|14A012 North's Errant Compass by Jim Davies, 5/22/2014
Dr Gary North often writes well - it's usually worth reading him on LewRockwell.com. He's rather long-winded for my taste, but frequently covers valuable stuff. Any day of the week, I'd sooner enjoy almost any of his articles than waste time in an Establishment rag like the New York Times, The Economist, or even the Wall Street Journal. He's an economic scholar of repute, and a prolific writer with over 30 books to his name.
One of his newsletters is Remnant Review, on whose masthead appears a Biblical reference; Matthew 6:33, 34. Those verses say:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [food, drink, clothing] shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
So that's his starting point; Gary North prefaces all his economic thought with the premise that there exists a God, that this God is the Christian God, and that God will take care of the material wants of His servants if they follow Him. North's bio says he's a "Christian Reconstructionist" and follower of one R J Rushdoony, whose daughter Sharon he married; a reference to that belief system shows it to include some bizarre components.
For example "the list of civil crimes which carried a death sentence would include... lying about one's virginity..." Hello? To be stoned to death, for telling a fib? And North claims to be a Libertarian? It's not just the repulsive nature of that penalty; the point rather is that in his world-view, penalties exist at all. If penalty, then laws; if laws, then government.
The contrast with a rational, anarchist vision of liberty could hardly be greater. What Gary North is doing on LewRockwell.com, which claims to be a prominent voice of anarcho-capitalism, is a question one would have to ask Lew Rockwell.
North was prominent in the years leading up to 2000, when he predicted that breakdown and chaos were probable when the world's computer programs failed to take account of the change in the senior digit of the date field - the "Y2K problem." That was not incredible, such an error would be easy to make, but in the event all programs were adequately reviewed and fixed so the alarm proved to be false. Remnant Review survives, even so.
Another example of North's misleading guidance is found in his invective against Bitcoin. He calls it the "second biggest Ponzi scheme in history" - the biggest being "Social Security." His main point is that Bitcoin is not money, but an investment; and that is his main error. The whole point of Bitcoin is that it IS money, or will be soon; its qualities as an investment are transitory. Most of all, it is money outside the control of government, and that immense virtue barely even gets a mention by Dr North. Perhaps that's because he doesn't really want money to be outside government control; at root, he favors government. How else would fibbers and blasphemers get executed? Now, it's possible to overstate the value of this free-market currency; some say that on its own, it will usher in a free society. For reasons shown here, I don't think that's the case. But it will, for sure, be an immense help.
Lastly consider one of North's recent articles - the one that prompted this present critique. On May 17th he wrote that Edward Snowden's 2013 whistle blowing has had no useful effect and may even have made government spying worse (by becoming part of the scenery, less unacceptable.) Curious logic; on that basis it might be best never to show any government malfeasance to the public! He compounds the error by ending up with the prediction that "Budget cuts can do it; nothing else can. It is going to take the fiscal crisis of the federal government to roll the system back."
Nonsense, on two counts: "rolling back" the system is not a worthwhile objective; only its total elimination is of interest here. And government will not self-destruct, as shown in Revolutions Aren't Passive; a "fiscal crisis" is just something else that Rahm Emmanuel will advise his buddy in the White House not to allow to go to waste.
This all helps confirm that Dr North still has his head inside the Statist box; he's merely a minarchist, so is giving us all a bum steer. For sure, he vigorously opposes the present State; but his proposed replacement is not so much anarchy, as theocracy. His compass urgently requires calibration, and the best way I know to set one is to engage in serious study with The On Line Freedom Academy.