Travel Diary: Prices, Unions and Freedom in one of the richest countries of the World

Prices in a capitalist economy reflect the relative scarcity of a good or service as well as the amount and intensity of consumer demand. Free-market prices are the only viable means of rational economic calculation. If a good or service becomes in shorter supply, for whatever reason, its price will rise, all other things being equal. The higher price will give consumers the proper incentive to do what is needed whenever anything becomes scarcer: conserve, or cut back on consumption. DiLorenzo in “How Capitalism Saved America

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Oslo Objectivist Conference 2012 in Oslo, Norway in which I enjoyed a weekend of Philosophy, Objectivity and a celebration of Individual Rights.  On Monday before returning to my base in Leipzig, I decided to spend the day enjoying the parks and streets of the city (one of my favorites) and during lunch I went to eat buffalo wings in front of the City Hall Park.

That noon I was reading the last pages of the book “How Capitalism Saved America” by Thomas DiLorenzo and was writing extensive notes in my notebook criticizing many of his arguments in favor of capitalism due to lack of consistency and integration.  Leaving those morality issues aside, I was very interested in his historical explanation on the role that Unions (and privileged groups of interest) have had in destroying the foundations (principles) of capitalism in the United States since the foundation of the country.  Curiously, that same day the Farmers Union of Norway gathered in front of the park to do a countrywide protest (news).

As DiLorenzo writes, Unions have claimed for decades to be representatives of the “interests” of society, workers, middle class, proletarians and et. al. However, it has been actually only in the interests of the Union’s leadership and their pursuit of cronyism that they have actually worked by being concerned only in “their own membership rolls and dues revenues”. Examples from the Unions intervention in the destruction of the most successful industries of the  United States are explained by DiLorenzo’s book.

On Monday, the disgruntled Norwegian farmers decided to take the streets against the recent decisions of the government in April, 2012 to subsidy of Agriculture by granting only 625 million Norwegian Kroner instead of the 2.2 billion they asked.  The Norwegian Farmers’ Union (NFU) decided to take their trucks and cows and occupy the doors of the City Hall in Oslo; in other cities and towns the mayors were even kidnapped by the unionists.

This protest arise after the Parliament decided that that food prices should rise 20 percent in the next 20 years in line with expected population growth, providing sufficient income to both achieve this and ensure continued recruitment to farming (this reminds me of Hayek’s ideas on the Fatal Conceit). The NFU doesn’t agree.  They consider that the average annual incomes are under 300,000 kroner per man-labour year, whilst it is 469,000 on average in other sectors.  They also claim to represent the “interests” of 100,000 jobs in agriculture and food industry and not only to be seeking for more money for farmers (yeah, right).

Norway is one of the richest countries in the world and its society lives in very comfortable conditions.  The Leviathan in government charges immense amounts of taxes and inflation is incredible.  Just to illustrate the size of Leviathan: The buffalo wings and a beer cost me the high price of 250 krone (aprox. 33 euro or US$41.00 in T.G.I. Friday’s) That same meal would have cost me much less if bought in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world .

How can they afford it? The population earns artificial higher incomes due to the government interventions in the economy and disrupts the economy of the country.  How did the country reached such a condition can only be understood by taking a close and detailed attention to the role interventionism has in a country’s economy.  The effect: high prices, unstoppable high taxes and widespread limitation of liberties behind the power that Unions, groups of interests, politicians and bureacrats have had in the economy for decades.

Slowly but consistently, the Unions and crony capitalists in the bureaucracy of the Norwegian country have made it impossible to be free to exchange products in the country without any type of government intervention.  While Norwegians seem to be free, their daily lives are unconsciously been managed and controlled by a gigantic government that regulated every instant of their lives.

As DiLorenzo described, “Ludwig von Mises initially explained back in the 50s in this theory of government interventionism: one intervention (such as subsidies for railroads) leads to market distortions, which create problems for which the public “demands” solutions. Government responds with even more interventions, usually in the form of more regulation of business activities, which cause even more problems, which lead to more intervention, and on and on. The end result is that free-market capitalism is more and more heavily stifled by regulation. And on top of that, usually the free market, not government intervention, gets the blame.”

I would love to go back to Oslo and if possibilities arise to settle and live there for a couple years. I wish that my passion for buffalo wings will bring me to experience a story to write about and meditate again.  As for now, I return to write about Capitalism while sitting in a desk in Leipzig, Germany.

Minorities are for the 1st time in History a Majority in the United States

“So long as racial discrimination remains a fact of life and statistics can be arranged to support racial difference, the American belief in races will endure.” Painter, Nell. The History of White People.

Though race holds no scientific validity it has been use as a political weapon to conceal power into the hands of small elitist groups.  Among the most elitist groups that have existed in the last thousand years lays the story of White Anglo Saxon Protestant control of the United States of America.  Their history can be easily studied since they dominated the political and economic arenas of the United States since before its birth.  As well, their social relations with other groups whom they deemed to be different racially  and  culturally is also easily accesible to any well educated reader.  To read that for the first time in more than 200 years a well established (nativist) minority is for the first time becoming a majority is a great news for the elimination of racial paradigmas that have long survived in which is still the most powerful country on Earth.

As confirmed by the Census bureau of the United States it is now official that minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4% of of all births in the 12-month period that ended last July, according to Census Bureau data made public on Thursday.  And for the first time in history, White births are no longer a majority in the United States.

What is the significance of this information for Americans and for the rest of the World?

From a political, economical and sociological standpoint the significance of this change in birth rates will be evidently reflected in the way marketing of products, political goals and social discourses will be elaborated by the elites in the next 15 or 20 years.  But more immediately, this change in births will bring the White elite for the first time in the United States history to understand their positions and will invite them to eliminate their 250 years discourse of imperialist segregation and racism in the organization of society.

Racial discrimination has been a constant of the history of the United States.  While discrimination against minorities of Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other mixed races is a recently new event; the history of the U.S. was made upon the discrimination by whites among other white migrant groups: Irish, Polish, German and many other northern Europeans.  Indeed, still by the 1840s, White Anglo Americans identified themselves as “belong(ing) to a hereditary aristocracy by dint of a mythology driven by the notion of tainted blood and a belief in invisible ancestry.” (Painter, Nell. The History of White People)

The fact that starting in 2012 the United States will become a more multiethnic and culturally diverse country is a positive signal to open the doors for a society in which the rights of all individuals could be effectively protected and defended.  A society in which minorities are no longer outnumbered by the long standing elite will be more tolerant to opening and maturity of its members.  Of course, the elites will always try to keep the control on their hands and the potential for more open fights between racial and socioeconomic groups is always latent.

While political positions could slowly be more racially diverse in the future years, the chances for cronyism to expand into the new elites of the minority groups is a fact.  Cronyism has been part of the United States political and economical history for too many years already.  It is now the chance for the minority leaders to follow rational and objective principles and start a moral revolution in their country. By doing this they have the power in their hands to make the American Dream come truth, and to show the rest of the world that morality and justice is not necessarily the subject of the White men and its Eurocentric narrative.