The times are terrible not because of some impersonal forces of history as Hegel might have it, but because a small minority decided to play dangerous games with fundamental rights, liberties, and law. They broke the world and are now pillaging what’s left. It promises to stay broken and looted so long as the same people either gain the courage to admit wrongdoing or, like the decrepit old men who ruled the Soviet empire in its last days, they finally perish from the earth.
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The mistake we made was in believing that there is logic to history. There isn’t. There is only the march of good ideas and bad, and the forever competition between the two. And this is a central message of Mises’s 1954 overlooked masterwork Theory and History. Here he offers a devastating rebuttal to determinism of all sorts, whether from old liberals or Hegel or Fukuyama.
Since money-printing went into permanent high gear after the dotcom crash in 2000, the top 1% of households have gained $20 million each in inflation-adjusted net worth. Likewise, the top 0.1% or 131,000 households at the tippy top of the economic ladder have gained $88 million each in inflation-adjusted net worth.
The jackboot and the sandal were graphic symbols of authority subjugating conquered peoples. If programmable CBDCs are introduced, your own digital financial footprint will be used to control you. The means of control change over time but the insatiable desire for total control remains constant.
What AI cannot do is incorporate into a single entity all of the specialized skills that the entrepreneur has; the abilities to calculate, plan, and execute, the personal acceptance of profit or loss, and the continued span of consciousness over time which makes the pursuit of wealth purposeful.
The same dynamic that Jesus encountered in Nazareth held true today; bringing “glad tidings to the poor” is a popular slogan but very often those who embrace it most quickly care little for being called out for their own sins which prevent delivery of these glad tidings. Sadly, this is precisely what has happened to those whose political history has been tied up with what was once called the labor movement.
The administrative state is horrible and it deserves to be called out. The next President can and should cut the administrative state in half (one could do so with no loss in services). But reading When McKinsey Comes to Town I realized that management consultants likely make up a larger share of the deep state than bureaucrats.