Archive for 8/29/2003

More on the Patriot Act

Many people sent me links to various critiques of the Patriot Act. For the reasons I mentioned in my original post, it’s very difficult to find objective evaluations of the law. Two stand out: this one by Reason magazine and this editorial on Capitalism magazine.
After doing some reading, I’ve been convinced that the Act has major flaws, of which the primary one is not that it gives too much power to the government, but that it is too vague about which powers it actually provides for. The great danger of a tyranny is not that it has too much power, but that its power is expressed by the arbitrary and unpredictable whims of some bureaucrat or dictator. I stand by my original claim however: unrestricted liberty requires a system of objective laws, under which the government has all and only the power it needs to find and punish criminals.

Two news stories that provide some interesting insight into the human mind and its potential: a 12-year-old begins medical school at the University of Chicago and a man’s visision is restored after 43 years of blindness.

Greenspan’s “bubbles”

Economists at the BIS (The Bank for International Settlements is a central-bank for the world) have issued an inane ruling that shows just how clueless they are. They told a Fed conference that “Central banks should tackle emerging asset bubbles head-on rather than wait till they burst and then clean up afterward.”
The only point in question with these statists seems to be how much state intervention is necessary to “soften the blow” of these mysterious and seemingly natural and unpreventable “bubbles.” Not much though is given anymore as to whether these bubbles actually exist, and what, if any, is their cause.

Any economist worth a damn would start by asking what traits of the market could cause such “bubbles” to occur. The answer is simple: none. The self-correcting nature of a free market prevents any such “bubbles” from occurring by setting interest rates that accurately reflect the public’s ever-changing time preference for future growth versus current spending. It is only manipulation by the only entity that has the power of a gun – the government – that can create changes large and lasting enough to create the “artificial” changes that cause economic depressions. The government cannot even create the so-called “booms” in the economy – it can only create destabilizing shifts to or from investment and consumer spending that disrupt the normal flow of goods and investment capital. It can also destroy very real economic growth – such as that during the 1920’s and 1990’s — by practicing monetary and regulatory interventionism. I don’t want to launch into a polemic on economics, so if you want to learn more about actual economics rather than pure interventionist propaganda, I recommend, or