Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

And so it goes...

The fun and encouraging new is that:

1) The new Atlas Shrugged movie is out (Part One anyway), and it is truly inspiring in the scope of the narrative (albiet if sometimes with B-movie hokieness, which of course can just add to the charm) and the cinematography. The broad sweeping shots of technology and entrepreneurial charisma over-coming the limits (mostly fear of the unknown) that man puts upon himself are spot-on, and as well are the scenes of the social and economic vampires (rent-seekers in economic parlance) who prey on the boldy innovative to redistribute, as opposed to create, wealth.

The film does not hit you over the head with these ideas (which some would call dogmatic), rather, the film allows the Ayn Rand story and themes to evolve over the length of the film.

2) The sequel to the economic rap video "Fear the Boom and Bust" is out, it's called "Fight of the Century". Not to give away the "plot" so to speak but the story actually has a surprise ending (the whole production is wonderfully O'Henry-esque).

Keynesian economics was proved historically as a failure in the late 1970s due to stagflation, yet Keynes wins his "fight" with Hayek, who today is seen as the avatar of a freely-associating sociey (Hayek as the anti-Marx, for those that had to live under the Marxist regimes of the USSR-era).

Establishment (Keynesian) thought is that, yes, we want to cut unsustainable welfare-state government spending, but not quite yet. (So when then?) This is the mainstream unquestioning, logically incoherent, remedy for a weak recovery called for by, not least of all, the Economist magazine, with a more than a one million readership (even more, but not by much, than people people who buy Ayn Rand books yearly).

The new video outlines this "fight" between the opposing central-planning "experts decide" Keynesianism versus the individual choice "bottom-up" Hayekians in crystal-clear terms, and too has great production sensibilities.

The bad news is not really news as its just the same ol' same ol'. The Obama administration won't allow trade agreements to go through as wants to "protect jobs" in the USA. Of course, the "jobs" (isn't it really better to work for yourself than to have a "job" so the whole "saving, creating, growing jobs" is a false argument to begin with !) that the administration wants to save are the overly-priced labor union jobs, a vestige of the 1935 Wagner Act when unions were given monopoly bargaining power under the "New Deal" (new deal for some that is) to gain votes for FDR. Of course these same labor unions are big contributors to the Democrat party through to today.

Free-trade benefits the consumers in a country by giving lower-cost improved standards of living, and too the producers in a country because they get access to cheaper inputs to producton (intermediate goods). This then "creates" jobs because the costs of inputs are cheaper so firms can hire more labor to work the cheaper inputs.

Trade barriers are a welfare transfer from everyone (we are all consumers are we not?) to a select few (those whose wages are higher than they should be due to historically-contingent political economy).

In addition over history we are finding that societies move from manufactoring to service and information-based economies. Isn't it better to do creative work than to work at some 9 to 5 job on a assembly-line? Why should we not give our manufacturing jobs to others just starting to earn wages while we keep more intelligent work for ourselves?

Why should the unorganized masses (consumers) pay for a transfer of wealth to the rent-seeking organized few (the over-priced labor unions)?

Is this special-interest group political economy really the end result of democracy? Workers has been called an idealist many times, but we call injustice when we see it and cannot, nor would we want to, live any other way.