An Anti-capitalist-to-Reality Pocket Translator

September 14, 2013
Sister Teresa Forcades: to where does the road paved with good intentions lead?

Sister Teresa Forcades: to where does the road paved with good intentions lead?

A friend of mine shared this article with me on facebook:

Sister Teresa Forcades: Europe’s most radical nun

The article begins:

A Spanish nun has become one of Europe’s most influential left-wing public intellectuals. This year, thousands have joined her anti-capitalist movement, which campaigns for Catalan independence, the reversal of public spending cuts and nationalisation of banks and energy companies.

Where one sees the word “anti-capitalist”, a to-do list of pie-in-the-sky fantasies generally follows. This article provides about the best example I’ve seen in a long time. Sister Theresa’s goals are all well-intended, I’m sure, but evaluating them through even the thinnest lenses of economic clarity yield immediately unpleasant results.

According to the article, she drew up her 10 point plan “with economist Arcadi Oliveres”.  I’d like to learn more about this apparently anti-capitalist economist, but early Google searches turn up only Spanish language web sites. Perhaps he is the Richard D. Wolff of the Spanish-speaking world.

Here is Sister Teresa Forcades’s 10 point plan, with my Anti-capitalist-to-Reality translations:

• A government takeover of all banks and measures to curb financial speculation

Translation: Forcefully monopolize the banking industry. Applaud as the monopoly charges whatever interest it see fit. Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed usurers. Earning a profit by foregoing consumption and lending money without the government’s permission shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate.

Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed investors. The act of buying now for the purpose of selling later at a profit shall be a crime, unless done with the government’s permission and to its specifications. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate to imprison unlicensed investors.

• An end to job cuts, fairer wages and pensions, shorter working hours and payments to parents who stay at home

Translation: Firing or laying off an employee for any reason shall be a crime. Applaud as employment falls to near-zero, because employers will take far fewer chances when hiring people they may not lawfully fire or lay off. Build police forces and penitentiaries to warehouse the former employers who have fired or laid off workers..

‘Fair wages’, in the anti-capitalist lexicon, generally means ‘more wages than are currently being paid’. Cutting wages, or continuing to pay wages at the current amount, shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries to imprison employers who carry on their businesses but fail to increase wages to the arbitrary, ever-increasing, State-mandated minimum. Applaud as the forced increase in the price of labor causes a decrease in the demand for labor. Applaud as established, entrenched mega-corporations thrive and upstart competitors struggle to either launch or maintain their businesses.

Offering work in excess of a state approved number of hours per day shall be a crime. Those who either want or need more money must take a second job to acquire it, because employers who dare employ will avoid paying extra money for overtime. Applaud as workers pay higher travel costs.

Take more money from the people who leave their homes during the day and give it to the people who stay at home. Those who leave their homes during the day, acquire money, and attempt to bring all of that money back to their homes shall be criminals. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate to house them.

• Decent housing for all, and an end to all foreclosures

Translation: Siphon resources from other worthy projects in the economy to build houses of State-mandated luxuriety for which no-one shall be responsible for paying. Applaud as practically everything else in the economy becomes impossible to afford. To refuse the State the use of one’s resources shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to house those who refuse to forgo their other projects in furtherance of the State housing project.

• Genuine “participatory democracy” and steps to curb political corruption

 [I’m not quite sure what this means yet, so I’ll pass on it.]

• A reversal of public spending cuts, and renationalisation of all public services

Translation: Siphon resources from other worthy projects in the economy so that the State may “serve the public” in its discretion, and without the inhibitions of cost accounting. Applaud as practically everything in the economy, including these services, becomes impossible to afford. To refuse to the State the use of one’s resources shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to house those who refuse to forgo their other projects in furtherance of the services that the State, in its discretion, deems worthy of pursuit.

• An individual’s right to control their own body, including a woman’s right to decide over abortion.

Translation: Same meaning. This is a cognate.

• “Green” economic policies and the nationalisation of energy companies.

Translation: Criminalize all forms of energy that do not enjoy the license of the state. Applaud the Solyndra-style scandals as the State hand-picks “green” winners in what is left of the marketplace.

Forcefully monopolize the energy industry. Applaud as the monopoly charges whatever prices it see fit. Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed energy providers. Earning a profit by providing energy without the State’s permission shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate.

• An end to xenophobia and repeal of immigration laws

Translation: Same meaning. This is a cognate.

• Placing public media under democratic control, including the internet

Translation: Repeal the First Amendment. The majority of voters is authorized to quash unpopular viewpoints. Pirate websites, radio stations, television stations, and newsletters shall be illegal. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to imprison those who publish or broadcast them.

• International “solidarity”, leaving Nato, and the abolition of armed forces in a future free Catalonia

[I’m not quite sure what this means yet, so I’ll pass on it.]

Perhaps as this pocket translator grows, I’ll make it a full feature of the blog…..

Image via Lrubiope, Wikimedia Commons


On George Selgin, Fractional Reserve Banking, and the Curious Sport of Insulting Austrian Economists

August 12, 2013
Don't make cats sad.

Don’t make cats sad.

Insulting Austrian economists is a popular sport among non-Austrian economists. Paul Krugman reigns as champion, with his latest feat of derogatory dexterity appearing in his column of July 16th, entitled The Paradox of Flexibility:

Well, Hazlitt has been wrong about everything for more than 80 years, and is still regarded as a guru. Bad ideas, it appears, are extremely robust in the face of contrary evidence.

Nice jab, Paul. Good one!

I was nonplussed this morning to witness George Selgin get in on the fun. Selgin is a self-styled former Austrian economist whom I understood as well regarded among the Austrian marketeers that I’ve heard speak. His lecture for the Austrians at the Ludwig von Mises Institute entitled The Private Supply of Money is one of my all time favorites from that outfit, so imagine my perverse interest when I happened upon a post of his entitled A Theory of Banking Made Out of Thin Air, which began thus:

Instances of self-styled Austrian economists bungling their banking theory seem almost as common these days as instances of theologians bungling their cosmology were six centuries ago.

Ouch, George! I didn’t know you could dish ’em out like that!  Read the rest of this entry »


The Amazing Atheist: Capitalism doesn’t work because shoppers are too stupid.

July 4, 2013

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” ~ Murray Rothbard

The Amazing Atheist thinks he’s got this economics stuff figured out. The relevant part begins a minute in:

Mr. Atheist actually begins his account of market economics with uncommon accuracy. He describes hamburger/harmonica exchange well enough, at least to start:  Read the rest of this entry »


If housepets could whine like human beings….

June 15, 2013

A good friend of mine posted the following cartoon to facebook, with instructions: “If house pets were libertarians. (And someone, please sketch the opposite…)”

If housepets were libertarians.

If housepets were libertarians.

The middle panel begs the question, in the logical sense. Of course, we humans have outside knowledge that the filter is absolutely necessary for the survival of the fish. The necessity of myriad government boondoggles however, is not so well established. The other two panels are reasonable to the extent that libertarians say these sorts of things.  Read the rest of this entry »


What Libertarians Mean By “The Free Market”: My Two Cents

May 26, 2013

From  Libertarianism.org, via Cato.org

I’ll just add my two cents to this:  Read the rest of this entry »


Student Loan Interest Rates: Elizabeth Warren Promises Bread and Circuses

May 24, 2013

At least two of my followees posted this on their FB feeds:

Oh gawd.

Oh gawd.

Posting something like this, without any caveats or qualifications, to me, is a symptom of Acute Economic Unawareness (AEU). Read the rest of this entry »


Yahoo! News republishes odd smear against Ron Paul and the Ludwig von Mises Institute

May 1, 2013

Yahoo! News always gets me with its bizarre headlines, so I had to stop for this one, published today, April 30th, 2013:

Ron Paul slams Boston Police. Has he gone too far?

Well, a side observation:

Beyond that, the article, penned by Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor, is an empty critique of Ron Paul’s blog post for LewRockwell.com entitled Liberty Was Also Attacked In Boston. Read the rest of this entry »


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