Category Archives: Economics

The Survival Podcast Episode-2433: Understanding Systemic vs. Natural Capitalism

I had to think a bit about the title of today’s show.  It was spawned by this quite anti capitalist article at The Exiled.  Let me say I feel the author Yasha Levine is coming at things from a leftist anarcho position, however the article is absolutely accurate in its telling of history.  The upshot, capitalism is bad!  And yet I am a self described “anarcho capitalist”.  So is capitalism bad, or is it good?  As always, it depends!

This led me to the distinction between a system of capitalism (in general statism in the form of modern fascism) and natural capitalism.  To me natural capitalism is the only truly natural system of economics we have.  Natural capitalism recognizes that people acquire things and if they do so by legitimate means it is their property.  Further that some people are better at or like to do some things more than others.  Hence trade is a way for people to gain that which they do not have and in doing so both parties are better off for it.

Further natural capitalism recognizes that most people don’t want to hurt or kill others.  Even more so that most people do not want to be hurt or killed.  So it simply is better for everyone to conduct trade between individuals, tribes and nations rather than to take by force what one wants.  Even when you are the type that will steal, harm and kill, the reality is if you do it long enough, someone is likely to do it back to you.

When most people use the term capitalism in a positive way, this is what they mean.  I grow food and sell the surplus to Tom.  Tom’s money is now mine to keep or spend, my food is now for Tom to eat, share, resell, do what ever he wants to with it.  The trade is based on our mutually agreed upon view of value, it is also a voluntary exchange and both of us are free to trade or not to, it is our choice.

Well, that is all good and well but what happens when the state gets involved and something natural is made forced, unnatural and coerced?  Well as we shall see today, many times some very bad things.  We can say the same thing about the supposed antonym of capitalism, socialism.  We think of socialism as a form of economics, but it really isn’t, until the state forces it to be such.  Socialism in its natural state is only cooperation by humans because those cooperating view it as beneficial.  If 20 people settle around a lake and see it as vital to their lives and hence set up some agreements, it is socialism, natural socialism that is.

These agreements may be on how many fish can be taken, perhaps even a way where fish are shared.  How much water can be used, what can and can’t be dumped in the lake.  If it needs maintenance the people may pool labor or simply pool money to pay for it, etc.  This is pure, honest, socialism.  The choice is up to the individual, if you want to be part of this group, these are the rules.  Systemic socialism is when a person is required to be part of a group they never asked to be part of and their property is taken in the name of collective good.

As we will see today, capitalism and socialism are both wonderful things when humans are left to their natural inclinations in using them on a voluntary basis, but once the state gets involved either can be used to enslave a population.

Source: Episode-2433- Understanding Systemic vs. Natural Capitalism

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Brookings Institute: U.S. engagement in Asia: A conversation with Singapore’s Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat

On April 15, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings hosted Singapore’s Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat for an address on U.S. engagement in Asia, covering both economic and strategic dimensions. Following Minister Heng’s address, Brookings Senior Fellow and Lee Kuan Yew Chair Jonathan Stromseth joined him for a conversation on this topic. Brookings President John R. Allen opened the program with welcoming remarks and introductions. Heng Swee Keat has been Singapore’s minister for finance since 2015. He was appointed first assistant secretary-general of the People’s Action Party in November 2018, and previously served as minister for education from 2011 to 2015. Prior to entering politics, Minister Heng served as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 2005 to 2011. He has served in various other public service positions, including as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the chief executive officer of the Trade Development Board, and the principal private secretary to then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. After the conversation, Minister Heng answered questions from the audience.

Source: U.S. engagement in Asia: A conversation with Singapore’s Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat

EconTalk: Robert Burton on Being Certain

Neurologist and author Robert Burton talks about his book, On Being Certain, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Burton explores our need for certainty and the challenge of being skeptical about what our brain tells us must be true. Where does what Burton calls “the feeling of knowing” come from? Why can memory lead us astray? Burton claims that our reaction to events emerges from competition among different parts of the brain operating below our level of awareness. The conversation includes a discussion of the experience of transcendence and the different ways humans come to that experience.

Source: Robert Burton on Being Certain – Econlib

EconTalk: Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative

Poverty activist, social entrepreneur and author, Mauricio Miller, talks about his book The Alternative with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Miller, a MacArthur genius grant recipient, argues that we have made poverty tolerable when we should be trying to make it more escapable. This is possible, he argues, if we invest in the poor and encourage them to leverage their skills and social networks. Miller emphasizes the importance of self-determination and self-respect as keys to helping the poor improve their own lives.

Source: Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative – Econlib

Cato Institute: CyberWork and the American Dream

Featuring the director James Shelley; and Elizabeth Cobbs, Professor and Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History, Texas A&M, senior fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University; moderated by Matthew Feeney, Director, Project on Emerging Technologies, Cato Institute.

The perceived threat of artificial intelligence (AI) to the American workforce and society more broadly has become a common topic of discussion among policymakers, academics, and the wider public. But is AI a threat? And if so, are there appropriate policy solutions? History is replete with examples of disruption caused by past technological advances. Are the lessons from those advances applicable to AI? These are just some of the questions addressed by the PBS television documentary CyberWork and the American Dream.

Please join us for a special screening of CyberWork and the American Dream followed by a discussion of these important issues.

Source: CyberWork and the American Dream | Cato Institute

Cato Institute: Unnatural Disaster: Assessing the Jones Act’s Impact on Puerto Rico

Featuring Vicente Feliciano, Founder and President, Advantage Business Consulting; John Dunham, President, John Dunham & Associates; Luis Rivera Marín, Secretary of State, Government of Puerto Rico; moderated by Anne Krueger, Senior Research Professor of International Economics, School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

Puerto Rico’s recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has reinvigorated debate about a relatively unknown law that has hampered its recovery efforts and bogged down its economy. Since 1920, maritime commerce between Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States has been governed by the Jones Act, a law that mandates that vessels transporting goods domestically be U.S.-crewed, U.S.-flagged, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-built. While defenders of the law have argued that the Jones Act provides reliable shipping services from the mainland to Puerto Rico, critics have pointed out that such restrictions significantly raise the cost of domestic imports, placing an added burden on the already economically struggling island. In addition, the law has also been accused of complicating efforts to transition the island’s power generation away from its current heavy reliance on oil and coal.

At this event, panelists will assess the law’s impact on Puerto Rico, highlighting the findings of two recent reports that evaluate the law’s economic cost, and will discuss the implications of Puerto Rico’s recent application for a temporary Jones Act waiver to allow liquefied natural gas to be imported aboard foreign-flagged ships.

Source: Unnatural Disaster: Assessing the Jones Act’s Impact on Puerto Rico | Cato Institute