An ancient fairy tale whose message is as alive as ever in the Age of Covid

The moral: never trust Foxy Loxy, examples of which can be found everywhere. Every one of them has an agenda completely different from the one they pretend to have. Specially if some “leader” is trying to convince you that Covid requires you to pass on all of your freedoms to the government so that they can take care of you, remember Foxy Loxy. And there are Foxy Loxies everywhere.

And just in case you don’t remember: Who was Foxy Loxy?    

Image result for foxy loxy 1943

Foxy Loxy is the main antagonist of the 1943 animated short Chicken Little. His motive is to simply eat all of the birds living within the gated farm yard.

This tells a story of how Disney made the film in 1943 where the moral was everything. Not a children’s movie at the time, but people have to grow up eventually. And do go to the vid below which has a brief introduction to the entire Disney version which is as up-to-date as the morning post.

Nothing changes but the names and dates.

Speaking of which, I grew up with the story known to me as Chicken Little, but my European-born wife brought up in Australia knows it under the name Henny Penny. And the Henny Penny link will add even more of its history. Quite an interesting history, but they all have one bit in common, the hysteria following the declaration that “the sky is falling”.

We have to spend money we don’t have to stop us from going bankrupt

Let me again mention my book on Classical Economics and the Modern Economy the review of which I discussed here. It is not all that unusual that an author should be fond of a book he has written, so you will have to forgive me having written the following to a colleague who has also written a positive review of the book somewhere else. This is what I wrote:

It was indeed a phenomenal review. But then I wrote to someone else, as a joke, that it has made me want to read the book myself, which in fact is what I have now begun to do and am half way through. And while you may feel he has provided a more in-depth understanding, and undoubtedly he has, yours was as on-the-mark as any I could have hoped for.

In re-reading what I sent to the publisher more than a year ago, and possibly finished the copy editing process at least a year ago, I am amazed how well it has come out. It says everything I even now would want to say and it says it as clearly as I am capable of saying it. I found one gremlin (and they were always going to be there), but there is nothing I wish I had added and there were a number of surprises where I had said something I had forgotten I had even included.

But what reading the text made me realise even more than before, no one else, certainly no one else alive today, will ever see what the book is saying. It will perhaps be in fifty years when some library goes about selling off its discarded texts that someone might pick it up and read it then and really see the point, in the same ways as I saw Mill’s point 150 years after his Principles was published in 1848.

But for almost anyone alive today, I am much too obscure and no one will ever take my word for it against the massive edifice of modern theory. For all that, I have just read the small bit on productive vs unproductive consumption and have marvelled again at how such a perspective has evaporated entirely from the body of economic theory. It is not only obvious, but essential.

And then this came up which you would have to understand economic theory in an entirely different way from what you see in the textbooks to see just how stupid this is: V.P. Biden ’09: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’.

On Wednesday, Democrats passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution and, with the help of 19 Republicans, a $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the total public debt outstanding as of Aug. 9, 2021, was $28,427,651,083,061.54, or roughly $28.4 trillion.

How this will prevent the US from going bankrupt we will now all live to see for ourselves.

Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy reviewed at the QJAE

This is the most positive review of any book I have ever written. And aside from much else, it is the first time a review of one of my books taught me something about a book I had written that I did not know myself and was pleased to find out. I just hope the attachment will open for you so that you can read it for yourself. It is, as you might imagine, a very positive review and by someone whose judgement I trust and value.

Book Review: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy which has been written by a true scholar himself, Per Bylund who is at the University of Oklahoma. Not sure how long that link will last but hopefully long enough for anyone who is interested to read it for themselves.

If you cannot open the link, the review can be found in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Volume 24, Number 2, pages 374-378, Summer 2021. 
 
I realise, alas, that this goes well off into and beyond the hinterland of virtually everyone else’s interest, even among economists, but what you would find between the covers of the book has been the central perspective of my academic life, my professional life, and family aside, the centre of much of my adult life as well.
 
As a reader of second-hand books and a second-hand bookshop troll since the age of eleven, I am all too sadly aware how rapidly books disappear into the past where perhaps, very occasionally, someone with a similar interest will pick the book up and perhaps even read it. There are many books on my shelves which I may have been near-on one of only a handful of others to have read in possibly a century, and even where they might have been more widely read, it is only ever so often.
 
All is vanity, but even so, there are moments like this, when I read an astonishingly accurate review of something I have put together that brings that moment of satisfaction that will last until the next time I am caught up in traffic (very likely tomorrow) or something equally annoying and distracting. But it is very rare to find that someone else has understood what you had hoped to say, and this is one of those times, for which I could not be more grateful.
 
I commend the review to you. And for those with the right kind of spirit of adventure, my suggestion is that you perhaps go out and ask your local library to buy a copy so that you, and perhaps others, can read it. 
 
A wonderful moment for me which I am pleased to be able to share with you. 
 
I will add that having read the review I have gone back to read it for myself, and even for me it is full of surprises. Highly recommended, even if I do say so myself.
 

Economics for Infants

Economics for Infants – full text with illustrations (1)

Available for sale here.

And here is my recommendation.

If you have friends who like the way a market economy works, and who are leery of governments, buy a copy for their children. Their parents will enjoy the book as much as their children, who will learn things they would not otherwise find out so early in life.

However, for parents of a contrary disposition, buy the book for their children, as above, but never expect the book to be passed on to their children, and certainly not read to them. You will just have to content yourself with knowing the parents have read the book and then had a meltdown before throwing it on the compost heap, or hopefully passing it on to the local op-shop where someone else will buy it.

Modern economics provides no sound advice on how to manage an economy

Modern economic theory is complete trash, as I have noted before, but which is now also discussed here: Dismal Economics.

Although neoclassical economics relies on assumptions that should have been discarded long ago, it remains the mainstream orthodoxy. Three recent books, and one older one, help to show why its staying power should be regarded as a scandal.

Let me therefore mention my own book that deals with this ongoing scandal, a book which is now available as a paperback: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy. This is the short description at the link:

Economic theory reached its zenith of analytical power and depth of understanding in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains what took place in the ensuing Marginal Revolution and Keynesian Revolution that left economists less able to understand how economies operate. It explores the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, providing a pathway into the theory they developed.

Modern economic theory provides no obstacle to any of the inanities that pass for public economic policy at the present time. If anything, vast oceans of public sector debt and huge increases in the stock of money are seen as in keeping with modern theory, which they largely are.

My review of Jordan Peterson’s latest book

I have written a review of Jordan Peterson’s latest book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life which you can now read at Quadrant Online under the title that represents my take on what he wrote: Abandon Ideology. I will give you two passages from the review. You can read the rest at the link. This is the opening para.

Jordan Peterson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he is my cup of tea. His writings are an oasis in the midst of the intellectual desert of our time. He says many of the thoughts that need to be said out in the open and in full, in ways that can be accessed and understood, which bypass the cancel culture of the Left that surrounds them. This is a book you should read, partly because of its message, partly just because of how well done it is.

And then there is this as well:

We must also confront the North American conservative/liberal distinction Peterson embeds. This is from Rule I:

“Some people are temperamentally predisposed to conservatism, and others to a more liberal creative perception and action … Those who tend toward the right, politically, are staunch defenders of all that has worked in the past … Those who rise to the top can do so through manipulation and the exercise of unjust power … It is this corruption of power that is strongly objected to by those on the liberal/left side of the political spectrum, and rightly so.” [emphases added]

This is straight-out wrong, politically ignorant and offensive. This may be the kind of statements required to get such a book published during the times in which we live. But whatever the reason, you would hope Peterson might have noticed the kinds of people who had embraced his previous writings. These are sentiments that will put off all kinds of people who might otherwise be sympathetic to what he writes.

That said, it is a wonderful book and deeply conservative, in spite of what Peterson himself might say. And who knows what he actually thinks since there must be some compromises in getting such a book published in the midst of the cancel culture in which we live.

Miseducation for the masses

C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters quoted by Steve Hayward as amongst his Relevant Classics. This is Lewis on how to ruin education. For 1962, this is incredibly prescient.

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time. Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have – I believe the English already use the phrase – “parity of esteem.” An even more drastic scheme is not possible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma — Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT.

So far as cats sitting on mats is concerned, even Dr Seuss has been banned so what is really left? He even included the fear of “trauma” he was so ahead of his time!

How the UK government weaponised fear during Covid

And it was hardly the only one.

And as for recent books with a focus on how deluded we have been by our institutions, there is also this one: The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times’s Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History. Here’s the description at the link.

“The New York Times is by far the most influential newspaper in the world and thus receives far too little journalistic scrutiny due to its power to affect careers. Any book that casts a critical eye on the Paper of Record’s history, as this book does, is performing a valuable service.”—Glenn Greenwald

 

Think a newspaper can’t be responsible for mass murder? Think again.

As flagship of the American news media, the New York Times is the world’s most powerful news outlet. With thousands of reporters covering events from all corners of the globe, the Times has the power to influence wars, foment revolution, shape economies and change the very nature of our culture. It doesn’t just cover the news: it creates it.

But the institution that is the New York Times is showing cracks. No longer the fact-stringing paper of record once known as the Gray Lady, the Times has become a political lightning rod that divides more often than it unites. It is frequently beset by scandal and has even emerged as a symbol of the political, cultural and social ills plaguing our society.


The Gray Lady Winked pulls back the curtain on this illustrious institution to reveal a quintessentially human organization where ideology, ego, power and politics compete with the more humble need to present the facts. In its 10 gripping chapters, The Gray Lady Winked offers readers an eye-opening, often shocking, look at the New York Times’s greatest journalistic failures, so devastating they changed the course of history.


These are the stories that mattered most, including the Times’s disastrous coverage of the:


Second World War – Holocaust – Rise of the Soviet Union – Cuban Revolution – Vietnam War – Second Palestinian Intifada – Atomic Bombing of Japan – Iraq War – Founding of America


The result is an essential look at the tangled relationship between media, power and politics in a post-truth world told with novelistic flair to reveal a uniquely powerful institution’s tortured relationship with the truth.


Most importantly of all, The Gray Lady Winked presents a cautionary tale that shows what happens when the guardians of the truth abandon that sacred value in favor of self-interest and ideology—and what this means for our future as much as for our past.