by Joshua Jongema
The world is experiencing a crisis of conscience, as many have lost faith in humanity, allowing authoritarian policies to enter into effect for the false promise of a better life. To echo Nietzsche, humans were born free, but are chained by the lies they believe. The beliefs of individuals result in their behaviors and choices to involve themselves in exchange with others. Control over trade and markets have caused the US economy to decline, as inflation has spiked and our wages have not kept up with the rising cost of living. The solution to this crisis would involve replacing the people who have mismanaged our funds with local, decentralized, voluntary, free market, and libertarian solutions. A better life is one best lived by the one living, and not the broken machine of a dehumanizing central authority.
Humans are born without prior knowledge, and spend their lives grasping at the truth of reality. Some objective truth may be known, but the majority of human knowledge is speculative at best. Ontology is a philosophy of truth that has two parts. The first is to describe the nature of reality, or ‘what is’. The second is to describe the relationship between things. While many people disagree on what is, even more disagree on the relationships between things. Even fewer agree on the way to achieve a shared goal. Many goals and judgements are not shared, and belong to individuals only. To respect our shared uncertainty, means to respect a free mind.
One cannot practice freedom of mind, without the freedom to travel and trade. To understand how this works requires knowledge of economics, which is difficult to define, but generally means a measure of events involving exchange. There are two major, competing schools of economics, Keynesian and Austrian.
Austrian economics is grounded in reality while Keynesian has no real foundation. Austrian economists measure ‘what is’ in the form of human action, without valuing any particular action. They measure the relationship between human action and the price of market goods. They follow from the tradition of economists like Carl Menger (1840-1921), who brought on what became called the marginal revolution in economics. Menger taught that subjective choice drove the market, and discarded the defunct Labor Theory of Value. Ludwig Von Mises (1881-1973) developed the Austrian school by describing economics as a branch of Praxeology, or the study of human action. He taught Catallactics, which is a study for tracing the price of goods back to a human decision. Catallactics is an analysis of price as ‘it is’, and not ‘as it should be’.
Keynesian economists focus on what they think ‘should be’, and force their values on the market. Keynes was an economist that proposed in his essay, A Tract on Money Reform (1923), that ‘what is’ measurable, is the record of all market activity. He proposed that by regulating and controlling the flow of money in the market, a nation could grow economically and avoid the pitfalls of the free market’s unpredictability. It is central planners like Keynes that led to an upset in China recently, where ten new skyscrapers were demolished wastefully because nobody wanted to live in them. It turns out that predicting what people will want is impossible.
Because of Keynesian economists and their meddling, inflation in the US is beginning to skyrocket. The federal administration has boldly lied in claiming their printing of money and control over production, supply and prices will magically smooth everything over in the near future. 80% of the US dollars in existence were printed in the last two years. The money supply went from $4 trillion to over $20 trillion. Yearly inflation is at 7%, the highest since mid-1982. Some places in the country are charging over $6 for a gallon of gasoline. Take-home pay is down 2.4% from last year.
Meanwhile, the federal government has the most bloated budget ever imagined. They keep printing money, and none of it seems to trickle down. Something has to return our society to normalcy or we will continue to be forced into endless wars for profit.To know truth, one must be free to explore it. Likewise, to know what you desire, you must be free to pursue it. In our time, as in the time of Mises, wars and social problems seem hinged on the competition between different schools of economics. While central planning has led to prosperity for those who use the government to funnel money into their own pockets, it has not produced a fair or more prosperous society. It won’t.
Luckily, the solution is simple. Give freedom to fail for our markets, and freedom of choice for people, and the economy will improve. This would be great for those who work hard to offer a fine product at a fair price, and would be bad only for those who can no longer rig the game in their favor.