Worshiping the Invisible Hand

I don’t know where I sit on the political spectrum, but I know I don’t fit into any particular party or ideology.  I’m not a socialist, nor a communist, and I suppose you could say I reluctantly advocate free markets, though I don’t think the invisible hand deserves much praise.

I feel that large amounts of money in few hands is a dangerous thing.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  My views toward the rich could be summed up with this quote,

‘To convert the business man into the profiteer is to strike a blow at capitalism … The business man is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.”

– John Maynard Keynes

As long as businesses create products and services that improve people’s lives, in fair competition, then I won’t complain about large profits or even a large degree of income inequality.  I’ll bear it.  As Mark Zuckerberg rakes in billions of dollars selling our private information to marketing firms and private corporations, I’ll turn away because I know of the millions of people, like my mom, who love Facebook, and it really does provide a service people love.

But there are those who worship the free market.  They lose all common sense and spew out total nonsense.   Many if not most hardcore libertarians are this way, and that’s why I can’t associate myself with them.  One of their central websites is the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and I occasionally read their articles.   Just a few days ago I came across the most ridiculous post entitled Defending Kim Kardashian.

I saw the title and immediately rolled my eyes.  I thought, “Are you kidding me?  Are you seriously going to defend the millions of dollars Kim Kardashian is making?”  I read on to find gems like these,

Unlike the majority of us who live relatively boring lives, Kim Kardashian has made a career out of selling the public an up-close-and-personal view of her private affairs. This recently included a rumored farce of a wedding to NBA superstar Kris Humphries, which fizzled after only three days but made the reality star millions.

Whether or not you agree with the type of life Kim Kardashian leads is ultimately a question of morality and ethics. However, her ability to attract fans and monetary compensation is something to admire. Unlike the government, Kardashian forces no one to purchase the products she endorses, view her television reality shows, attend her birthday party, or cover her exploits for various media publications. What she gives up in terms of a private life has brought her and her family a financially comfortable standard of living.

Oh yes, Kim Kardashian lives such a fascinating life.  *rolls eyes* We all know reality television is poison for the mind.  American culture has went down the toilet, and it’s really an indictment against our society that anyone is interested in Kim Kardashian at all.  I’ll admit she earned her money in the free market, and nobody was forced to participate in her wedding, or watch her television show, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a parasite to society.

Of all the people in this world, you think she’s the one who deserves millions of dollars in the bank, which she earned through a sham wedding, to a man she obviously didn’t love?  Just a few weeks after the fact, both her and her ex-husband were bad mouthing one another.  “You’re only famous because you made that sex tape!”  “Oh yeah!  You’re just an inconsiderate bastard!”

She’s the one who deserves to have the best of everything life has to offer?  Are you seriously trying to defend this woman, in the midst of our economic crisis?   This is what I mean.  The free market is their religion, and it blinds them to common sense.

After babbling on about capital, the free market, and the importance of saving, the article proceeds with,

The act of savings both forestalls present consumption and, when placed into a bank or financial institution, adds to the amount of funds available to be lent to aspiring entrepreneurs. With more funds available, longer-term and better methods of production can be sought to increase the supply of consumer goods. In an economy not subject to continual monetary debasement and inflation via a central bank, prices are allowed to fall, thus raising real income for consumers.

Reality stars such as Kim Kardashian aid in this process as their revenue-generating ability allows them to set aside more of their income. This accumulation of savings leaves more money to be invested in base capital, which increases the productive capacity of the economy. This isn’t supply-side economics; it’s a simple acknowledgement of the scarcity that dominates our world.

This libertarian author is trying to convince us that it’s ok that Kim earned all this money, even through she contributes zero benefit to society.  She’s going to deposit her millions in the bank, and they’re going to lend those funds out to entrepreneurs who are going to do wonderful things for all of us.  So don’t worry.  It’s all going to be ok.

That’s ridiculous.  But do I want to live a society where all of our decisions are regulated and controlled by government bureaucrats?  No.  If you want to support such a worthless woman with your time and money, then I suppose I can’t stop you.  But please, stop defending her.  I can understand that you don’t want the government to tax her, and feel that bureaucrats would just spend it all on wars and payoffs to their buddies.  I get it.   Just don’t worship the invisible hand.  You look like an idiot.

One thought on “Worshiping the Invisible Hand”

  1. My perspective on the Mises article’s subject of people voluntarily spending millions on bread and circus is that it’s a tragic waste of resources in the presence of people suffering for need of bare substinence and medical prevention/care. As a philosopher interested only in truth, I see the waste problem, the article, and your response as a symptoms. One of my favorite cliches is “Problems are like weeds because if they’re not pulled up by the roots they come back.” What you call “worship” I call cheerleading; a form of sophism, as is cheerleading’s flip side, demonization. Cheerleading and demonization are part of toxic culture, whether in favor of free or unfree “markets.” To me the point is that last century toxic culture democided a quarter of a billion people.

    People have and probably will label me “libertarian,” “right-wing”, etc., but I’m more careful than that with labels. I only label myself and others (if I’m well informed enough) as either “primarily a philosopher” or “primarily a sophist.” Everyone is a little of both, but more one than the other. The words “philosopher” and “sophist” represent opposites, so people can’t both at once. I conclude the hyper-elites prefer workers to be logical (i.e., philosophers) at work, but otherwise be sophist and thus reproduce more worker-clones and enforce toxic culture among peers. The elite’s human host-parasite system only exists when hosts herd each other; thus the need for social engineering of which toxic culture is a subset.

    I’ve also heard and read some who flip back and forth between sound logic and sophism in the same conversation; i.e., philosopher one second and sophist the next. To me this is bait-and-switch sophism. Some do it intentionally, some because of their mainstream-approved partial philosophical skill set. For one to have a full set of philosophical skills threatens all those invested in the status quo. Just as Socrates was democratically executed for “corrupting the youth,” last year a nonviolent but activist U.S. citizent philosopher was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for practicing, in the words of the federal prosecutor, “An insidious form of terrorism.”

    Futurist Alvin Toffler wrote a book called “Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century” and discussed disinformation as being a whole new leverage method. I agree with his observation, but not with it being new. In the 1651 book “Leviathan” about creating highly centralized governments, Thomas Hobbes discusses manipulating culture and social structure, and keeping the centers of power hidden. So I understand it as the “3Ms” (moxie=knowledge, money=wealth, muscle=violence), a term often credited to Lucky Luciano but likely being older than he. Observing the 3Ms of social power, I align genuine versus mainstream history-current events with information versus disinformation, genuine versus mainstream economics with wealth creation versus transfer, and philosophy versus sophism as voluntaryism versus aggression.

    I think that’s a root-level reply and as a philospher am happy to learn of any updated information about my premises or errors in my logic. Of course many of my above conclusions don’t show their premises here, as that would take up volumes and thus each is its own discussion. To me, that’s the nature of root-level discussions.

    I agree with much of the Mises Institute message, but I’ve always been confused by the Roman Catholicism toxic culture of Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, and other Mises mainstays. To me the very nature of religion and most so called “spirituality” is sophist. I have some theories about those guys and maybe will try to ask them someday.

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