Friday, February 15, 2013

Turgot and the myth of progress

I had already read a considerable amount of Milton Friedman, declared my Economics major, and had two years of university classes under my belt when I first read Joseph Schumpeter's History of Economic Analysis.  That book, more than any other, changed my perspective on not only economics, but how I regarded the world.  It was the first time in my life that I ever felt overwhelmed concerning a subject in which I was genuinely interested and believed I had a reasonable grasp of the issues concerned.

I understood, and shared, Schumpeter's contempt for Ricardo and Keynes.  I was hardly surprised by his respect for Mises.  But I was shocked, in a way that I am very seldom shocked, by what almost appeared to be disdain for Adam Smith, the man I had always considered, and been taught to consider, the grand pinnacle of homo economicus.  And in Smith's stead, Schumpeter praised, indeed, almost seemed to revere, a French nobody named Turgot, a man of whom I had literally never heard, not in any book, paper, or class lecture.

With Richard Cantillon, Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune, should arguably be considered one of the finest and most brilliant economic thinkers in human history.  It borders on criminal that he is, even today, dismissed as a mere physiocrat and royal minister, it is an injustice that his name is not mentioned as one of the Great Economists while lesser minds such as Ricardo, Smith, and Keynes are celebrated and provide the theoretical source of present economic policies.

Turgot was not infallible.  Of him, it is written: "Turgot believed in progress and in the perfectibility of man. The human mind, including the exercise of reason and volition, has the potential for progression. He predicted the future of reason and the inevitable advancement of the human mind."

And yet, Turgot's own example, and the way in which knowledge of the law of diminishing returns was lost for over a century,  ironically demonstrates his misplaced faith in progress and human perfectibility.
One of Turgot's most remarkable contributions to economics, the significance of which was lost until the twentieth century, was his brilliant and almost off-hand development of the law of diminishing returns, or, as it might be described, the law of variable proportions. This gem arose out of a contest which he had inspired to be held by the Royal Agricultural Society of Limoges, for prize-winning essays on indirect taxation. Unhappiness with the winning physiocratic essay by Guérineau de Saint-Péravy led him to develop his own views in ‘Observations on a Paper by Saint-Péravy’ (1767). Here Turgot went to the heart of the physiocratic error, in the Tableau, of assuming a fixed proportion of the various expenditures of different classes of people. But, Turgot pointed out, these proportions are variable, as are the proportions of physical factors in production. There are no constant proportions of factors in agriculture, for example, since the proportions vary according to the knowledge of the farmers, the value of the soil, the techniques used in production, and the nature of the soil and the climatic conditions.

Developing this theme further, Turgot declared that ‘even if applied to the same field it [the product] is not proportional [to advances to the factors], and it can never be assumed that double the advances will yield double the product’. Not only are the proportions of factors to product variable, but also after a point, ‘all further expenditures would be useless, and that such increases could even become detrimental. In this case, the advances would be increased without increasing the product. There is therefore a maximum point of production which it is impossible to pass...’. Furthermore, after the maximum point is passed, it is ‘more than likely that as the advances are increased gradually past this point up to the point where they return nothing, each increase would be less and less productive’. On the other hand, if the farmer reduces the factors from the point of maximum production, the same changes in proportion would be found.

In short, Turgot had worked out, in fully developed form, an analysis of the law of diminishing returns which would not be surpassed, or possibly equalled, until the twentieth century.  (According to Schumpeter, not until a journal article by Edgeworth in 1911!)
The Mises Institute has a collection of the works of Turgot, which at 525 pages, are barely more than half the length of my most recent novel.  To return to the earlier topic of the fear of failure, it is deeply humbling to read the man's writings and realized that even now, more than 230 years after his death, this is an individual who has been widely ignored and dismissed as a failure, when there may not have been 500 men of his intellectual accomplishment in the entire history of the species.  If that is failure, who needs success?



Anonymous kh123 February 15, 2013 4:49 AM  

It's good to be reminded from time to time that there are legitimate examples of "success is extremely relative", even in what looks otherwise a technical field. Seems economics is a good deal of art still.

Anonymous Attention Vox Day February 15, 2013 5:49 AM  

Hey Vox. Somebody left a comment on the Rules of The Blog post. It is dated Feb. 11th, 2013. It appears to be a request of some sort from a guy writing a book.

Anonymous Peter Garstig February 15, 2013 5:50 AM  

Bastiat, a little better known but also undervalued, cited Turgot quite heavily. Never read Turgot directly.

VD: Do you think it's worth reading Schumpeters History of Economic Analysis if one has read Rothbard's History of Economic Thought?

Anonymous Desiderius February 15, 2013 5:50 AM  

Turgot, Montaigne, Bastiat, Talleyrand, Barzun, Montesquieu.

Points of searing flame amidst le deluge.

An anatomy of the storm cell here

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 6:09 AM  

is the Turgot book available in paper?

all i see listed on the site is e-book versions, although the vimeo vid seems to show and actual bound book.

Blogger tz February 15, 2013 6:51 AM  

The French Revolution was a warren overthrowing a monarchy.

In a similar vein:

The question is sometimes by whose standards. Amundsen won the south pole, but since everyone was rooting for Scott, and he died in the contest, there were no laurels from the public.

St.Paul says who is the only one that you should care about saying "well done!". There are many men through history who have fought and won for truth. And they are appreciated by those who value truth.

There are those who prefer comfortable lies. To feel better about doing something which makes it worse than waiting patiently for it to get better naturally.

When such become a majority in a democracy, all is lost - for a while -since it will crash and burn. We, but also China. No one is smart enough to manage an economy.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben February 15, 2013 6:52 AM  

Majored in economic and Turgot was never mentioned once. Interestingly though, one of my professors was french who actually would mention from time to time the austrian school of economics and citing their ideas that the economy is never in perfect equilibrium.

And he was a die hard Obama supporter.

Blogger tz February 15, 2013 6:55 AM  

As to length, the 4 gospels are short. As is the Torah. The whole bible isn't that long. It isn't the number of words, but how much wisdom is within.

Anonymous fish February 15, 2013 7:13 AM  

In a similar vein Rothbard overwhelmingly preferred Turgot to Smith and thought that the early French and Italian economists superior in large measure to the English.

(See the Ralph Raico lectures @ Mises)

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 7:38 AM  

OT: rabbits will rabbit

the Daily Mail asserts that political affiliation 'changes' brain function ... and that leftists "showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness. "

Anonymous fish February 15, 2013 7:48 AM  

... and that leftists "showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness. "

Don't they trot this out once or twice a year when they don't think the "message" is getting through?

Blogger Nate February 15, 2013 8:24 AM  

"When such become a majority in a democracy, all is lost - for a while -since it will crash and burn. We, but also China."

This is what I cannot seem to bash through the heads of the majority of the Ilk.

China is in worse shape than the US is.

Imagine a bank bankrolling the billionaire lifestyle of a cocaine addict has-been rockstar than literally hasn't made a dime in 40 years. They have lent billions to him.

When it all goes to crap and the rockstar finally hits bottom... who is worse off? The guy who blew the billions and still owes it someone but can never possibly repay it? or the guy who lent the billions and will never get them back?




Anonymous Toby Temple February 15, 2013 8:38 AM  

Nate. I think they[China] know.

That is why China is trying to OWN a considerable chunk of Southeast Asia.

Anonymous Orville February 15, 2013 8:43 AM  

...and lots of gold. Death to the petro-dollar baby.

Anonymous Hoffman February 15, 2013 8:47 AM  

"That is why China is trying to OWN a considerable chunk of Southeast Asia."

And Australia. Chinese mines in Australia import all their own workers, grow all their own food (on land they own in Australia) and the Aus gov gets fuck all out of it. They also own Aus farms and do the same shit. Straight out Imperialism.

Blogger Nate February 15, 2013 8:48 AM  

China knows exactly where they stand. That's the only advantage China has over the US. China knows its screwed... and is at least trying to something about it. Though... in reality they are not going to be able to stop it.

Its the Bear people.

China is the former superpower that never really was.

Russia is the Superpower of today and tomorrow.

Blogger Nate February 15, 2013 8:51 AM  

"And Australia. Chinese mines in Australia import all their own workers, grow all their own food (on land they own in Australia) and the Aus gov gets fuck all out of it. They also own Aus farms and do the same shit. Straight out Imperialism."

Ask Beretta how that works out.

They built this factory in Brazil to make the 92fs for our military. Had their engineers... their workers... everything. And just when it is about to come online and start producing...

Brazil kicks them out, and takes the factory.

You now know that factory as Taurus.

This notion that you can buy another country and take it over is just silly.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis February 15, 2013 9:13 AM  

Russia, like China, will not be a super power, their demographics among other things, cannot support global force projection. By the end of the next century they will be lucky to maintain their current borders if their fertility rate doesn't see a major up.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 9:16 AM  

"This notion that you can buy another country and take it over is just silly."

China doesn't have to buy Australia first and then take it over, it could flat-out just take it over. 20 million Aussies can't stand up to 1.3 billion Chinese; the Chinese could field an army larger than the total Aus population. In another generation the Chi-coms will be able to make the US stand down, and then the US-NZ-A alliance is worthless to Australia.

In the eyes of the Chinese, the "buying it" part is just being polite.

Besides, the Australians are busy importing a new alien elite through Chinese immigration; Asians, as entirely predictable, once they set foot on Aus soil immediately form a human battering ram and take over elite universities and other institutions for shaping future generations of power.

The Australians, like Americans, seem to have been snookered into thinking that they don't actually exist as a people, that anyone at all who disembarks in Sydney Airport is an Australian, that there is no historical Australian people. Just like here.

Gee I wonder who it could have been who sold them on that insanely destructive auto-genocidal idea. HINT: It wasn't the Chinese. They're just exploiting an obvious weakness, and getting half a whole country for free.

Anonymous hardscrabble farmer February 15, 2013 9:24 AM  

An intelligent man that spends his lifetime educating himself in a wide array of disciplines often makes the crucial error of assuming (ala Turgot) that there is an 'inevitable advancement of the human mind'.

Just as there are innate racial, maturation and sexual differences within the species, there is something else- often hinted at when we speak of intelligence and IQ, but more than that and it is level of curiosity coupled with drive. These things are not distributed equally throughout the species and they, as much as any other defining factor, separate us as human beings into categories that are forever intractable.

As far as I know there seems to be no discipline to study this difference in its totality, in fact the official position of the orthodoxy is that it doesn't exist, that we are all tabula rosa waiting for "opportunity" or "resources" that will allow any featherless biped the same outcome should he or she desire to be another Vivaldi or Pynchon.

The reason I come back to this blog as often as I do when it has so little to do with my life's work is that it appears to be populated with folks who have a similar level of that unquantifiable curiosity and drive. I want answers, not to win arguments, but for my own knowledge, so that I can either add to or cross off my list those sets of data that make my daily life and that of my family, simpler and less complex. These data sets have accreted into folkways that improve our chances for success- and in sustenance farming your chances for success run in annual cycles; tap your maples at the wrong time and you lose your primary cash crop, calve or lamb too late and you retard the growth cycle of your livestock, etc.

When human beings divorced themselves from the natural cycle we lost our contact with the importance of curiosity (which leads to observation and in turn to sacred practice) and drive (which gives us the ability to project far enough into the future to provide for the unforseen).

Anonymous Godfrey February 15, 2013 9:41 AM  

"Turgot believed in progress and in the perfectibility of man."

What I’ve observed has been for the most part regress and the imperfectability of man.

Blogger A February 15, 2013 10:01 AM  

Yeah, but you have to admit that after Turgot was the end of slavery, a barbaric human institution that I doubt few could foresee an end to. We also have the capability of killing everyone on earth today and it hasn't happened yet. Also, human developmental science has made a lot of progress in demonstrating the effects of actions on ages 0-4 brains and how far that goes toward raising a criminal or not.

I'm not saying that I believe in progress and in the perfectibility of man, but theoretically, man should be capable of perfectibility, even from a Christian perspective because that is how we were meant to be, if we can agree that perfectibility is whatever pre-fallen man was. I can't see how Protestants who pay homage to God on Sunday and then sin wholesale Mon-Sat will magically be perfect once in heaven.

Anonymous ZhukovG February 15, 2013 10:02 AM  

"Russia, like China, will not be a super power, their demographics among other things, cannot support global force projection. By the end of the next century they will be lucky to maintain their current borders if their fertility rate doesn't see a major up."

Russia has steadily increased their native Russian birthrate in the last few years and this year should see an increase in native Russian population from increased birthrate alone. Additionally Russia's low unemployment is attracting ethnic Russians and other European descended immigrants. Outside of Russians and other Europeans, the Russian Fed. is highly restrictive about who gets to live in Russia.

While conventional force projection remains a challenge for Russia, her nuclear forces currently are at parity with the USA and conventional force projection is being upgraded.

I also suspect that the days of the superpowers is coming to a close and we may return to a world similar to pre WW 1 where a number of 'Great Powers' balanced each other.

Anonymous tungsten February 15, 2013 10:05 AM  

Nate - "...who is worse off? The guy who blew the billions and still owes it someone but can never possibly repay it? or the guy who lent the billions and will never get them back?"

Exactly. This reminds me of Donald Trump's famous quote from the 1980's about if you borrow a million dollars from the bank and can't repay it then you have a problem; but, if you borrow a billion dollars from the bank and can't repay it then the bank has a problem.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 10:09 AM  

Not that I'm trying to dis a man who I'm sure was a fine thinker, but I can't help thinking that Turgot's formal expression of the law of diminishing returns in the language of economic theory is something akin to an academic restatement of a species of practical folk wisdom, one that has been understood in various branches of the human race since at least the beginnings of agriculure, long-distance trading and organized militaries. I should think it would be something readily understood (if unstated) by any good Roman or Persian military commander in a certain type of situation.

I mean, think for instance about Ricardo and "comparative advantage". Hasn't this been implicitly understood in many ages without a treatise? "We fishermen will trade our fish to you farmers for grain, and then you will trade some of the fish to the ranchers for meat, and then we will trade you our ropes and other nautical crafts for some of the meat you got from the ranchers. It is good trading. I have spoken. Ugh."

Can I get a Nobel prize or something for mathematically restating "No sense beating a dead horse"?

Blogger hadley February 15, 2013 10:13 AM  

The Law of Diminishing Returns: spending $29,000 per year for each and every student in the DC public school system, the biggest per-student expenditure in the entire country (perhaps the entire world!) with a 42% dropout rate. The answer is not "more money".

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis February 15, 2013 10:17 AM  

It would be hard for China to take over Australia considering that China doesn't have a fleet capable of getting their soldiers there, much less oppose the United States in blue water combat. China only just now got a career capable of blue water activities, and it still has to assemble all the logistical requirements needed to create a functional career group. china is decades behind developing a naval system like the United States, and before those decades pass I fully expect to see China crash economically and perhaps socially.

And even if this does not happen you cannot compare China, Australia and the US in a vaccum. There are dozens of other nations that China would have to bypass to get to Australia. And none of those nations are very keen on a rising China. For all of Japans 'pacifity' they have one of those most well developed navies in the world. You also have Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Many of those nations, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia have disputes in the south China sea and those nations have been increasing military logistical contact between themselves and the United States.

In the end the United States, and Australia, would be able to leverage the militaries of other nations to assist in any military conflict with China. We were able to put togeher a coalition for an admittedly ill-advised conflict in Iraq, so it would be incredibly easy to put together a military coalition when many of those nations would have a vested interest in keeping China contained.

China is trying to do in the south pacific what the US did in the Gulf of Mexico a century ago, but the US was an already established economic power with the worlds super power, Britain, increasingly being forced to focus on Europe as their coalition strategy failed to contain Germany which allowed the US to do what it did. China has the US eyeing it right now.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 10:18 AM  

I would have failed to say it better than OP, so I'm going to try: hear, hear!

See? The sweet, sweet smell of failure.

Scoobius, you are correct in that folk wisdom is bound by these laws, just as most men, except one of your fishermen and one carpenter, would sink should they step outside the boat, due to gravity.

This does not mean that regular folk ever "discovered" the law of universal gravitation by drowning.

There's a difference.

Anonymous Anonymous February 15, 2013 10:21 AM  

English speakers, Brits and Americans are somewhat notorious for a certain parochiality towards other languages.

For example, how many references do you see in the typical endnotes to most books, scientific papers and such to non-english languages sources...

Some of that has been the dominance of the anglo-american publishing /Science industry in the last century, but it's going to change as the US seems to lose it's dominance.

(For example in some current fields if you aren't keeping up with the Chinese literature you are probably going to lose out.)

Blogger Tracy Coyle February 15, 2013 10:24 AM  

A 100m semi-final race in the Olympics had 8 men. The time between 1st and last was 29 hundreds of a second. In last place was a man that was faster than 6 billion other people. Do you know his name? Neither do I.

I am not undervaluing Turgot, but to echo Scoobius, Nobels in economics seem to be given to those that write down what everyone seems to know.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 10:33 AM  

Do you know his name? Neither do I.

Did he have legs and not murder people? Then no, probably not.

This is not Turgot, however.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 10:38 AM  

In fact, Turgot takes the "folk" theory of Scoobius and Tracy Coyle, and turns it up to eleven in his "Fundamental Difference Between Fairs and Markets."

He not only anticipates your examples, but he presents a far more illustrative one.

Anonymous Krul February 15, 2013 10:39 AM  

Yeah, but you have to admit that after Turgot was the end of slavery, a barbaric human institution that I doubt few could foresee an end to.

Slavery has not ended, FYI.

Anonymous Apeman February 15, 2013 10:39 AM  


"Russia has steadily increased their native Russian birthrate in the last few years and this year should see an increase in native Russian population from increased birthrate alone." Source?

Unless you have a good one, I am going to have to call bs. According to what I read, Russian birth rates soared in 2012 up to 1.6 per woman. Demographics 101, that is not enough to lead to a natural increase in population. If you look at live births per thousand instead of TFR, you will see that the number of births in 2012 actually dropped slightly compared to 2011. That is because there are fewer woman of childbearing age to have kids so that even though the TFR was higher in 2012, the number of births was lower. I am afraid Nate is right, Russia is doomed.

MY source:

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 10:41 AM  

"This does not mean that regular folk ever "discovered" the law of universal gravitation by drowning.

There's a difference."

You're quite right, there's a very big difference. We use the formalized math of the laws of motion to do things like build airplanes and rocket ships.

We use the formalized laws of economic theory to wreck economies and make everybody miserable.


@Cogitans -- all good points re China and Australia. But they only matter for now. ftr, I don't really think China is going to actually invade Australia -- why should they bother? They'll own it outright soon enough without firing a shot-- but I believe the practical points you make are mostly temporary. I don't believe in some utterly invincible super-China of the future, but neither do I see it spiraling in some horrible downward trajectory, neither demographically nor economically.

For instance in another 30 years the US won't be able to afford to sail even a third of the current strength of USN, and what's left of our fleet will be turned into floating favelas and maternity wards for the vibrant greasy diversity that is going to engulf, I mean enrich, us all. That is if we don't have a racial civil war first. (Well we're already having one now, it's just that whites don't realize they're under attack, so haven't been fighting back.) Who will operate our super high-tech military of the future -- Jorge and Yolanda and Mgungo and Mohammed? Meanwhile I'm sure that on the other side of the Pacific, Wong Shi and Chen Mai will do just fine piloting their naval aircraft.

As for the problems that China has with SE Asian countries now, well just wait til the Koreans and the Vietnamese get a good happy look at their fellow Asians pushing the whites around. I think racial solidarity will trump local interest. Especially if it was to stomp on the last ostensibly white interest in the region. Of course by then Australia will be anything but white, so that complicates the calculus.

Maybe they'll oppose the Chinese because they think they can grab it for themselves. It's not like the Australians have the slightest interest in defending the place or the people, after all.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 10:43 AM  

"He not only anticipates your examples"

Well I should certainly hope he anticipated my examples, given he's been dead for centuries.

Anonymous Apeman February 15, 2013 11:02 AM  

As one who had read more of Jacques Turgot then the average man, I would just like to point out that Turgot is the standard gift God gives to those he is about to dam.

Turgot could have saved France from the horrors that were to come. But he was done in by the French Nobility who latter wind up the chopping block.

Peter Stolypin could have saved Russia from the horrors that were to come, but he was done in by Russian Nobility who would wind up in front of the firing squads.

And the same case could be made for Heinrich Bruning and his efforts to save Germany. The right wing nobility preferred to trust in the Nazis to protect them from the Communists and we all know how that turned out.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 11:03 AM  

Given he's been dead for centuries, your examples should have been an improvement on his.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 11:05 AM  

Given he's been dead for centuries, your examples should have been an improvement on his.

Sorry, that was a response to Scoobius. Additionally, I never knew that the laws of physics were somehow immune to destructive impulses!

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 11:10 AM  

"your examples should have been an improvement on his."

He thought about his life's work for his, um, lifetime. I've thought about it for six or seven minutes.

"I never knew that the laws of physics were somehow immune to destructive impulses!"

The point rather is, physics, like superpowers, can be used for both good and/or evil. Economics only does evil well.

Anonymous zen0 February 15, 2013 11:40 AM  

Apeman said:

Turgot could have saved France from the horrors that were to come. But he was done in by the French Nobility who latter wind up the chopping block.

We know that democracy doesn't work well, and now your examples call into question the efficiency of societies run by Aristocracy.

Alas, is Man not qualified to govern himself?

Anonymous Krul February 15, 2013 12:16 PM  

Scoob, you've got a point WRT economics, but I think you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater You're like the medieval observer who rejects medical science because, for all he's seen, it only brings misery and death while trying to bring health and life. He doesn't see brain surgery and MRI's down the road. The difference between these innovations and the barbarisms of his own time is the difference between the consistent application of good theory and bad.

Trying to promote abundance in a country with a mercantilist, socialist or Keynesian policy is like trying to promote health by applying leeches. It must fail because it's based on a faulty understanding of the principals at work, and when it does fail it does not disprove all theories or render them useless. Nor does it render the drive to achieve abundance and good health pointless.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 15, 2013 12:44 PM  

Oh I hear ya, Krul, but you're missing the boat on two things...

1) I'm simply exagerrating to make a point. I don't really think ALL economics should go in the dumpster (although a lot of it should.) But since so many economists regard themselves as a priesthood instead of a bunch of humble lab technicians, well... Houston, we have a problem.

2) Science is descriptive and predictive; engineering is prescriptive. Economics tries to have it both ways. As Samuel Beckett put it, The danger is in the neatness of identifications. Prescriptive social "science" very quickly descends into ideology, and ideology, as Lou Reed said, "is gonna be the death of us all."

Think of the famous anecdote of Milton Friedman touring China, which is quoted with chin-rubbing approval by so many economists, but which is in fact the most block-headed thing I've ever heard in my life. Do you know the story? A Chinese official is giving Friedman a tour of a building site, where the men are digging the foundations for a building, but they're digging with shovels.

OFFICIAL: And here we have the foundation for our new office building.
FRIEDMAN: Why are they digging with shovels instead of using a diesel backhoe?
OFFICIAL: Because the truth is, we don't really need this office building. This is really just a jobs program.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, see, I thought you were trying to build a building. Well in that case, why don't they just dig with spoons instead?

Wow, zing!

Of course, the proper riposte should have been...

OFFICIAL: Because a jobs program is designed to preserve human dignity through the dignity of labor. These are human beings, not units of production. For thousands of years, men have dug with shovels, and it is understood by all as a normal human activity. To make the men dig with spoons would have been ridiculous, and would have violated the very dignity we are trying to preserve. You'd know that, you pompous dickhead, if you'd ever held a fucking shovel once in your puffy-headed life.

You see where Friedman goes off the rails, jumping straight to the reductio in the service of his pre-determined brief, and ignoring that the social sciences are, um, _human_ sciences? THAT'S the sort of beef I have with economics, just as I do with sociology, or "urban planning," or whatever.

Anonymous Godfrey February 15, 2013 1:03 PM  


"Alas, is Man not qualified to govern himself?"

Man is only qualified to governm himself. And he is eminently unqualified to govern another.

Anonymous Apeman February 15, 2013 1:25 PM  

To say that man is competent to govern himself is to deny that he needs a savior. I agree that Man should be limited to governing himself as he can do the least damage that way. But if he was truly competent to govern himself, he would be fit to govern others.

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 2:15 PM  

Economics only does evil well.

Ah, then, yes, let's stop thinking about economics. That will stop the evil.

I think Kro-Bar would agree with you: "My wife does not like to talk about a store."

Blogger tz February 15, 2013 6:13 PM  

The more complex the tax code, the fewer 1040s are turned in. The number of returns are diminishing.

Since others already went OT ... (you need a daily McRapey thread)

For a foil to the McRapey mascot:

Look at it and see if you snicker, guffaw, or fall on the floor and pass out from hyperventilation.

I hope Uncle Remus would enjoy the stew made from Gamma...

Gamma Rabbit needs to be impaled on a plant with very long spike thorns, perhaps there is a sigma shrike available.

If you really don't mind nightmares, consider if the mascot just lost a "t". Gamma Rabbi... Torah! Torah! Torah!, a day that will live in infamy.

Turn off Brer Fox and think.

Anonymous Anon123 February 15, 2013 6:21 PM  

Actually, China is in great position going forward. As the dollar continues to weaken, the remninbi strengthens, increasing the purchasing power of the Chinese people. Not only that, but the Chinese government has been buying up tonnes of gold, and encouraging the Chinese people to do the same. Western governments are doing the opposite, berating their citizens for increasing their gold positions. And countries like Germany and the Netherlands who want their gold back from the NY Fed are mocked and ridiculed. Whether the global economy goes down from devastating deflation or soul-crushing hyperinflation, the Chinese will be protected by holding commodity money. The only other country that has been actively trying to protect their citizens from the coming financial disaster by telling them to buy gold is Turkey, which goes to show you that Islam and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Or maybe the Turks are the exception that proves the rule.

In any case, the future will be controlled by the new wealthy. As the saying goes, "he who owns the gold, makes the rules." And that appears to exclude all the Western nations who are too civilized to own the barbarous relic, not including the survivalists.

Anonymous JT February 15, 2013 7:22 PM  

Two Frenchies of unsurpassed brilliance in Economics...Turgot, and Leon Walras. Adam Smith was "unoriginal", respectable, yes. Schumpeter was a good analyst.

Yes VD, you are on the right track.

Anonymous Anonymous February 15, 2013 7:43 PM  

Turogot did not fail us; we failed him.

For economics to receive proper recognition as a science, men will have to surrender their false belief in the state's power to control the economy. The contest between voluntary exchange and state-sponsored coercion seems to favor the state but they cannot maintain their hold forever. Truth will out and the regime will fail.

Gentleman, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.--Bob Dylan, Changing of the Guards


Anonymous Anonymous February 16, 2013 8:23 AM  

Greencarman here...

Turgot favored distributive taxes, meaning that those individuals with more money paid more in taxes, and those with less money paid fewer in taxes. And, during the famine of 1770-1771, he enforced on landowners the obligation of assisting the poor by providing work for the able-bodied and by providing direct assistance (e.g. food, clothes).

Anonymous JT February 16, 2013 12:50 PM  


He favored some things considered leftist by us, but in practicality, not "fairness"

The husbandman land owner was the only one in agrarian France, he conceptualizer, that could produce more than his subsistence level, and thus he was the source of everyone's wealth in society. The wage earner could never, at his time, fetch more income than his lowest needs. If their economy was to grow and create more goods for all, he would have to create a middle class in some way out of labor, which is what most people had to be because only a few could be land owners, limited resources had to be managed in such a way as to elevate wage earners in order to provide more work and wealth overall.

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