Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Nothing New Under the Sun

From Howard Hyde's 'President's Address' to the Southern California Republican Women and Men, February 22, 2014:
We are privileged to have at our meetings several candidates for public office and many concerned citizens promoting initiatives that they consider of great importance. Some of our campaigns are more effective than others, and I'd like to talk today about one aspect which might be helpful to our candidates and activists in helping them achieve greater success.

If your campaign or crusade is not getting gaining the traction you had hoped, it could be that the presentation lacks sparkle or excitement, or that you're not hitting all the emotional touch points. We have talked a lot here about the disadvantages that Republicans face against Madison Avenue- and social media-savvy democrats and their Hollywood friends.
Even so, conservatives have a decisive advantage in facts and logic and rational argumentation which explain the conservative dominance of the nonvisual medium of talk radio, for one, and I want to talk today about reinforcing that great advantage that we do have.

Living in America in 2014 we have a tendency to flatter ourselves into believing that we are so much more sophisticated and intelligent than our forebears because we can download an app to our iPhone, but the truth is that most of our brilliant new original ideas are nothing more than a rehash of things that have been thought of and worked out many times over and in many nations throughout history. For example, preferential policies toward different ethnic groups, whether majorities or minorities, have been practiced around the world, with results ranging from disappointing to catastrophic, for centuries before President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced ‘goals’ and ‘timetables’ for what became known in this country as ‘Affirmative Action’.
So if you really want to be effective, it behooves you to first be sure that you can articulate the fundamental principles and assumptions underlying your program and for minimal credit read the author or philosopher that articulated those principles before you were born. For extra credit, read the author or philosopher who articulated those principles over 100 years ago; for double bonus points cite the person who either proposed them or already debunked them over 1000 years ago. Because trust me, the more or original you think you are, the more likely it is that some Greek or Roman or Midieval thinker already came up with it long ago.
Many of us are familiar with the Laffer Curve, named for our contemporary Arthur Laffer, an economic model that demonstrates that beyond a certain rate, taxes actually reduce revenue to the government, and that at that point tax cuts actually result in increased revenue and therefore don’t have to be ‘paid for’. (Incidentally Laffer has a book out in 2012 titled ‘Eureka! How to Fix California’ that is highly recommended.) But as Ronald Reagan pointed out in one of his radio addresses years before he was elected President, Andrew Mellon, Treasury Secretary to 3 presidents, presented the same concept 90 years ago in his book ‘Taxation: The People’s Business’. In fact, the chinese philosopher Confucius pointed out to his contemporaries that the government would enjoy greater income under lower tax rates because the people would be more productive…2500 years ago. So as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.

I have tried to acknowledge these principles in my own writing including my book ‘Pull the Plug on Obamacare’. Even though it is a short, pamphlet-like publication targeted at the lay reader and focused on contemporary events, I have tried to demonstrate transcendent principles which apply. Because the pretensions of Obamacare were demolished at least 94 years ago.
Ludwig von Mises published his masterwork demolishing the intellectual foundations of socialism in 1920. In summary:
If the state owns or otherwise controls all capital goods, land, natural resources, factories, machinery, services, and labor, then there is
•​no market for these goods
•​no buying and selling,
•​no bargaining and haggling,
•​no competition to compel lower prices, higher quality, better service or the division of labor.
•​no play of Supply and Demand.
•​and ultimately, no prices.
Prices constitute the indispensable information system for signaling the abundances, scarcities and alternatives in an economy. Socialism fails every time it is tried because economic calculation is impossible in the absence of a functioning price system.

As applied to the health care market, these same principles apply. The more the government commands and controls health care services, physicians, insurance, drugs and medical equipment, then … it is very easy to fill in the blanks from Mises’ template.

Beyond convincing my fellow Americans that Obamacare is a bad idea, I hope to get across something more fundamental, based on principles that have been examined very thoroughly well prior to our current political season. I hope this approach can help all of you in your campaigns as well.
Thank you.