07 Apr 2018

Hayek and the Regression Theorem

Economics, Money 15 Comments

Hayek had a controversial plan for privately issued, competing fiat currencies. (I talk about it here.) But uh oh, here’s a giant in Austrian economics who might be throwing cold water on the proposal:

It is probably impossible for pieces of paper or other tokens of a material itself of no significant market value to come to be gradually accepted and held as money unless they represent a claim on some valuable object. To be accepted as money they must at first derive their value from another source, such as their convertibility into another kind of money. In consequence, gold and silver, or claims for them, remained for a long time the only kinds of money between which there could be any competition…

Bad news for Hayek and his privately issued “ducats,” huh?

Exceeeeeeeept, the above quotation is from Hayek himself, in his “The Denationalization of Money,” just 15 pages before he unveils his plan for ducats.

So what’s happening here is that Hayek was fully aware of (what we call) Mises’ regression theorem, and in fact apparently believed it himself. His proposal for “ducats” included a redemption pledge to get the private token money off the ground, so that the public would have a non-arbitrary way of initially valuing the notes:

04 Apr 2018

Jon Stewart Points Out Media Silence on Ron Paul

Ron Paul 5 Comments

I saw some guy has this as his pinned Tweet.

01 Apr 2018

Happy Easter!

Religious 2 Comments

Has it been long enough for me to re-post this one?

29 Mar 2018

Jon Stewart vs. Paul Krugman

Humor, Krugman 2 Comments

I had to dig this up for some people who hadn’t heard of it. Thought I would share (again) with you folks.

26 Mar 2018

“The fraud of classical liberalism”

Libertarianism 21 Comments

I always like to skim articles like this to see how someone could come up with a title like that. In my (obviously defensive) reaction, I would say the author points to things that are clearly not consistent with classical liberalism–like using armies to engage in “free trade”–or he is simply mistaken about historical causality–like blaming the Great Depression on the gold standard.

However, this is surely what a true socialist thinks when reading a libertarian author who documents the horrors of explicitly socialist regimes. So, are we both at fault? Or do I get to say “That’s not what my philosophy entails!” but the socialist doesn’t get to disavow Pol Pot?

25 Mar 2018

Two Interpretations of Jesus’ Atonement

All Posts, Religious 12 Comments

This is intended for believing Christians, and perhaps even there will only interest Protestants. I was working through different interpretations (coming from professing Christians) on the same stipulated events from Biblical history. I should stress that both sides can point to ample scriptural evidence for their perspective, and yet they paint quite different pictures of the nature of God.

Note that I am going to exaggerate the interpretations in order to bring out their contrast. Obviously in reality, most Christians would not be purely one or the other. And in fact, the resolution of this might be that both sides are stressing certain features of a very complex reality.

Interpretation A

Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin in the garden of Eden. The wages of sin is death. God Himself had warned Adam that if he ate of the tree of knowledge, he would surely die.

Since Adam and Eve sinned, humanity was cursed. God is a just God, so He couldn’t just overlook sin. He needed to punish it. However, God poured His wrath out on Jesus, who took our place on the cross.

A good analogy for this perspective is that God is a judge who announced to a defendant that he owes a billion dollars because of his crimes. The defendant cannot possibly pay this amount. The judge wants to show mercy on the man, but the judge is just and can’t simply overlook the law. But then the judge’s own son volunteers to pay the fine for the man, so that justice is served, but the guilty defendant is saved by the innocent son.


Interpretation B

I’ve previously discussed a whole sermon from John Crowder critiquing the above perspective; here’s a blog post I found while searching for stuff just now. Here, let me just summarize some of the pushback:

Would you punish your kid in order to satisfy your own wrath at somebody else’s kid’s crime? So are you saying God is a worse parent than you? Does God the judge really not care about tailoring the crime to person who committed it?

After their sin, Adam and Eve hid from God. He went out looking for them. It wasn’t that they were in close union and then He expelled them because of their transgression.

Paul actually writes, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (my emphasis).

God didn’t kill Jesus, we did. Yes, of course that event was a crucial part of His plan for our salvation, but it doesn’t seem to have the same flavor as (say) God using His “servant” the King of Babylon, let alone God ordering Joshua to wage war in His name, in order to effect divine retribution. It was more akin to God using the quite conscious crime of Joseph’s brothers to achieve good. (I.e., it’s not that the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross thought they were carrying out God’s wishes.)

So we see God willing to allow this horrible thing to happen to His Son *if it would help*, but why does it help? It’s not because “God needs to see somebody die, and He doesn’t care who it is, just as long as there’s some bloodletting.”

Rather, *we* need to believe that we are truly forgiven. If Jesus can endure that and still ask His Father to forgive those who had just tortured Him and nailed Him to a cross, then there’s nothing you did that is unforgivable. It’s arrogance to think you’re worse than David, Peter, Saul and the sins they committed.

22 Mar 2018

Murphy Magic

Contra Krugman, Krugman, Lara-Murphy Show, Shameless Self-Promotion, Tom Woods 6 Comments

Some of this may be repeats, but I haven’t posted my stuff in a while and need to catch up…

==> Ep. 49 of the Lara-Murphy Show covers Chapter 2 of our new book, The Case for IBC.

==> Ep. 50 of the Lara-Murphy Show is a bonus episode, featuring my remarks at the Yale Political Union debate on climate change. At the link, I give highlights in case you are pressed for time. (Note, the audio isn’t great, but if you give it a chance you can adapt and tell what I’m saying.)

==> A recent post at IER: “The Gas Tax Has Little to Do With Road Costs”

==> Contra Krugman ep. 129 is about tariffs (and a fun clip from Jesse Jackson).

==> Contra Krugman ep. 130 is about Robert Reich.

==> On the Tom Woods Show, I debate against MMT.

19 Mar 2018

The “Calculation Problem” and “Knowledge Problem” Are Distinct

Economics 53 Comments

I know there is some bad blood on this topic, but I am being sincere in my praise for Hayek. Anyway:

Mises and Hayek were both brilliant economists who made numerous contributions in the Austrian tradition. Yet is inaccurate to refer to “the Mises-Hayek position” in the famous socialist calculation debate, and to do so obscures the Misesian understanding of calculation, which is necessarily monetary calculation. Although scholars should always take care to exercise courtesy in their assessments, it is proper to disentangle distinct arguments that are sometimes lumped together.