Ask no man

"I will ask no man to believe as I do." Joseph Smith

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In a sense, contention is inevitable and unavoidable because every individual is unique, and no two people agree on everything.  Ideally, we...

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Clarity about economics-AI translation

 AI translates this speech by President Milei of Argentina using his own voice.

And his speech provides needed clarity about economic growth.

https://twitter.com/DavidSacks/status/1747890393663017188

In 1800, 95% of the world lived in extreme poverty. in 2020, only 5% lived in extreme poverty. Milei attributes this to capitalism, which is true in a sense. I attribute it to the Restoration as well.



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Excerpt from the speech:

We should remember that by the year 1800, about 95% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. And that figure dropped to 5% by the year 2020, prior to the pandemic. The conclusion is obvious. 

Far from being the cause of our problems, free trade capitalism as an economic system is the only instrument we have to end hunger, poverty and extreme poverty across our planet. The empirical evidence is unquestionable.

Therefore since there is no doubt that free enterprise capitalism is superior in productive terms, the left-wing doxa has attacked capitalism, alleging matters of morality, saying – that’s what the detractors claim – that it’s unjust. They say that capitalism is evil because it’s individualistic and that collectivism is good because it’s altruistic. Of course, with the money of others. 

So they therefore advocate for social justice. But this concept, which in the developed world became fashionable in recent times, in my country has been a constant in political discourse for over 80 years. The problem is that social justice is not just, and it doesn’t contribute to general well-being. 

Quite on the contrary, it’s an intrinsically unfair idea because it’s violent. It’s unjust because the state is financed through tax and taxes are collected coercively. Or can any one of us say that we voluntarily pay taxes? This means that the state is financed through coercion and that the higher the tax burden, the higher the coercion and the lower the freedom.

Those who promote social justice start with the idea that the whole economy is a pie that can be shared differently. But that pie is not a given. It’s wealth that is generated in what Israel Kirzner, for instance, calls a market discovery process. 

If the goods or services offered by a business are not wanted, the business will fail unless it adapts to what the market is demanding. They will do well and produce more if they make a good quality product at an attractive price. So the market is a discovery process in which the capitalists will find the right path as they move forward.

But if the state punishes capitalists when they’re successful and gets in the way of the discovery process, they will destroy their incentives, and the consequence is that they will produce less. 

The pie will be smaller, and this will harm society as a whole. Collectivism, by inhibiting these discovery processes and hindering the appropriation of discoveries, ends up binding the hands of entrepreneurs and prevents them from offering better goods and services at a better price.

So how come academia, international organisations, economic theorists and politicians demonise an economic system that has not only lifted 90% of the world’s population out of extreme poverty but has continued to do this faster and faster?

Thanks to free trade capitalism, the world is now living its best moment. Never in all of mankind or humanity’s history has there been a time of more prosperity than today. This is true for all. The world of today has more freedom, is rich, more peaceful and prosperous. This is particularly true for countries that have more economic freedom and respect the property rights of individuals. 

Countries that have more freedom are 12 times richer than those that are repressed. The lowest percentile in free countries is better off than 90% of the population in repressed countries. Poverty is 25 times lower and extreme poverty is 50 times lower. And citizens in free countries live 25% longer than citizens in repressed countries.

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capitalist successful business people are social benefactors who, far from appropriating the wealth of others, contribute to the general well-being. Ultimately, a successful entrepreneur is a hero.

...

The theoretical framework to which I refer is that of Neoclassical economic theory, which designs a set of instruments that, unwillingly or without meaning to, end up serving intervention by the state, socialism and social degradation. 

The problem with Neoclassicals is that the model they fell in love with does not map reality, so they put down their mistakes to supposed market failures rather than reviewing the premises of the model.

Under the pretext of a supposed market failure, regulations are introduced. These regulations create distortions in the price system, prevent economic calculus, and therefore also prevent saving, investment and growth. 

This problem lies mainly in the fact that not even supposed libertarian economists understand what the market is because if they did understand, it would quickly be seen that it’s impossible for there to be market failures.

The market is not a mere graph describing a curve of supply and demand. The market is a mechanism for social cooperation, where you voluntarily exchange ownership rights. Therefore based on this definition, talking about a market failure is an oxymoron. There are no market failures. 

If transactions are voluntary, the only context in which there can be market failure is if there is coercion and the only one that is able to coerce generally is the state, which holds a monopoly on violence. 

Consequently, if someone considers that there is a market failure, I would suggest that they check to see if there is state intervention involved. And if they find that that’s not the case, I would suggest that they check again, because obviously there’s a mistake. Market failures do not exist.

An example of the so-called market failures described by the Neoclassicals is the concentrated structure of the economy. From the year 1800 onwards, with the population multiplying by 8 or 9 times, per capita GDP grew by over 15 times, so there were growing returns which took extreme poverty from 95% to 5%. 

However, the presence of growing returns involves concentrated structures, what we would call a monopoly. How come, then, something that has generated so much well-being for the Neoclassical theory is a market failure?

Neoclassical economists think outside of the box. When the model fails, you shouldn’t get angry with reality but rather with a model and change it. The dilemma faced by the Neoclassical model is that they say they wish to perfect the function of the market by attacking what they consider to be failures. But in so doing, they don’t just open up the doors to socialism but also go against economic growth. 

For example, regulating monopolies, destroying their profits and destroying growing returns would automatically destroy economic growth. 

However, faced with the theoretical demonstration that state intervention is harmful – and the empirical evidence that it has failed couldn’t have been otherwise – the solution proposed by collectivists is not greater freedom but rather greater regulation, which creates a downward spiral of regulations until we are all poorer and our lives depend on a bureaucrat sitting in a luxury office.

Given the dismal failure of collectivist models and the undeniable advances in the free world, socialists were forced to change their agenda: they left behind the class struggle based on the economic system and replaced this with other supposed social conflicts, which are just as harmful to life and to economic growth. 

The first of these new battles was the ridiculous and unnatural fight between man and woman. Libertarianism already provides for equality of the sexes. The cornerstone of our creed is that all humans are created equal and that we all have the same inalienable rights granted by the Creator, including life, freedom and ownership. 

All that the radical feminism agenda has led to is greater state intervention to hinder economic process, giving jobs to bureaucrats who have not contributed anything to society. Examples are ministries of women or international organisations devoted to promoting this agenda.

Another conflict presented by socialists is that of humans against nature, claiming that we human beings damage a planet which should be protected at all costs, even going as far as advocating for population control mechanisms or the abortion agenda.

Unfortunately, these harmful ideas have taken a stronghold in our society. Neo-Marxists have managed to co-opt the common sense of the Western world, and this they have achieved by appropriating the media, culture, universities and also international organisations. 

The latter case is the most serious one, probably because these are institutions that have enormous influence on the political and economic decisions of their member states.

Fortunately there’s more and more of us who are daring to make our voices heard, because we see that if we don’t truly and decisively fight against these ideas, the only possible fate is for us to have increasing levels of state regulation, socialism, poverty and less freedom, and therefore, worse standards of living.

The West has unfortunately already started to go along this path. I know, to many it may sound ridiculous to suggest that the West has turned to socialism, but it’s only ridiculous if you only limit yourself to the traditional economic definition of socialism, which says that it’s an economic system where the state owns the means of production. This definition in my view, should be updated in the light of current circumstances.

Today, states don’t need to directly control the means of production to control every aspect of the lives of individuals. With tools such as printing money, debt, subsidies, controlling the interest rate, price controls, and regulations to correct so-called market failures, they can control the lives and fates of millions of individuals.

This is how we come to the point where, by using different names or guises, a good deal of the generally accepted ideologies in most Western countries are collectivist variants, whether they proclaim to be openly communist, fascist, socialist, social democrats, national socialists, Christian democrats, neo-Keynesians, progressives, populists, nationalists or globalists.

Ultimately, there are no major differences. They all say that the state should steer all aspects of the lives of individuals. They all defend a model contrary to the one that led humanity to the most spectacular progress in its history. 

We have come here today to invite the Western world to get back on the path to prosperity. Economic freedom, limited government and unlimited respect for private property are essential elements for economic growth. The impoverishment produced by collectivism is not a fantasy, nor is it an inescapable fate. It’s a reality that we Argentines know very well. 

We have lived through this. We have been through this because, as I said earlier, ever since we decided to abandon the model of freedom that had made us rich, we have been caught up in a downward spiral – a spiral by which we are poorer and poorer, day by day. 

This is something we have lived through and we are here to warn you about what can happen if countries in the Western world, that became rich through the model of freedom, stay on this path of servitude.

The case of Argentina is an empirical demonstration that no matter how rich you may be, how much you may have in terms of natural resources, how skilled your population may be, how educated, or how many bars of gold you may have in the central bank – if measures are adopted that hinder the free functioning of markets, competition, price systems, trade and ownership of private property, the only possible fate is poverty. 

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to leave a message for all business people here and those who are not here in person but are following from around the world. 

Do not be intimidated by the political caste or by parasites who live off the state. Do not surrender to a political class that only wants to stay in power and retain its privileges. You are social benefactors. You are heroes. You are the creators of the most extraordinary period of prosperity we’ve ever seen. 

Let no one tell you that your ambition is immoral. If you make money, it’s because you offer a better product at a better price, thereby contributing to general wellbeing. 

Do not surrender to the advance of the state. The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself. You are the true protagonists of this story and rest assured that as from today, Argentina is your staunch and unconditional ally.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/18012024-speech-of-argentinas-president-javier-milei-at-davos-transcript/

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sample comment:

Message was 🎯. He’s a better orator than I realized w/ the ability to discuss the successes of free market capitalism, while acknowledging the initial good intentions of variants of collectivism where the system undermines the intent & centralizes power while creating a deadweight loss to society. Translation was AWESOME! I was meaning to listen to this & this version made it quite bearable to listen to as opposed to delayed translation. Key while multi-tasking & unable to read subtitles. With popularity of podcasts with many using enhanced playback speeds (WPM closer to reading), this is a HUGE societal enhancement in knowledge acquisition capability as it evolves & becomes mainstream. It unclogs the plumbing of idea flow across cultures.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Origin and setting of the Book of Mormon in 2024

In the pursuit of "no more contention" through clarity, charity and understanding, we all want to understand the current situation in the Restoration.

The "clarity" element of "no more contention" should prompt LDS scholars everywhere to fully educate their students, viewers, and readers about the authentic Church history and the teachings of the prophets about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon.

(For a list of neglected references, see https://www.mobom.org/modern-prophets-on-cumorah)

Instead, many, if not most, LDS educators and scholars use the redacted version of the Wentworth letter, the Gospel Topics Essays and Saints books that manipulate Church history to accommodate M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs narrative) and SITH (the stone-in-the-hat narrative), and their own theories to deprive Latter-day Saints of important authentic and faith affirming teachings of Joseph, Oliver, and their successors in Church leadership.

The "charity" element of "no more contention" gives these scholars the benefit of the doubt, always in the hope that they will change their approach and, instead of promoting M2C and SITH exclusively, they will provide their audiences with all the facts and explain the various assumptions, inferences and theories that lead to multiple working hypotheses, thereby enabling people to make informed decisions that will enhance and sustain faith in the Restoration. 

The "understanding" element of "no more contention" leads us to inquire into the impact of what young and new Latter-day Saints are being taught.

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On the banks of the Mississippi, on June 4th. 1834, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to his wife Emma in which he described the Zion's Camp march from Kirtland to Missouri. At one point he wrote, 

The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity...

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-2/62

But now, in 2024, many Latter-day Saints no longer believe there is any physical proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. 

Prominent and influential LDS scholars reject what Joseph wrote to Emma, claiming the Nephites were confined to the limited geography of Mesoamerica and that therefore Joseph Smith was merely speculating, he was wrong, and he later changed his mind. 

Or, worse, they claim he was referring to a group of Nephites in the "hinterlands" who were never part of the Book of Mormon narrative. Which obviously would contradict Joseph's statement that the plains of the Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and the archaeological sites in those areas were proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

I did an interview on data in the book The Next Mormons that indicates only 50% of Millennial LDS believe the Book of Mormon is actual history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmjBgd5HLzc

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It's amazing that BYU/CES students can learn the Book of Mormon with the BYU/CES fantasy maps and come away believing the Book of Mormon is actual history.

BYU's fantasy map of Book of Mormon geography

These fantasy maps expressly repudiate what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York.

CES fantasy map

While we are fine with people believing and teaching whatever they want, we think it is better to teach students all the relevant facts and then explain the various assumptions, inferences, and theories that lead to these overall hypotheses. 

This FAITH model enables students to identify how these fantasy maps directly refute what the prophets have taught about Cumorah, as anyone can see--if they are aware of what the prophets have taught.

Ask yourself: if your education about the Book of Mormon includes these concocted maps created by people who think Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled everyone about Cumorah, would you believe the Book of Mormon is a literal, actual history?

Kudos to new and young Latter-day Saints who survive the M2C and SITH indoctrination and come away with faith in and knowledge of what Joseph and Oliver taught about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon. 

And kudos to LDS scholars and teachers who advance the cause of "no more contention" by sharing all the relevant historical facts about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon.