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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snowstorms or Snowflakes?

FEBRUARY 25, 2013
by LAWRENCE W. REED
There are two basic prisms through which we can see, study, and prescribe for human society: individualism and collectivism. These worldviews are as different as night and day, and they create a great divide in the social sciences. That’s because the perspective from which you see the world will set your thinking down one intellectual path or another.

No Two Alike

I think of it as the difference between snowstorms and snowflakes. A collectivist sees humanity as a snowstorm, and that’s as up-close as he gets if he’s consistent. An individualist sees the storm, too, but is immediately drawn to the uniqueness of each snowflake that composes it. The distinction is fraught with profound implications.
No two snowstorms are alike, but a far more amazing fact is that no two snowflakes are identical either—at least so far as painstaking research has indicated. Wilson Alwyn Bentley of Jericho, Vermont, one of the first known snowflake photographers, developed a process in 1885 for capturing them on black velvet before they melted. He snapped pictures of about 5,000 of them and never found two that were the same—nor has anyone else ever since. Scientists believe that changes in humidity, temperature, and other conditions extant as flakes form and fall make it highly unlikely that any one flake has ever been precisely duplicated. (Ironically, Bentley died of pneumonia in 1931 after walking six miles in a blizzard. Lesson: One flake may be harmless, but a lot of them can be deadly).
Contemplate this long enough and you may never see a snowstorm (or humanity) the same way again.
Dr. Anne Bradley is vice president of economic initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics. At a recent FEE seminar in Naples, Florida, she explained matters this way:
When we look at a snowstorm from a distance, it looks like indistinguishable white dots peppering the sky, one blending into the next. When we get an up-close glimpse, we see how intricate, beautiful, and dissimilar each and every snowflake is. This is helpful when thinking about humans. From a distance, a large crowd of people might look the same, and it’s true that we possess many similar characteristics. But we know that a more focused inspection brings us nearer to the true nature of what we’re looking at. It reveals that each of us bears a unique set of skills, talents, ambitions, traits, and propensities unmatched anywhere on the planet.
This uniqueness is critical when we make policy decisions and offer prescriptions for society as a whole; for even though we each look the same in certain respects, we are actually so different, one to the next, that our sameness can only be a secondary consideration.

Primary Uniqueness

The late Roger J. Williams, author of You Are Extra-Ordinary and Free and Unequal: The Biological Basis of Individual Liberty (as well as several articles in The Freeman), was a noted biochemistry professor at the University of Texas in Austin. He argued that fingerprints are but one of endless biological characteristics unique to each of us, including the contours and operation of our brains, nerve receptors, and circulatory systems.
These facts offer biological bases for the many other differences between one person and the next. Einstein, he noted, was an extremely precocious student of mathematics, but he learned language so slowly that his parents were concerned about his learning to talk. Williams summed it well more than 40 years ago when he observed, “Our individuality is as inescapable as our humanity. If we are to plan for people, we must plan for individuals, because that’s the only kind of people there are.”
Proceeding one step further, we must recognize that only individuals plan. When collectives are said to “plan” (e.g., “The nation plans to go to war”), it always reduces to certain, specific, identifiable individuals making plans for other individuals. The only good answer to the collectivist question, “What does America eat for breakfast?” is this: “Nothing. However, about 315 million individual Americans often eat breakfast. Many of them sometimes skip it, and on any given day, there are 315 million distinct answers to this question.”
Collectivist thinking is simply not very deep or thorough. Collectivists see the world the way Mr. Magoo did—as one big blur. But unlike Mr. Magoo, they’re not funny. They homogenize people in a communal blender, sacrificing the discrete features that make us who we are. The collectivist “it takes a village” mentality assigns thoughts and opinions to amorphous groups, when, in fact, only particular people hold thoughts and opinions.
Collectivists devise one-size-fits-all schemes and care little for how those schemes may affect the varied plans of real people. Any one flake means little or nothing to the collectivist because he rarely looks at them; and in any event, he implicitly dismisses the flakes because there are so many to play with. Collectivists are usually reluctant to celebrate the achievements of individuals per se because they really believe that, to quote President Obama, “you didn’t build that.”
Take individuals out of the equation and you take the humanity out of whatever you’re promoting. What you’d never personally inflict on your neighbor, one on one, you might happily sanction if you think it’ll be carried out by some faceless, collective entity to some amorphous blob on behalf of some nebulous “common good.” The inescapable fact is that we are not interchangeable. Cogs in a machine are, but people most emphatically are not.
If this point is lost on you, then watch the 1998 DreamWorks animated film “Antz.” The setting is an ant colony in which all ants are expected to behave as an obedient blob. This is very convenient for the tyrant ants in charge, each of which possesses a very unique personality indeed. The debilitating collectivist mindset is shaken by a single ant who marches to a different drummer—namely, his own self—and ultimately saves the colony through his individual initiative.

Marx, Mother Theresa, and Lessons

Karl Marx was a collectivist. Mother Theresa was an individualist. One dealt with people in lumps. The other one treated them as individuals. The lessons in that clear-cut dichotomy are legion. They are ignored only at great peril.
So what does humanity look like to you—a snowstorm or snowflakes?
If your answer is the latter, then you understand what the philosopher and historian Isaiah Berlin meant when he wrote in 1958, “But to manipulate men, to propel them toward goals which you—the social reformers—see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.”

Addicted to Asset Bubbles

Wilshire 5000 TMI

total net worth

by

Helicopter Ben Runs Out of Ideas for Creating Money

Circle Bastiat, January 15, 2013
Ben Bernanke confided on January 14 that he is unaware of any new method of stimulating economic growth. Bernanke said: “As far as I’m aware, there’s no completely new method that we haven’t [already tapped].” So Helicopter Ben has run out of innovative and unconventional ways to create new money. Lest you be tempted to breathe a bit easier, however, rest assured that the now conventional method of quantitative easing, involving the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion worth of mortgage-backed and U.S. government securities, seems to be working just fine according to Bernanke and he foresees its continuation. Noting the stubbornly high unemployment rate combined with the low inflation rate in the U.S. economy, Bernanke stated, “That is the case for being aggressive, which we are trying to do.” Although he is “cautiously optimistic,” he does promise to closely monitor the risks, efficacy, costs, and benefits of this inflationary policy.
I guess the rapid asset price run-up in stock and commodities markets, which are nearly back to financial bubble levels, and booming farmland prices do not count in Bernanke’s benefit-cost calculus. More likely, Bernanke accounts them as a benefit, which, via the “wealth effect,” will induce another debt-driven consumption spree on the part of the American public that will stimulate economic growth, i.e., create another bubble economy.

Recreating the Asset Bubble: The Fed’s Plan for Economic Recovery

Circle Bastiat, February 11, 2013
While Keynesians continue to sing that lame old song about insufficient aggregate demand stimulus and the horrors of austerity and “market”monetarists prattle on about deficient growth in nominal GDP, the signs of an incipient asset bubble become more evident every day. In fact, it would not be overstating the case to say that the Fed is deliberately aiming at recreating an asset bubble as a means of rekindling the historically unprecedented consumption booms of the latter half of the 1990s and the first part of the last decade. These consumption manias were driven by the “wealth” or “net worth” effect, pithily described in the metaphor “using one’s home as an ATM machine.” As the following graphs show, Fed monetary policy is succeeding in pumping up total net worth, which consists mainly of financial assets plus real estate owned by households (and nonprofit organizations) minus household debt.
What the above graph shows is that total net worth peaked at $67.3 trillion in Q3 2007 and fell precipitously to $51.1 trillion in Q1 2009. This $16.1 trillion decline in U.S. household wealth exceeded the combined annual GDP of Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. The Fed has since succeeded in pumping up net worth, to $64.8 trillion by Q3 2012, which is only $2.5 trillion below its level at the peak of the bubble. Althoughthe value of household real estate remained $5.5 trillion below its bubble peak for Q3 2012and has been slowly increasing, the Fed has been wildly successful in pushing up the value of U.S. financial assets. This is revealed in the the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index. This index tracks the total dollar value of all U.S.-headquartered equity securities with readily available price data and includes more than 6,000 firms.
Note in the graph above that the index reached its peak of 15,244 in December 2007, then went crashing to its trough of 6,800 by March 2009. By January 2013 the Fed’s inflationary policies drove it past its previous peak, reflating the index by 2,000 points in 2012 alone. But perhaps the most telling graph is the ratio of household net worth to GDP.

This graph shows that for over 40 years, from 1952 until the dot-com boom began in the mid-1990s, the household net worth to GDP ratio fluctuated in a band between 300 percent and 350 percent. After falling back toward this range after the recession of 2001, the Fed’s monetary expansion interrupted the correction and sharply drove the ratio up by 100 percentage points in a matter of three years. The financial crisis set another needed asset price readjustment in train, but it was once again reversed by the Fed, which was desperate to re-inflate asset prices in order to first prevent a financial collapse and then to start another consumption boom. The ratio now sits at 400 percent—a level it first reached midway through the dot-com bubble—and is headed inexorably upward. Once housing markets in general begin to follow the lead of New York City’s and Washington, D.C.’s overheated residential real estate markets, we will be well on our way to another unsustainable asset bubble.

The Fed is Blowing More Bubbles

Circle Bastiat, February 15, 2013
As if any more evidence were needed that the Fed has succeeded, either through ignorance or design, in igniting new asset bubbles throughout the economy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City just released a survey of bankers that confirms a continuing rise in U.S. farmland prices. The following chart shows the stratospheric year-over-year rise in non-irrigated cropland prices for 3Q 2012.
U.S. farmland prices
As reported by TheBlaze, one analyst noted, “If this trend continues . . . these agricultural areas may very well become ‘New Manhattans’ (as far as wealth is concerned).” The chart below from the report by the Kansas City Fed puts this stunning trend in temporal perspective and reveals that it extends across all farmland, including irrigated cropland and ranchland.
all farmland prices

Bernanke the Comedian

Circle Bastiat, February 27, 2013
Dr. Brendan Brownis an eminent financial economist in the City of London and the author ofThe Global Curse of the Federal Reserve, initially published in 2011 and just released in its second revised edition. In his book, Brown is critical of Milton Friedman and the monetarists for ignoring the effects of monetary expansion on interest rates and asset prices and for assuming that a stable price level indicates an absence of inflation. Brown adopts Rothbard’s view that the 1920s were an inflationary decade, because, despite the rough price-level stability that obtained, asset and commodities markets were “overheated.” Brown also rejects the monetarist argument that price-level stabilization is the sine qua non of economic stability. He argues that price stabilization policy is one of the “dangerous features of Friedmanite monetarism” which “Austrian critics have long highlighted” and “which in hindsight may have played a role in the growth in Bernanke-ism.” Finally, and most insightfully, Brown also maintains that deflation is effective—and indeed, necessary—to extricate an economy from the depths of a recession or depression.
Needless to say, Dr. Brown is no fan of Chairman Bernanke. In fact, in a memo today, Brown perceptively identifies the comedic aspect ofBernanke’s testimony on the first day of his semiannual monetary policy report to Congress. Writes Brown:
Comedy according to the theorists of drama is based on inflexibility of character. The lead role cannot in any way bend his stereotyped behaviour even when this would avoid an accident or disaster which is looming. And so “Don Juan” of Molière is a comedy. Even when the ghostly statue of his slain victim threatens to take Don Juan on a fiery descent into hell, the lead character cannot show remorse and desist from his life of debauchery. Chekhov listed his “Cherry Orchard” as a comedy because the lead characters could not shake themselves out of their nonchalance and avoid bankruptcy by selling the cherry orchard of their villa to a property developer on which he would build bungalows.
And so we come to the monetary comedy which played out in Washington yesterday. Professor Bernanke, adamant as always that the road to economic prosperity and stability takes the form of a rigorous targeting of inflation and supremely confident in a good outcome to his massive monetary experimentation tells his Congressional questioners that he sees no signs of asset price inflation which would justify changing his present policies. This is the same professor who largely repudiates any concept of asset price inflation and believes totally that any such dangers can be avoided well ahead of time by skilful action on the part of an army of regulators following the recently expanded book of rules. And this is the same professor who denies that monetary disequilibrium played any role in the giant asset and credit market inflations of the last two decades.
There is another element in the monetary comedy under the title of “Fed chair’s semi-annual testimony to Congress.” This is the failure of congressional questioners to hold the professor to account. When he declared that there is no asset price inflation, there was no follow on question such as “but professor you still say there was no asset price inflation in the last great bubble and bust and deny that the Fed of which you were a leading policy maker was in any way responsible: why should we believe you now?” That there should be no such question is part of the comedy, in its literal sense.
Dr. Brown will deliver the Murray N. Rothbard Memorial Lecture at the Austrian Economics Research Conference in March 2013.

The Growing Tyranny of the Political Elite

By Jeffrey Folks


Recently, the White House released a photo of the president shooting skeet. But where's the snap of him fishing for bass? Apparently the White House felt compelled to portray Obama as a marksman in light of the widespread pushback over the administration's gun control agenda but felt no urgency to defend the prospect of the EPA's potential regulation of lead in fishing weights. Yet the agency seriously entertained just such a ban last year. What's next? The lead in barbells?
For hundreds of years, human beings have used lead for many purposes, and life on earth has not exactly come to an end. Now we are told that the lead used in hunting and fishing is harming animals and fish, and it may just have to stop. The scary thing is that one individual, an appointed bureaucrat directing the Environmental Protection Agency, has the power to impose such a ban.
The pattern is familiar with this administration. A small cadre of elite administrators, czars, judges, or politicians -- often just one person -- thinks it (or he or she) has the right to decide what's best for 320 million Americans. Without adequate information, debate, or cost analysis, regulations are written and imposed, and no one, not even the people's representatives in the House of Representatives, has the right to influence them.
Political elites have always existed in America, and during the past 100 years they have gravitated toward the Democratic Party. FDR's "brain trust," which included Guy Tugwell and Hugh Johnson, was just one example. But perhaps no administration in our history has been controlled by elites to the extent that the Obama presidency has. With academics like Cass Sunstein and crony capitalists like those backing green energy projects calling the shots, the elite have stepped in, determined to rule in place of the public will.
What is now happening was predicted -- and celebrated -- over forty years ago by Robert L. Heilbroner, one of the darlings of the New Left. In The Limits of American Capitalism, Heilbroner laid out a plan by which the innately conservative leanings of the American people could be quashed and replaced by the centralized control of a political elite. Heilbroner's book concludes with a chilling vision of the way forward. What he advocates is, in effect, a socialist totalitarian state, where the government controls every aspect of human life. In the name of reform, this statist system would regulate if not nationalize all major industries -- but it would also go farther than that.
What Heilbroner envisaged was the rise of a ruling elite centralized in government, media, and the universities. This group of decision-makers would operate "on behalf of" the public and on the basis of "scientific principles" of social control. As Heilbroner writes, "[n]ot alone economic affairs ... but the numbers and location of the population, its genetic quality, the manner of social domestication of children, the choice of lifework -- even the duration of life itself -- are all apt to become subjects for scientific investigation and control" (The Limits of American Capitalism, New York, 1966, pp. 129-130).
Heilbroner's books were bestsellers in the 1960s, widely read and admired by liberals everywhere. They were, in effect, neo-Keynesian, pro-statist instruction manuals studied by the likes of Bill Ayers and Cass Sunstein, President Obama's tutors in state control and regulation.
Heibroner's books popularized the liberal premise that the political elite has the right and obligation to make fundamental decisions on behalf of the mass of citizens. In doing so, Heilbroner understood, the elite must find ways to subvert the naturally conservative inclinations of the people -- especially those lumpen-headed businessmen whom Heilbroner so despised. Decision-making must be shifted from individuals and elected representatives to bureaucrats and judges appointed by leftist politicians. Public opinion must be shaped and molded by elitist academics and journalists. The will of the state must be imposed, by violence if necessary. This was the future of America, according to Robert L. Heilbroner, and it is the vision of America adopted by those young activists in the 1960s and 1970s who now constitute the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Heilbroner believed that it would take hundreds of years to overturn democracy in America, in part because of the nation's widespread support of capitalism and the country's pesky tradition of individual rights. He noted, however, that the process could be speeded up in the event of a severe economic crisis. Another great national depression or prolonged recession would make it possible for government to enact a series of "reforms" that would shift control from the private sector to government. Government would then control not just major sectors of the economy, but the personal lives of all citizens. Their incomes, their health care, their educations, their home mortgages, their communications and entertainment, their access to news and information would all fall under the control of the political elite. At that point, Heilbroner believed, utopia would be at hand.
Everything that Heilbroner predicted is now coming to pass. Attorney General Holder has waged a virtual war against Arizona's attempt to defend itself against unchecked immigration. Congress has created an office of consumer affairs with broad powers to regulate financial transactions. A European-style bureaucrat has been appointed to direct the rationing of medical services. And the EPA believes that it has the authority not just to police hunting and fishing supplies, but to regulate carbon dioxide, a natural product of the act of breathing.
The preferred modus operandi, in fact, is to appoint a single individual with the power to control some large part of American life. So much power has now been concentrated in the hands of a handful of appointees, most of them reporting directly to the president, that it is now doubtful whether America can still be considered a democratic nation. Government has become the enemy of the people, because it is now in the hands of left-wing elitists who are opposed to traditional American values and who have only contempt for the democratic process.
Fortunately, Americans are becoming more aware of the concentration of power within the new political elite and more skeptical of the elite's ability to govern. While the president's job approval rating has for the moment risen following his election victory, a growing number of Americans "strongly disapprove" of his performance. An even larger percentage finds that Congress, with leaders like Democrat Harry Reid in charge of the Senate, is incapable of governing.
What's needed is to make 2014 another 2010 and throw the rascals out -- all of them who support Obama's unconstitutional "recess" appointments and agency power grabs.


Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.

The Logistics of Grace


God’s provision is perfect, especially when nothing else is.

By Jamie A. Hughes
For the soldiers of the Red Ball Express, every mile they drove was a test of nerves and moxie. Daytime runs from Normandy to the battlefront required them to defend against roadside ambushes by Nazi troops, and those made at night were done without headlights to avoid attracting the attention of Luftwaffe bombers.
What many people don’t know is that after D-Day, the push to Berlin would have been impossible without this massive logistics operation. It required 23,000 soldiers driving more than 6,000 trucks to provide gasoline, ammunition, and rations to Allied soldiers. During the 81 days that the system was in place, the brave men who drove the 400-mile route delivered over 412,000 tons of supplies, securing their place in World War II history as a significant factor in V-E Day on May 8, 1945.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “An army marches on its stomach.” And what was true for the French emperor is still the case today. Without provisions, an army is left at a standstill. No matter how numerous or well trained soldiers might be, they need a constant supply of food and fuel to continue the march.
The same can be said of God’s matchless grace in the lives of believers. After all, aren’t we entirely dependent on Him for the supply required to carry on each day? We may be quick to answer “yes” when asked directly, but because we’re equally swift to disregard the Lord when succeeding in our own strength, frequent reminders are necessary.
Only when we’re faced with something overwhelming do we clearly understand our inherent weakness and the Creator’s might. This is the reason that God commanded Joshua to march around Jericho to gain the victory, sent 22,000 soldiers back before the battle at Midian, and placed a thorn in Paul’s flesh (Joshua 6:1-16; Judges 7:2-3; 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Delivering us through seemingly impossible circumstances allows Him to make His power beautifully and inarguably apparent to believers—and to compel non-Christians to join the ranks. Each time, He reminds us, “It is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor. 10:18).
Psalm 84:5-7 gives us one of the most beautiful descriptions of the Lord’s provision: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion” (NKJV).
The pilgrimage to Jerusalem described here is both literal and symbolic. Some travelers on their way to the Holy City were required to pass through difficult desert terrain filled with wild animals and other dangers. On this journey, extreme hardship was guaranteed, so the land became known as the “Valley of Baca,” from the Hebrew word bakah, meaning “to weep, bewail, or shed tears.” But along the route, there were places where natural springs welled up from the earth and rainwater collected. Weary travellers could refresh themselves and build up their strength before they continued.
While our journeys may not necessarily be physical ones, each of us walks through our own “Valley of Baca” because of loss, illness, financial hardship, or other troubles. Yet we can take courage because Scripture tells us we “pass through” these times of difficulty (Ps. 84:6); we don’t reside there permanently. And like the pilgrims on their way to Zion, we have a Source who continually provides the grace to see us through.
According to D. L. Moody, “We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace from day to day as we need it,” and verse six lists two ways we can do so. The first is to “make [the valley] a spring.” Notice that the verb make is one of deliberate action rather than passive reception. God is willing to provide what we need in our darkest moments. Like a spring, His provision never ceases to flow, but we must seek it (Matt. 7:7-8). When we worship, read His Word, or enjoy the beauty of His handiwork, we’re drawing from that never-ending supply. However, we should do so first and foremost through prayer.
Instead of using prayer exclusively to focus on ourselves and present our needs to the Lord, we should see it as a time to let Him fill us with a greater sense of who He is and why our confidence in Him is never misplaced. For me, that moment came when my mother underwent surgery. I could think only about things beyond my control and all that could go wrong; when it became overwhelming, I went outside to pray. After a few minutes, I managed to take a deep breath, and that’s when it hit me like a bag of hammers. As I sat seeking God, my heart continued to beat. Air whooshed in and out of my lungs—without my say-so. I understood then that if I trusted God to handle the very things that kept me alive, I could rely on Him for everything.
There are times when we face unanticipated difficulties, but long before they happen, the Lord provides exactly what we’ll need to endure them. This is the second source the psalmist mentions—“rain also covers [the valley] with pools” (Ps. 84:6). Those perfectly timed calls from friends that come when we’re at our lowest point are not coincidence, but providence. So, too, are kind gestures from strangers, hymns and passages of Scripture that touch our hearts, and the beautiful things in God’s creation we see with fresh eyes.
The psalmist reminds us, “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season” (Ps. 145:14-15 NKJV, emphasis added). We have to remember, the things that take us by surprise do not startle God. In fact, before He began to form us in our mothers’ wombs, He knew what we’d face. And with nothing more than a thought from Him, those pools we now grope for in search of relief were filled and left waiting for us to find. “Helpless sinners can survive only by grace,” wrote R. C. Sproul in The Holiness of God. “We are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God.”
Strategies like the Red Ball Express—though they may be ingenious—are always imperfect because humans are at the wheel. Many times during those 81 days, trucks failed, deliveries didn’t arrive, and supplies ran low. The system soon became impossible to sustain due to the distance between troops and the port.
Thankfully, we’re not at the mercy of the unknown; God’s Word tells us each pilgrim appears before Him (Ps. 84:7). We will be victorious, no matter how long and jagged our valleys might be, because our needs have already been provided for by the master Logistician.
Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc.

Obama Terrorizes Public with Illegal Alien Releases

Posted By Arnold Ahlert

On February 28, 2013

In one of the most politically despicable moves ever perpetrated by a sitting administration, federal immigration officials have released hundreds of illegal aliens from prison in anticipation of budget cuts produced by the sequester. “As fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE has reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE’s current budget,” said agency spokeswoman Gillian M. Christensen in a statement. Immigration officials further warned that even more releases are possible, if the anticipated cuts are realized.
In Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who revealed that more than 500 inmates were released in his county alone, put this ploy in the proper perspective. “President Obama would never release 500 criminal illegals to the streets of his hometown, yet he has no problem with releasing them in Arizona. The safety of the public is threatened and the rule of law discarded as a political tactic in this sequester battle,” he said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were equally incensed. ”This is very hard for me to believe that they can’t find cuts elsewhere in their agency,” said Boehner in an interview on Tuesday night. “I frankly think this is outrageous. And I’m looking for more facts, but I can’t believe that they can’t find the kind of savings they need out of that department short of letting criminals go free.” Goodlatte concurred. “It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,” he said in a statement. “By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.”
Yet it gets even more cynical. The “most transparent administration in history” is not only releasing inmates, it is refusing to say how many have been released, and where those releases are taking place. Federal officials claim that the detainees are still being monitored, even as they continue to face charges. They also insisted that only nonviolent offenders will be let go.
That first claim is utterly disingenuous, if not an outright lie. How is an agency ostensibly so “devastated” by budget cuts that it is forced to release criminals into the streets better equipped to monitor individuals in numerous locations, as opposed to keeping track of a group of incarcerated detainees in far fewer locations?
As for only nonviolent offenders being released, it seems the definition of that term is also somewhat elastic. The New York Times profiled one “nonviolent” detainee named Anthony Orlando Williams. Mr. Williams became an illegal alien after overstaying his visa in 1991. In 2010, he was detained by a deputy sheriff in Gwinnett County, GA, not for being in the country illegally, but for violating his probation stemming from a 2005 conviction–for simple assault, simple battery and child abuse.
Yet ICE insists it has no choice, claiming the “current fiscal climate” has forced it to do a spending review, part of which includes examining who they have detained. “As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release,” ICE said in a statement.
The notion that the “current fiscal climate” has forced ICE’s hand is ludicrous. The entire amount of the reductions engendered by the sequester this year is $85 billion, out of projected budget of $3.5 trillion. Yet even the $85 billion may be overstated. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), ”Discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures [sequestration]; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.” In other words, the true cost of the sequester for FY2013 is only $44 billion. Yet even that number is misleading: regardless of any so-called reduction in spending, the federal government will spend $15 billion more this year than it did last year–and a full 30 percent more than it did as little as six years ago.
Unsurprisingly, advocates for illegal aliens favor the releases, maintaining that there are better and more cost effective alternatives to incarceration. They are further urging the Obama administration to maintain their current enforcement priorities, which include the refusal to arrest illegal aliens accused of low-level crimes, or ICE administrative violations.
Yet this latest effort may backfire. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who contended that “the administration is using the sequester as a convenient excuse to bow to political pressure from the amnesty groups,” warned that such a move “lessened the chances” of comprehensive immigration reform. “With this new action, the administration has further demonstrated that it has no commitment to enforcing the law and cannot be trusted to deliver on any future promises of enforcement,” he added.
In a coordinated scare tactic, DHS Secretary Janet A. Napolitano on Monday warned that, if the sequester occurs, as many as 5000 border agents will also be furloughed, increasing the chances that even more, and possibly more dangerous, illegal aliens will be roaming the countryside. “I don’t think we can maintain the same level of security,” Ms. Napolitano contended.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) cut right through the manufactured hysteria. In a letter sent to Ms. Napolitano, he outlined a host of alternative cuts Ms. Napolitano could make. Yet the most telling part of that letter was the revelation that DHS will have approximately $9 billion in unspent funds by the end of FY2013, “raising the question of why we would not start reclaiming these funds,” Coburn wrote.
Napolitano is not the only government official with options. Barack Obama has the authority to prioritize the sequester cuts in any manner he chooses. Yet this is what he said in 2011 when the Congressional Supercommittee was formed in a failing effort to avoid sequestration:
Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Congressional Republicans are considering ways to give Obama an off ramp, as in the power to determine how the cuts are administered. The president has dismissed those efforts. The dismissal follows a Wednesday statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney claiming that ICE made the decision to release illegals “without any input from the White House.”
If that is true (which already strains credulity), then why doesn’t the same president who issued an executive order granting legal status to nearly a million illegal aliens last August, order ICE to stop releasing illegals from incarceration?
The answer is simple. Once again, the President of the United States has made it clear that he and his administration are prepared to implement their agenda by any means necessary. In this case, Obama, along with DHS and ICE officials, have now demonstrated that they are more than willing to potentially endanger American lives, rather than accept a “cut” that merely reduces the overall increase in government spending. The president undoubtedly sees such tactics as “negotiation.” Extortion is more like it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

30 Days of Knowledge - Day #13

1) Dr. Charles F. Stanley's 30 Life Principles

Listening to God - Walking with God


Scripture: James 1:22-25

I. Introduction: The Lord wants all believers to walk in close relationship with Him. The Bible reveals the Father’s overall plan for the world and provides general guidelines for life. But how can we know His specific plans for us? Listening to God is essential to walking with God (Life Principle #13). In order to know the Father’s will, we must learn to hear His voice.

II. Listening to God

A. There are two types of listeners.

1. Purposeful listeners attend church each week expectantly. They also put into practice what they learn.

2. Passive listeners may enjoy a sermon but have no intention of applying what is taught. Although church attendance might be part of their lives, they fail to grow spiritually. (See James 1:22-25.)

B. How do I “walk with God?”

1. Commit to discovering and obeying the Father’s will.

2. Begin with faith—believing that God exists and that you have a new life in Christ.

3. Pursue continual fellowship with the Lord, and seek to live in His presence daily—even when difficulties arise.

4. Walk in truth, obeying Him cheerfully, and your relationship with Him will grow more intimate.

5. Allow the Holy Spirit to work within you to bring peace, confidence, security, and joy into your life.

6. Separate yourself from sin, and strive to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Rely on the Spirit to help you live in a way that pleases God.

C. The Bible teaches us to listen intently.

1. In Matthew 17:5, the Father told Peter, James, and John to listen to His Son.

2. Christ began the parable of the sower by telling His followers, “Listen!” (Mark 4:3).

3. To the crowd, our Lord said, “Listen to Me, all of you” (Mark 7:14).

D. God has spoken throughout history.

1. Biblical history: God spoke to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Saul of Tarsus, the apostle John, and many others.

2. Church history: Reformation came because God spoke to Martin Luther about salvation by grace. (See Galatians 2:16.) This revelation transformed Christianity.

E. What happens when believers don’t listen to God?

1. News articles, television shows, and the advice of friends may become our primary influences.

2. If we don’t know the Scriptures, we can be easily deceived and drift into sin.

3. We develop a tendency to reject biblical passages that condemn our choices.

4. Unwise decisions and sinful choices mark our lives and almost always hurt those around us.

F. How do we listen to God?

1. Read the Bible. He will never tell you something that contradicts His Word.

2. Listen to the Holy Spirit. One of His jobs is to guide you by speaking to your spirit.

3. Pray. Prayer is talking and listening to God. Read at least a small portion of Scripture each day, and ask God to speak through it.

4. Be watchful. Look for the Lord to reveal Himself to you through circumstances. When life takes you by surprise, ask Him what He is doing. Watch for Him to guide you through open and closed doors.

5. Expect Him to guide you through others. He will use pastors, parents, friends, family members, and at times even strangers to lead you. Just be careful to evaluate everything in the light of Scripture.

G. What’s the appropriate “posture” of listening to God?

1. Reflective—Meditate on biblical passages. That is, slowly and thoughtfully read a section over and over.

2. Prayerful—As you read God’s Word, ask for His help in applying it.

3. Submissive—Be willing to obey whatever the Lord tells you to do.

4. Expectant—God promises to speak to us; anticipate that He will meet you in a personal way.

5. Patient—On important decisions, it’s sometimes necessary to pray for weeks before understanding what the Lord is saying.

III. Conclusion: Nothing in this world compares to hearing God’s voice. The Sovereign of the universe holds all power, and He has the resources to meet every need you have. Don’t you want to intimately know that kind of Person? You can—simply be willing to listen to Him.

 

 

2) The 30-Day Reading List That Will Lead You to Becoming a Knowledgeable Libertarian by Robert Wenzel

Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics

by Murray N. Rothbard
by Murray N. Rothbard


From The Logic of Action One: Method, Money, and the Austrian School by Murray N. Rothbard (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 1997), pp. 58–77; also The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics, Edwin Dolan, ed. (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1976), pp. 19–39. A .pdf version is available for citiation purposes.

Praxeology is the distinctive methodology of the Austrian school. The term was first applied to the Austrian method by Ludwig von Mises, who was not only the major architect and elaborator of this methodology but also the economist who most fully and successfully applied it to the construction of economic theory. [1] While the praxeological method is, to say the least, out of fashion in contemporary economics as well as in social science generally and in the philosophy of science it was the basic method of the earlier Austrian school and also of a considerable segment of the older classical school, in particular of J.B. Say and Nassau W. Senior. [2]

Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals. This concept of action contrasts to purely reflexive, or knee-jerk, behavior, which is not directed toward goals. The praxeological method spins out by verbal deduction the logical implications of that primordial fact. In short, praxeological economics is the structure of logical implications of the fact that individuals act. This structure is built on the fundamental axiom of action, and has a few subsidiary axioms, such as that individuals vary and that human beings regard leisure as a valuable good. Any skeptic about deducing from such a simple base an entire system of economics, I refer to Mises's Human Action. Furthermore, since praxeology begins with a true axiom, A, all the propositions that can be deduced from this axiom must also be true. For if A implies B, and A is true, then B must also be true.

Let us consider some of the immediate implications of the action axiom. Action implies that the individual's behavior is purposive, in short, that it is directed toward goals. Furthermore, the fact of his action implies that he has consciously chosen certain means to reach his goals. Since he wishes to attain these goals, they must be valuable to him; accordingly he must have values that govern his choices. That he employs means implies that he believes he has the technological knowledge that certain means will achieve his desired ends. Let us note that praxeology does not assume that a person's choice of values or goals is wise or proper or that he has chosen the technologically correct method of reaching them. All that praxeology asserts is that the individual actor adopts goals and believes, whether erroneously or correctly, that he can arrive at them by the employment of certain means.

All action in the real world, furthermore, must take place through time; all action takes place in some present and is directed toward the future (immediate or remote) attainment of an end. If all of a person's desires could be instantaneously realized, there would be no reason for him to act at all. [3] Furthermore, that a man acts implies that he believes action will make a difference; in other words, that he will prefer the state of affairs resulting from action to that from no action. Action therefore implies that man does not have omniscient knowledge of the future; for if he had such knowledge, no action of his would make any difference. Hence, action implies that we live in a world of an uncertain, or not fully certain, future. Accordingly, we may amend our analysis of action to say that a man chooses to employ means according to a technological plan in the present because he expects to arrive at his goals at some future time.

The fact that people act necessarily implies that the means employed are scarce in relation to the desired ends; for, if all means were not scarce but superabundant, the ends would already have been attained, and there would be no need for action. Stated another way, resources that are superabundant no longer function as means, because they are no longer objects of action. Thus, air is indispensable to life and hence to the attainment of goals; however, air being superabundant is not an object of action and therefore cannot be considered a means, but rather what Mises called a "general condition of human welfare." Where air is not superabundant, it may become an object of action, for example, where cool air is desired and warm air is transformed through air conditioning. Even with the absurdly unlikely advent of Eden (or what a few years ago was considered in some quarters to be an imminent "postscarcity" world), in which all desires could be fulfilled instantaneously, there would still be at least one scarce means: the individual's time, each unit of which if allocated to one purpose is necessarily not allocated to some other goal. [4]

Such are some of the immediate implications of the axiom of action. We arrived at them by deducing the logical implications of the existing fact of human action, and hence deduced true conclusions from a true axiom. Apart from the fact that these conclusions cannot be "tested" by historical or statistical means, there is no need to test them since their truth has already been established. Historical fact enters into these conclusions only by determining which branch of the theory is applicable in any particular case. Thus, for Crusoe and Friday on their desert island, the praxeological theory of money is only of academic, rather than of currently applicable, interest. A fuller analysis of the relationship between theory and history in the praxeological framework will be considered below.

There are, then, two parts of this axiomatic-deductive method: the process of deduction and the epistemological status of the axioms themselves. First, there is the process of deduction; why are the means verbal rather than mathematical logic? [5] Without setting forth the comprehensive Austrian case against mathematical economics, one point can immediately be made: let the reader take the implications of the concept of action as developed so far in this paper and try to place them in mathematical form. And even if that could be done, what would have been accomplished except a drastic loss in meaning at each step of the deductive process? Mathematical logic is appropriate to physics – the science that has become the model science, which modern positivists and empiricists believe all other social and physical sciences should emulate. In physics the axioms and therefore the deductions are in themselves purely formal and only acquire meaning "operationally" insofar as they can explain and predict given facts. On the contrary, in praxeology, in the analysis of human action, the axioms themselves are known to be true and meaningful. As a result, each verbal step-by-step deduction is also true and meaningful; for it is the great quality of verbal propositions that each one is meaningful, whereas mathematical symbols are not meaningful in themselves. Thus Lord Keynes, scarcely an Austrian and himself a mathematician of note, leveled the following critique at mathematical symbolism in economics:

It is a great fault of symbolic pseudo-mathematical methods of formalizing a system of economic analysis, that they expressly assume strict independence between the factors involved and lose all their cogency and authority if this hypothesis is disallowed: whereas, in ordinary discourse, where we are not blindly manipulating but know all the time what we are doing and what the words mean, we can keep "at the back of our heads" the necessary reserves and qualifications and the adjustments which we have to make later on, in a way in which we cannot keep complicated partial differentials "at the back" of several pages of algebra which assume that they all vanish. Too large a proportion of recent "mathematical" economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols. [6]

Moreover, even if verbal economics could be successfully translated into mathematical symbols and then retranslated into English so as to explain the conclusions, the process makes no sense and violates the great scientific principle of Occam's Razor: avoiding unnecessary multiplication of entities. [7]

Furthermore, as political scientist Bruno Leoni and mathematician Eugenio Frola pointed out,

It is often claimed that translation of such a concept as the maximum from ordinary into mathematical language, involves an improvement in the logical accuracy of the concept, as well as wider opportunities for its use. But the lack of mathematical precision in ordinary language reflects precisely the behavior of individual human beings in the real world…. We might suspect that translation into mathematical language by itself implies a suggested transformation of human economic operators into virtual robots. [8]

Similarly, one of the first methodologists in economics, Jean-Baptiste Say, charged that the mathematical economists

have not been able to enunciate these questions into analytical language, without divesting them of their natural complication, by means of simplifications, and arbitrary suppressions, of which the consequences, not properly estimated, always essentially change the condition of the problem, and pervert all its results. [9]

More recently, Boris Ischboldin has emphasized the difference between verbal, or "language," logic ("the actual analysis of thought stated in language expressive of reality as grasped in common experience") and "construct" logic, which is "the application of quantitative (economic) data of the constructs of mathematics and symbolic logic which constructs may or may not have real equivalents." [10]

Although himself a mathematical economist, the mathematician son of Carl Menger wrote a trenchant critique of the idea that mathematical presentation in economics is necessarily more precise than ordinary language:

Consider, for example, the statements (2) To a higher price of a good, there corresponds a lower (or at any rate not a higher) demand.

(2') If p denotes the price of, and q the demand for, a good, then

q = f(p) and dq/dp = f' (p) ≤ 0

Those who regard the formula (2') as more precise or "more mathematical" than the sentence (2) are under a complete misapprehension… the only difference between (2) and (2') is this: since (2') is limited to functions which are differentiable and whose graphs, therefore, have tangents (which from an economic point of view are not more plausible than curvature), the sentence (2) is more general, but it is by no means less precise: it is of the same mathematical precision as (2'). [11]

Turning from the deduction process to the axioms themselves, what is their epistemological status? Here the problems are obscured by a difference of opinion within the praxeological camp, particularly on the nature of the fundamental axiom of action. Ludwig von Mises, as an adherent of Kantian epistemology, asserted that the concept of action is a priori to all experience, because it is, like the law of cause and effect, part of "the essential and necessary character of the logical structure of the human mind." [12] Without delving too deeply into the murky waters of epistemology, I would deny, as an Aristotelian and neo-Thomist, any such alleged "laws of logical structure" that the human mind necessarily imposes on the chaotic structure of reality. Instead, I would call all such laws "laws of reality," which the mind apprehends from investigating and collating the facts of the real world. My view is that the fundamental axiom and subsidiary axioms are derived from the experience of reality and are therefore in the broadest sense empirical. I would agree with the Aristotelian realist view that its doctrine is radically empirical, far more so than the post-Humean empiricism which is dominant in modern philosophy. Thus, John Wild wrote:

It is impossible to reduce experience to a set of isolated impressions and atomic units. Relational structure is also given with equal evidence and certainty. The immediate data are full of determinate structure, which is easily abstracted by the mind and grasped as universal essences or possibilities. [13]

Furthermore, one of the pervasive data of all human experience is existence; another is consciousness, or awareness. In contrast to the Kantian view, Harmon Chapman wrote that

conception is a kind of awareness, a way of apprehending things or comprehending them and not an alleged subjective manipulation of so-called generalities or universals solely "mental" or "logical" in their provenience and non-cognitive in nature.

That in thus penetrating the data of sense, conception also synthesizes these data is evident. But the synthesis here involved, unlike the synthesis of Kant, is not a prior condition of perception, an anterior process of constituting both perception and its object, but rather a cognitive synthesis in apprehension, that is, a uniting or "comprehending" which is one with the apprehending itself. In other words, perception and experience are not the results or end products of a synthetic process a priori, but are themselves synthetic or comprehensive apprehension whose structured unity is prescribed solely by the nature of the real, that is, by the intended objects in their togetherness and not by consciousness itself whose (cognitive) nature is to apprehend the real – as it is. [14]

If, in the broad sense, the axioms of praxeology are radically empirical, they are far from the post-Humean empiricism that pervades the modern methodology of social science. In addition to the foregoing considerations, (1) they are so broadly based in common human experience that once enunciated they become self-evident and hence do not meet the fashionable criterion of "falsifiability"; (2) they rest, particularly the action axiom, on universal inner experience, as well as on external experience, that is, the evidence is reflective rather than purely physical; and (3) they are therefore a priori to the complex historical events to which modern empiricism confines the concept of "experience." [15]

Say, perhaps the first praxeologist, explained the derivation of the axioms of economic theory as follows:

Hence the advantage enjoyed by everyone who, from distinct and accurate observation, can establish the existence of these general facts, demonstrate their connection and deduce their consequences. They as certainly proceed from the nature of things as the laws of the material world. We do not imagine them; they are results disclosed to us by judicious observation and analysis....

Political economy...is composed of a few fundamental principles, and of a great number of corollaries or conclusions, drawn from these principles...that can be admitted by every reflecting mind. [16]

Friedrich A. Hayek trenchantly described the praxeological method in contrast to the methodology of the physical sciences and also underlined the broadly empirical nature of the praxeological axioms:

The position of man...brings it about that the essential basic facts which we need for the explanation of social phenomena are part of common experience, part of the stuff of our thinking. In the social sciences it is the elements of the complex phenomena which are known beyond the possibility of dispute. In the natural sciences they can only be at best surmised. The existence of these elements is so much more certain than any regularities in the complex phenomena to which they give rise, that it is they which constitute the truly empirical factor in the social sciences. There can be little doubt that it is this different position of the empirical factor in the process of reasoning in the two groups of disciplines which is at the root of much of the confusion with regard to their logical character. The essential difference is that in the natural sciences the process of deduction has to start from some hypothesis which is the result of inductive generalizations, while in the social sciences it starts directly from known empirical elements and uses them to find the regularities in the complex phenomena which direct observations cannot establish. They are, so to speak, empirically deductive sciences, proceeding from the known elements to the regularities in the complex phenomena which cannot be directly established. [17]

Similarly, J.E. Cairnes wrote:

The economist starts with a knowledge of ultimate causes. He is already, at the outset of his enterprise in the position which the physicist only attains after ages of laborious research.... For the discovery of such premises no elaborate process of induction is needed... for this reason, that we have, or may have if we choose to turn our attention to the subject, direct knowledge of these causes in our consciousness of what passes in our own minds, and in the information which our senses convey...to us of external facts. [18]

Nassau W. Senior phrased it thus:

The physical sciences, being only secondarily conversant with mind, draw their premises almost exclusively from observation or hypothesis.... On the other hand, the mental sciences and the mental arts draw their premises principally from consciousness. The subjects with which they are chiefly conversant are the workings of the human mind. [These premises are] a very few general propositions, which are the result of observation, or consciousness, and which almost every man, as soon as he hears them, admits, as familiar to his thought, or at least, included in his previous knowledge. [19]

Commenting on his complete agreement with this passage, Mises wrote that these "immediately evident propositions" are "of aprioristic derivation...unless one wishes to call aprioristic cognition inner experience." [20]

To which Marian Bowley, the biographer of Senior, justly comments:

The only fundamental difference between Mises's general attitude and Senior's lies in Mises's apparent denial of the possibility of using any general empirical data, i.e., facts of general observation, as initial premises. This difference, however, turns upon Mises's basic ideas of the nature of thought, and though of general philosophic importance, has little special relevance to economic method as such. [21]

It should be noted that for Mises it is only the fundamental axiom of action that is a priori; he conceded that the subsidiary axioms of the diversity of mankind and nature, and of leisure as a consumers' good, are broadly empirical.

Modern post-Kantian philosophy has had a great deal of trouble encompassing self-evident propositions, which are marked precisely by their strong and evident truth rather than by being testable hypotheses, that are, in the current fashion, considered to be "falsifiable." Sometimes it seems that the empiricists use the fashionable analytic-synthetic dichotomy, as the philosopher Hao Wang charged, to dispose of theories they find difficult to refute by dismissing them as necessarily either disguised definitions or debatable and uncertain hypotheses. [22]

But what if we subject the vaunted "evidence" of modern positivists and empiricists to analysis? What is it? We find that there are two types of such evidence to either confirm or refute a proposition: (1) if it violates the laws of logic, for example, implies that A = -A; or (2) if it is confirmed by empirical facts (as in a laboratory) that can be checked by many persons. But what is the nature of such "evidence" but the bringing, by various means, of propositions hitherto cloudy and obscure into clear and evident view, that is, evident to the scientific observers? In short, logical or laboratory processes serve to make it evident to the "selves" of the various observers that the propositions are either confirmed or refuted, or, to use unfashionable terminology, either true or false. But in that case propositions that are immediately evident to the selves of the observers have at least as good scientific status as the other and currently more acceptable forms of evidence. Or, as the Thomist philosopher John J. Toohey put it,

Proving means making evident something which is not evident. If a truth or proposition is self-evident, it is useless to attempt to prove it; to attempt to prove it would be to attempt to make evident something which is already evident. [23]

The action axiom, in particular, should be, according to Aristotelian philosophy, unchallengeable and self-evident since the critic who attempts to refute it finds that he must use it in the process of alleged refutation. Thus, the axiom of the existence of human consciousness is demonstrated as being self-evident by the fact that the very act of denying the existence of consciousness must itself be performed by a conscious being. The philosopher R.P. Phillips called this attribute of a self-evident axiom a "boomerang principle," since "even though we cast it away from us, it returns to us again." [24] A similar self-contradiction faces the man who attempts to refute the axiom of human action. For in doing so, he is ipso facto a person making a conscious choice of means in attempting to arrive at an adopted end: in this case the end, or goal, of trying to refute the axiom of action. He employs action in trying to refute the notion of action.

Of course, a person may say that he denies the existence of self-evident principles or other established truths of the real world, but this mere saying has no epistemological validity. As Toohey pointed out,

A man may say anything he pleases, but he cannot think or do anything he pleases. He may say he saw a round square, but he cannot think he saw a round square. He may say, if he likes, that he saw a horse riding astride its own back, but we shall know what to think of him if he says it. [25]

The methodology of modern positivism and empiricism comes a cropper even in the physical sciences, to which it is much better suited than to the sciences of human action; indeed, it particularly fails where the two types of disciplines interconnect. Thus, the phenomenologist Alfred Schütz, a student of Mises at Vienna, who pioneered in applying phenomenology to the social sciences, pointed out the contradiction in the empiricists' insistence on the principle of empirical verifiability in science, while at the same time denying the existence of "other minds" as unverifiable. But who is supposed to be doing the laboratory verification if not these selfsame "other minds" of the assembled scientists? Schütz wrote:

It is...not understandable that the same authors who are convinced that no verification is possible for the intelligence of other human beings have such confidence in the principle of verifiability itself, which can be realized only through cooperation with others. [26]

In this way, the modern empiricists ignore the necessary presuppositions of the very scientific method they champion. For Schütz, knowledge of such presuppositions is "empirical" in the broadest sense,

provided that we do not restrict this term to sensory perceptions of objects and events in the outer world but include the experiential form, by which common-sense thinking in everyday life understands human actions and their outcome in terms of their underlying motives and goals. [27]

Having dealt with the nature of praxeology, its procedures and axioms and its philosophical groundwork, let us now consider what the relationship is between praxeology and the other disciplines that study human action. In particular, what are the differences between praxeology and technology, psychology, history, and ethics – all of which are in some way concerned with human action?

In brief, praxeology consists of the logical implications of the universal formal fact that people act, that they employ means to try to attain chosen ends. Technology deals with the contentual problem of how to achieve ends by adoption of means. Psychology deals with the question of why people adopt various ends and how they go about adopting them. Ethics deals with the question of what ends, or values, people should adopt. And history deals with ends adopted in the past, what means were used to try to achieve them – and what the consequences of these actions were.

Praxeology, or economic theory in particular, is thus a unique discipline within the social sciences; for, in contrast to the others, it deals not with the content of men's values, goals, and actions – not with what they have done or how they have acted or how they should act – but purely with the fact that they do have goals and act to attain them. The laws of utility, demand, supply, and price apply regardless of the type of goods and services desired or produced. As Joseph Dorfman wrote of Herbert J. Davenport's Outlines of Economic Theory (1896):

The ethical character of the desires was not a fundamental part of his inquiry. Men labored and underwent privation for "whiskey, cigars, and burglars' jimmies," he said, "as well as for food, or statuary or harvest machinery." As long as men were willing to buy and sell "foolishness and evil," the former commodities would be economic factors with market standing, for utility, as an economic term, meant merely adaptability to human desires. So long as men desired them, they satisfied a need and were motives to production. Therefore economics did not need to investigate the origin of choices. [28]

Praxeology, as well as the sound aspects of the other social sciences, rests on methodological individualism, on the fact that only individuals feel, value, think, and act. Individualism has always been charged by its critics – and always incorrectly – with the assumption that each individual is a hermetically sealed "atom," cut off from, and uninfluenced by, other persons. This absurd misreading of methodological individualism is at the root of J.K. Galbraith's triumphant demonstration in The Affluent Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958) that the values and choices of individuals are influenced by other persons, and therefore supposedly that economic theory is invalid. Galbraith also concluded from his demonstration that these choices, because influenced, are artificial and illegitimate. The fact that praxeological economic theory rests on the universal fact of individual values and choices means, to repeat Dorfman's summary of Davenport's thought, that economic theory does "not need to investigate the origin of choices." Economic theory is not based on the absurd assumption that each individual arrives at his values and choices in a vacuum, sealed off from human influence. Obviously, individuals are continually learning from and influencing each other. As F.A. Hayek wrote in his justly famous critique of Galbraith, "The Non Sequitur of the 'Dependence Effect'":

Professor Galbraith's argument could be easily employed, without any change of the essential terms, to demonstrate the worthlessness of literature or any other form of art. Surely an individual's want for literature is not original with himself in the sense that he would experience it if literature were not produced. Does this then mean that the production of literature cannot be defended as satisfying a want because it is only the production which provokes the demand? [29]

That Austrian-school economics rests firmly from the beginning on an analysis of the fact of individual subjective values and choices unfortunately led the early Austrians to adopt the term psychological school. The result was a series of misdirected criticisms that the latest findings of psychology had not been incorporated into economic theory. It also led to misconceptions such as that the law of diminishing marginal utility rests on some psychological law of the satiety of wants. Actually, as Mises firmly pointed out, that law is praxeological rather than psychological and has nothing to do with the content of wants, for example, that the tenth spoonful of ice cream may taste less pleasurable than the ninth spoonful. Instead, it is a praxeological truth, derived from the nature of action, that the first unit of a good will be allocated to its most valuable use, the next unit to the next most valuable, and so on. [30] On one point, and on one point alone, however, praxeology and the related sciences of human action take a stand in philosophical psychology: on the proposition that the human mind, consciousness, and subjectivity exist, and therefore action exists. In this it is opposed to the philosophical base of behaviorism and related doctrines and joined with all branches of classical philosophy and with phenomenology. On all other questions, however, praxeology and psychology are distinct and separate disciplines. [31]

A particularly vital question is the relationship between economic theory and history. Here again, as in so many other areas of Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises made the outstanding contribution, particularly in his Theory and History. [32] It is especially curious that Mises and other praxeologists, as alleged "a priorists," have commonly been accused of being "opposed" to history. Mises indeed held not only that economic theory does not need to be "tested" by historical fact but also that it cannot be so tested. For a fact to be usable for testing theories, it must be a simple fact, homogeneous with other facts in accessible and repeatable classes. In short, the theory that one atom of copper, one atom of sulfur, and four atoms of oxygen will combine to form a recognizable entity called copper sulfate, with known properties, is easily tested in the laboratory. Each of these atoms is homogeneous, and therefore the test is repeatable indefinitely. But each historical event, as Mises pointed out, is not simple and repeatable; each event is a complex resultant of a shifting variety of multiple causes, none of which ever remains in constant relationships with the others. Every historical event, therefore, is heterogeneous, and therefore historical events cannot be used either to test or to construct laws of history, quantitative or otherwise. We can place every atom of copper into a homogeneous class of copper atoms; we cannot do so with the events of human history.

This is not to say, of course, that there are no similarities among historical events. There are many similarities, but no homogeneity. Thus, there were many similarities between the presidential election of 1968 and that of 1972, but they were scarcely homogeneous events, since they were marked by important and inescapable differences. Nor will the next election be a repeatable event to place in a homogeneous class of "elections." Hence no scientific, and certainly no quantitative, laws can be derived from these events.

Mises's radically fundamental opposition to econometrics now becomes clear. Econometrics not only attempts to ape the natural sciences by using complex heterogeneous historical facts as if they were repeatable homogeneous laboratory facts; it also squeezes the qualitative complexity of each event into a quantitative number and then compounds the fallacy by acting as if these quantitative relations remain constant in human history. In striking contrast to the physical sciences, which rest on the empirical discovery of quantitative constants, econometrics, as Mises repeatedly emphasized, has failed to discover a single constant in human history. And given the ever-changing conditions of human will, knowledge, and values and the differences among men, it is inconceivable that econometrics can ever do so.

Far from being opposed to history, the praxeologist, and not the supposed admirers of history, has profound respect for the irreducible and unique facts of human history. Furthermore, it is the praxeologist who acknowledges that individual human beings cannot legitimately be treated by the social scientist as if they were not men who have minds and act upon their values and expectations, but stones or molecules whose course can be scientifically tracked in alleged constants or quantitative laws. Moreover, as the crowning irony, it is the praxeologist who is truly empirical because he recognizes the unique and heterogeneous nature of historical facts; it is the self-proclaimed "empiricist" who grossly violates the facts of history by attempting to reduce them to quantitative laws. Mises wrote thus about econometricians and other forms of "quantitative economists":

There are, in the field of economics, no constant relations, and consequently no measurement is possible. If a statistician determines that a rise of 10 percent in the supply of potatoes in Atlantis at a definite time was followed by a fall of 8 percent in the price, he does not establish anything about what happened or may happen with a change in the supply of potatoes in another country or in another time. He has not "measured" the "elasticity of demand" of potatoes. He has established a unique individual historical fact. No intelligent man can doubt that the behavior of men with regard to potatoes and every other commodity is variable. Different individuals value the same things in a different way, and valuations change with the same individuals with changing conditions. . . .

The impracticability of measurement is not due to the lack of technical methods for the establishment of measure. It is due to the absence of constant relations. . . . Economics is not, as . . . positivists repeat again and again, backward because it is not "quantitative." It is not quantitative and does not measure because there are no constants. Statistical figures referring to economic events are historical data. They tell us what happened in a nonrepeatable historical case. Physical events can be interpreted on the ground of our knowledge concerning constant relations established by experiments. Historical events are not open to such an interpretation. . . .

Experience of economic history is always experience of complex phenomena. It can never convey knowledge of the kind the experimenter abstracts from a laboratory experiment. Statistics is a method for the presentation of historical facts. . . . The statistics of prices is economic history. The insight that, ceteris paribus, an increase in demand must result in an increase in prices is not derived from experience. Nobody ever was or ever will be in a position to observe a change in one of the market data ceteris paribus. There is no such thing as quantitative economics. All economic quantities we know about are data of economic history. . . . Nobody is so bold as to maintain that a rise of A percent in the supply of any commodity must always – in every country and at any time – result in a fall of B percent in price. But as no quantitative economist ever ventured to define precisely on the ground of statistical experience the special conditions producing a definite deviation from the ratio A:B, the futility of his endeavors is manifest. [33]

Elaborating on his critique of constants Mises added:

The quantities we observe in the field of human action . . . are manifestly variable. Changes occurring in them plainly affect the result of our actions. Every quantity that we can observe is a historical event, a fact which cannot be fully described without specifying the time and geographical point.

The econometrician is unable to disprove this fact, which cuts the ground from under his reasoning. He cannot help admitting that there are no "behavior constants." Nonetheless, he wants to introduce some numbers, arbitrarily chosen on the basis of historical fact, as "unknown behavior constants." The sole excuse he advances is that his hypotheses are "saying only that these unknown numbers remain reasonably constant through a period of years." [34] Now whether such a period of supposed constancy of a definite number is still lasting or whether a change in the number has already occurred can only be established later on. In retrospect it may be possible, although in rare cases only, to declare that over a (probably rather short) period an approximately stable ratio which the econometrician chooses to call a "reasonably" constant ratio prevailed between the numerical values of two factors. But this is something fundamentally different from the constants of physics. It is the assertion of a historical fact, not of a constant that can be resorted to in attempts to predict future events. [35] The highly praised equations are, insofar as they apply to the future, merely equations in which all quantities are unknown. [36]

In the mathematical treatment of physics the distinction between constants and variables makes sense; it is essential in every instance of technological computation. In economics there are no constant relations between various magnitudes. Consequently all ascertainable data are variables, or what amounts to the same thing, historical data. The mathematical economists reiterate that the plight of mathematical economics consists in the fact that there are a great number of variables. The truth is that there are only variables and no constants. It is pointless to talk of variables where there are no invariables. [37]

What, then, is the proper relationship between economic theory and economic history or, more precisely, history in general? The historian's function is to try to explain the unique historical facts that are his province; to do so adequately he must employ all the relevant theories from all the various disciplines that impinge on his problem. For historical facts are complex resultants of a myriad of causes stemming from different aspects of the human condition. Thus, the historian must be prepared to use not only praxeological economic theory but also insights from physics, psychology, technology, and military strategy along with an interpretive understanding of the motives and goals of individuals. He must employ these tools in understanding both the goals of the various actions of history and the consequences of such actions. Because understanding diverse individuals and their interactions is involved, as well as the historical context, the historian using the tools of natural and social science is in the last analysis an "artist," and hence there is no guarantee or even likelihood that any two historians will judge a situation in precisely the same way. While they may agree on an array of factors to explain the genesis and consequences of an event, they are unlikely to agree on the precise weight to be given each causal factor. In employing various scientific theories, they have to make judgments of relevance on which theories applied in any given case; to refer to an example used earlier in this paper, a historian of Robinson Crusoe would hardly employ the theory of money in a historical explanation of his actions on a desert island. To the economic historian, economic law is neither confirmed nor tested by historical facts; instead, the law, where relevant, is applied to help explain the facts. The facts thereby illustrate the workings of the law. The relationship between praxeological economic theory and the understanding of economic history was subtly summed up by Alfred Schütz:

No economic act is conceivable without some reference to an economic actor, but the latter is absolutely anonymous; it is not you, nor I nor an entrepreneur, nor even an "economic man," as such, but a pure universal "one." This is the reason why the propositions of theoretical economics have just that "universal validity" which gives them the ideality of the "and so forth" and "I can do it again." However, one can study the economic actor as such and try to find out what is going on in his mind; of course, one is not then engaged in theoretical economics but in economic history or economic sociology. . . . However, the statements of these sciences can claim no universal validity, for they deal either with the economic sentiments of particular historical individuals or with types of economic activity for which the economic acts in question are evidence. . . .

In our view, pure economics is a perfect example of an objective meaning-complex about subjective meaning-complexes, in other words, of an objective meaning-configuration stipulating the typical and invariant subjective experiences of anyone who acts within an economic framework. . . . Excluded from such a scheme would have to be any consideration of the uses to which the "goods" are to be put after they are acquired. But once we do turn our attention to the subjective meaning of a real individual person, leaving the anonymous "anyone" behind, then of course it makes sense to speak of behavior that is atypical. . . . To be sure, such behavior is irrelevant from the point of view of economics, and it is in this sense that economic principles are, in Mises's words, "not a statement of what usually happens, but of what necessarily must happen." [38]

Notes

[1] See in particular Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949); also see Mises, Epistemological Problems of Economics, George Reisman, trans. (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1960).

[2] See Murray N. Rothbard, "Praxeology as the Method of the Social Sciences," in Phenomenology and the Social Sciences, Maurice Natanson, ed., 2 vols. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973), 2 pp. 323–35 [reprinted in Logic of Action One, pp. 29–58]; also see Marian Bowley, Nassau Senior and Classical Economics (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1949), pp. 27–65; and Terence W. Hutchinson, "Some Themes from Investigations into Method," in Carl Menger and the Austrian School of Economics, J.R. Hicks and Wilhelm Weber, eds. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), pp. 15–31.

[3] In answer to the criticism that not all action is directed to some future point of time, see Walter Block, "A Comment on 'The Extraordinary Claim of Praxeology' by Professor Gutierrez," Theory and Decision 3 (1973): 381–82.

[4] See Mises, Human Action, pp. 101–2; and esp., Block, "Comment," p. 383.

[5] For a typical criticism of praxeology for not using mathematical logic, see George. J. Schuller, "Rejoinder," American Economic Review 41 (March 1951): 188.

[6] John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (New York Harcourt, Brace, 1936), pp. 297–98.

[7] See Murray N. Rothbard, "Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics," in On Freedom and Free Enterprise, Mary Sennhoz, ed. (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand, 1956), p. 227 [and reprinted in Logic of Action One]; Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, 2 vols. (Princeton: D Van Nostrand, 1962), 1:65–66. On mathematical logic as being subordinate to verbal logic, see Rene Poirier, "Logique," in Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, Andre Lalande, ed., 6th ed. Rev. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1951), pp. 574–75.

[8] Bruno Leoni and Eugenio Frola, "On Mathematical Thinking in Economics" (unpublished manuscript privately distributed), pp. 23–24; the Italian version of this articles is "Possibilita di applicazione della matematiche alle discipline economiche," Il Politico 20 (1995).

[9] Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise on Political Economy (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1964), p. xxvi n.

[10] Boris Ischboldin, "a Critique of Econometrics," Review of Social Economy 18, no. 2 (September 1960): 11 N; Ischboldin's discussion is based on the construction of I.M. Bochenski, "Scholastic and Aristotelian Logic," Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 30 (1956): 112–17.

[11] Karl Menger, "Austrian Marginalism and Mathematical Economics," in Carl Menger, p. 41.

[12] Mises, Human Action, p. 34.

[13] John Wild, "Phenomenology and Metaphysics," in The Return to Reason: Essays in Realistic Philosophy, John Wild, ed. (Chicago: Henrey Regnery, 1953), pp. 48, 37–57.

[14] Harmon M. Chapman, "Realism and Phenomenology," in Return to Reason, p. 29. On the interrelated functions of sense and reason and their respective roles in human cognition of reality, see Francis H. Parker, "Realistic Epistemology," ibid., pp. 167–69.

[15] See Murray N. Rothbard, "In Defense of 'Extreme Apriorism,'" Southern Economic Journal 23 (January 1957): 315–18 [reprinted as Volume 1, Chapter 6]. It should be clear from the current paper that the term extreme apriorism is a misnomer for praxeology.

[16] Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, pp. xxv–xxvi, xlv.

[17] Friedrich A. Hayek, "The Nature and History of the Problem," in Collectivist Economic Planning, F.A. Hayek, ed. (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1935), p 11.

[18] John Elliott Cairnes, The Character and Logical Method of Political Economy, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1875), pp. 87–88; italics in the original.

[19] Bowley, Nassau Senior, pp. 43, 56.

[20] Mises, Epistemological Problems, p. 19.

[21] Bowley, Nassau Senior, pp. 64–65.

[22] Hao Wang, "Notes on the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction," Theoria 21 (1995); 158; see also John Wild and J.L. Cobitz, "On the Distinction between the Analytic and Synthetic," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 8 (June 1948): 651–67.

[23] John J. Toohey, Notes on Epistemology, rev. ed. (Washington D.C.: Georgetown University, 1937), p. 36.; italics in the original.

[24] R.P. Phillips, Modern Thomistic Philosophy (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Bookshop, 1934–35), 2, pp. 36–37; see also Murray N. Rothbard, "The Mantle of Science," in Scientism and Values, Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, ed., (Princeton, NJ: D Van Nostrand, 1960), pp. 162–65.

[25] Toohey, Notes on Epistemology, p. 10. Italics in the original.

[26] Alfred Schütz, Collected Papers of Alfred Schütz, vol. 2, Studies in Social Theory, A. Brodersen, ed. (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1964), p. 4; see also Mises, Human Action, p. 24.

[27] Alfred Schütz, Collected Papers of Alfred Schütz, vol. 1, The Problem of Social Reality, A. Brodersen, ed. (the Hague, Nijhoff), 1964, p. 65. On the philosophical presuppositions of science, see Andrew G. Van Melsen, The Philosophy of Nature (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1953), pp. 6–29. On common sense as the groundwork of philosophy, see Toohey, Notes on Epistemology, pp. 74, 106–13. On the application of a similar point of view to the methodology of economics, see Frank H Knight, "'What is Truth' in Economics," in On the History and Method of Economics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 151–78.

[28] Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization, 5 vols. (New York: Viking Press, 1949), 3, p. 376.

[29] Friedrich A. Hayek, "The Non Sequitur of the 'Dependence Effect,'" in Friedrich A. Hayek, Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), pp. 314–15.

[30] Mises, Human Action, p. 124.

[31] See Rothbard, "Toward a Reconstruction," pp. 230–31.

[32] Ludwig von Mises, Theory and History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957).

[33] Mises, Human Action, pp. 55–56, 348.

[34] Cowles Commission for Research in Economics, Report for the Period, January 1, 1948–June 30, 1949 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949), p. 7, quoted in Mises, Theory and History, pp. 10–11.

[35] Ibid., pp. 10–11.

[36] Ludwig von Mises, "Comments about the Mathematical Treatment of Economic Problems" (Cited as "unpublished manuscript"; published as "The Equations of Mathematical Economics" in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, vol. 3, no. 1 (Spring 2000), 27–32.

[37] Mises, Theory and History, pp. 11–12; see also Leoni and Frola, "On Mathematical Thinking," pp. 1–8; and Leland B. Yeager, "Measurement as Scientific Method in Economics," American Journal of Economics and Sociology 16 (July 1957): 337–46.

[38] Alfred Schütz, The Phenomenology of the Social World (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1967), pp. 137, 245; also see Ludwig M. Lachmann, The Legacy of Max Weber (Berkeley, California: Clendessary Press, 1971), pp. 17–48.

Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995), the founder of modern libertarianism and the dean of the Austrian School of economics, was the author of The Ethics of Liberty and For a New Liberty and many other books and articles. He was also academic vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Center for Libertarian Studies, and the editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report.

 

 

3) Roger’s Rangers Rules or Plan of Discipline by Major Robert Rogers

Rule #13

 

If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.

 

 

4) 52 Weeks to Preparedness by Tess Pennington

Week 17 of 52: Water Preparedness

 

Water is the foundation of life, and as such, water preparedness is one of the most important aspects of being prepared. Disaster officials suggest the importance of having a 3-day water supply, equating to one gallon of water per person, per day. However, in the event of a natural emergency such as a hurricane or tornado, water can be interrupted for days or even weeks. Without water to drink, dehydration sets in, the body starts shutting down and then … well it isn’t good. Let’s just say that a human can die in 3 days without any water or if the water is not treated properly.

Water is essential to life, so why not be prepared. Keep some alternative water treatment sources on hand in case of a water shortage. If you want to learn about alternative water treatment options, scroll down to the “Preps to Buy” section of this newsletter.

Along with learning about various treatment options, store bottled drinking water for short-term emergencies, and consider having multiple alternatives on hand to treat water and to filter it if a short-term emergency is extended. Most preppers believe in the rule of 3, have three alternatives. I recommend having three different types of water treatment options in case one breaks or is lost. Another way to do this would be having separate filtration systems for the home, for the 72-hour bag, and in emergency vehicle kits. In addition, keeping extra filtration parts on supply would be very proactive in the instance that a short-term emergency extends into a longer-term emergency.

Treating the water will eliminate any microorganisms and the possibility of contaminants in the water. Microorganisms such as protozoan parasites, bacteria and viruses can make a person very ill. Drinking contaminated water can even cause death in extreme cases.

Once the water has been treated, ensure that all microorganisms are removed by boiling the water for 3-5 minutes. If someone suspects they have ingested contaminated drinking water, some of the symptoms include:

  • Severe gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Weakness due to the above symptoms

In a disaster where water sources are compromised, people within a 50-mile radius could be adversely impacted by illness and disease if just one person incorrectly handles water or incorrectly disposes of waste. Learning how to handle and treat water before an emergency occurs will ensure that your family does not become ill from poor water conditions.

Water is only as safe as it’s source. When their is any doubt about the quality of water you are drinking, treat it chemically, through distillation or through the boiling method. To learn how to treat water using these methods, click here.

Follow these recommendations by the CDC for safely storing water:

  • Store emergency water in a cool, dark place in your home, each vehicle, and your workplace.
  • Water can be stored indefinitely, but if it has a cloudy appearance, treat it accordingly.
  • It’s possible to keep water in food-grade containers intended for water storage. Containers must be thoroughly washed, sanitized, and rinsed. Only store clean, ready-to-drink water. Tap water will probably need to be purified. Ask public health authorities or your water provider whether tap water should be used and how to treat it.
  • Plastic soft drink or food grade plastic containers can be used in a pinch. Ensure that the containers and cleaned and sanitized thoroughly before re-use.

Note: Do not use milk or juice containers for storing water. Even if you try to thoroughly clean these plastic containers, left over sugars and proteins provide perfect places for bacteria to grow.

Water is a finite resource, and in the case of emergency preparedness, it is one of the most important items to have stored. We use water for everything: hydrating our bodies, cleaning our bodies, brushing our teeth, for cooking, cleaning the dishes, and cleaning wounds. Ensure that you have enough for these purposes.

Preps To Buy:


  • 1-gallon of bottled water for each family member (i.e., 1-2 weeks worth)
  • Secondary water filtration system
  • Water purification tablets
  • Bleach (Bleach only stores for 12 months, so do not buy large quantities of this item unless you plan to use it for other reasons.)
  • Chlorine granules (available at most super stores or pool stores)
  • Iodine
  • Tarp or plastic sheeting (for solar stills)
  • Electrolyte or rehydration powders
  • Anti-diarrhea medicines
  • Vitamins (to help the body absorb needed nutrients after being ill from untreated water)

Action Items:


1. Research different types of water filtration systems to see which type is best suited for your family. Some great websites to begin searching is Berkey water filtration systems, Katadyn water filters, Micropur tablets and Steripen. These are all products that I have in my own preparedness supplies and use regularly.

2. Learn about natural ways to filter water. You Tube is an abundant source of information on how to filter water for survival situations. Devote some to learning methods such as: how to build a solar still, how to live on sea water, how to make your own water filter, making a sand filter and/or gravity filters.

3. Practice filtering and treating your water. This is a crucial skill to learn!

 

Week 18 of 52: Emergency Food Preservation

 

There are times when disasters will persist longer than intended, and time is of the essence to preserve as much of your food source as you can. Essentially, your short-term disaster is turning into a longer-term situation and you need to be able to fall back on a certain set of skills. These skills are something we will be talking more about in future issues. But it is important to emphasize that preparedness isn’t about how many items you have stored away, it’s really about learning the skills necessary for survival. And the best part of learning this particular skill of food preservation is that it takes you one step closer to being self reliant during a disaster.

Acquiring items to preserve food is a good investment for your short and long-term disaster supplies. However, to start this new skill set out, it is best to begin with collecting various types of food preservation resources. Some of the books that I have in my library are:


A great advantage about learning how to preserve food is that you can use just about any type of food. You can even preserve your own fruit juice. All you need is the right tools and your imagination. Further, having knowledge on how long foods last will help you preserve foods when they are at their best. This convenient food storage chart is a great tool to have in your kitchen to ensure your foods are within expiration.

Food preservation can be done in multiple ways:

  • Canning - This process destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes that are naturally in food. The heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal to prevent other microorganisms from decontaminating the food within the jar or can. Acidic foods such as fruits and tomatoes can be processed or “canned” in boiling water (also called the “water bath method”), while low acidic vegetables and meats must be processed in a pressure canner at 240°F (10 pounds pressure at sea level). Because the food is canned at the time of the fruits/vegetables prime nutrient content, they will retain most of their nutritional content if not gain more nutrients from the canning process. Canned food will keep 12 months, if not lot longer, in some cases.
  • Freeze – This is by far, the easiest way to preserve your food. Many simply, boil their fruits or vegetables for a minute or two and then throw them in the freezer. I have a vacuum sealer and seal up ready-to-cook dinners have them sitting in my freezer to use for nights when I’m really busy. It’s best to eat frozen food within 6-12 months. This is a very time efficient way of preserving food, however, if the electricity goes out for an extended time, the food will spoil. So my advice is to not put all your “eggs in one basket”, if you know what I mean.
  • Drying or Dehydrating - This method is a very low cost approach to use for long term storage is a great way of including needed nutrition into diets with minimal investment. You can purchase a food dehydrator for as low as $40, or you can dehydrate foods in the oven at a very low setting. Some people have even used their cars as a dehydrator during the hot, summer months. This type of preservation method keeps foods for 6 months-12 months. Dehydrating foods is the only long-term storage method for meat (jerky) which is a great food source to add to your 72-hour bag. Here are a few more recipes you may want to try out. To learn more about dehydrating and storing tips, click here.
  • Cure & Smoke - This time honored preservation method is very popular due to the intense flavor it adds to meats. Many foods are cured before smoking, especially cold-smoking, to draw out the moisture, which would otherwise promote spoilage. Ensure that you use cure mixtures that contain nitrate. Caution: Nitrites are considered carcinogens and are toxic if used in quantities higher than recommended; therefore caution should be used in their storage and use. Curing is when a mixture of salt, sodium nitrate, nitrites, sometimes sugar, spices, and other seasonings are combined to kill off any bacterial growth and to flavor the meat at the same time. To learn more about curing and smoking meats, click here.
  • Fermenting and pickling - This method of food preservation is one of the most common ways to prolong food sources because the acidity level makes it difficult for bacteria to grow. Ensure that you select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables free of spoilage. Distilled vinegar or cider vinegars of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) are recommended. To learn more about this type of preservation, click here.

Like with all foods in our food storage pantry, ensure that food is stored away properly in a cool, dark place away from natural elements (sunlight, moisture and insects). Natural elements and insects are your food’s worst enemies and should be avoided at all costs.

Food preservation is one of the oldest technologies known to man. Civilizations and even armies depended on preserved foods. And for centuries, this skill has been seen as a survival necessity. It is time that we took a second look at the skills from our ancestors and re-learn them to use for our future suvival situations.

Preps To Buy:


  • Kosher Salt (10 lbs.)
  • Sugar (20 lbs.)
  • Morton’s Sure Curing Salt (10 lbs.)
  • Pickling Salt (5-10 lbs.)
  • White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar (5-10 gallons)
  • Molasses (5-10 lbs)
  • Powdered Fruit Pectin
  • Canning Jars (in an assortment of sizes), lids and rings
  • Food Drying Racks
  • Pressure Canner
  • Food strainer
  • Canning rack

Action Items:


1. Begin researching and finding resources to have on hand for the different food preservation methods discussed. There are some great resources for preserving food on different homesteading websites and even homesteading magazines.

2. Practice makes perfect! So, start practicing using these methods in order for it to become a skill.

3. Start a garden to that you can grow food to preserve for later use.

 

 

5) 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington

#37 – In speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.

 

#38 – In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.

 

#39 – In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.