Friday, July 18, 2008

Excellent Letter from Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek Blog ( carries one his great letters to a newspaper, that is so good I just have to post it here too. It's not just his constant campaign for free trade, which is of Bastiat standard in fearless good sense journalism, but his price challenge to those who believe (it must be a belief because it couldn't be an argument based on reality) that they are 'worse off' now than in the 1970s, which is influenced by the undoubted visible perception of the rise in money prices and limited perceptionof the hidden rise in real incomes, is so precise, economical and brief, that I do not think it can be bettered:

"Times Aren't of '70s Bad" from Cafe Hayek HERE :

"Here's a letter of mine sent recently to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

We can debate just how closely the economy of 2008 parallels that of the 1970s ("Today's crunch feels like '70s," July 13). But one big difference unquestionably - and happily - distinguishes today from the dismal days of disco: no wage and price controls. This fact alone goes far toward making our prospects today brighter than they were during the presidencies of Nixon, Ford, and Carter. No inflation camouflaged by government fiat, and no long lines at gasoline stations or anxiety about finding fuel.

Plus, we're much wealthier today. Those who doubt this truth can get any Sears catalog from the 1970s, study it, and ask if they'd prefer to use their 2008 incomes to buy 1970s-era products at 1970s prices, or buy today's products at today's prices. Even though nominal prices in the 1970s were much lower than prices today, very few persons would choose the 1970s option.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux"

How true, and if worked out for every decade from the 1900s to the 1970s, I would not be surpised to see the same or similar responses.

Many angry Bloggers, politicians, and callers in to radio programmes believe they live in the worst of times, that are getting worse still. I read rants condemning everything about the rich parts of the world that they live in, sometimes overshadowed by their sight of deadly forces of the night, on the eve of a catastrophe beyond human understanding, but not quite here just yet.

Until I see people escaping from the Western countries, huddled in unseaworthy boats, under tarpaulins in lorries crossing their borders, stealing planes and flying anywhere but North America and Europe, and claiming refugee status in Africa, South America (Cuba even), parts of Asia, including North Korea, and Russia, I shall never take their cries of anguish seriously.

The traffic is all one way. Nobody is abandoning commercial society to return to hunter-gathering, though some preach at a distance just how great it was for humanity when it depended solely on what it could gather, catch and kill in the forests of long ago - when, as John Locke put it: 'all the world was [16th century] America' - but few if any of these aimlessly disastisfied myopics buy one-way tickets to go without any of the appurtances of western life (medicines, photos, metal knives and water-bottles), and strip off, dump everything, to join the hunter gatherers in the upper Amazon, the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, or the Kalahri desert, of which I can only say to them if they ever have a go: 'good luck, you'll need it.'

Adam Smith was right: the labouring poor had endured privation since their ancestors left the forest for shepherding and farming, and commercial society gave their descendants to opportunity to share in the spread of opulenc for the very fist time in 11,000 years. As far as I can see, nobody in the poorer parts of the world wants to go back to the forest; they want their share in opolence too.


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