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SurrealPolitiks S01E006 – Misesian Socialism – Part 1

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SurrealPolitiks S01E006 - Misesian Socialism - Part 1

In the practice of Realpolitik, it is typically considered ill advised to go out of one’s way to antagonize the greatest possible number of political participants with one’s speech.

Today we break that rule with our episode title “Misesian Socialism”.

The phrasing derives from the name of one Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist of Jewish ancestry, who rather famously held socialism in the utmost contempt. Thus at first glance, we might appear to be dealing with a contradiction of terms, and be presumed to have made a failed attempt at humor.

Fail we just might, but humor is not the goal.

In recent discussions, here and elsewhere, we’ve delved into economics at some depth. The manner in which we have done this has created substantial confusion in off air conversations, and one suspects this is because it does not seem to fall into the pre-defined categories most are familiar with. The approach we have taken is to apply the teachings of what are commonly considered “classical” or “free market” economics to the task of central economic planning, and the achievement of what are typically considered socialist ends.

While it may strike the casual observer as bizarre, there’s nothing actually forbidding this in economic thought. The classical economists have accurately described, for the most part, how an economy works. They make well reasoned complaints about inefficiencies created by government interference in the market, and go on to make suggestions of political reforms with the aim of eliminating those interferences.

But the political programs are not economics. They are politics and, more to the point, they are ideological in nature.

If a government program reduces the rate at which wealth is grown, or distributes it in ways an individual finds distasteful, that does not necessarily mean that the program should not exist. This is simply an observation upon which one forms a subjective preference. It may well be the case that the people of the country, or the governing authorities, find this forfeiture of economic efficiency a worthwhile trade-off for other economic or non-economic benefits produced by the program, or circumstances of the time require such forfeiture to avoid greater loss, with the most notable example being inflationary monetary policy to facilitate military objectives.

The premise of our concept here is essentially that the classical economists are correct so long as they remain “value free”. While their analysis tends to be scientific and accurately describe economic phenomena in past and present, the track record has been for them to to veer away from the scientific, and into the value laden world of politics and philosophy, once they begin talking about the future.

Whatever preferences one may have as to the degree of government intervention in the economy, it is inevitable that intervention will occur. Since it is inevitable, calling for it to cease is an ideological masturbatory exercise. Consequently, this is not conducive to influencing the outcome, and since influencing the outcome is the whole entire point of Realpolitik, we must rule it out from our strategic repertoire.

Simultaneously, we observe the phenomenon that since this has for so long been the pathology, the advocates of government intervention tend to be, at best, economic illiterates. All too frequently, they are brilliant students of economics who understand full well that what they are doing is catastrophically destructive. They pursue these wild schemes parading under the guise of economic policies anyway, either as a short sighted political strategy for the attainment and maintenance of their own power, or as a means of waging war against the societies they govern or aim to govern. From here we derive ideas like “health care is a human right” and absolute equality of economic outcome, regardless of behavior, as the object of all government activity.

Our view could fairly be described as a third position. We aim to understand market forces and the science behind them. Then, to analyze and understand the distortion of market forces caused by government interference in the economy. Then, to intelligently guide that interference in ways that are at least less destructive than current and prior practice, and preferably, to aid in the advancement of the National interest, which it will be our task to define going forward. This, we acknowledge is itself a value laden exercise, but we do not pretend to be mere economic analysts. We are politically interested, and we begin with that built into our assumptions.

The most efficient way to crisply illustrate our concept is to address the subject of monetary policy. It will be beyond the scope of our task today to give the listener a full explanation of the history of monetary theory, and we will not today attempt to develop a new theory. But we can give some contrasts to illustrate our point.

Ludwig von Mises was, and most of his disciples are, advocates of what they call “sound money”. This is, in effect, little more than a euphemism for either a gold standard or some other hard limited form of commodity acting as the primary unit of exchange. Followers of what is often referred to as the “Chicago School” of economics put forward the concept of “Monetarism” which holds, in the briefest and most inadequate of summations, that the State can and should issue currency by fiat without the limits imposed by commodity money, but that limits ought nonetheless be imposed by law and seek out a target growth rate of the money supply to create a predictable rate of price increases, typically referred to as inflation. These both stand in contrast to the dominant theories of John Meynard Keynes, who posited that the government, or to the extent they are separate things, the central bank, should use its control over interest rates to minimize unemployment, even at the expense of inflation. These all stand in still greater contrast to what has been called “Modern Monetary Theory” which might charitably be described as a war on mathematics, and might more accurately be called Postmodern.

For the uninitiated, this may be a bit much. So, let us break it down some, even at the risk of saying a few things which may seem obvious, but warrant some explanation to bring us all to the same page.

Let us begin on a deeper level than money itself. The function of money is largely to represent value, and value is a topic on which there happens to be less agreement than most may suspect.

In Marxist theory, value derives from labor, and from this derives the term “labor theory of value”. To be sure, people attach value to labor, and typically, though not always, a negative value. Man does not typically “labor” except to obtain some other satisfaction, or to calm some other uneasiness. One does not typically pay a man to do a thing which he would prefer to do himself. This is the “disutility of labor” in that all else equal, man typically prefers leisure to labor.

But while this will get an economist through a lot of economic questions, it is insufficient. One who labors for a long time and exerts lots of energy to break down the walls of his home with a small hammer does not create value thereby. Even in the case where the house must be broken down for some valuable purpose, such as to replace it with a better house, doing so with a small hammer instead of modern machinery can only be seen as a senseless expenditure of labor, and therefore a squandering of value. The fact of labor in itself does not produce value.

Moreover, it is by no means impossible for value to emerge absent labor, when value is properly understood. Defining value and labor in near synonymous terms ignores the fact that human beings derive satisfaction from, or are relieved of uneasiness by, all manner of things, and that they value these satisfactions and reliefs.

Think for a moment about the classic story of Tom Sawyer, in which he is tasked with painting a fence and he understandably has other designs on how he would prefer to spend his time. To free himself of the burden, he convinces other children in the neighborhood that painting fences is one of life’s great joys, and he ends up charging them items of value to take their turn at his new favorite hobby. Before long, Tom is relaxing and enjoying the payments he has collected from the other children who are now doing his chore for him.

One way to look at this, and surely the point of the story, is that Sawyer has committed a sort of fraud and tricked the children into laboring on his behalf. Another is that value is in the eye of the beholder. After all, nobody in the story is at all unhappy. The children painting the fence believe that they are at leisure, and they have paid for the privilege.

When people pay for a membership to a fitness club, they are in effect paying for the privilege of laboring. They want to exert energy for the purpose of becoming more physically fit and so they either run in place or left heavy things and few would accuse the gym of fraud for this. A not entirely dissimilar phenomenon emerges in the case of internships or apprenticeships, in which one labors free or at a steep discount or may even pay for the privilege, in order to learn a marketable skill which they presume will pay dividends in the future, though there be no absolute certainty of this, nor of anything else pertaining to time not yet arrived.

And so, value is, above all, subjective. Value is the satisfaction of wants, or the mitigation of uneasiness. It is a purely psychological phenomenon, and though not beyond a degree of estimation, there can be no precise calculation of such things on an individual level, much less on the sort of grand scale that comprises a national or world economy.

This is important to understand when discussing money and, in particular, prices. There is a coherent line of reasoning that there is no such thing as “overcharging” for a product or service. The fact that an exchange takes place is evidence enough that the price is right, because, as long as coercion is not part of the equation, it is presumed that a transaction would only occur if the parties agreed. If I value the widget at $2, and you value the widget at $3, you will keep the widget and I will keep my money. Reverse the numbers and the exchange takes place and both of us walk away thinking we got a great deal.

Unless you understand that value is subjective, the occurrence of this transaction is not evidence of agreement but of theft. An objective theory of value would posit that the disparity in perception of the value of the item could only mean that one or more parties to the transaction had calculated incorrectly, and that the party who had calculated in error had been wrongly deprived of the value which constituted the variance. This is where the idea of profit being evil derives from. In this view, profit is theft, because it is predatory to sell something for more than the thing is objectively valued, and that this value is innately tied to the costs of its production, typically with an inextricable link to the labor involved.

But if one thinks this through it is not difficult to see the problems that would emerge from imposing such a system on a society. We here use the word “imposing” with all intention, because it is entirely unnatural and could only be implemented by coercion. If two people have the exact same idea as to the value of an item, there is no reason for them to exchange. The fact of the exchange implies differences in values, since one must value the item or service he receives more than the item or service he parts with to make the exchange worth even thinking about. The whole entire purpose of trade is to satisfy the wants of individuals by leveraging the variances in their subjective preferences.

Money comes into play as a means by which to facilitate this function more efficiently. Although society seems to be at times completely dominated by money, it is actually quite plain to see that literally nobody wants it. Money is only valued to the extent that it can be used to acquire things that people do want, and absent this capacity it is scarcely worth the caloric value it provides as fuel for a fire.

Ludwig von Mises famously said;

Government is the only institution that can take a valuable commodity like paper and make it worthless by applying ink.


Now, this is not entirely true. You are surely capable of ruining paper with ink, and I might argue that many a newspaper does this every day. This is just a hyperbolic way of complaining about paper money. But it is an amusing way of illustrating our point about what money is.

Money as such has no value. It is only valuable to the extent it facilitates exchange. In fact, contra Mises and the other hard money advocates, money that can be put to non monetary use, actually diminishes its usefulness as money.

Cryptocurrency provides a great way to think about this. Dispense for a moment with the mechanics of the different types of cryptocurrencies out there for now, proof of work, proof of stake, numerically limited or inflationary, and just consider what it tangibly is. What is the weight or, better put, mass, of a Bitcoin? How much space does one Bitcoin occupy? How about a million Bitcoins? They are at the end of the day just units of account, numbers on a ledger. While other aspects of how various cryptocurrencies work impose costs on the system, this is in essence what money ought to be. Weightless, spaceless, infinitely divisible, infinitely transmissible, moving and storing value without any other overhead.

So why do Mises and others like him consider gold to be a better deal than paper money?

To begin with, they don’t, actually.

Even with a gold money standard, most transactions would still occur on a ledger. In his book “The Theory of Money and Credit” Mises talked a great deal about something called “fiduciary media” which was in essence paper money, often issued by private financial institutions, and which merely represented measured weights of precious metals. Nobody really wants to be carrying around chunks of metal to do business, much less be shipping it all over the place. It is not the gold the hard money advocates are concerned with, but rather the limiting effect it has on the money supply.

Doubtless every listener has heard of the term “the law of supply and demand”. A thing which is available in great abundance comparative to demand is typically valued less highly than a thing which is scarce comparative to demand. This law applies to money. While the quantity theory of money falls short of fully explaining monetary phenomena, it is necessarily an integral part of money. If the government or, to the extent they are not the same thing, the central bank, issues new money at such a rate that the number of monetary units grows more rapidly than the supply of goods and services in the market, this will eventually have the effect of raising what is known as the overall price level, and this phenomenon is what is typically known as inflation. In this case, the total supply of offerings in the marketplace constitute total demand for money, and if the supply of money increases more rapidly than these offerings, the money is necessarily devalued.

Understandably, the ability to create money, so to speak, out of thin air, carries with it some rather serious temptations. History is littered with examples of governments trying to alleviate fiscal pressures by creating new money, and creating havoc in the process. Advocates of commodity money seek to prevent these catastrophes from occuring, by limiting the government’s capacity to increase the money supply.

Now, this is not an unreasonable desire, but it runs into some pretty serious problems. The sound money economists are not unaware of these issues, and this is what I’m getting at when I talk about them veering away from science and getting into value laden territory. It’s not that they have faulty theories, it’s that they are inserting their own opinions into policy discussions and using their very sound theories as justification for their policy preferences.

Let us take the most straightforward example of the problem. War.

If a government were limited to a gold money standard, and endeavored to wage war, then the government would have to, at a minimum, raise taxes high enough to pay for the military expenditures. The advocates of commodity money say, correctly, that whether the government is raising taxes or inflating the currency, it is depriving the citizenry of their wealth either way. From this they conclude that the better choice is to raise taxes, or better yet, not wage war.

Maybe you agree with that assessment or maybe you don’t, but if you’re into logic you see what happened here. They began with a scientific analysis, and then they expressed a preference. These are two entirely separate categories of action.

Conversely we have another problem that emerges from this. The people who disagree with the preference, try to refute the science. They come up with all kinds of lunatic ideas to do this, because the science is fundamentally sound even if the preference isn’t, and they create bigger problems in the process. To justify a policy preference, fake science is produced, and then policies are based on faulty science, which results in rolling cycles of economic and other calamities.

There’s a rather straightforward solution to this, which is to accept the sound science of the hard money economist, and tell him to stay the hell out of politics. Yes, increasing the money supply will cause inflation. Yes, this will result in all manner of social ills, and we consider that a small price to pay for not losing a war. So you go back to playing with your calculator, and let us figure out how to keep the country safe, nerd. We’ll call you back if we have other questions about science.

And, met with this, our economist friend, if he wants to have a say in the outcome, would be better served to temper his suggestions. He cannot tell the government to stop fighting wars, but he can give advice on how to mitigate the consequences of the inflation.

One problem with the monetarist quantity theory of money is their conception of the price level. The idea from which stems this desire to maintain a given rate of inflation. When new money enters the economy, prices do not all simply increase in uniform fashion all at once. If they did, inflation would not be nearly so big a deal.

Prices, including wages, which are just the price of labor, are formed through a complex process of market discovery. There’s no signal that says “The money supply has increased by 10%, so raise all wages and prices accordingly”. As the new money causes more intense competition for resources, this causes upward pressure on prices, but the process is not at all precise. Importantly, as the scarce resources are going up in price, and employers see their costs increasing, the last thing they want to do is increase wages. So, with few exceptions, wages are the last things to rise.

This is especially the case if the chaos created by the inflation causes unemployment to rise, although this usually happens as a consequence of corrective measures, rather than of the inflation itself.  It may also be the case that whatever circumstance prompted the inflationary policy caused an increase in unemployment, and in no shortage of circumstances, inflationary policy is itself a response to high unemployment. But even at full employment, the disruptions created by the inflation create economic uncertainty, and people who are disinclined to leave their jobs are in no position to demand wage increases.

The hard money economist understands all of this, and is capable of giving better advice than to radically alter the monetary system or to abolish war.

While the increase in prices is a problem, the chaos created by their unpredictability, and what we haven’t yet touched upon, but is not less relevant, the corrective measures, are the more caustic features. When these things are happening is when sane economists are needed the most, and it is not without consequence that it is also when they are least consulted.

So, returning to our example of war. The government is, for whatever reason, in a position where the authorities believe it the less painful of their options to increase the money supply to cover the costs of war. Some of this is fairly straightforward. The government has to purchase fuel, munitions, and certain types of food, for example. They are taking some number of able bodied men out of the workforce, and some number of those men will not be coming home.

Let us take fuel as our first example. Should the government just run around to retail gas stations and start purchasing all the diesel they can find? This will have a predictable consequence on retail fuel prices. Those fuel prices will translate into higher delivery costs, and those delivery costs will eventually contribute to a rise in the overall price level.

A very sound alternative, especially in a place like the United States where we have abundant untapped energy resources and a lack of refining capacity, is instead of spending that newly created money to purchase fuel, the newly created money finances the extraction of energy resources from the earth, and the building of new refining capacity.

Because, recall, the increase in the supply of money does not by itself increase prices. It is the increase in the supply of money comparative to the supply of goods and services in the market, that causes the price increases.

So, if the government spends money to purchase end products, or raw materials which produce the end products, or is competing for a certain type of specialized labor, then yes, of course, this causes a rise in the price level. The increase in prices will first emerge in the goods and services the government purchases, because it creates more intense competition for limited resources in that sector of the market. Then, as the people and companies they purchased those goods and services from go and spend the money, it will seep into the rest of the economy, and the new price level emerges over time. The aptitudes and inclinations of the people first receiving the new money, determines where they will spend it, and that is where the next price increases will emerge, and these effects continue on down the line until it reaches the things we all buy such as eggs and cheese and bread and these sorts of things.

And, importantly, there is a high likelihood that this will cause bankruptcies, because, as the new demand emerges, private producers increase production capacity, and they often do this through debt. The increased demand and consequence increase in prices signals the need to increase this capacity, indicates that investment is warranted based on the demand continuing into the future, and as soon as the government’s market distorting demand disappears from the market, the debt cannot be repaid, and the company is forced to shut its doors.

But if the new money is created and spent directly on an increase in production capacity, this is an entirely different story. If the government purchases fuel, it is competing with other fuel buyers. If the government purchases means of fuel production, it is only competing with others who might be trying to increase production capacity at that time, and if it does this before distorting the market with its own fuel purchases, this is not terribly likely to be a very serious problem.

And, of course, once the government’s increased demand for fuel stops, the increased refining and extraction capacity remains. Whether the government continues to operate these facilities, or whether it sells them to a private company, the fact of the increased capacity now places downward pressure on fuel prices in the absence of the government’s increased demand, which helps to offset the lingering impacts of the inflationary policy.

Now, this does not by any stretch of the imagination solve all of our problems in economics. One who was so inclined could go through this description, and they could try to poke all manner of holes in this concept by saying that the government intervention in the economy which I have here described will still have third and fourth order effects which I have not fully explored. Some of those criticisms would be accurate, others, might lack merit. Others will point out that what I have described here is a far cry from socialism, and that is surely true, but that is hardly the point.

In fact, the whole entire purpose of the exercise is to have people who are capable of thinking along these lines, even those who would criticize me, perhaps, especially them, so long as they have the national interest at heart, participate meaningfully in this discussion, and to do so rationally, instead of foolishly insisting that things be not as they are.

What I’ve said here is by no means ground breaking. It’s pretty basic economics. This is, after all, part 1 of what I hope to become a series within this show.

All I’ve tried to do is demonstrate that the analysis of one immersed in free market thinking can be applied to State intervention, and I think I have accomplished this narrow goal.

I would have gone into greater depth on it too, but I heard today that Tucker Carlson is no longer with Fox News, and this has weighed heavily on me.I was drained of my enthusiasm by this report, and I’ll be interested to discuss this with you.

But before I move on from this topic, I’ll just make a few drive by points in other sectors of the economy, where we can apply a similar analysis.

On another venue, we recently spent a good deal of time talking about health care, and specifically the concept that health care is a human right, based on a proposal by a group that said that health care should be taken out of the hands of private hospitals and corporations. This is a policy known as single payer healthcare, and it has been proposed in the United States before. During that production, I spent a good deal of time talk about price formation, and explained that this is impossible under a single payer healthcare system, where the government is both buyer and seller, because there is no means by which to calculate prices when there is no competition for resources.

When people talk about health care access, what they are fundamentally complaining about is that health care is too expensive. Now, health care is always going to be expensive, because it is the labor of highly trained specialists using very advanced equipment, and this really must be taken into consideration when discussing public policy.

But just like in our example of fuel up above, when the government responds to this problem by subsidizing consumption, the effect is not cheaper healthcare. The effect is increased demand, which drives up the prices. That might be of little consequence to somebody who is very sick and hopes for the government to pay for them to get better, but it is not without consequence for society.

When economists and ideologues take the position that the answer to expensive health care is free market absolutism, they are barred from participating meaningfully in the debate. Nobody takes that idea seriously. It’s not a solution, and if you don’t propose a solution then you aren’t part of a political conversation.

When people say that healthcare is a right and that the government should take over the entire industry, they are steering us toward catastrophe, and of course, they are going to fail to fulfill their promises as a consequence.

But we know what drives up the cost of health care, and sane economic policies can drive these costs down. Here are just a few examples.

Reduce or eliminate licensing requirements and other regulatory burdens for health services that do not benefit from these burdens.

For example, while we wouldn’t want just any high school dropout marketing himself as a heart surgeon, it would be a very small burden to overcome for our society to produce armies of low level physicians capable of running routine tests and diagnostics. Drawing blood, taking swabs or urine samples, sending them off to labs, this sort of thing. Prescribing antibiotics for tests that come back positive for bronchitis for example, you don’t need a masters and a postgraduate degree to accomplish these things.

Education more generally has fallen into the same trap we have now described twice, subsidized demand. The government is paying for people to go to school, whether they should be going to school or not, and many books could be and have been written describing the devastating effects this is having on our society. But one of most pronounced of those effects is in health care. Anyone who wants to go into medicine is going to pay a tremendous amount of money for their education. Because the people inclined towards this complex and demanding profession typically do not come from poor families, they typically do not qualify for subsidies, and are going to likely emerge deeply in debt. As a consequence, they have to extract the repayment of this debt from their patients, and this increases the costs to the end user.

The government should not be paying for people with a 2 digit IQ to go to college. This is a program instituted primarily to eliminate racial disparities which exist for genetic rather than economic or cultural reasons, and economic policy cannot eliminate these disparities without destroying the more gifted people among us.

So the government here can do two things, stop subsidizing demand, and start subsidizing production. Just like our fuel example above.

People who are not going to benefit from a college degree can still live happy productive lives and raise families and be good citizens if we don’t fill their heads with nonsense or treat them like they don’t matter just because they perform our most important jobs like waste management and construction.

If we want to subsidize education, and medicine, then let us subsidize the building of more schools, and the training of more teachers and more doctors. Let’s offer student loan forgiveness to medical professionals who train others. There’s nothing intelligent about indiscriminately throwing money at people. Rational economic policy directs resources to accomplish defined societal goals.

Perhaps most importantly, let’s put a lot of lawyers out of business, by putting caps on punitive damages and attorneys fees in civil actions. Let’s make sure that no Defendant in a civil trial ever has to fear a runaway jury, by limiting compensatory awards to some single digit multiple of a person’s realistic earning capacity. Not only will this reduce the costs of medical malpractice insurance and reduce the amount of testing and treatments performed as little other than lawsuit avoidance practices, it will cause more highly capable people to choose the medical profession over becoming lawyers in the first place, and that will on its own dramatically improve the quality of the character of our citizenry. Caring for people instead of coercing them, will be the incentive our economic policy produces.

In any discussion about economics, the supply and demand of labor is always a central factor. This is what determines wages, and the employment rate, and whether a person complains that they don’t earn enough for that the things they want are too expensive, they are complaining about the same phenomenon.

Immigration is the single most important issue facing the United States today. One cannot say enough about its impacts on culture or crime or politics or genetics for that matter. But for now, let us briefly address the economic impacts on just the labor market. We won’t even get to demands on the welfare state, just labor and wages.

The living standards in the United States comparable to other parts of the world is a tremendous magnet for people who would, for entirely benevolent reasons, seek to come here, work hard, and earn their keep, and be good citizens. We end up focusing so much on the many hundreds of thousands who come here for nefarious or less than noble purposes, but let us just narrow our focus to those who come here for the best and most admirable reasons.

Those people, whose motives we need not question, and whose decency we need not doubt, enter the labor market and drive down the price of labor by competing for jobs. That is the absolutely inescapable fact of their presence, and for entirely race neutral reasons, that is cause enough to prevent their entry to the country.

We kept hearing about Kamala Harris talking about the “root causes” of immigration, as if this were a mystery. It is not a mystery. It is the observable reality that one can live better here than there. And if everybody who lives there comes here, this place will be more like that place, and it will no longer be better to live here. That will solve the problem of future migration, but it will do so at the cost of our quality of life, and this has already happened.

The left responds by saying that we need them to come here, because Americans won’t do certain jobs, or because Americans are not having enough children, and we need new people to pay the social security and medicare bills.

Well, so far as those jobs are concerned, this is largely a lie, first of all, but even if we accept the premise as true. Let’s just say there are unfilled jobs waiting to be done because they don’t pay enough. Economics answers this question quite easily. The price of labor will rise until the job is done. It’s not very difficult to understand. That is how price formation works. It’s the whole point of economics. Bringing in millions of unskilled people to fill labor jobs simply prevents this from happening, and if wages stay stagnant while health care costs rise, do not be surprised if your citizens are upset about the price of health care. It might go without saying that all of these unskilled laborers are necessarily adding to the demand for health care, and since their jobs to not pay enough to cover the cost of living in the United States as a consequence of the price of labor not being allowed to rise, then let us not be surprised when the government has to subsidize their health care, and this causes both an increase in the demand, and a drain on the treasury. Which causes an increase in taxes and inflation which in turn, makes the health care more expensive still.

And given all the expense involved in that, let us just accept that for whatever reason the government wants the costs of those producers to remain low for some ostensibly reasonable policy goal. Let’s just say that global competition for food prices is such that to increase the costs of domestic food production by allowing agricultural wages to rise, would have a negative impact on our food security, and the government has determined that this would pose a national security threat. That’s not a totally unreasonable conclusion to reach.

OK. Fine. Then, instead of allowing waves of uncontrolled migration, we can simply begin subsidizing the wages of domestic agricultural labor. We can even do it through inflationary monetary policy. This would obviously be cheaper than paying unemployment and other poverty benefits to out of work Americans while we subsidize the health care and education and other expenses of immigrants who perform the low wage jobs. This is a great example of a market distortion guided by reason to accomplish a sensible policy objective.

As for Social Security, Medicare, and other senior benefits, these programs are being run into the ground by a number of factors, but the biggest one is birth rates.

Why are birth rates low? Well, there are a number of reasons, but education cannot be assigned too much blame for this. We take women who are young and we tell them we will pay for their college even if they have no realistic path to a career from what is being paid for, and then we fill their heads with feminist nonsense and homosexual propaganda and we wonder why they become lesbian anarchist criminals instead of mothers.

Instead, let’s use our public education system to venerate motherhood. Let’s train women for motherhood while we’re teaching them to read and write. Let’s teach men, not to treat women as their equals, but to treat them as their creators.

I think it’s absolutely insane that we have one Mother’s Day, but we have an entire month of “LGBTQIA+ Pride” which the entire federal government gets totally invested in, along with handful of transgender celebrations like transgender awareness day and transgender day of visibility as if these were somehow not synonymous.  And Mother’s Day is what is commonly known as a “Hallmark Holiday”. It’s not a federal holiday, the banks don’t close, mothers don’t get the day off of work.

You know, when I talk to women about inequality of the sexes, I say that men and women have different obligations to society, and that motherhood is simply one of theirs. I tell them that men, by contrast, have the obligation of providing for them and protecting them, most notably through military service.

Then you think about that. We have labor day, that’s a federal holiday. We have Veterans’ day, that’s a federal holiday. We have Memorial day, that’s a federal holiday.

Mother’s day isn’t? If this were another sort of production, I might throw out a curseword that referenced animal waste.

With all due respect to my Christian friends, Mother’s Day should be bigger than Christmas. Everybody believes in mothers, and if we hope to continue existing as a species we might endeavor to keep it that way.

At a bare minimum, it should be given equal reverence to military service, because without mothers we have no country to protect, and no men to protect it.

So while I’ve now veered into decidedly cultural territory after complaining about economists doing exactly this, I can say that the economic costs of declaring a federal holiday or two are quite small in comparison to the costs of declining birthrates and trying to replace our citizenry with other peoples children. If you want to save social security, honor thy mother.

And as a brief aside, this was the biggest mistake of the Alt Right. That movement allowed its righteous revolt against feminism to be dragged into what even reasonable, Right wing people with sensible ideas about traditional and complementary gender roles, could charitably describe misogyny, or outright woman hating, and unfair disrespect.

That’s more a political point than an economic one, but we’re going to be paying for it for a long time all the same.

We’ll come back to economics again in the future, and I look forward to your input on these subjects. Now, before I open the phones, I should briefly say something about Tucker Carlson.

On another venue, I went on at some length about Tucker Carlson’s contribution to American politics. I do not believe it can be overstated without venturing into the supernatural. The Fox News Channel doesn’t just influence millions of American voters, it influences influencers. Talk radio hosts, congressmen, party officials, and even Democrats, all watch the Fox News Channel.

I remember when Bill O’Reilly got fired, and the Left was ecstatic about this.

I was not nearly so devoted an O’Reilly fan as I am in thrall to Tucker, but it was unmistakable that Fox News had come under this organized attack of sexual harassment complaints by hostile forces trying to bring down the network. I always hate it when this stuff takes anybody down, even if they’re not important. So I was not happy about O’Reilly going down, even though I didn’t think it was going to ruin our politics.

When Tucker got his show announced shortly after this, I already knew it was a big deal. At first he came after Sean Hannity, then they moved his time slot up, and then he became the biggest thing in cable news. He did more to change our national conversation than any other character in politics with the potential exception of Donald Trump, but I think Carlson actually had the bigger impact.

There is precisely zero possibility, that Fox News will improve without Tucker. They improved without O’Reilly, by hiring Tucker Carlson, but they will not improve on Tucker.

And you should not underestimate the problems this will cause. The Fox News Channel doesn’t just disseminate conservative propaganda to the general electorate, or more importantly still, Republican primary voters, it also informs the opinions of thought leaders throughout the entire media ecosystem, newspaper reporters, talk radio hosts, social media influencers, in America, and around the world. That made Tucker Carlson an unofficial advisor to congressmen, senators, members of parliaments, presidents, prime ministers, FBI agents, police officers, and judges. He influenced the opinions of jurors, lawyers, the people who decide if you get banned from social media, or financial services.

I’m not going to be too specific, but I’ll tell you that, in my adventures in legal land, I’ve come across a few people who had the ability to make my life easier or more difficult according to their preferences, and that some of those people were Tucker Carlson viewers, and I don’t think you need a whole lot of time to think about how that influenced their interactions with me.


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SurrealPolitiks PodcastEpisode 6