage for children with autism”. That is a market that needs served, and they would be the first to tap into that market. Quickly competitors would step up to the plate, and prices would be driven down. Doctors who specialize in a particular affliction would compete for the dollars of potential clients by offering the newest and best treatments. These are the circumstances in which the market shines best.

The last wonder of the free market that would help those who really struggle financially is charity. Historically, charity has always been the way the poor was able to receive the services that they need but could not afford. Americans are the most generous people on the planet, and it would be almost a guarantee that with the government out of the market you would see increased prosperity. With that increased prosperity, you would see more charitable donations. Insurance companies and doctors would donate time and dollars to take care of the less fortunate. One must ask what would happen with charity under a government run health care plan. If the government turns you down, it would almost certainly be illegal or at minimum be detrimental to the doctors relationship with the government if he performed a procedure out of charity.

As I write this, I get super excited as a parent of a special needs child thinking of the innovation that would be unleashed in a completely free market. Unfortunately, we have already let the barbarians in the gates, and they are not going to leave of their own accord. The likely hood that we will drive them out and take back our economy and country is slim. It involves the unknown. It’s easier to accept the mediocrity of the known than it is to trust in what we know is truth but seems so far from where we currently are. I beg you not to fear. Can you imagine what fear our founding fathers, who never knew what life was like without the protection of the Royal Crown, must have felt? The amount of courage that it must have taken just amazes me, even as I write this. I’m sure we can all agree, thank God that they did. Let’s remember life isn’t only about the here and now. It isn’t just about take care of me, and the future be damned. Now is our turn to take the principled stand. It’s our turn to make the tough decisions for posterity. If we do the right thing, one day, our children and grandchildren will say, “Thank God that they did.”

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Tyler Cowen – The Free Market and Morality

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Government, Video | Posted on 16-10-2009

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Guys, here’s a great video on the free market. Pay particular attention to who the immoral actors were in the mortgage crisis.

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Was the Mortgage Crisis Proof of Capitalistic Greed?

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Government | Posted on 06-10-2009

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In my last post, I mentioned that I would address the mortgage crisis separately,  because it was a little more difficult to explain. As shown in my previous blog, Capitalism has nothing to do with greed, but that doesn’t answer why the mortgage crisis happened. Most people have heard that it was caused by Wall Street’s greed.

I’m not going to argue that Wall Street took advantage of the situation, but one has to ask was the home owners being “greedy” when they bought homes that were way out of their price range? Everyone involved in the mortgage crisis, including Wall Street, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and home buyers would have to be considered greedy. That would include a large chunk of our society. So are we to believe that we are all greedy individuals, and that Socialism would have prevented this? Why would we not still be greedy under Socialism and look to take advantage of that system in anyway we can?

The reason is we are not greedy. Under normal circumstances in the Capitalistic system, all parties to an economic transaction act rationally in their self interest. There are only two circumstances that could change this. One, fraud, which was mentioned in my previous post and would have to be committed by one of the parties. Again, this isn’t a Capitalism issue. This is criminality committed by one of the parties actions. That would not be different under another system. The other is outside intervention.

So who could intervene in these transactions and have an effect on millions and millions of individual transactions. There is only two sources that can cause massive irrationality on a massive scale. One is the Government, and the other is the Federal Reserve, which is a private institution that holds the power over our monetary system. In this instance, the vast majority of the blame lays at the Federal Reserve.

In most of the play by plays of why this crisis happened, the media has been focusing on Wall Street, mortgage backed securities, CDOs, etc. The question is if this was Wall Street’s doing, why did they just start doing this now? Why wouldn’t they have done this in the past?

To find out how the Federal Reserve instigated this crisis, we have to go back to before the crisis began. The problem is you get into this crisis begot this crisis and that crisis begot that crisis, so I could end up taking us back to the founding of the Federal Reserve. To make it more simple, let’s start in 1998.

In 1998, the Asian markets had a crisis, and there was concern that it would cause a world wide crisis. As usual the Federal Reserve stepped in and flooded the market with money to head off the crisis. So, where did this money go? In the late 90s, I’m sure we all recall the tech bubble. The money found it’s way into the stock market propping up then completely worthless stocks. Eventually, this came to a head with the bursting of the DotCom bubble and the recession of 2001.

In order to ease the recession of 2001, which really had a lot of the same traits as The Great Depression, the Federal Reserve again stepped in and began a massive growth of the money supply. Interest rates were dropped to 40 year lows. Interest rates are the means the Federal Reserve uses to manipulate the market, and to manipulate interest rates, they increase or decrease the money supply (This is simplified explanation for my monetary theorist friends out there).

So again, we are back to the same type of circumstance we had in the late 90s. This time though, we learned our lesson not to invest in the stock market on worthless stocks. What can we invest in that has real value. Oh, I know. How about real estate? So money has to flow somewhere. In this case, it flowed into real estate.

“OK”, you say, “that explains where all the money came from, but that doesn’t explain why Wall Street and the home buyers were greedy. Why did the home owner buy something they couldn’t afford and why did Wall Street take advantage?”

In every business transaction, risk is weighed against return. Returns are adjusted for inflation. So, for example if I’m going to look at in investment, let’s say lending money, I’m going to look at the interest rate. So, I’m going to charge 6% interest. Now, what is the cost of the money I’m going to lend. The Federal Reserve took the Funds rate, which is what is used by banks, from 6.5% in May of 2000 to 1% in June of 2003. That is a huge difference, and that is a lot of new money. So now, if you are a bank, you can borrow at 1% and lend out at 6%. That is a 5% spread. That is a very nice return for banks. But, the calculation isn’t complete. The calculation doesn’t take into account inflation. If inflation is 3%, you are really borrowing money at 3% from the bank, and the bank is borrowing it at -2%. How many times have you heard the term free money in the past decade? As you can see, the home owner is getting almost 0% financing and the banks are borrowing at blow 0%. The banks are paying back the money at lower cost than they got it for. Doesn’t this seem like it would change your rationality a bit?

As you can see, Wall Street did not just willy nilly come up with this mortgage crisis. They were coaxed on by the Federal Reserve. Wall Street is in the business of investments. If you look at your risk and return based on the cost of money that the Federal Reserve put in place, you cannot fault Wall Street. You also cannot fault the home owner. Lastly, you cannot fault Capitalism. Under the circumstances, created by the Federal Reserve, both parties were acting rationally.  The fault of the mortgage crisis lays squarely at the feet of the Federal Reserve.

Now you won’t hear this type of analysis on the news channels. This is too complicated for them to explain. Instead it’s easier just to say Capitalism, greed, or Wall Street is to blame. As with most cases, the media blames the cancer for the patient’s death, when the root cause was the patient’s years of smoking.

Meanwhile, with the uproar created by these allegations, the Federal Government takes more of our freedoms away, and the Federal Reserve is back to printing money again to stave off this crisis. What sector will the next greedy Capitalist be in?

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