Economics for Dummies

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931-2005
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Labor is not the source of wealth

Brilliance — even genius — is no guarantee that consequential factors have not been left out or misconceived. Karl Marx’s Capital was a classic example of an intellectually masterful elaboration of a fundamental misconception — in this case, the notion that “labor,” the physical handling of the material and instruments of production, is the real source of wealth. Obviously, if this were true, countries with much labor and little technology or entrepreneurship would be more prosperous than countries with the reverse, when in fact it is blatantly obvious that the direct opposite is the case.

Economic power vs. political power

Always remember the difference between economic power and political power: You can refuse to hire someone’s services or buy his products in the private sector and go somewhere else instead. In the public sector, though, if you refuse to accept a politician’s or bureaucrat’s product or services you go to jail. Ultimately, after all, all regulations are observed and all taxes are paid at gunpoint.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was not caused by laissez faire but by the actions of well-intended politicians and bureaucrats. The Federal Reserve System, after all, was not created in response to the Great Depression, but in 1913. Soon thereafter it began experimenting with its awesome powers, expanding the money supply during the roaring ’20s, propping up the pound sterling in London, extending credit so Europeans could buy American agricultural products. All the while, Congress was becoming more and more protectionist. When the Fed reversed policies in 1929 and actually shrunk the money supply by a third over the next three years and Congress culminated its protectionist tendencies with the Smoot-Hawley tariff, the collapse was underway. The fact that Hoover then raised taxes and Roosevelt kept wages artificially high guaranteed the massive unemployment that marked the 1930s. Government caused and exacerbated the Great Depression.