Government 1B Week 15 The Economy of Zaire, The Public Choice school of economics, Front-loading and Political Engineering

Question 1: What kind of success did Africa have with governments that wielded great power over the different African economies?

In the African country of Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ruler Mobutu Sese Seko ruined the economy through his anti-capitalistic endeavors. Mobutu gained his rulership in the middle of a copper fueled economic boom, and he used this wealth to give himself a larger than life political appearance. He forced people to change their Christian names, outlawed any western attire, and made it illegal to celebrate any western holidays. In their place he advertised himself, putting his portrait in churches and pushing an enormous African patriotism movement. He chased out every Belgium and Asian capitalist, and assured the people that their wealth would multiply under his rule.

What actually ended up happening under his rule was complete economical breakdown. Zaire suffered extreme dept and price inflation. Hospitals couldn’t afford basic medical equipment, and public transportation shut down entirely. Mobutu taxed the people 95% of their earnings, which gave people zero incentive to work. Mobutu eventually was forced into begging the Belgiums he had chased away to return.

Question 2: What are some of the major arguments advanced by the Public Choice school of economics?

One of the main arguments made by the Public Choice school of economics is that government officials have the same motivations and self fueled agendas as everyone else. They aren’t unbiased omniscient beings working solely for the betterment of the majority, they are humans who are working towards human goals. Maximizing their own wealth, for instance.

Another argument is that unlike a capitalist economy where your purchases have an immediate positive or negative consequence, voting does not have an immediate response. Therefore many voters stay rationally ignorant, their vote doesn’t have an immediate consequence so they don’t care enough to put days of research into it. In contrast those who will make money off the election study day and night, then they manipulate the masses through thoughtful speeches for their own financial gain.

Question 3: What are front-loading and political engineering?

Front-loading is a way to quietly and discretely push for a political candidate. It basically gives the spotlight to a candidate, which gives them the stage to promise too many things and lie about realistic pricing. Political engineering is the physical way to lie about pricing. Say some congressman has a project that will cost twelve million dollars, but he knows that if he tells his district this they wont have it. So instead he tells many different districts and now everyone only has to pay one million dollars. It makes his project look much more practical, when in reality its the same price just spread out over many different districts and taxpayers. He then promises the congressmen of those districts to help with their projects, and the cycle of financial manipulation continues.

Civilization Week 31 Germany’s Economic Miracle

Prompt: What were the important components of Germany’s Economic Miracle?

Germany’s economic miracle was a currency reform that took place after WWII. During this time German citizens were starving and miserable. Their currency was worthless, they were only allowed roughly 1200 calories a day, and the allies that occupied the territory were worried people would revolt. Ludwig Erhard and Lucious D Clay were the two main men to carry out the new system of Deutschemarks. Clay was the governor of the American zone, and Erhard was a German politician who had been heavily influenced by Wilhelm Röpke. Röpke was a Professor of Economics who opposed the Nazis and believed that the only way to obtain a non-corrupted morally neutral economic system was through liberty in the free market.

On June 20th 1947, Erhard implemented the Deutschemark currency and the results were undeniable. Grocery stores who the day previous had empty shelves now were filled, and Germans citizens who had been using cigarettes as money now had a currency of actual value. The German economy flourished under this new system. When WWII ended Germany was only able to produce about 35% of the goods they had produced previous to the war. With this new system implemented they were easily able to surpass the amount they produced prewar. It worked so well that the free market was incorporated into West Germany’s new constitution, and Germany became an example of how extraordinarily beneficial a liberty based free market can be.

Literature Week 35 Essay Farewell to the Master Vs The Day the Earth Stood Still

Prompt: “Is Kant’s nature/freedom dualism clearer in ‘Farewell to the Master’ or ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’? Explain.”

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher during the age of the enlightenment. One of his most famous philosophies was his idea of nature/freedom dualism. This idea is that as man continues to advance and experiment with science and technology eventually these tools will become stronger than the man and consequently overthrow him. This is further analyzed in the short story Farewell to the Master, then in 1951 the story was adapted into a movie named The Day the Earth Stood Still. The main differences between these two artworks are their endings, and their ultimate messages.

In both works a spacecraft lands itself at Washington DC, and a crowd of civilians and military surrounds the craft. After some time two figures appear from within the craft. One is an angelically beautiful man, the other is a large silent robot. In both works the beautiful man is shot before he can deliver his message, and the robot is left alone. We assume that the man is the master of the robot, and now that his master is gone the robot doesn’t have any orders to follow. In the movie the man survives, and most of our focus is on him and his interactions with civilians. In the short story the man dies, and all our focus is placed upon the robot.

As the short story progresses we realize that the robot does not need the man to function. The robot goes about his own actions, enters in and out of his ship, and experiments with different lifeforms. Eventually he takes the beautiful mans body into his ship and attempts bringing it back to life. It is here we realize that the robot is not the mans creation, but instead the robot has created the man to easilier communicate with humanity. The short story ends here, with the robot finally exclaiming to the reader “I am the master”. You could argue that the short story does a better job at discussing Kant’s nature/freedom dualism, since the theme of the robot being in charge is the main revelation one can take from the story.

The movie on the other hand discusses many different themes, themes of war and weapons and morality for instance. There’s much more of a focus on the human consciousness, and how we can use it to help or harm beings we don’t understand. There’s also a softer ending, as it turns out the robot is part of an interplanetary group of peacemakers who have come to warn humanity not to harm their outerspace neighbors. In the short story there’s nothing like this, the robot only taught humanity that it is in utter control. It better describes Kant’s philosophy, but its understandable that directors in the 50s wanted to create a less pessimistic film.

Government 1B Week 14 The Flaws of Marxist Communism

Question 1: What are some of Marx’s criticisms of capitalism?

Karl Marx was a decently bright individual, but he was also rather disconnected with the reality of economics. He had several severe (yet unjustified) complaints about capitalism. The first was that capitalism promotes drudgery. In capitalism people usually find a profession they enjoy and stick with it, eventually becoming proficiently efficient at their specific job. Marx’s belief was that this system demoted creativity and stifled self expression, he believed people should have the choice do to whatever profession they’d like the moment they felt like doing it. Someone could be a fisherman in the morning, a painter in the afternoon, and a chef at night. In contrast he also wanted a centralized government to completely organize all the production, a system that would completely undermine his previous economical wish. Centralized government controlling and organizing an economies production is COMPLETELY different than individuals switching between professions whenever they wish, the two systems are distinct opposites. Even if you exclude any reference to centralized government this system would still fail. The reason we take up one job and slowly master it is because it takes quite awhile to master something. If people could switch jobs willy nilly they’d never master anything. They could continuously switch jobs, but they’d constantly be subpar at each and every job. There would be no experts at anything, and our economy would be heavily deprived of strategy and intellect attained from years of specific fieldwork.

Another of Marx’s complaints was that companies in the capitalist system would only pay their employees the bare minimum, then inevitably the employees would get fed up and rebel against the system. What Marx forgets about capitalism is the importance of competitivity. Business’s compete against one another in all areas: materials, equipment, and of course labor force. They create competitive wages for their employees, attempting to pay their employees more than the business next door pays theirs. If a company wasn’t paying their employees enough they’d simply go out of business. The employees wouldn’t rise up against the competitivity of capitalism, they’d use it to their advantage and find themselves a better paying job.

Question 2: How might you respond to the criticisms you discussed in question 1?

To make a long story short Marx is bitterly disconnected with reality. He’s a salesman (more of a conman really), who says hes working for individual liberty when all of his beliefs and wishes point towards total centralized government. His political and economic wants contradict each other viciously, he seems to be living in some sort of economical fantasy land. Its idealistic sure, but its in no way realistic.

Communism promises many things free: free healthcare, free education, ect. But in reality nothing is free, its simply taken from the people who are smart enough to build a successful business for themselves. The way economy should work is those who work hard get more funding, that way economical growth is highly encouraged. Instead of paying more to those who work hard communism does just the opposite, not only does everyone get paid the same but those who work hardest are actually given more responsibilities. Communism does the opposite of what a economical system should do: it discourages economical advancement. Those who put hours of overtime in, or those who study for years and genially apply their intelligence, or those who sincerely want to improve their financial status by working as hard as they possibly can, these people are all punished under the communist system. The ones who are rewarded are the freeloaders, the people that don’t care about an economies advancement and are more focused on selfish desires. These are the people that are pushing for communism, because they know they will get easy money. But for the freeloaders to get their easy money the rest of us would have to suffer heavily. We’ve seen what this system of government does so many times through history, Venezuela is a good recent example.

There’s no such thing as free money, chasing after this fantasy only leads to extreme economical collapse. Our nation has built its foundation upon hard work and genuine effort, selling that out for the false promise of free riches is as lazy as it is unethical. Karl Marx had a lot of ideas, but its very clear that he didn’t have a well structured plan to go along with these ideas. He simply stated that communism was “inevitable” but gave no backing or logic to why it would be inevitable. Capitalism has many flaws, but its at least structured enough to create an enormously large and thriving economy. The financially poor people living within the capitalist economy live better than the richest kings of yesteryear. Technology, large scale production, and financial encouragement of genuine work ethic have all been made real by capitalism, while the examples of communism being implemented into the real world have all ended in economic disaster.

Civilization Week 29 Vengeance in WWII

Prompt: In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II? In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II?

Revenge was a huge motivator, especially during the second half of WWII. In 1944 the Eastern Europeans (knowing they had been greatly wronged by the Germans) took it upon themselves to rid their lands of any and all peoples of German lineage living within their Countries. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland teamed up with the Soviets to ruthlessly drive the Germans from their lands. Problem was the Germans living in their lands weren’t soldiers, in fact they were merely civilians who had lived there for generations. Many were women, children, and elderly who had stayed in their home country to avoid the brutality of the war. More than one million German people were wiped out in this vengeance fueled act of violence, making this the most consuming ethnic cleansing in history.

By 1945 almost every country was fueled by revenge, each having had something immense taken from them at this time in the war. In February British and American troops bombed Dresden over several days, vengeance for when the Germans bombed Coventry. In France people began practising “epuration”, or purification. The basics of this was anyone having any relation to the Nazis would either be humiliated or shot. Women suspected of having romanced Nazi soldiers had their heads shaved, swastikas painted upon their foreheads, and they were marched around through town to be belittled and laughed at. Anyone besides women who were suspected to have some relation to the Nazis were shot without any real questioning.

Then the most infamous part of the war occurred, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now my personal stance on this is it was unneeded, horrendously destructive and sociopathic on Truman’s part, and simply a way for America to feel like they had earned back their dignity from Pearl Harbor. But it did stop the war in its tracks, with quite an unnecessary amount of civilian murder. Japan had already completely surrendered at this point, their only plea was to keep their emperor (who was seen as a holy asset by the Japanese people). Now this surrender in itself was very difficult for Japan to do, they were an extremely prideful country that took great severity in their victories and defeats. Surrender in any form was extremely disgraceful for them, and asking to keep their emperor was basic for their culture and spirituality. Not only did America refuse this outright, demanding an unconditional surrender. But they poured a huge bucketful of salt into Japans already stinging wound by atomically ripping the skin off of 146,000 uninvolved Japanese civilians. It was incredibly barbarian in nature and was just an unbacked excuse to prove to the Soviets that America had atomic weapons. It was a horrifying end to a horrifying war, and I’ve been pretty horrified having to look into the details of it. It was the most explosive form of vengeance in WWII, a major disaster that makes me wish America had just stayed out of it entirely. But it did end the war, not surprisingly. So I guess we have to give it that. Lots of painful executions of innocent lives, lots of unnecessary death. I hope we get to research something a little more cheery next time. As someone who loves Japan, and all nationalities for that matter, this was a painful topic to thoroughly examine.

Government 1B Week 13 Sweden’s Economy and the Values of Fascism

Question 1: The standard claim about Sweden is that it shows that society can prosper without such a free market and with extensive government intervention. Based on the lesson and on your reading, what would be a good response to this claim?

The claim that Sweden has prospered without any form of free market is inaccurate. The initial growth of Sweden’s wealth was actually accumulated within a free market, as from the 19th century into the 20th century Sweden maintained all the essentials of a free market. There wasn’t any form of socialism or social democracy until after this, until after their wealth had already been built up. So Sweden earned its wealth through a free market, then it must have been social democracy that allowed them to maintain that wealth right? Wrong, it was mainly Sweden’s insistence that they avoid war as much as possible. Since they weren’t throwing millions towards the war fund they were able to further develop their own technology and productivity. From 1870 to 1950 (when Sweden was using a free market system) they had the highest rate of per-capita income in the world. Then from 1970 to 1989 taxes and government welfare programs rose dramatically, and Sweden dropped from the fourth richest industrialized country to the fourteenth. After 1970 establishment of Swedish firms dropped significantly. In 1990 a real estate crash occurred that lowered GDP by 6%. By 1993 government spending had increased to 71.7% of GDP, and consequently this is when the country dropped from fourth wealthiest to fourteenth.

What were the primary values of fascism?

The primary value of fascism is that the leader of a country is in complete and utter power. Its sort of a mix between extreme nationalism and absolutism, the dictator is basically viewed as a human representation of God. They will be patriotic to an unhealthy level, dehumanizing outsiders and convincing the people their nation is superior to all others. They will also usually be fixated on conquering other peoples and further spreading and developing their rule. The way fascism is most commonly developed within a country is the people become blinded by the pre-fascists political charisma. They are promised economic and social liberation, but once the fascist gains power more often than not they deliver the opposite. Fascism is the most extreme example of the central government growing out of control. In a healthy political arena there are thousands of representatives debating laws and regulations, and hundreds of thousands more civilians voting on whether or not they approve. In fascism only the dictator and his or hers advisers make the countries decisions.

Civilization Week 28 World War II’s Increasingly Brutal Tactics

Prompt: Did World War II become more brutal as time went on? In what ways? Was the brutality on only one side?

Following Operation Barbarossa Hitler began implementing mass shootings of innocent minorities. Jews, Romani peoples, Slavs, and handicapped people of all sorts were made to dig their own graves and then be shot down into them. A reprisal shooting program was started to discourage harm against soldiers. Any time a German soldier was hurt or killed they would murder twenty to forty unrelated people. In 1939 the T4 program was created, its purpose being to eradicate everyone suffering from congenital diseases. They would take people from their homes offering medical assistance, then quietly murder them and tell their families they died naturally. The soldiers made into executioners began to feel an understandably burdensome mental tole, so the Nazi solution was to create a much more efficient and much less human mass murder method. They needed a way of killing deprived of all empathy, a way to slaughter hundreds like cattle without having to get a soldiers conscience bloody. In 1941 under SS Lieutenant Reinhardt Heydrich gas chambers were technologically perfected, swift and efficient chambers of death made to kill as many people as possible. People were worked to the point of death, then rounded up together and gassed. This was only the beginning of WWII’s brutality, and sweet lord I hate writing about this. But I have to so lets continue.

The Nazi’s were infamously brutal in their attempts to ethically cleanse their lands, but the British and Americans could be pretty inhuman as well. The major example of this were the bombings and air raids that were sent across Europe. In a twisted form of revenge for their fallen all sides began bombing their adversaries cities. The sole purpose of this was to murder and destroy uninvolved civilians. In this cacophony of chaos hell itself seemed to rise up as literal tornados of fire and debris ripped across the towns and villages. In 1945 thousands of people fled from the Soviets and were attacked by Britains Royal Air Force. They strategically dropped three waves of bombs upon the defenseless people, adamant about creating as much bloodshed as possible. Then they waited for rescue teams to arrive, and bombed them all again. Then the bastards waited AGAIN for rescue teams to arrive and bombed them once more. This horrendous bombing method resulted in 40,000 civilians, rescue workers, and Russian refugees dead on the streets.

Speaking of the Russian refugees I should make clear what exactly it was they were running from. If you thought the Nazi’s could act inhumanly psychopathic you don’t know much about what the Russians under Stalin were like. At least the Nazi’s murder methods were semi quick, guns and gas that sort of thing. The Soviets methods were a lot more.. whats the word… demonic in nature. Torture of innocents was not only encouraged, but rewarded with military advancement. The masses of Polish soldiers shot in the Katyn Forest got off easy compared to the “liberation” going on across Eastern Europe. Torture, rape, and murder of people between the ages of infancy to elderly became the norm. Pillaging innocents, stealing their homes and families, and murdering them in front of their loved ones with horrendously creative torture methods became the way for a Soviet officer to gain military honor and status. This meant those that rose to the top of the Soviet military were the most sadistic and bloodthirsty men around. Death became the goal, torture became the tool, and the grim reaper became the angel who could end your worldly suffering.

So in conclusion of this horrible topic around 80,000,000 people died during World War II, and no one besides the dead could hold the title of innocent. Nazi’s became the most infamous because of their death camps, murdering hundred of thousands of Jews, Romani, homosexuals, disabled people, congenitally diseased people, autistic people, Slavs, rival soldiers, and of course any and all German civilians standing up against the meaningless bloodshed. British and American troops acted sociopathically brutal as well, bombing thousands of innocent civilians in a vague and disgusting attempt at revenge. But in my mind the Soviets were the most unforgivable, as it seemed they hardly had any real motive behind their torture. They started out fighting for communism, but by the end they seemed to just enjoy the mindless violence. Strategy fell in importance to the Soviets as bloodlust clouded their minds, and their brutality was truly unrivaled. War is an immensely horrible thing, it can make almost anyone forget the value of a human life. WWII is a bloody example of that, displaying that even those fighting for justice can become enveloped by hatred and vengeance.

If you’ve read this far I commend you, this has certainly been the most difficult essay for me to write in quite awhile. Three and a half hours of sitting down and researching the details of the most destructive and murderous point in our history, not an afternoon delight by any means. I’d like to conclude this massive event of hopelessness with a heartfelt piece of hope. Each human life is extremely precious, each human life holds a spark of the holy creator, each human spirit should be regarded as miraculous and each individual should be given a chance to find happiness. War blinds us to this, it makes us forget that we are all part of a human collective and propels us to destroy the very essence of our own existence. I hope, God I hope, that these tragedies don’t repeat themselves and that we can be wise enough to learn from the past. For the sake of innocent life I pray that we can become better than this, and I pray that the souls that were unjustly ripped from their bodies can find peace in the beyond. Godspeed children of the light, may we create something better than this.