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Ben Powell joins the podcast today to discuss his new book, Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World, coauthored with Robert Lawson.

The book is a combination of economic analysis and Anthony-Bourdain-style travel diary.

Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks!

Apparently we do. Because today millions of Americans—young and old—are flocking to the socialist banner and chanting, “What do we want? Socialism—the economic system that has impoverished people everywhere and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions! And when do we want it? Now!”

Really?

Most people seem somehow to have missed Economics 101 and don’t understand that socialism isn’t nice, cuddly government that takes care of everything for you so that you can remain an adolescent forever. No, we’ve seen it tried over and over again with catastrophic consequences.

Luckily, two semi-sober economists have toured the socialist world so you don’t have to. And they’ve come back with this stunning report: Socialism Sucks!

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discussions

  • What role (if any) should the gov’t play in the continued funding of cutting-edge scientific research? According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and  Development), approximately 10% of all R&D conducted globally is directly funded by governments, with approximately 60% done by private industry and 20% by educational institutions. Granted, this number probably doesn’t take into account indirect gov’t funding through tax subsidies and incentives. That 10% goes towards projects on the cutting edge of science, such as NASAs various space ventures and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (funded through the governments of the member states). Proponents of big gov’t science, such as Neil Degrasse Tyson, have stated in the past that projects like these are unlikely to be privately funded due to their high risk, high cost, and lack of return on investment. Gov’t, claims Tyson, is required to make the initial step and take all the risk so that private firms can follow in its wake with a clear picture of the requirements of such endeavours. TAM 2011: Our Future in Space Would such high risk, high cost projects be possible without gov’t backing?

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  • The “Tax Honesty” movement has demonstrated a few things to a lot of people.  To cover a lot with a few words, I’ll put it this way:  The IRS breaks its own rules in order to rob us through deceit. Some people (Irwin Schiff, for example) have suffered because they attempted to protect themselves from the rule-breakers.  There is now a theory popular among liberty-minded people that the government is too corrupt and powerful for anyone to succeed in an effort like Irwin Schiff’s.  There is also some good evidence showing this theory to be wrong.  It’s available at Peter Hendrickson’s website, losthorizons.com. I think that a lot of bureaucrats feel and believe that they are helping society.  This leaves them open to consider fixing situations in which their bureaucracy is breaking its own rules.  And let’s face it, there are some rules that can actually help liberty.  Perhaps the loads of evidence that Hendrickson has on his site can be explained by the presence of such “good-hearted” individuals in the bowels of the IRS. In any case, if you can, please entertain the possibility that the US Income Tax is not being administered honestly.  Consider that maybe, just maybe, in the gargantuan tangle of words called “Title 26,” the legal meaning of the law as it applies to most people is not coercive at all.  Maybe, if it were properly applied, the government would be a nuisance like neighbors who let their dogs poop on your lawn, instead of a nuisance like cancer in your lungs.  It could be true.  I think it is true, and I think that failing to follow all the twists and turns that Hendrickson uncovered to see for yourself that it is true kind of justifies you still being enslaved to a government that steals from you in order to cause havoc all over the planet in a massive deception that justifies its existence. If we want to honor the goodness in all people, including those who have been tricked into serving evil, we can do so by understanding the rules they think they should be following, and using them to protect ourselves from enslavement.

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  • This will be a general discussion to share tips and tricks to survive conventional Keynesian Economics Lessons in university.

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  • Dominance, Sharing, and Privacy gives us a simplified (maybe oversimplified), and intuitive way to categorize human sociality. Instead of thinking of social structures as being diverse and too complicated to be categorized, these three categories allow us to classify behaviors that address conflict as one of three types or a combination of the three.  For example, might makes right is not really a property norm but it is a dominance strategy. The ethic that the world belongs to everyone is not an alternative property norm, it is the nullification of property in favor of a sharing norm.  The violent defense of a territory is not a might makes right or dominance behavior but is the defense of privacy. The reluctance to intrude on others prior establish territory is not just a fear of retaliation but a respect for privacy.   For moe read: Dominance, Sharing, and Privacy (DSP), The Three Principles of Sociality  

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  • What if Parents Loved Strangers’ Children As Much As Their Own? Last December, the author and philosopher Sam Harris invited Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, to appear on his podcast, “Waking Up.” It was Bloom’s third stint as a guest, and, as before, the two men devoted a significant portion of their conversation to the subject of empathy. Bloom had just published a book, “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion,” in which he drew a distinction between empathy (the ability to feel other people’s pain) and compassion (desiring others’ well-being); according to Bloom, society needs less of the former and more of the latter. On the podcast, he and Harris talked about how empathy favors people you know over people you don’t, and how this favoritism leads to harmful behaviors such as tribalism and nationalism. They advocated a cooler, more rational approach to moral decision-making. Then they asked how far such an approach could be taken. Some forms of preferential treatment, Harris and Bloom noted, are considered appropriate, as when parents love their children more than they do strangers. But they wondered whether this, too, might be a behavior that requires correcting. They cited the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer, who famously pointed out that spending money on non-essentials means valuing your comfort over the lives of people starving elsewhere in the world. Bloom admitted that he buys toys and vacations for his children, identifying this as a moral dilemma that we all face. He and Harris engaged in a thought experiment: Would the world be improved if parents cared for other people just as much as they cared for their own children…While we’ve seen some reversals of this in the past year or two—including Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the resurgence of the xenophobic right—it’s not unreasonable to believe that these are temporary setbacks, blips in a broader trend that obtains over centuries or millennia. If this trend continues in the future, it could end in a kind of species-wide eusociality, at which point the perfectly impartial affection that Harris and Bloom posit might no longer seem so outlandish.? At first glance, I rolled my eyes thinking this was a call for collective child-rearing and how individualism is evil (Although he does take swipes at Trump and Brexit).  However on the whole, Chiang’s piece for the New Yorker is surprisingly balanced, with the exception talking about Brexit and Trump, as he cites several examples like the Kibbutzim in Israel where collectively raising children was not a good thing.  How if we all adopted a guru mindset of impartial affection the world would not be a utopia. What are your thoughts? Reactions?

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