ALOD Policy

How African Development Bank’s lifeline lifted Nigeria out of recession

The African Development Bank provided a much-needed lifeline at a time when it was very difficult to secure budget support loans from anywhere else, as the country struggled with the 2015-2016 economic recession, the Nigerian Government has said.

Speaking to a large audience of senior government officials, private sector, and development agencies as he commissioned the Bank’s world-class office complex in Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo said the Bank had faithfully filled its role as a trusted advisor and an honest broker in the region and has earned its place as the voice of Africa on development issues.

He described the building as an important symbol of the special relationship between the Bank and Nigeria – a founding member and the largest shareholder of the Bank since its inception in 1964.

Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, observed that the Bank’s High 5 development priorities, unveiled by African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina when he took office in 2015, is right on track – through investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education, health care, and increased access to affordable energy and water.

“Nigeria has been important in the growth of the institution as a major shareholder, donor and borrower all at the same time. And we have through the years shared the Bank’s vision and objectives. Just to underscore the love between the African Development Bank and Nigeria, we have loaned our own Dr. Akinwumi Adesina to the Bank, as he is to our great pride: Nigeria’s first President of the Bank.”

He noted that the Bank had evolved into one of the most efficient vehicles for Africa’s economic development and integration.

“More importantly, the Bank is to be commended for its ongoing efforts to close the gender gap, empower women and youths, and to ultimately strengthen and expand social safety nets for our most vulnerable populations.”

With its large market of over 185 million people, he assured that Nigeria would continue to be an important player in the Bank’s work, advancing efforts to boost regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in particular and Africa as a whole. 

Continue reading at AfDB.org

 

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4 Common Capitalism Myths Debunked

Fee.org (by: James Davenport)

One of the most disappointing things I face as a college professor is the lack of understanding most students have regarding capitalism. The simple fact is, despite its importance to our daily lives, relatively few people have a strong grasp of what causes economic growth and why markets are so central to continuously rising standards of living.

In my teaching, I have encountered several myths or misperceptions about capitalism from students as well as individuals outside the classroom. Dispelling these myths has become a focus of much of my teaching.

Myth #1: Capitalism Was “Created”

One of the most pervasive misunderstandings about capitalism is the idea that it was created by someone. Some of this can be attributed to the language used to describe Adam Smith’s role in explaining the market process. The common reference to Smith as “the father of modern economics” can lead people to assume that he in some way created the market system. It is also not unreasonable to conclude that, since socialism is generally reliant on planning, many would assume that capitalism is as well.

Markets arise out of our human qualities.

However, as Friedrich Hayek explained, the market system is not really “created” as much as it is a system that evolves out of human interaction and discovery. Similar to language, the market economy was not created by a single individual or group but evolved over a long period based on the interactions of many people. The rules and institutions which support the market economy arose from these interactions.This notion of a spontaneous order emerging out of the individual actions of millions of people, and the discovery of rules and institutions that will facilitate the continual progress of this order, may be the most important aspect of capitalism. It succeeds because it arises out of humanity itself.

Unlike socialism, which attempts to impose rules and institutions regardless of their conformity to human nature or desires, markets arise out of our human qualities. And the rules and institutions that facilitate the ability of markets to perform are discovered as we discover ourselves and in the way we interact with one another.

Myth #2: Capitalism Creates Poverty

This may be the most pernicious of all the misunderstandings I encounter regarding markets. The idea that absent market capitalism would create greater shared wealth within society continues to permeate the thinking of a great deal of people. This is despite mounting evidence that, as markets are used by more and more countries, global poverty is steadily decreasing.

All developed countries have market-based economies.

Importantly, the evidence is clear that this decline in poverty has happened as countries have come to embrace market capitalism as the way forward – especially China and India. As other countries see the success of these two previously very poor countries and begin following their lead, we can expect to see poverty in the rest of the developing world significantly reduced as well.In the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith explained how markets, by continuously expanding the range of goods and services to an ever-increasing number of people, would produce what he called “universal opulence.” However, since Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels first launched their frontal assault on capitalism, many intellectualsentertainers, and even politicians have embraced the idea that capitalism causes poverty, or at least prevents people from escaping it, and more disturbingly, that socialism leads to greater prosperity for the masses.

It’s not surprising, then, that these ideas filter down to the public-at-large. But this idea that capitalism leads to poverty for the masses while socialism leads to their prosperity is exactly opposite to all the evidence we have.

All developed countries have market-based economies. Those developing countries seeing the greatest growth have adopted market principles. Contrast this with countries that have fully adopted socialism, such as Venezuela or North Korea. It is troubling that incoming students do not understand this.

Myth #3: Capitalism Is about Capital

The underlying foundation of capitalism is human freedom.

The term “capitalism” was coined by Marx as a pejorative towards market-based economies. The term stuck and has led to some confusion about why markets actually work. As economic historian Deidre McCloskey has noted, people at all times have attempted to amass capital (land, resources, and money). But those collective attempts didn’t lead to the type of society-wide economic growth we have seen since 1800.The underlying foundation of capitalism is human freedom. As Adam Smith recognized, when individuals are permitted to pursue their self-interest through markets, they are amazingly good at finding ways of bettering not only themselves but society as well.

Equally important, as economist Joseph Schumpeter explained, out of this freedom arises a continuous process of improvement – what he called “creative destruction.” It is this constant innovation – discovering and bringing to market new products and services, finding ways of improving existing products and services, and finding more efficient ways to create these products and services – that truly drives economic growth and increases standards of living.

The fact is, while the accumulation of capital is a feature of a market economy, it’s certainly not exclusive to it. It is individual freedom and the innovation that arises from it that drives the engine of capitalism.

Myth #4: Capitalism Creates “Winners” and “Losers”

While it is true that some individuals and firms succeed while others do not in capitalism, this also is hardly an exclusive feature of markets. All economic systems have some individuals who succeed and others who fail in one form or another.

Over the long run, society in its entirety benefits as a result of markets. 

However, capitalism is different in this regard in two important ways. First, capitalism increases the number of “winners.” Unlike other systems, capitalism reduces the barriers to entry into market activity for larger numbers of individuals. The resulting competition provides greater opportunities for success (both great and small) than in any other system.Second, over the long run, society in its entirety benefits as a result of markets. This is because markets, as mentioned above, bring more goods and services within reach of more people than any other system.

Markets also produce products and services that improve our lives in ways that our ancestors could never have dreamed. Just consider all the things that exist today, that didn’t a mere thirty years ago. The simple fact is that today even the poorest modern Americans have more goods and services at their disposal than kings and queens did just two hundred years ago.

So, although individual firms may fail, and individual people may not gain great wealth, the fact is that, over the long-run, we all win by enjoying better living standards than previous generations.

We Need Better Education

If the United States is going to continue to see its economy grow and the living standards of its citizens improve, it is important that students are taught the basics of the economic system that has allowed them to experience Adam Smith’s “universal opulence.” Without this basic knowledge, they’re easily led to believe the myths I’ve mentioned and to vote for politicians and policies that will ultimately undermine the very system that has made their lives significantly better than their ancestors, as well as better than most of their contemporaries across the globe.

James Davenport

James Davenport is an award-winning professor of political science at Rose State College and has also taught economics at the University of Central Oklahoma. You can find him online here.

Republish from Fee.org

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3 Ways How President Mnangagwa Can Make the New Zimbabwe A Success Story

Republished from Rational Standard 

by: Ibrahim B. Anoba

The curtains of celebration are gradually drawing home in Zimbabwe as President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumes office to lead the country out of its numerous ordeals. As expected, there would be calls to initiate state-driven economic reforms to solve the three development-related problems of cash purchasing power, institutional corruption and food shortages. Instead, Mnangagwa must learn from the consequences of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year experiment with collectivism.

On Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

If Mnangagwa truly believes that Mugabe was wrong in meddling with the market economy, he should simply avoid following suit.

For instance, following the currency instability that started in the late 1990s greatly because of the confiscation of private farms from white landowners, Mugabe adopted a state-driven strategy that would eventually influence the bulk of present economic problems. He made the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe routinely print money to fund budgets and reward his political allies until the currency bloated to an unmanageable level in 2009. This neither helped economic productivity nor encouraged investment as he promised.

Rather than experiment with another centrally-designed programme, it is best to have private-driven reforms by repealing laws that constrain foreign investment and property ownership. The return of corporate interest and security of property would almost instantly stimulate the value of the currency through a natural inflow of foreign exchange and increase in informal start-ups.

It is more interesting when considering the possible benefits of replicating this approach in the prolific mining sector. Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest reserve of platinum, a highly-valuable commodity for electronic and medical industries. It also has lithium, which is in great demand by tech companies for making batteries.

With these enormous market opportunities, a complete shift from the usual state-led extraction and exchange would attract more investment and allow competition among corporations to gradually increase the PPP of the Zimbabwean dollar.

Managing Corruption

If pro-market reforms are necessary to resuscitating the Zimbabwean economy, reducing corruption to the barest minimum is more integral to sustaining it.

In 2016, Transparency International reported that corruption cost the country $1 billion annually. This is primarily because of the wide dependence on government to provide basic amenities including healthcare, education and social welfare, which are considered cultural rights in Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa should avoid this by not burdening his cabinet with unnecessary headaches. These are services best provided by a competitive private sector.

It is not rocket science that entrusting any administration to provide private goods invites corrupt tendencies. The enormity of government bureaucracies subject funds meant to finance these responsibilities to pass through numerous offices before actual disbursement and there is practically no way to avoid corruption. Instead, Mnangagwa should give individuals and corporations room to own up but concurrently ensure a tolerable framework of justice.

Keeping corporations and the government void of corruption may be achievable if the incoming president can experiment with the procedure of public interest litigation (PIL). PIL is a sure way of adopting the law to strategically realize social change. The procedure simply utilizes litigation and other legal actions to raise issues of broad public concern. As argued by Transparency International Zimbabwe, PIL can help provide a check on government agencies, statutory bodies and public officials by holding them judicially accountable through fair and unbiased judicial procedures. Mnangagwa should draw lessons from Kenya and Uganda as they have robust experience using PIL in addressing corruption.

Food Shortages

The World Food Program estimated that some 1.5 million Zimbabweans are critically hungry – about 16 percent of the population. This is among the worst anywhere in the world. Although there are external factors to consider in addressing this problem, especially inflation. The primary considerations for Mnangagwa should be to repeal existing discriminatory land reforms and plan for artificial irrigation.

For example, the 2001 the ‘Fast Track’ Land Reform, which initiated a compulsory acquisition and redistribution of land, dispossessed over 4,500 white farmers of their farms and resettled a million black Zimbabweans instead. The policy critically affected the agricultural productivity that drives the economy and complicated the legitimate ownership of land. Moreover, the wide negative impact on agricultural exchange since 2001 affirms the unfortunate outcomes.

If Zimbabwe is to produce its own food to solve the shortage, it needs to allow fair land ownership. People are more productive when they have dividends to economize properties they rightful claim.

For a country where drought is the most common climatic threat to agricultural production and only 7.6 percent of its farmers practicing conservation agriculture, having a dependent alternative to rainfall is smartest. Zimbabwe should partner with countries that have recorded success in adopting the technique. Although, there could be financial constraints in funding such audacious undertaking but this is another reason it needs better relationship with corporations.

Zimbabweans have every reason to demand fast economic transformation after decades of suffering but, Emmerson Mnangagwa must be cautious yet market-oriented because every policy no matter how small, determines the future of Zimbabwe.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Talking Liberty

by: Jeffrey Tucker

Nearly everyone knows there is something wrong with the world as it is. The liberty-minded person believes that he or she knows a major part of what is wrong. There is not enough flexibility and adaptability in the structures of government that presume to manage the social order. State systems have made life rigid and regimented–replete with regulations, taxes, mandates, and prohibitions–with the cost that too many people are excluded, demoralized, and impoverished. For moral and practical reasons, this situation must end.

The vast majority of the human family continues to live under the illusion that giving government more power will magically cure society’s ills.

In other words, freedom is the answer.We recall the moment when we discovered this. The light flicked on. The shades came off and the world looked different from before. Our lives changed. How can we help others arrive at this point?

The short summary of what we believe: the astonishing rise of government power over the course of the last one hundred years has truncated freedoms, human rights, and prosperity along with all the fruits of the human spirit. Government is the main enemy, but government hides under cover of social contract, social justice, democracy, religion, security, and a host of other changing veils.

All of this is clear to those steeped in the tradition of liberty-minded thought as it has gradually emerged over the centuries. But it is obviously not clear to the vast majority of the human family, who continue to live under the illusion that giving government more power will magically cure society’s ills by infusing us with a greater reality of fairness, justice, morality — or whatever they claim.

How best to correct this error? How best to share this knowledge? How best to bring others along to the same understanding?

Here are ten rules–five don’ts and five dos. And I know: every libertarian reader of this article is immediately saying “Don’t tell me what to do!”

1. Don’t Be Belligerent

Righteous anger at the state of the world is a feature of the libertarian mind. It was probably the reason for the initial interest in the ideology. When a person makes the link between war, mass killing, lies, and government power, the result is overwhelming. It seems unimaginable that others do not see this.

One burns with a passion for justice. One feels an intense desire to do something to fix the problem. Another example might be economics related. When a person discovers that the Fed is the reason for inflation, the business cycle, and the skyrocketing debt, the effect is shock and anger and the desire to make history right.

This is all completely understandable. The problem is to remember that others do not share in this anger because they have not been made aware of the cause and effect here. They do not share your understanding. All the dogmatism, belligerence, expressions of anger, and raised voices are not going to convince anyone of the case for liberty. Instead, quite the opposite, they just inspire others to fear your temper and tone.

The goal is to win hearts and minds.

A raised tone of voice, an increased volume, and a more insistent edge are not the same as a convincing argument. These approaches can seem to work only by causing others to back down in fear, but that is not the goal of persuasion. The goal is to win hearts and minds.An aggressive voice is not going to persuade people of the case for peace. An unwillingness to listen to others is not going to convince people of the case for exchange and cooperation. An absence of interest in another’s point of view is not going to bolster your credibility as an advocate of free speech and human rights. A posture of intolerance is not a good witness for the diversity and human flourishing we would see in a free society. The case for liberty needs to be made in a manner that practices what we preach.

The better approach is to speak with reason and with the intention of actually bringing a person along through making sense. That doesn’t mean being unprincipled. In fact, a reasoned approach enables you to speak about radical content with even more authority.  

As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Liberalism (1927):

rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.

2. Don’t Presume Hatred of Liberty

Many libertarians start with conversations, online or offline, with the presumption that the interlocutor is against liberty. That is not usually the case. The problem is usually of a different sort. It is that the person does not see the relationship between the law that he or she supports and the imposition on human liberty. A person who says “every person has a right to a decent education” may not actually mean “people should be robbed to support bad schools” or “all children should be forced into a prison-like building for 12 years.”

The person may not actually be against human liberty, only unable to see the relationship between certain principles and certain policies.

In the end, we must choose between liberty and power. There is nothing in between.

The job of the liberty-minded rhetorician is to illustrate the connection, and to show how impositions on liberty lead to bad results. For example, in the case of public school, people who think kids ought to be forced into school until they are 16 or 18 don’t imagine that juvenile detention is a good solution, or that kids ought to be prohibited from having viable work experience, or that parents can’t be good teachers at home. But that is the implication of the policies they support. What’s missing here is the logical relationship between the policy he or she supports and the inevitable downsides of a system of coercion and compulsion.

Almost all non-libertarians underestimate the implications of putting the state in charge of anything. They speak of how “society” should do something, how “we as a people should” do something, how “the community” needs to be committed to something. The reason for this evasive language is to mask, even from themselves, the gritty reality that in each case they are actually arguing for the state to have more power.

More state power means the use of more confiscatory power, more fines, more jails, and more violence. Indeed, in the end, violence is the only tool the state has, so every push for more intervention amounts to a call for a more violent society. This is even the case for gun-control laws: they mean using guns against people when their own peaceful choices conflict with the political priorities of the state.

The advocates of intervention don’t usually begin with a hatred of liberty. They are just unwilling or unprepared to recognize the relationship between their own outlook and the uses of the state as a tool of power. In the end, we must choose between liberty and power. There is nothing in between.

3. Don’t Presume Different Goals

Non-libertarians have a gigantic language apparatus they employ to push against the idea of liberty. They speak of the need for “social justice,” “equality,” “sustainability,” “solidarity,” “community,” “progress,” and a hundred other wonderful-sounding things that are really just covers for increasing government power.

It is very easy to presume that these people have completely different social goals than those of liberty advocates. That is usually not the case. More often than not–there are exceptions–the people who speak this way do not have different goals. There are some people who actually do favor poverty and human suffering, but that is not very common. Most people share the goal of prosperity, peace, a clean environment, and widespread wealth–whatever words or phrases they use.

A basic economic education is lacking in some of the world’s smartest people.

There is no point in getting hung up on words. Words are arbitrary sounds designed to facilitate conversation. Their meaning changes over time. Especially in our times, different sectors of society use different vocabulary to describe the same thing. If you can change your vocabulary and introduce someone to a cause, it is worth the effort. There is no reason to get hung up on word choices.4. Don’t Presume Ignorance

Many opponents of the free society and free markets are among the most educated people on the planet. You need only look at the faculty at top-level universities to see that, despite all their brilliance and reading and education, many fail to understand even the basics of economic forces like supply and demand. They are not ignorant. A basic economic education is lacking in some of the world’s smartest people, and a failure to integrate economic lessons into a larger worldview is the most common error among the academic elite.

What is often lacking is not education but the precise knowledge that turns out to be extremely important in forming a worldview. As Thomas Sowell has written, many of the world’s smartest people are guilty of unconstrained visions of what is possible. They see pockets of wealth alongside poverty and easily jump to the conclusion that spreading out the wealth would create fairness. That unconstrained vision of society is possible in a world without scarcity, and the world of ideas is indeed a world without scarcity. Intellectuals deal mainly in the world of ideas, which is why they are so tempted by the dream of a world of unlimited possibilities.

Where they get tripped up is in theorizing about the physical world, the world in which resources and time constrain possibilities. Here there can be no such thing as socialism, no such thing as creating wealth by taking it away from others. Here is where we must have private property, freely floating prices, exchange, contract, trade among all peoples, capital accumulation, and safety in ownership. All of these are essentials. Peter Boettke has written that almost all errors in economics come down to the failure to understand scarcity. True enough!

If the market teaches us anything, it is that we are all ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. 

Non-intellectuals, in my experience, are more open to the ideas of liberty. They only need an appeal to daily experience. How many people really know that laundry has been totally destroyed by state regulation, that our clothes are dirtier thanks to government intervention? How many people understand how regulations have so seriously cartelized the business sector and reduced our options and made it so difficult for people to go into business? That there is a relationship between a large US military presence in the world and a welfare state that controls the civilian population at home, that the welfare-warfare state is one entity? That the Federal Reserve is the main reason behind the runup in federal debt and a main reason for all the corruption that people loathe?There is no reason to attempt to convince anyone of the full case for liberty in one exchange. It is a mistake to presume someone else knows nothing and we know all things, because it is absolutely untrue. We have so much to learn even from those who do not share our worldview. But if you presume another person’s ignorance, you will not gain that knowledge or understanding.

If the market teaches us anything, it is that we are all ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. The goal is not necessarily to convince everyone you meet of the case for liberty. Rather, take the opportunity, when presented, to learn from people who know more about subjects that you don’t.

I recall sitting next to a man in the airplane who specialized in making bags for potato chips. It was an absolutely fascinating conversation to learn all about the history, technology, and marketing of these bags. It is a rare opportunity to discover a sector of life that is mostly closed to us. Sometimes it is just good to be selfish in conversation, extracting as much information as possible as a way of making our own worldview more hands-on and realistic.

5. Don’t Regard Anyone as an Enemy

In democracy, government specializes in dividing people into warring tribes and devolves all meaningful conversation into sectarian squabbles. This is what elections are all about. Each politician finds his or her demographic and attempts to whip them up into a frenzy against others. It’s always the same: men vs. women, blacks vs. whites, natives vs. immigrants, rich vs. poor, able vs. disabled, religious vs. secular, and so on without limit. What is the effect of this constant prattle? It causes us to think of each other as enemies. If you really believe that it is super- critical to the future of civilization that Joe and not Tom is elected, you naturally believe that anyone who supports Tom is the enemy.

And you know based on demographics — or you have a pretty good idea — who is supporting whom. This creates the tendency for all of us to divide up the population around us into friends and foes. This is a major cause of social tension in a democratic society. Democracy purports to bring us all together to govern ourselves. Actually it only ends in dividing us into feuding clans, out to steal or keep from being stolen from. One person’s liberty comes at the expense of another. One person’s vision is only realized so long as others’ visions are not.

Remember that the enemy is the state, not your fellow human beings.

It is no wonder that society continues to have troubles with racism, sexism, nativism, and classism. That we can’t live together except by crushing each other is a major illusion of democracy. It is an artificial reality, one created by the state itself. So long as we buy into it, we are going along with a corrupt imposition. We are giving in.The best way to fight back is to not be manipulated into this situation. We should seek to make friends, not entrench enemies. Every human being is a friend of liberty somewhere deep inside his or her heart. It is just a matter of finding that spot and tapping into it. There is no religion, no race, no income group that cannot benefit on net from liberty. For that reason, there is no person who should not be on Team Liberty. That’s why it is best to approach the art of persuasion, and life itself, with the assumption that we are surrounded by friends. In this way, we avoid the trap that the state sets for us. Remember that the enemy is the state, not your fellow human beings.

6. Do Inspire 

Libertarians are very good at making sense. There is a tendency to argue only from first principles, rely on axioms, push the point using hard dogmas that might be perfectly valid but do not hit the sweet spot to change minds. I’ve heard countless arguments over political points in which the libertarian wins the point on logic but loses in the area of common sense. This is why so many people find libertarianism to be somewhat scary, a form of fanaticism that would take away the comfort and stability of life itself.

Consider the point about privatizing streets. Liberty-minded thinkers favor this, but most people can’t imagine it. You can assert the point again and again and conjure up images of every street having a toll. Or you can simply point out that hundreds of large corporations today use private streets in their own factory grounds, streets that are built by private interests and are nonetheless available to everyone.

In addition, there is no necessary reason to believe that privatized streets would not be as open access as a search engine like Google or a video chat program like Skype or Snapchat. Producers have every interest in including users, not excluding them.

Insofar as it is possible, it is best to use examples of the private provision of goods and services that really exist in our world. One of the best cases is the whole of the Internet, which is the greatest experiment in anarchism that exists today. Trust relationships between merchants and consumers, user ratings, protections against identity theft, and consumer protection have all formed without recourse to government bureaucracies. Yet people continue to believe that government agencies are essential to our lives when they experience the beauties of anarchy every day.

See the anarchy all around us.

Actually, government contributes very little to the lives of average people. People realize this once they think about it. Our lives are great when we make them so, not because a bureaucrat has somehow intervened to improve our lot. The myth that government is somehow supporting or sustaining civilization is an embedded part of our civic culture, but it is a myth easily refuted by daily experience. Monitoring what we do day-to-day, we discover that it is actually private enterprise that we depend on for all the comforts and excitement of life.This is an inspiring realization. The notion that government is necessary is a very negative commentary on the capacity of people to manage their own affairs. Once you see the anarchy all around us, you realize that humanity is bursting with creativity, energy, the desire to get along, the impulse to fix problems, and the passion to value others and be valued ourselves.

Government has only one power in the end, and that is the power to stall and thwart this constructive process with force. If by doing so it prohibits peaceful behavior, it normally diminishes the quality of life for all of us. Liberty is an inspiring message. We should always avail ourselves to this to make our case.

7. Do Look for Love of Liberty

This is something of an art. When you are talking with someone about the subject of liberty, he or she will often say a long series of things that are just wrong from your point of view. One approach you can use is to sit patiently and listen as long as possible, refraining from commentary. At some point, the person will say something that makes sense–a rightist might speak of the need for gun rights or a leftist might talk about civil liberties–and this is the time to speak up.

Look for points of agreement. 

If you can find a point of agreement on some point about human liberty, you have the basis for a real conversation. The point is not to look for error–there’s never a problem in finding those–but to look for points of agreement. As you pursue these lines, you will bump into a point of disagreement, but instead of arguing–which is often just pointless–you have the basis for a serious discussion of the merit of a free society.The secret here is to do this not as a strategy but as a sincere attempt to praise the good in another’s way of thinking.

There are very few people alive in the world today who do not believe in liberty in some part of their lives. Find that point and you can disarm a critic and have the basis for at least getting a hearing for your point of view.

8. Do Have Confidence in Your Beliefs

One thing that Internet culture has taught us: the weaker the argument, the stronger the rhetoric that backs it. Often times, insults, ad hominems, put-downs, and smears are just covers for a lack of confidence in a position. If you know a subject very well, there is no reason to resort to this way of thinking and arguing. You can respect another’s point of view and still make your points.

The case for liberty does not need loud, boisterous, belligerent arguments. If you have confidence in your beliefs, you can welcome any comers and face down any objection. If you find yourself getting flustered and angry in the course of a discussion, you might ask if the real problem is not the other person but rather your own lack of knowledge. It might be time to hit the books.

Nothing persuades others like a calm and cool demeanor in the face of vigorous criticism. But the best way to achieve that is to become a genuine expert with a deep and impenetrable conviction in what you believe.

9. Do Speak the Language of Your Interlocutor

Earlier I wrote about the tendency of different political tribes to use completely different language. It is sometimes good to completely mix this up. Why not call yourself a progressive, for example? After all, nothing is for progress as much as human liberty. Indeed it is the only real source of progress. Why not call yourself a liberal? In the 18th century, liberalism meant a belief in human rights, commerce, peace, and no government intervention. It’s true that we have mostly lost that term, but it still pertains historically, and there is nothing wrong with reclaiming it.

 A world of liberty is a world without rulers lording it over the human population with swords, bullets, and tanks. 

It is a waste of time to argue about terminology. Discussions that go places focus on concepts and ideas, not terminology. It is best, then, to adopt the language of others if that is possible.Consider the term “sustainability,” for example. It is mostly used as an attack on economic development and commercial freedom. But there is an element of free-market thought that is perfectly compatible with the idea of sustainability. Loose credit creates unsustainable bubbles. In fact, it is the main source of creating unsustainable institutions. This is true of many, if not most, government programs. Subsidies and protectionism create unsustainable results. This kind of language is just as much ours as theirs.

Probably as much as 95 percent of political argument today centers on debates about who should be ruling us, and the terms under which this rule takes place. Neither amounts to much because both miss the point. A world of liberty is a world without rulers lording it over the human population with swords, bullets, and tanks. It is a world without rulers that we seek, so it makes no sense to get distracted by arguments over which rulers should be in charge.

10. Do Suggest Great Literature

A major reason to know the literature well is to have ready references that fit with the outlook of another person. An engineering major will need to read different books from a literature major. A literature major might be persuaded by Russell Roberts’s wonderful novel The Invisible Heart. An engineering major might enjoy Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile. As great and essential as the old treatises are — Mises’s Human Action or Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty — they are not the only way to discover the ideas of liberty.

The lessons of human liberty are applicable to every aspect of life.

Beginners who need an economics education can always benefit from Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, but it is not the only book. Faustino Balvé’s Essentials of Economics is also great.The literature of liberty is, at this point, very well developed. We have commentary on popular culture, philosophy, history, law, economics, foreign relations and war, as well as the history of art and even computer code. The lessons of human liberty are applicable to every aspect of life.

Never leave a conversation without making an excellent suggestion of a book to provide a follow-up. It could also be an article online. Speaking from a personal point of view, I will often be reading a book of any sort–fiction or nonfiction or history or something–and be unable to suppress talking to others about it. The enthusiasm you show for what you are currently learning can be infectious to those around you.

The future of freedom and liberty depends on our ability to convey the immeasurable benefit of freedom.

Liberty is a gigantic subject. “Conversion” doesn’t happen in a day — it is a process. There is no reason to strive for instant victories. To absorb the full truth about liberty takes time for it to be meaningful and penetrating. Moreover, there is no reason to seek victory over the full picture; achieving small victories is all that is necessary.It is a reflection of the confidence you have in your worldview that you don’t need to seek “conversions” so much as marginal steps toward enlightenment.

Conclusion

We were born free, but at one point or another we all became, in some form or another, supporters of the state. You were once one of those people who needed convincing. Imagine that you are speaking to yourself, before you saw the light. How would you want to be convinced? Be understanding and compassionate, but also patient and persistent. The future of freedom and liberty depends on our ability to convey the immeasurable benefit of freedom.

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Shadreck Chirikure: Oral Sources for Documenting Precolonial African Trade and Exchange

Republished from Oxford Research Encyclopedia

If one of the limitations of documentary sources on precolonial African trade is that they mostly provide the view of the observers (and not the observed), then the main advantage of oral sources is that they avail the much-needed perspective from the observed groups. Many African societies had oral literacy that was sustained through traditions handed on to the future. The griots, who were official court historians and custodians of royal narratives in West Africa (from roughly mid-1st millennium ce to the 19th century) and imbongis (storytellers and praise singers) among the historical Zulus of South Africa, are well-known promoters of oral literacy. However, such official traditions were biased in favor of court activities and not mundane, day-to-day events. Oral sources include traditions, myths, and legends that were transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to another. Often, these traditions were repeatedly recited and performed to the point that, within limitations, they reflected some commonly held positions.

In the area around the modern Cameroon/Nigeria border (Sukur region), oral traditions dating to from the 16th century onward pointed to the existence of intensive iron production that annually produced 60,000 hoes to meet the demand of the empire of Bornu. Ironically, this trade sustained slave raids in the producer area, creating a very complicated historical dynamic in which producers of iron were shackled and manacled using their own creation. In central Africa, most of what we know about trade and exchange relationships involving the Luba (c. 1585–1889) and Lunda (c. 1665–1887 ce) comes from oral traditions. One of the most important pillars of local and outward trade in these communities was copper whose ingots were often stylistically group specific. For example, the Yeke, Sanga, and Luba made distinctive types of ingots whose names and trade patterns are still firmly etched in local memories.

In southern Zambezia, much is known about communities that populated the region defined by the Indian Ocean to the east, the Kalahari Desert to the west, the Zambezi River to the north, and the Soutpansberg range of mountains to the south. Beach makes the point that in this region, speakers of dialects of a language now known as Shona had a well-developed oral literacy. Using insights from oral sources gathered from the region, Mudenge studied trade within the Torwa-Changamire (c. 1400–1900 ce) and Mutapa (c. 1400–1900 ce) states and highlighted that cattle raising and by implication cattle trade was an important branch of the economy that superseded gold trade. This cattle-centric localized trade system frustrated the Portuguese, who were interested mostly in gold. Thus, while traders at the Indian Ocean coast placed so much value on gold, local traditions make it explicit that this was not the view of local people.

As a source of information for precolonial trade, oral sources are affected by several limitations. Firstly, they are easily forgotten. Secondly, they suffer from chronological telescoping. Thirdly, they can easily be changed to suit prevailing contexts. Fourthly, most oral traditions tend to favor the dominant, although careful historical work may produce oral traditions associated with the common people. Fifthly, nowadays, the utility of oral traditions is diminished by the feedback that often takes place between the oral and the written. What was oral is now written and what is written is now in people’s minds creating a complicated web that is difficult to disentangle. However, whatever their limitations, oral sources are a formidable source of historical information pertaining to trade.

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The History of Freedom in Antiquity

by Lord Acton

Republished from Acton.org

An Address Delivered to the Members of the Bridgnorth Institute 
February 26, 1877

Liberty, next to religion has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime, from the sowing of the seed at Athens, 2,460 years ago, until the ripened harvest was gathered by men of our race. It is the delicate fruit of a mature civilization; and scarcely a century has passed since nations, that knew the meaning of the term, resolved to be free. In every age its progress has been beset by its natural enemies, by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man’s craving for power, and the poor man’s craving for food. During long intervals it has been utterly arrested, when nations were being rescued from barbarism and from the grasp of strangers, and when the perpetual struggle for existence, depriving men of all interest and understanding in politics, has made them eager to sell their birthright for a pottage, and ignorant of the treasure they resigned. At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just ground of opposition, and by kindling dispute over the spoils in the hour of success. No obstacle has been so constant, or so difficult to overcome as uncertainty and confusion touching the nature of true liberty. If hostile interests have wrought much injury, false ideas have wrought still more; and its advance is recorded in the increase of knowledge as much as in the improvement of laws. The history of institutions is often a history of deception and illusions; for their virtue depends on the ideas that produce and on the spirit that preserves them; and the form may remain unaltered when the substance has passed away.

A few familiar examples from modern politics will explain why it is that the burden of my argument will lie outside the domain of legislation. It is often said that our constitution attained its formal perfection in 1679, when the Habeas Corpus Act was passed. Yet Charles II succeeded, only two years later, in making himself independent of Parliament. In 1789, while the States General assembled at Versailles, the Spanish Cortes, older than Magna Charta and more venerable than our House of Commons, were summoned after an interval of generations; but they immediately prayed the King to abstain from consulting them, and to make his reforms of his own wisdom and authority. According to the common opinion, indirect elections are a safeguard of conservatism. But all the assemblies of the French Revolution issued from indirect election. A restricted suffrage is another reputed security for monarchy. But the parliament of Charles X, which was returned by 90,000 electors, resisted and overthrew the throne; whilst the parliament of Louis Philippe, chosen by a constituency of 250,000, obsequiously promoted the reactionary policy of his ministers, and, in the fatal division which, by rejecting reform, laid the monarchy in the dust, Guizot’s majority was obtained by the votes of 129 public functionaries. An unpaid legislature is, for obvious reasons, more independent than most of the continental legislatures which receive pay. But it would be unreasonable in America to send a member as far as from here to Constantinople to live for twelve months at his own expense in the dearest of capital cities. Legally and to outward seeming the American President is the successor of Washington, and still enjoys powers devised and limited by the Convention of Philadelphia. In reality the new President differs from the Magistrate imagined by the Fathers of the Republic as widely as Monarchy from Democracy; for he is expected to make 70,000 changes in the public service: fifty years ago John Quincy Adams dismissed only two men. The purchase of judicial appointments is manifestly indefensible; yet in the old French monarchy that monstrous practice created the only corporation able to resist the King. Official corruption, which would ruin a commonwealth, serves in Russia as a salutary relief from the pressure of absolutism. There are conditions in which it is scarcely a hyperbole to say that slavery itself is a stage on the road to freedom. Therefore we are not so much concerned this evening with the dead letter of edicts and of statutes as with the living thoughts of men. A century ago it was perfectly well known that whoever had one audience of a Master in Chancery was made to pay for three, but no man heeded the enormity until it suggested to a young lawyer the idea that it might be well to question and examine with rigorous suspicion every part of a system in which such things were done. The day on which that gleam lighted up the clear hard intellect of Jeremy Bentham is memorable in the political calendar beyond the entire administration of many statesmen. It would be easy to point out a paragraph in St. Augustine, or a sentence of Grotius that outweighs in influence the acts of fifty parliaments; and our cause owes more to Cicero and Seneca, to Vinet and Tocqueville than to the laws of Lycurgus or the Five Codes of France.

By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty, against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion. The state is competent to assign duties and draw the line between good and evil only in its own immediate sphere. Beyond the limit of things necessary for its wellbeing, it can only give indirect help to fight the battle of life, by promoting the influences which avail against temptation,—Religion, Education, and the distribution of Wealth. In ancient times the state absorbed authorities not its own, and intruded on the domain of personal freedom. In the middle ages it possessed too little authority, and suffered others to intrude. Modern states fall habitually into both excesses. The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities. Liberty, by this definition, is the essential condition and guardian of Religion; and it is in the history of the chosen People, accordingly, that the first illustrations of my subject are obtained. The government of the Israelites was a Federation, held together by no political authority, but by the unity of race and faith, and founded, not on physical force, but on a voluntary covenant. The principle of self-government was carried out not only in each tribe, but in every group of at least 120 families; and there was neither privilege of rank, nor inequality before the law. Monarchy was so alien to the primitive spirit of the community that it was resisted by Samuel in that momentous protestation and warning which all the kingdoms of Asia and many of the kingdoms of Europe have unceasingly confirmed. The throne was erected on a compact; and the King was deprived of the right of legislation among a people that recognized no lawgiver but God, whose highest aim in politics was to restore the original purity of the constitution, and to make its government conform to the ideal type that was hallowed by the sanctions of heaven. The inspired men who rose up in unfailing succession to prophesy against the usurper and the tyrant, constantly proclaimed that the laws, which were divine, were paramount over sinful rulers, and appealed from the established authorities, from the king, the priests, and the princes of the people, to the healing forces that slept in the uncorrupted conscience of the masses. Thus the example of the Hebrew nation laid down the parallel lines on which all freedom has been won—the doctrine of national tradition, and the doctrine of the higher law; the principle that a constitution grows from a root, by process of development and not of essential change; and the principle that all political authorities must be tested and reformed according to a code which was not made by man. The operation of these two principles, in unison or in antagonism, occupies the whole of the space we are going over together.

The conflict between Liberty under divine authority and the absolutism of human authorities ended disastrously. In the year 622 a supreme effort was made at Jerusalem to reform and to preserve the state. The High Priest produced from the temple of Jehova the Book of the deserted and forgotten Law, and both king and people bound themselves by solemn oaths to observe it. But that early example of limited Monarchy and of the supremacy of law neither lasted nor spread; and the forces by which Freedom has conquered must be sought elsewhere. In the very year 586, in which the flood of Asiatic despotism closed over the city which had been and was destined again to be the sanctuary of Freedom in the East, a new home was prepared for it in the West, where, guarded by the sea, and the mountains, and by valiant hearts, that stately plant was reared under whose shade we dwell, and which is extending its invincible arms so slowly and yet so surely over the civilized world.

According to a famous saying of the most famous authoress of the continent, Liberty is ancient; and it is Despotism that is new. It has been the pride of recent historians to vindicate the truth of that maxim. The heroic age of Greece confirms it, and it is still more conspicuously true of Teutonic Europe. Wherever we can trace the earlier life of the Aryan nations we discover germs which favouring circumstances and assiduous culture might have developed into free societies. They exhibit some sense of common interest in common concerns, little reverence for external authority, and an imperfect sense of the function and supremacy of the state. Where the division of property and of labour is incomplete, there is little division of classes and of power. Until societies are tried by the complex problems of civilization they may escape despotism, as societies that are undisturbed by religious diversity avoid persecution. In general, the forms of the patriarchal age failed to resist the growth of absolute states when the difficulties and temptations of advancing life began to tell; and with one sovereign exception, which is not within my scope to-day, it is scarcely possible to trace their survival in the institutions of later times. Six hundred years before the Birth of Christ absolutism held unbounded sway. Throughout the East it was propped by the unchanging influence of priests and armies. In the West, where there were no sacred books requiring trained interpreters, the priesthood acquired no preponderance, and when the kings were overthrown their powers passed to aristocracies of birth. What followed, during many generations, was the cruel domination of class over class, the oppression of the poor by the rich, and of the ignorant by the wise. The spirit of that domination found passionate utterance in the verses of the aristocratic poet Theognis, a man of genius and refinement, who avows that he longed to drink the blood of his political adversaries. From these oppressors the people of many cities sought deliverance in the less intolerable tyranny of revolutionary usurpers. The remedy gave new shape and new energy to the evil. The tyrants were often men of surprising capacity and merit, like some of those who, in the fourteenth century, made themselves lords of Italian cities; but rights secured by equal laws and by sharing power existed nowhere.

From this universal degradation the world was rescued by the most gifted of the nations. Athens, which like other cities was distracted and oppressed by a privileged class, avoided violence and appointed Solon to revise its laws. It was the happiest choice that history records. Solon was not only the wisest man to be found in Athens, but the most profound political genius of antiquity; and the easy, bloodless, and pacific revolution by which he accomplished the deliverance of his country was the first step in a career which our age glories in pursuing, and instituted a power which has done more than anything, except revealed religion, for the regeneration of society. The upper class had possessed the right of making and administering the laws, and he left them in possession, only transferring to wealth what had been the privilege of birth. To the rich, who alone had the means of sustaining the burden of public service in taxation and war, Solon gave a share of power proportioned to the demands made on their resources. The poorest classes were exempt from direct taxes, but were excluded from office. Solon gave them a voice in electing magistrates from the classes above them, and the right of calling them to account. This concession, apparently so slender, was the beginning of a mighty change. It introduced the idea that a man ought to have a voice in selecting those to whose rectitude and wisdom he is compelled to trust his fortune, his family, and his life. And this idea completely inverted the notion of human authority, for it inaugurated the reign of moral influence where all political power had depended on physical force. Government by consent superseded government by compulsion, and the pyramid which had stood on a point was made to stand upon its base. By making every citizen the guardian of his own interest, Solon admitted the element of Democracy into the State. The greatest glory of a ruler, he said, is to create a popular government. Believing that no man can be entirely trusted, he subjected all who exercised power to the vigilant control of those for whom they acted.

Continue reading at Acton.org

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Could the PEBEC be a Game Changer for Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

By Stephen Oyedemi

In 2016, when the PEBEC – Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council was launched, there was little hope as to whether its ambitious mission will be achieved anytime soon. However, last week in an interview after opening the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagos, Nigeria, the vice president claimed that the initiative had achieved 70 per cent success in its 60-day national action plan and has started the second 60-day national action plan. This initiative places a lot of emphasis on improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria by focusing on 8 reform areas which are: starting a business, construction permit, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, paying taxes, trading across borders, and entry & exit of people.

PEBEC was set up in July 2016 by the current administration in an effort to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business. This is justified by the fact that Nigeria currently ranks poorly in the World Bank ease of doing business ranking, holding the 169th position out of the 190 ranked countries in 2017; a one step up from the 2016 ranking where Nigeria took the 170th position.

Also, in the recently published Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) 2017 report (which is for the year 2015), Nigeria ranks 114th out of the 159 countries with available data. However, the country was ranked 116th in the 2016 report, representing a 2 step improvement over a year. The EFW index provides a comprehensive measure of the consistency of a country’s institutions and policies with economic freedom.

These poor ranking of Nigeria clearly suggests that several things are not being done rightly in Nigeria when it comes to business and entrepreneurship. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been described by many experts as the engine of economic growth and prosperity and that much emphasis in needed in this aspect. However, small businesses are faced with many challenges among which are access to capital, poor infrastructure, government bottlenecks, security, and so on. Difficulty in registering businesses, getting permits, etc.,  frustrate entrepreneurs and slows the rate at which new businesses are created.

Interestingly, the PEBEC intends to tackle these challenges through the national action plans and the executive orders released earlier this year. In July, 2017, the vice president signed 3 executive orders aimed at removing all bureaucratic  bottlenecks that had stifled growth of businesses in Nigeria. While this is laudable, many of these bottlenecks still persist and the need remains for the federal government to double its efforts in order to make meaningful progress in easing the doing of business and entrepreneurship in the country.

BudgIT Fiscal Sustainability Index 2017

For Nigeria to improve its future positions in the Fraser institute’s EFW and World Bank ease of doing business rankings, there is also need for individual state governments to take decisive steps towards improving the ease of doing business in their respective states. According to BudgIT – a civic organization working to make Nigeria’s budget and public finance accessible in creative and appealing ways – in its recently published State of states 2017 report, “Significant investment is needed to improve the overall economic performance at state level…” Improvements in the ease of doing business in the states will lead to greater investments, increase in economic activities and eventually better lives for Nigerians. However, most states do not have clear economic blueprints to drive development and investments at the state level.

For the PEBEC to be a game changer for Nigeria, both the federal and state governments should endeavour to create the enabling environment for enterprise to flourish by coming up with workable blueprints with clear deadlines.

*Stephen Oyedemi is a member of SFL Africa Executive Board and Director of Activism for West Africa. He is a post-graduate student at the University of Ibadan and can be followed on twitter @SKOyedemi.

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Economic Intelligence: A springboard for the development and promotion of tourism in Cameroon

It’s proven that tourism is an emergent market.  Nonetheless, for some countries, conquering and maintaining important market shares is problematic. Innovation is a determining factor in ensuring competitiveness and productivity and, to the end, client satisfaction or loyalty.  This brief, aims to contribute to understanding the necessity of elaborating and implementing stricto sensu, a tourism intelligence public policy as springboard for the development of tourism.

INTRODUCTION

The restructuring and reconfiguration of the world’s functioning has given economic information a strategic importance to nation-states. Economists who study the dynamics of territories have that.  Nowadays, it is pertinent to consider territories or States to be the result of the interactive process of creation and not as a point of departure[1].

The context of economic intelligence[2] is simultaneously that of globalisation, inequalities and the development of an information society in an economy of international competition which demands competitiveness both at the level of nation-states and enterprises[3]. This questions the validity of organisational approaches to long-term planning, suggesting the need for organisations to make contingency plans and adopt processes which incorporate flexibility and adaptability[4]. Hence, it is imperative to redefining policies, strategies and, to some extent, models of development in order to stabilise the sector in a competitive environment.

Opening to international markets is simultaneously, promising and threatening for the tourism sector which, the majority of the countries agree, has much to offer to their social and economic development. Consequently, pertinent information can reasonably be considered as one of the most important factors to boost performance.

EXPERIENCES FROM OTHER REGIONS

The practice of economic intelligence has little or nothing to do with the size of the industry, it is amoeboid. Investigations of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in France show that: SE and SME are often more effective than big groups on the matter, because they are imaginative, nimble, flexible, innovating and intuitive. Also, 15 to 20 % of the French companies of less than 200 people practise economic intelligence; more than one-third practices surveillance or monitoring (technological, legal, commercial, competitive); and half of the SE and SME are already showing interest with these practices[1].

  1. The experience of “Réseau de veille en tourisme de Montréal”[2]

Initiated by the tourism chair of the Science of Management College at the University of Quebec in Montreal, the “Réseau de veille en Tourisme” (RVT) literally translated “the Tourism surveillance network” officially saw the light on the 30th of January 2004.

The RVT is a specialised body with main objectives: the continuous dissemination of targeted up-to-date and analysed information; and know-how developed both with (in/out) Canada; sensitizing the milieu on the value of strategic information in decision making; and the importance of surveillance even within their companies. Occasionally, collaborators and recognised international experts in diverse sectors of activities of tourism comment on these analyses. They bring in a prospective vision while underscoring future implications for the entire tourism industry. The fruit of their labour is published in a bi-monthly electronic bulletin (le globe-veilleur) which is distributed to over 12,500 subscribers.

Click here for Full Article

***

Bakori Marbian Nkawa is a Contributor at the Nkafu Policy Institute, a Cameroonian think tank at the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation. He can be reached at: info@foretiafoundation.org

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5 Facts about Frederick Douglass

By Joe Carter

February 14 is the chosen birthday of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), one of America’s greatest champions of individual liberty. Here are five facts you should know about this writer, orator, statesman, and abolitionist:

1. Douglas was born into slavery in Maryland circa 1818. (Like many slaves, he never knew his actual date of birth and so chose February 14 as his birthday.) He was given the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey but decided to change it when he became a free man. Although he was set on keeping his first name “Frederick”, he asked his friend Nathan Johnson to help him choose a last name. Johnson had been reading Sir Walter Scott’s narrative poem, Lady of the Lake, and recommended the name of a main character: Douglass.

2. In his youth, Douglass taught himself to read, aided by scraps of reading material he found and with the help of some white children he came into contact with in his neighborhood. Soon after, while hired out to a Maryland farmer, he surreptitiously taught other slaves to read the New Testament at a weekly Sunday school. It was during these meeting that he plotted his first escape attempt, for reading and writing sparked a desire for freedom. “Once you learn to read,” he would later write, “you will be forever free.” In 1845 he wrote about his life of bondage in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. The book became an instant bestseller and the preeminent example of the literary genre known as slave narrative.

3. After escaping to the North, Douglass settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he became a preacher in an African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. Honed in the pulpit, his oratorical skills would make him one of the most sought after abolitionist speakers of his day. Douglass was associated with a school of the antislavery movement that believed slavery should be ended through moral persuasion, and he attempted to use his writings and speaking events to educate slaveholders and Southerners about the evils of slavery.

4. Douglass spent nearly two years traveling in Great Britain speaking for the abolitionist cause. He was even encouraged to settle in England because his fame made it risky for him to return to the U.S., where federal law gave his slavemaster the right to seize Douglass. Two of his English friends, however, raised $710.96 to buy his freedom. At the age of 28, Douglass finally became a free man.

5. Even before the Civil War brought an end to the American slavery, Douglass became active in the women’s suffrage movement. He became so famous within the women’s rights movement that in 1872 he was nominated for Vice President of the United States at the Equal Rights Party convention. Although he declined the nomination and refused to campaign, he became the first African American to be listed on a presidential election ballot. In 1888, he also received one vote from the Kentucky Delegation at the Republican Convention in Chicago, making him the first African American nominated to be a U.S. presidential candidate for a major political party (he had also received a single vote to be a U.S. presidential candidate during the National Liberty Party Convention in 1848).

JOE CARTER Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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Why We Need to Bring Back the Gold-Backed Currency

By  Jacques Jonker

When people are confronted with the daunting question of “What is money?”, they usually stare at you like you’ve just asked them to explain the equation for special relativity.

Money is anything with inherent value that is used to measure the value people attach to products and services. It acts as a medium of exchange in order to facilitate trade. What started out as people trading physical goods for one another, developed into an immensely complicated modern economic system as more specialised products and services arose. People realised they needed a universal medium of exchange, and this led to the revolutionary invention of money.

There exists an interdependent relationship between money and goods & services: the value of money is measured in the number of goods and services it can purchase (purchasing power) and the value of goods and services is in turn measured in what amount of monies is needed to purchase it (prices). It is a very delicate balancing act which can only be achieved by the invisible hand of the market, which is why the market must be free.

As far as inherent worth goes, gold seemed a pretty solid option to use as money. Here’s why:

The amount of gold relative to the number of people is relatively miniscule; the demand outweighs the supply by far. Gold thus has a lot of value attached to it. Seeing as the global population keeps increasing, the demand for gold also keeps increasing. Hence the rise in the value of gold; it keeps getting relatively scarcer. It thus makes complete sense to use it as a medium of exchange seeing as it keeps its value.

As nations rose and fell and economies grew ever more complicated, governments the world over decided that the best way to maintain gold as the primary means of exchange, but also make it more “flexible” in order to adapt to modern specialised markets, was to have it represented by paper money and coins. Currency was thus invented.

Currency is different from money in that it has no inherent value. It merely represents the real money: gold. Currency is also easily divisible into much smaller units. Currency was essentially a middle man that nudged its way in between gold and domestic products and services. The balancing act became even more delicate. The gold standard was created.

The gold standard is a fool-proof system at worst. The value of the gold is measured in terms of the currency used. The gold backs up the currency and gives it value and consequently purchasing power; another fine balancing act that can only be achieved by the market’s invisible hand. This act determines the purchasing power of the specific currency.

As explained earlier, in the long run the value of gold keeps rising as the level of demand grows at a faster rate relative to the level of supply of gold. The paper currency representing the gold will thus not lose its purchasing power. When the US finally decided that the whole “live within your means” thing wasn’t working for them, Nixon abolished the gold standard in 1971 and replaced it with a fiat currency.

The word fiat’ is a Latin term meaning “let it be done”. A fiat currency is a system of currency that is backed not by anything of value but by a central government’s arbitrary authority. The US Federal Reserve, for example, is allowed to print US dollars non-stop as long as its financial overlords give it the green light. The only difference between a $1 bill and 1 Monopoly bill is that the government sanctions the former as a viable means of exchange. Yet, it has no inherent worth.

Currencies’ worth is now determined by market forces within the money market, the place where currencies compete for domination. The quantity of currency within an economy can now be adjusted by a central government in order to influence the exchange rate, internal interest rates, and thus the value the currency holds. Reserve banks can also influence exchange rates by actively competing in the money market, also known as ‘dirty floating’. It is no mystery why governments keep on printing worthless paper money: massive expansionary fiscal and monetary policies demand it.

Economists such as Michael Maloney keep warning governments and central banks that they’re creating an unsustainable global financial bubble that is going to implode. There is no foundation on which modern economies are based. Money exists no more.

What we now have is an artificial form of “money” with no inherent worth. It is simply not sustainable. The gold standard keeps the economy in a state of natural unison. It is a system that balances itself out. It is a system that works. It is a system that is endowed with foolproofness by its very nature.

Republished from RationalStandard.com

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