Thursday, March 31, 2016

Danger Ahead: America Is Rapidly Becoming Aristotle’s Fifth Form Of Democracy

Read and ponder Aristotle's warning, written 2,465 years ago, as to what happens when the Rule of Law is displaced by demagogues and decrees.

Of forms of democracy first comes that which is said to be based strictly on equality. In such a democracy the law says that it is just for the poor to have no more advantage than the rich; and that neither should be masters, but both equal. For if liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. And since the people are the majority, and the opinion of the majority is decisive, such a government must necessarily be a democracy. Here then is one sort of democracy. There is another, in which the magistrates are elected according to a certain property qualification, but a low one; he who has the required amount of property has a share in the government, but he who loses his property loses his rights. Another kind is that in which all the citizens who are under no disqualification share in the government, but still the law is supreme. In another, everybody, if he be only a citizen, is admitted to the government, but the law is supreme as before. A fifth form of democracy, in other respects the same, is that in which, not the law, but the multitude, have the supreme power, and supersede the law by their decrees. This is a state of affairs brought about by the demagogues. For in democracies which are subject to the law the best citizens hold the first place, and there are no demagogues; but where the laws are not supreme, there demagogues spring up. For the people becomes a monarch, and is many in one; and the many have the power in their hands, not as individuals, but collectively. Homer says that 'it is not good to have a rule of many,' but whether he means this corporate rule, or the rule of many individuals, is uncertain. At all events this sort of democracy, which is now a monarch, and no longer under the control of law, seeks to exercise monarchical sway, and grows into a despot; the flatterer is held in honor; this sort of democracy being relatively to other democracies what tyranny is to other forms of monarchy. The spirit of both is the same, and they alike exercise a despotic rule over the better citizens. The decrees of the demos correspond to the edicts of the tyrant; and the demagogue is to the one what the flatterer is to the other. Both have great power; the flatterer with the tyrant, the demagogue with democracies of the kind which we are describing.

(Source:  Aristotle, Politics, Book Four, Part IV, Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Internet Classics Archive)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Preserving Economic Freedom

In the mid- to late-1980s, the Fraser Institute hosted a series of Liberty Fund conferences on economic freedom, which led to Fraser's Annual Report on Economic Freedom.

Your friendly proprietor wrote the seminal papers that underpinned the index. They appeared as Chapters 2, 3, and 4 in Fraser's 1991 publication, Economic Freedom:  Toward a Theory of Measurement (the proceedings of a conference held in 1988).  Michael Walker wrote an introduction, and Zane Spindler and Laurie Still took a first stab at economic freedom rankings.

Chapter 2 is titled "Philosophical Aspects of Economic Freedom."  Chapter 4 is "Preliminary Definition of Economic Freedom."  Each session is accompanied by discussion among the conference participants including Milton, Rose, and David Friedman among others.

Economic freedom is under assault from both the left and the right.  Unless it is vigorously defended and preserved against those screaming in favor of seizing more and more of the income and wealth of hard-working productive Americans, economic freedom will continue to slide away.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why Britain Should Exit (Brexit) The European Union

If Britons vote to remain in the European Union in a referendum set for June 23, 2016, Britain will lose its culture, along with its political and economic independence.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who favors Britain remaining in the EU, represents U.S.S. Starship Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  In one episode of Star Trek, Picard was captured by the Borg, assimilated into the Borg and renamed Locutus.  He then told his former crew of 500 that the Borg would assimilate them, that resistance was futile.

But London Mayor Boris Johnson, Cameron’s Conservative Party rival, said no.  He is the William Riker, first officer on board the Enterprise, who saved his crew and recovered Locutus from the Borg.  Medical staff on the Enterprise restored Locutus to his human form, Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

If Britain remains in the EU, British culture will be irrevocably lost.  Germany, France, and faceless bureaucrats in Brussels will increasingly take charge of everything British until Britain has been completely assimilated into Europe.

Perhaps Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have awakened Britons to the danger of remaining in the EU.  A poll taken in mid-March 2016 showed for thefirst time that Brexit voters outnumbered Bremain voters by 43-41%.

If Britain exits then EU, but Scotland chooses independence to join the EU, at least exit will preserve English culture.  So long as there are Englishmen, “There’ll Always Be An England.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stanford Students Protest Against Hillary Clinton

On the morning of March 23, 2016, your friendly proprietor walked over to the venue where Democrat candidate for president Hillary Clinton was scheduled to speak at 11:15 am.

I saw some students holding signs so I asked if I could photograph them and post it on my blog. They happily consented.

The photo was the full extent of the student protest--exactly three.  It should be noted that this week is spring break between the second and third quarters of the academic year.  Still, there are plenty of students remaining on campus who could have joined the gang of three, but did not.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Warned 30 Years Ago That NATO Would Weaken The West

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that U.S. involvement with NATO needs to be rethought, both its mission and US funding of it (75%).  Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton immediately denounced his position in remarks at Stanford University on March 23, 2016.  She said that the U.S. should maintain its dominant position within Nato.

NATO is one of the best investments this country has ever made, she said, noting that William Perry astutely supported that organization while he served as the U.S. secretary of defense in the 1990s. NATO is dedicated to the defense of Western Europe.

Thirty Years Ago, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Melvyn Krauss wrote what turns out to be a very prescient book, How Nato Weakens The West.  His book deserves serious reading in light of the economic, social, and political problems plaguing the European Union, exemplified in recent Islamic terrorists attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Perhaps Trump is on to something.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bob Dylan Had Great Political Foresight

Never in Political History Have So Many Political Analysts and Pundits Been So Wrong About The Trump Phenomenon!

Artwork by Lauren Berman


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

U.S. Trade Deficits or Surpluses with Selected Large Countries

Comprehensive statistics on U.S. global trade in goods and services with some large countries are available for 2014; goods, but not services, data are available for some countries in 2015, but goods only data provide an incomplete picture of overall U.S. trade balances.

Complete statistics on U.S. trade in goods and services are generally available for large countries, but not for small economics.

The following statistics show the trade balance, negative (deficit) and positive (surplus), for 11 large trading partners with the U.S.  The trade balance number is followed by a highest or lowest deficit or surplus year in the past 10 years to see if the deficit or surplus balance has narrowed or increased since 2005.

U.S. trade deficit in goods and services:

Germany   -$79.2 billion     Year 2010:  -$32.5 billion (low)
Japan        -$53.3 billion     Year 2006:  -$76.3 billion (high)
Mexico      -$50.2 billion     Year 2007:  -$69.3 billion (high)
India         -$28.5 billion     Year 2009:  -$7.1 billion (low)
Italy          -$27.6 billion     Year 2009:  -$14.5 billion (low)
S. Korea    -$13.5 billion     Year 2010:  -$3.9 billion (low)
France:     -$12.9 billion     Year 2007:  -$16.0 billion (high)
Canada:    -$9.6 billion       Year 2005:  -$71.7 billion (high)

U.S. trade surplus in goods and services:

Brazil        +$33.1 billion    Year 2013:   +$35.9 billion (high)
Australia   +$28.4 billion    Year 2012:   +$33.3 billion (high)
Argentina  +$11.6 billion    Year 2005:   +$0.6 billion (low)