Tag Archives: The Road to Serfdom

Read or listen to F. A. Hayek’s classic book “The Road to Serfdom” for free

No matter where you go, more freedom means more prosperity
No matter where you go, more freedom means more prosperity

I want to recommend to everyone a famous book about how socialism leads to mass murder by government. The book is written by Nobel prize winner F. A. Hayek. This is one of my favorite books on economics. The full PDF of the book is available for download on archive.org.

The audio version is available FOR FREE on YouTube:

Outline:

  • 00:17 Foreword
  • 37:58 Preface
  • 41:51 Preface 1976
  • 50:09 Introduction
  • 1:08:46 Ch1 The Abandoned Road
  • 1:37:31 Ch2 The Great Utopia
  • 1:54:46 Ch3 Individualism and Collectivism
  • 2:18:32 Ch4 The Inevitability of Planning
  • 2:45:52 Ch5 Planning and Democracy
  • 3:20:06 Ch6 Planning and the Rule of Law
  • 3:54:33 Ch7 Economic Control and Totalitarianism
  • 4:23:01 Ch8 Who, Whom
  • 5:00:49 Ch9 Security and Freedom
  • 5:31:27 Ch10 Why the Worst Get On Top
  • 6:11:01 Ch11 The End of Truth
  • 6:38:41 Ch12 The Socialist Roots of Nazism
  • 7:09:40 Ch13 The Totalitarians in Our Midst
  • 7:54:43 Ch14 Material Conditions and Ideal Ends
  • 8:33:17 Ch15 The Prospects of International Order
  • 9:14:55 Ch16 Conclusion

All you need is 8.5 hours to listen to it. You won’t regret it, I promise. I have listened to the audiobook at least a dozen times. If that’s too long, there is a condensed version of the book.

They Hayek Center talks about condensed version of the book:

Max Eastman and the editors of Reader’s Digest wrote the condensed version of Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” (pdf), which was read by millions of Americans at home and by servicemen all of the world when it was published in April of 1945.  It was the Reader’s Digest condensed version which turned Hayek’s little book into an American sensation — and Hayek into a public celebrity.  The Reader’s Digest had a circulation at the time of more the 5 million copies, and the little journal was provided to each American serviceman, at home and abroad.

[…]An additional 600,000 copies of the condensed version were later printed and distributed through the Book of the Month club and by non-profit civic groups.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to live at a time where everyone clearly understood the danger of letting government administrators centrally plan an economy? But the new generation of young Americans have lost that knowledge, and they are voting for the people who will lead them down the road to serfdom.

Ben Shapiro remembers the leftists who praised socialism in Venezuela

Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez
Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez

There is a podcast to go with this post in the video below, for those who don’t want to watch the podcast on The Daily Wire.

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, Maduro dragged opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma off to prison; on Sunday, the dictatorship killed some ten people during election riots.

[…]The latest controversy in Venezuela arises thanks to Maduro’s brutish attempt to overthrow the legitimate legislature of the country in favor of a constituent assembly that would essentially allow Maduro to redraw the constitution. Maduro is, of course, the successor to thug dictator Hugo Chavez, who seized power in January 1999 through election, and then proceeded to nationalize foreign oil projects, socialize virtually every other industry, institute price and wage controls, ratchet up tariffs, and entirely destroy the economy of one of the most natural-resources-blessed countries on the planet. Chavez took office with promises to end income inequality in the country. Instead, his brutish regime exacerbated poverty to the point of crisis – but at least they minimized income inequality! Just for good measure, Chavez also essentially destroyed the free press and made employment in key industries contingent on loyalty to his regime.

The consequences: no bread, no sugar, no toilet paper, ordinary citizens hunting dogs in the streets and waiting in line outside bakers not for bread, but for the ability to comb through the garbage for crumbs. Hyperinflation has set in: according to CNBC, “On Friday, $1 equaled 10,389 bolivars. Earlier this week, on Monday, it was worth 8,820 bolivars. At the start of this year, $1 equaled 3,164 bolivars, according to the unofficial exchange rate calculated by dolartoday.com, which millions of Venezuelans use.” Venezuelan hospitals lack gloves, soap, water, paper. Electrical blackouts aren’t infrequent. Caracas has become the most violent city in the Western hemisphere.

According to Hannah Dreier of Associated Press:

The government of President Nicolas Maduro blames the U.S. and right-wing business interests for the economic collapse, but most economists say it actually stems from government-imposed price and currency distortions. There often seemed to be a direct line between economic policy and daily hardship. One week, the administration declared that eggs would now be sold for no more than 30 cents a carton. The next week, eggs had disappeared from supermarkets, and still have not come back…. People started digging through the trash at all hours, pulling out vegetable peelings and soggy pizza crusts and eating them on the spot. That seemed like rock bottom. Until my local bakery started organizing lines each morning, not to buy bread but to eat trash.

It’s worth noting that the American Left praised both Chavez and Maduro for decades as halcyons of humanitarian redistributionism. As I noted at Breitbart at the time, when Chavez died in 2013, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) called him “a leader that understood the needs to the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless.” Former President Jimmy Carter praised Chavez’s “commitment to improving the lives of his fellow countrymen,” adding that he would “be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communications skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.” Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post called Chavez “quick” and “popular.” Larry King called him “huggable.” The Associated Press called him a “fighter.” The Atlantic stated, “Passionate and charismatic, Chávez slipped comfortably into the role of romantic Latin American revolutionary, championing the poor against an unfeeling local oligarchy and its imperial paymasters….Today millions of Venezuelans will weep tears of genuine anguish at his passing.” ABC News and Univision said he was “revered by Venezuela’s poor, who considered him one of their own.” And The New York Times sounded off, of course, calling him a “dreamer with a common touch and enormous ambition” who “maintained an almost visceral connection with the poor.”

During his tenure, Chavez received praise from Oliver Stone and Noam Chomsky, from Danny Glover and Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who said, “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas, to those who previously saw few benefits of the countries oil wealth…. It is not only important to have sustainable growth, but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.”

The Left owns Venezuela.

When you see people lining up to go through trash looking for food in Venezuela, remember the people who praised the damnable economic system that caused it.

Here is the podcast featuring Ben Shapiro:

Indeed. The first post I ever wrote on this blog about Venezuela’s descent into destruction was on February 8, 2009. I’ve been writing about this for over 8 years, and following Venezuela’s every little step down the road to socialism. Make no mistake.Your children are being told that socialism is the greatest economic system ever. And they think socialism is great, even though they’ve never set foot in any country that has actually tried it, like Venezuela.

What American schools produce:

Socialism is great, and they’ll vote for it, but they have no idea what they are voting for. Their unionized public school teachers and their celebrity masters taught them how great it is, but they never mentioned anywhere that it’s actually been tried.

Related posts

How Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, saved Britain

Here’s an article from the UK Daily Mail with some more details about her.

Margaret Thatcher stood almost alone in driving through the tough policies now credited with saving the economy, secret papers reveal.

The Tory Premier had to take on her predecessor Harold Macmillan, Bank of England governor Gordon Richardson and even her own Chancellor Geoffrey Howe to push through the policies which pulled Britain back from the brink of economic chaos.

Documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show the pressure Mrs Thatcher faced from the Establishment behind the scenes – and the extent to which she was isolated.

In 1980, the year after becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher embarked on a controversial programme to revive the moribund economy through deep public spending cuts and strict control of the money supply, intended to stamp out inflation.

He warned that while her programme of cuts might give a ‘sense of exhilaration’ to her supporters, the country was heading for industrial collapse and ‘dangerous’ levels of unemployment.

Macmillan, then 86, sent the letter following a meeting with the Prime Minister at Chequers in August 1980.

He criticised her for abandoning ‘consensus politics’ to pursue radical reforms and ‘divisive politics’, which he said went against the ‘essence of Tory democracy’.

It was Macmillan who coined the phrase ‘you’ve never had it so good’ in 1957 during the long post-war economic boom.

His brand of consensus politics is now credited with contributing to the economic malaise that brought Britain to its knees in the late 1970s.

Years later, in her memoirs, Mrs Thatcher poured scorn on consensus politics, writing: ‘What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?.’

[…]In 1981, 365 economists wrote to The Times urging Mrs Thatcher to change course and limit the damage caused by the recession.

But she was unmoved, and her tough stance succeeded in reducing inflation from 27 per cent to four per cent in four years, putting Britain on the road to recovery.

Mrs Thatcher’s economic views were heavily influenced by the right-wing Cabinet minister Sir Keith Joseph, with whom she set up the free market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974.

Both drew on the work of the influential American economist Milton Friedman whose monetary theories challenged the post-war consensus on economic thinking.

I recommend reading the whole article for some more articles where Lady Thatcher had to stand against everyone and hold onto her convictions in the teeth of the majority.

Here’s an article from Forbes magazine that summarizes her effort to turn Britain around.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to appreciate today how desperate Britain’s condition was before Thatcher took office.  Its economy was a laughing stock, the perennial sick man of Europe.  Strikes were endemic and union bosses effectively governed the country.  Her Conservative Party had long ago made its peace with the welfare state and the ethos of high spending and high taxes. While the previous Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, wanted to revive Britain, he hadn’t a clue how to do it. In a make-or-break showdown with the coal miner’s union, Heath called a special election under the banner “Who Governs Britain?”  Heath lost and unions’ dominance in Britain seemed secure.

Great leaders have an astute sense of taking advantage of circumstances. Even though Heath had lost two elections, none of the senior party officials would challenge him.  At the time, Thatcher was not regarded as one of the party’s major figures.  But she was the only Tory who firmly believed in free markets and in Britain’s ability to become again a proud nation based on the principles of liberty. She was a devotee of Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman and of the idea of paring back big government and giving free enterprise room to flourish. Astonishingly she beat Heath in a leadership fight in 1975 and led the Tories to victory in 1979.

Immediately she began slashing income tax rates and reining in galloping spending and fighting inflation.  She also exhibited that critical sense of timing. When she took office, she was faced with a potential strike of nurses whose union was demanding huge pay increases. Thatcher compromised in a way that some thought she didn’t have the backbone to turn Britain around.  Instead she was exhibiting a great politician’s sense of knowing when to pick a fight.  Thatcher eventually pushed through major labor union reforms and made it clear she would not tolerate any union riots or violence.  Shortly after Thatcher won reelection, the coal miners union, which had destroyed Heath, decided to take her on. But unlike Heath Thatcher was fully prepared.  The big showdown ensued and Thatcher beat the coal miner’s union resoundingly. It never recovered from that defeat.

Thatcher knew the deadweight on the economy of excessive taxation. She cut the top income tax rate from 98% to 40%. She cut the corporate income tax rate from 52% to 35%.

One of Thatcher’s greatest innovations was the systematic selling off of the government’s business assets, dubbed privatization.  After World War II Britain nationalized enormous swaths of the economy which actions subsequent Conservative governments left largely untouched.  Thatcher sold government companies off and her example has been followed by countless nations around the world.

In the area of privatizations, she did two remarkable things. She sold off much of Britain’s public housing.  An enormous number of Britons, far more than in the U.S., lived in these government-owned buildings. Thatcher pushed the sale of these apartments to occupants at low prices and on very advantageous terms. The purpose was to begin to shift the mentality of people and their dependence on government. Her other smart move was in the privatization of government-owned companies:  offering a significant number of shares to workers at very low prices.  Union leaders hated privatization but their opposition was undermined as their members realized that they could do very well buying cheap shares in these newly-privatized entities.  Here again she was changing peoples’ thinking:  pro-big government workers now saw themselves as share owners, taking on more of a capitalist mentality.

Before Thatcher, many social observers thought that Britain had an ingrained, unchangeable, anti-commercial culture that would forever stand in the way of the country becoming an economic success. Yet within a decade of her taking office, Britain had the most vibrant, large economy in Europe, one even more dynamic, innovative than that of Germany’s.  London became a magnet for entrepreneurs from France, Sweden and elsewhere.

One unchangeable characteristic of a great leader is courage and that means taking career-breaking risks.  Thatcher demonstrated her mettle in the Falkland Islands crisis.  When the Argentinean military dictatorship seized Britain’s Falkland Islands, most military experts felt the Sceptred Isle simply did not possess the military means to take them back. Defying almost the entire political establishment which was haunted by both Britain’s current weakness and the memory of the Suez Canal debacle in 1956, Thatcher declared that the seizure would not stand and that Britain would go to war to take the Islands back. Thankfully she received critical help from the U.S. thanks to in large part the unrelenting efforts of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who years later became Publisher and Chairman of Forbes). To the surprise of experts, Britain’s military expedition succeeded. The Argentinean military dictatorship fell and democracy was restored in that country.  For Britain the Falklands war was a huge boost to a demoralized nation. To the world it meant that once again tyranny would be resisted.

I recommend reading that whole article. It’s hard not to smile at a woman who clearly loved her country and worked to save it from poverty.

Why good men love Maggie

And now I must offend everyone. See, I have a theory about women. I think that women generally tend to be more beholden to the opinions and fashions of the crowd than men are. It’s not absolute, but it’s maybe two-thirds to one-third, in my experience. I think that it is generally hard for them to hold to their convictions in the face of peer pressure. That’s why so few young, unmarried women are conservative after graduating from college. As soon as they reach college, they are swayed towards liberal views by their need to feel good about themselves and their need to be liked by others. Their views at home were not rooted in real knowledge, they were just fitting in with their families and churches and saying whatever words they were expected to say. And then they go off to college and learn other words to say from another community that uses praise and blame to replace their former convictions with new convictions.

But Maggie Thatcher wasn’t like that. And here’s why:

John Ranelagh writes of Margaret Thatcher’s remark at a Conservative Party  policy meeting in the late 1970’s, “Another colleague had also prepared a paper arguing that the middle way was the pragmatic path for the Conservative party to take .. Before he had finished speaking to his paper, the new Party Leader [Margaret Thatcher] reached into her briefcase and took out a book.  It was Friedrich von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty.  Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see.  ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table.”  (John Ranelagh, Thatcher’s People:  An Insider’s Account of the Politics, the Power, and the Personalities.  London:  Harper Collins, 1991.)

Policies like unilateral disarmament, wealth redistribution and redefining marriage sound good to many women – especially in college, and especially when only one side is presented and the other side is demonized. The only way to resist ideas that feel good and ideas that get you peer-approval is to have formed your own views through independent study. Lady Thatcher’s economic policies were formed through a study of real economists like Nobel-prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek and Nobel-prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. The reason why she was able to hold to her principles is because she knew what she was talking about, and her opponents did not. She didn’t care about feeling good. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her. She knew was right, and that was enough to sustain her in trying times. She had the knowledge, and her opponents couldn’t change her core convictions by trying to shame her. It didn’t work.

Fascism: Obama administration objects to conscience protections for military chaplains

Fascism is the system of government in which the government pushes it’s notions of purpose, meaning and morality onto the citizens. In a fascist government, values derived from religion, family and community are overridden by the state. Fascism is exclusively an outworking of the left. When government is big, secular and religious fascism are possible. In contrast, right wing conservatives always want government to be small, so that individuals, families, businesses and charities are left with the most freedom to decide.

So is the Obama administration left wing (fascist) or right wing (liberty)? Do they respect the right of individuals to decide what to do?

Consider this article from CNS News.

Excerpt:

The Obama administration “strongly objects” to provisions in a House defense authorization bill that would prohibit the use of military property for same-sex “marriage or marriage-like” ceremonies, and protect military chaplains from negative repercussions for refusing to act against their consciences, as, for example, in being ordered to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony.

In a policy statement released Wednesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget outlined numerous objections to aspects of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 4310). The bill was reported out of the House Armed Services Committee last week and is set to be debated in the House, beginning Wednesday. (See related story)

Overall, it recommends that President Obama veto H.R. 4310 if its cumulative effects “impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources.”

The veto warning is not specifically linked to the two provisions dealing with marriage, but they are listed among parts of the bill which the administration finds objectionable.

The memo said the two provisions “adopt unnecessary and ill-advised policies that would inhibit the ability of same-sex couples to marry or enter a recognized relationship under State law.”

Section 536 of H.R. 4310 states in part that no member of the armed forces may “direct, order, or require a chaplain to perform any duty, rite, ritual, ceremony, service, or function that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain, or contrary to the moral principles and religious beliefs of the endorsing faith group of the chaplain.”

Further, no member of the armed forces may “discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment, on the basis of the refusal by the chaplain to comply with a direction, order, or requirement” that is prohibited by the previous clause.

The OMB complained that, “in its overbroad terms,” section 536 “is potentially harmful to good order and discipline.”

Section 537 of H.R. 4310 states that “[a] military installation or other property owned or rented by, or otherwise under the jurisdiction or control of, the Department of Defense may not be used to officiate, solemnize, or perform a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman.”

That provision, the OMB said in the memo, would make it obligatory for the department “to deny Service members, retirees, and their family members access to facilities for religious ceremonies on the basis of sexual orientation, a troublesome and potentially unconstitutional limitation on religious liberty.”

Obama in December 2010 signed into law legislation repealing a ban on homosexuals and lesbians serving openly in the military. Last week he publicly endorsed same-sex marriage for the first time.

The House Armed Services Committee passed H.R. 4310 on May 9 by a 56-5 bipartisan vote, the only nays coming from Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree (Me.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Jackie Speier (Calif.).

This is not the first time that Obama has shows disrespect for the religious liberty and freedom of conscious of individuals and private organizations. He thinks he knows better than you what to believe, and he thinks it’s a good idea to force his views and priorities onto you, your family, your employer, your church, and any charitable organizations you might be affiliated with. He’s a fascist, and his regime is fascist. That’s just the way it is.

I really recommend that all of my Christian readers check out the book “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek. Hayek is a Nobel prize winning economist who argues that all our liberties – including our freedom of religion – are rooted in free market capitalism and small government. He argues that only when individuals are free to choose where they work, to keep what they earn, and to spend it on goods and services they really want, will their be real freedom. It’s important for Christians to choose an economic philosophy that guarantees the social conditions that allows them to thrive as Christians. Not just with respect to evangelism, but with respect to freedom of conscience, and freedom to promote their beliefs in public in the most effective, persuasive ways possible. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced on our Kingdom plans just because we are lazy and want our neighbor to buy us health care and mail us Medicare checks. You do not give up your freedom to serve God in exchange for your neighbor’s money.