Sunday, April 7, 2013

Richard Maybury at The Daily Bell

Richard Maybury is so wonderfully good on so many subjects, yet he has what I consider one fatal flaw, which taints my view of him whenever I consider his work.  Before that, a few thoughts on other aspects of this interview:

RM: By 1945 it was clear Stalin intended to conquer the world. There was near panic in London and Washington as these governments realized what they'd done by aiding Stalin….[Truman] pledged to help anyone who resisted the Soviet Union.

BM: Maybury assumes the poor saps in charge were idiots when it came to evaluating Stalin in the 1930s.  I suggest that the saps knew what they were doing – setting up communism to be a perpetual enemy for perpetual war.  They wanted Stalin to come out of the war in a strong position, just as they wanted the communists to take over in China after the war.

RM: I don't think [there is a conspiracy to brainwash the population], not at all. It's just government employees teaching today's children a view of life that most government employees were taught when they were students.

BM: Public school teachers teach from the textbooks that are approved by gatekeepers.  They teach to standardized tests that are approved by gatekeepers.  Maybury even (partially) acknowledges this, when he says “The committees don't consciously add lies [to the textbooks]; they just delete facts that are awkward….”

But, of course, they add lies. Read any textbook material on Lincoln, for example.  “He saved the union,” the textbooks proclaim, when in fact he destroyed it.

RM: My 11 Uncle Eric books are what I would say to a young person if I were that individual's uncle.

BM: I have read the two covering the two world wars.  They are truly worthwhile.

RM: the two fundamental laws that make civilization possible are 1) Do all you have agreed to do and 2) Do not encroach on other persons or their property.

BM: a simple yet profound statement.

But now to the ugly. 

RM: My investment model is very simple. Buy things that do well during wartime and currency debasement.

BM: Maybury’s position on investing in things that do well in wartime is corrupt.  Maybury advocates profiting from the most hideous outward manifestation of the state: war.  Almost every weapon produced by such investments is one of mass destruction – not able to be aimed solely at the intended target (assuming you even trust the state’s judgment on the intended target, individuals half-way around the world that pose no harm to Americans).

One will say that the weapon cannot be immoral, only the operator.  This is correct for a rifle or bow and arrow.  It can be aimed at the intended target.  Not so for weapons of modern warfare.  All such weapons produce what is sanitarily called “collateral damage.”  These cannot be used in a moral manner.  See Rothbard:

"This [the availability and use of modern weapons of war as opposed to guns or bows and arrows] is why the old cliché no longer holds that it is not the arms but the will to use them that is significant in judging matters of war and peace. For it is precisely the characteristic of modern weapons that they cannot be used selectively, cannot be used in a libertarian manner.”

I am reminded of this aspect of Maybury every time I read his work or otherwise come across him in this virtual world.  For me, it taints the rest.


DB: Life, unfortunately, is full of gray tones.

BM: Certainly.  Forgive me if I believe that the indiscriminate taking of countless millions of lives via weapons that cannot be used discriminately (by their very design) is the ultimate expression of the violation of rights that is the state – infinitely exceeding every other state depravation. 

Would I rather be taxed at confiscatory rates, subject to fiat money, controlled about what I eat and drink, spied on without cause, forced to expose every aspect of my financial life; or would I rather the state just kill me and get it over with such that I no longer have to suffer with the other depravations?

The answer should be overwhelmingly obvious.

Life may be full of gray tones, but not for those unfortunate victims of collateral damage on the receiving end of Maybury’s dividend checks.  For these victims, there is no gray tone, only black.  And investing in the producers of this weaponry only supports the murder.  Taxes in support aren’t voluntary, investing is.

As to Rothbard teaching at a public university, I tend to agree with the view that suggests that if an activity would be acceptable in a free society, and the government has for the most part co-opted that activity, then it is acceptable for a libertarian to participate in that activity in this world.  Certainly, being a university professor fits this view.  Even if you disagree, on a scale with NAP at one end and state-sponsored mass murder at the other, being a professor at a public university is pretty close to the benign extreme.

Not bad for Rothbard, given the mud we all swim in.


 DB: Our bright line begins and ends with free markets …

BM: There are no free markets absent property rights. There are no property rights when it is acceptable to apply deadly aggression against one who has not committed an aggression. Call this a moral argument if you wish. I do view it as moral; I also view it as foundational to free markets.

In any case, as always I thank DB for being so gracious in this forum.

DB reply to above:  Maybury is making a recommendation about investments. You seem to be implying that making a purchase is the same as shooting someone. We might well agree that it is morally repugnant to purchase shares in the military industrial complex. It is also morally repugnant to pay taxes that support this infernal system. But to advance an investment argument based on morality is to set up a kind of slippery slope - and that is what we've been trying to explain.

It is better to focus on instruction - and education - than plain "morality" in our view. How can people live better and more fulfilling lives - not more "moral" ones. That is what we try to do here.

Thank you as well for participating; you will perhaps reply further either here or in your own forum. If so, we will read your commentary with interest.


 DB, I will write something further on this at my site - I have clogged this thread enough. If I feel it further develops my thoughts, I will post the link in this thread. This may take a day or two.

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