The American dream is dead.
Not for everyone. If you’re reading this now, not for you. For some of us, it’s still possible to get ahead, have the perfect family and the house with the white picket fence — the whole shebang.
But for more and more people, the American dream is a pipe dream. Read on...
Did the Beverly Hillbillies predict the monetary crisis? What does Ireland's potato famine have to do with the collapse of the dollar? How did Joseph really save the Egyptians before the "Seven Lean Years"? Read on...
Yes, we have a lot of fun in our episodes of LFT. But sometimes we have to get back to our basics. And embrace a little… let’s call it ‘wariness’… in order to protect what’s ours. And, of course, help you do the same. Read on…
Are you a deflationist? Or an inflationist? No matter which way you believe the wind will blow, the truth is this: it’s up in the air. But, as Jim Rickards explains, there are things you can do to cover your assets, no matter which one wins the tug-of-war. Read on…
There are two things you shouldn’t do this Election Day: one, vote; two, buy gold. Why? Chris Campbell explores this and more in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
Although the mainstream media have turned its attention away from the wreckage of Obamacare, don’t think for a second that all is well.As the politicos in D.C. focus their attention on the midterm elections in November, now is a great time to study, prepare, and seek out the most affordable, accessible, and highest quality options […]
Turn on the tube and economic ignorance seems to be everywhere. There is constant shilling for more government. Business is demonized. Man is said to be trashing the environment. “Workers and women are oppressed” is the constant mantra.And members of the clueless media nod their heads in unison.Only John Stossel has provided the fresh air […]
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
For many people around the world, the first they had ever heard of the great economist Friedrich A. Hayek came from a rap video. That’s right. Some 3.4 million people have watched “Fear the Boom and Bust” since its release two years ago. It has been shown in classrooms and been featured in countless stories on economics.
This video did more than just educate people on the alternative to Keynesian-style macroeconomic policy of which only a small number had been previously aware. It shocked free-market advocates out of their stupor and made them realize they had to do more than write thick treatises that sit on library shelves to get their message out.
This video made economics interesting and dramatic. It took an intellectual battle that had being going on behind the scenes for nearly 100 years and put it into contemporary imagery. The lyrics were not only clever and intelligent; they were accurate as regards the theories of Hayek and Keynes.
Then there was a follow-up last year: “Fight of the Century.” It already has 1.7 million views, and many people think it is even better than the first one (both videos have their strengths, in my view). Then there have been hundreds of media appearances, thousands of stories and blogs, spinoffs and public debates. Several books have come out on the topic.
You can see here the way ideas work to change the ideological landscape. It is now widely understood that there is another side to the issue — a point few understood in the days of FDR’s “fireside chats” or Walter Cronkite’s nightly instructions on what Washington wanted us to think.
Today, not even mainstream journalists can write about the topic of countercyclical policy and economic stabilization without acknowledging another side to the debate. And this new awareness is leading people to truth that has otherwise been suppressed.
Hayek himself would have been overjoyed. He wrote that liberty is doomed unless we “can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task that challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds.” (Emphasis mine.)
The minds behind the videos: economics professor Russell Roberts (who has specialized in finding new ways, such as novels and podcasts, to get the word out) and media genius John Papola. I’m focusing on Papola here because he gets the least attention of this duo, and it has been my pleasure to get to know him personally and interview him on several occasions.
Of course, I’m pleased as can be than John wrote the long and thoughtful introduction to Laissez Faire Books’ new edition of Hayek’s outstanding compilation, A Tiger By the Tail. It is available in a fabulous softcover edition or e-book. Or you can get both for free by joining the Laissez Faire Club, which provides an unrelenting stream of digital bling.
John’s background is in media, having done outstanding work for Spike TV, Nickelodeon and MTV. Then in 2006, he watched the PBS documentary Commanding Heights. He caught the economics bug. He realized that the science of economics holds the secret to the rise and decline of societies, the answer to so many of our cultural problems, the crucible that determines whether we thrive or die as a people.
He could have stopped there, but — as he explains in this introduction — he continued his studies and found his way toward a truth that goes beyond the choices we are presented in current political debates. He realized that contrary to conventional wisdom, neither Reagan nor Thatcher represented some kind of free-market ideal. There are more foundational issues in play than any political party represents.
He set out on a gigantic, and even obsessive, reading plan that took him through the works of the Austrian School economists from a century ago to the present. It was a heady intellectual journey that ended up causing a dramatic vocational change in his life. He decided to use his skills and talents to advancing the cause. He would do it not by merely propounding doctrine, but through civil, creative and imaginative means, just as Hayek has suggested. He was pushing ideas that were otherwise ignored.
The most-conspicuous results of his intellectual journey are the two rap videos. He worked with Roberts to create fabulous rhyming couplets and memorable phrases that have changed the way free-market advocates talk about the issues. If you spend some time with him, you can observe his talent for this at work. I swear that he can make a great rhyme out of anything. It is dazzling just to hear him think out loud.
Here are two of the most-famous passages from the second video, put into the mouth of Hayek:
The economy’s not a car, there’s no engine to stall,
No expert can fix it, there’s no “it” at all.
The economy’s us, we don’t need a mechanic,
Put away the wrenches, the economy’s organic.
We need stable rules and real market prices
So prosperity emerges and cuts short the crisis.
Give us a chance so we can discover
The most valuable ways to serve one another.
Just reading those last two lines absolutely warms my heart. This is the language of genuine liberalism. This is the great truth of the market that has been so long suppressed. The second video in particular makes heavy use of the notion that we face a choice between a society organized top down or bottom up. That’s it exactly, a fantastic summary of what liberal minds have been saying for centuries, finally given to us in an easy-to-understand image.
What his introduction to A Tiger by the Tail reveals is that John Papola is not just a media genius. He is also a first-class intellectual. He discusses the history of thought here, along with the misuse of economic metaphors, capital theory, banking institutions, the role of prices and entrepreneurship, interest rates and the role of money. He places special emphasis on the issue of “Say’s law,” which Keynes claimed to have refuted, but which still stands as the theoretical bulwark of the market’s capacity for self-management.
His essay, which stretches to 5,000 words, is a veritable primer on Hayek and the Austrian School. Of course, he ends with a few rhyming couplets. What a performance! As Hayek would observe, this is the way to use ingenuity and imagination to make economics and liberty living intellectual issues.