Economic Myths #4 – Profits are Evil!

[First published on Free Life]

One of the elements of a capitalist system that induces purple-faced rage amongst statists and progressives is the existence of profit. This residual – the amount left over once an entity has deducted its costs from its revenue – is said to line the pockets of greedy shareholders while exploiting labourers and consumers.

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Economic Myths #3: We Need More Jobs

[First published on Free Life]

During an economic malaise one of the endless reams of statistics to which pundits glue their eyes is the number of jobs that are either created or destroyed. The state makes “job creation” a central plank of its economic policy to put people back to work, and the impression that more people are being hired and fewer fired buoys their hubristic impression that we must be on the road to recovery.

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Economic Myths #2: Consumption Boosts Growth

[First published on Free Life]

The belief that economic progress is boosted by consumption is based upon the kind of misunderstanding that could be made only by intellectuals – the product of theorising that is completely detached from the common sense that everyone else possesses.

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Economic Myths #1: Rising Prices = Economic Recovery

[First published on Free Life]

Author’s Note: This is the first in a series of short posts which will seek to rebut popular, but wrong, economic beliefs.

One of the positive indicators of our so-called economic recovery bandied about not only in the media but also by our monetary lords and masters at the head of central banks is the idea that rising prices are a sign of economic recovery. This mistaken belief is part of a wider myth that views the economy as little more than a giant number – a number which, if going up, means things are good and getting better, and if going down means the situation is bad and getting worse.

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Is the Free Market Uncaring?

A distinct disadvantage of advocating for a society free from state interference is that winning either the rhetorical or emotional battle is a lot more difficult. Democratic socialists and redistributionists can effectively wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves, forever declaring their care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, or whichever group is in need of their pitiful platitudes at any particular time. Libertarians, on the other hand, appear to advocate for nothing more than greed and selfishness by calling for the right of every person keep own his/her income. Surely this would be the slippery slope to each of us ferreting ourselves away in an increasingly atomised existence?

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Capitalism and Consumerism

The Christmas shopping period – one of the busiest in the year for the retail industry – has begun with a starter pistol on so-called “Black Friday”, with the culmination due in the January sales. The period of celebration, feasting and gift-giving is critical to the annual revenue and profits of hundreds of consumer-facing industries, with the volume of spending increasing by more than 50% according to some estimates.

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Rich vs Poor – a False Dilemma

Conventional thinking about social, political and economic matters tends to narrow the options available to a set of policies advocated by two, possibly three political parties of scarcely dissimilar ideologies. Any genuinely radical approach concerning these topics is abandoned given that the fundamentals are deemed to be beyond question. Thus, alternatives to these entrenched matters – such as whether the state should have any positive role at all in anything – are seldom given the light of day, let alone the opportunity of being debated.

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The Choice Illusion

In the mainstream debate both for and against a free market, one notion that seems ubiquitous is that the free market is predicated upon individual choice. Consequently, those in favour of such a market are likely to argue that the more choice there is the greater the competition between firms, leading to increased economic efficiency as those firms seek to meet their customers’ needs for the lowest possible cost. On the other hand, opponents will counter that choice can be wasteful, costly, inefficient and overwhelming, particularly when it concerns supply of provisions as basic as water. They might suggest further that choice is often an illusion conjured up by private companies that basically operate in a profit-maximising cartel.

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Free Choices or Forced Choices?

The “nanny state” is one of the most irritating traits of statism affecting people’s daily lives directly, and one that has been growing ever more matronly over the past generation or so. In fact, if you think it is bad today, The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (which, apparently, presents a “united front” of the medical profession) was complaining nearly ten years ago that doctors were seeing the consequences of unhealthy diets. Needless to say they recommended whole raft of interventionist measures to curb this apparent problem:

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Spying and Security

It almost goes without saying that the spying and security state has metastasised over the past twenty years or so, and is only likely to get worse as states look to exploit digital technology to further their regimentation and control of society.

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