Morals & Markets

The FTX Scam: "Effective Altruism" In Action

January 24, 2023
FTX, an exchange for cryptocurrencies, was fraudulent almost from its start in 2019. Its recent bankruptcy reveals that it robbed millions of people and billions of dollars, then spent most of it on Democrats. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) veiled his fraud with "effective altruism," a pseudo-ethical scheme from academic philosophy, the opposite of egoistic profit-maximization. Altruism is beloved, wrongly, as an ethic of goodwill to others. SBF knew he was perpetuating a fraud - first ethical, then financial: EA, he said, is "this dumb game we woke Westerners play where we say all the right shibboleths, so everyone likes us."

Why The GOP Lost The Midterm Elections

November 29, 2022
The GOP received more votes in recent House elections (50MM vs 44MM) but its widely expected “red wave” didn’t materialize. After two years of Democrat incompetence, corruption, and vice – with inflation at a 40-year high, no economic growth, rampant crime, border anarchy, civil liberty assaults, bans on fossil fuels, publicly-subsidized genital mutilation – Republicans won only a bare majority of House seats and have lost a seat in the Senate. Why? Poor GOP candidate quality? No. Election fraud? Not enough. Abortion issue? Possibly. But the simplest explanation might be the best: a majority of American voters prefer irrational, anti-capitalist policies.

The ESG Virus - Morals & Markets

October 25, 2022
ESG is a fast-spreading policy pathogen deployed by environmentalists and other anti-capitalists to infect every aspect of life, but especially corporate and political governance. ESG prioritizes “environmental, social, and governance” goals to dilute and pollute positive forms of governance, especially the shareholder model in economics and rights-based constitutionalism in politics. The necessary antidotes to the ESG virus include rationality, justice, the profit motive, and capitalism.

Collegiate Cronyism with special guest, Atlas Society Founder, Dr. David Kelley

October 12, 2022
Cronies who receive political favors include not just corporate “fat cats” but colleges and college students. President Biden recently decreed a unilateral cancellation of student debt (up to $20,000 per borrower) which would cost roughly $500-750 billion. Aside from the question of whether Biden, Congress or some agency is empowered to cancel debt, is the policy just or unjust? Practical or impractical? What about those who didn’t go to college, didn’t borrow for it, or have serviced their debt? Why is student debt so high? Why is Washington involved at all? What does Biden’s policy imply about the national debt? After all, if Washington can unilaterally forego money it is owed, why can’t it do likewise for money it owes to others?

How Markets Elevate Our Morals - Morals & Markets

August 25, 2022
It’s now commonplace to hear it said that markets “corrupt our morals.” This sentiment derives from the false premise that the selfish pursuit of our interests, values, possessions, and happiness is low, crude, vulgar, and immoral. The supposed “higher” and “nobler” things lie beyond our selves and beyond this earth. In fact, markets – whether the construed as the exchange of material or intangible values – count on and reward civilized attitudes and behaviors. Markets are humanizing; they embody rationality and objective values; they enshrine justice; they entail reciprocity; they invite us to present the best within us; they teach us lessons; they also ostracize and penalize those who try to practice the main vices (lying, cheating, mooching, and looting).

Why MBAs Are Not Pro-Capitalist with Dr. Richard Salsman

July 29, 2022
It’s widely but falsely assumed that financial-economic capitalists are necessarily pro-capitalist ideologically. Why is this so? By now, “woke” CEOs are widely recognized (and hailed) for being anti-capitalist, including by violating their fiduciary duties to shareholders. The graduate degree of “master’s in business administration” (MBA), which is on the resume of one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs, is a main cause of the woke CEO trend. In prior sessions we’ve discussed the fascistic nature of the “stakeholder” model of corporate governance; in this session we discuss how and why MBA programs preach this and other ideas that erode capitalism.

Stakeholder Capitalism Is Fascistic

June 23, 2022
The model of so-called “stakeholder capitalism,” a contradiction in terms, is fast replacing the model of shareholder capitalism (a redundancy). The stakeholder model entails scores of pressure groups (including politicians and regulators) dictating what corporations must do, especially if the doing is less rational, less profitable, and averse to shareholders’ goals. A related designation, “ESG,” is a budding American version of China’s Social Credit System. Whereas capitalism entails both private ownership and control of the means of production, fascism entails private ownership but public control; the latter is the essence of stakeholder-ism.

Are Economic Sanctions Ever Defensible?

May 26, 2022
Many nations recently have imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Is this proper? Effective? In “The Roots of War” (1966) Ayn Rand argued that “the essence of capitalism’s foreign policy is free trade—i.e.,the abolition of trade barriers, of protective tariffs, of special privileges—the opening of the world’s trade routes to free international exchange and competition among the private citizens of all countries dealing directly with one another.” But she also opposed U.S. trade with America’s sworn, mortal enemies (e.g., U.S.S.R.). In this session we’ll discuss if/when economic sanctions are justified and their typical effects (for good or ill). Like protectionist measures, sanctions often hurt the imposer more than the imposed.

Egoistic Foreign-Military Policy

April 28, 2022
Just as rational egoism is the only proper ethic to guide an individual’s life, it’s the only proper ethical guide for a state’s relations with other states. The essence of America is its liberties, its rights, and its capitalist system; consequently, the self-interest of the United States lies in preserving those values, neither sacrificing nor surrendering them, especially not for so-called “humanitarian” (altruistic) motives, merely to help victimized foreigners. The U.S. must rationally identify its allies and enemies, then act accordingly. It must never provide national defense for other nations that mostly pretend to be sovereign. Rational egoism justifies neither pacifism, isolationism, nor imperialism. America cannot preserve her essence or institutions, nor again find a way to fight and win only the right wars, without following the egoistic principle. She must be a moral paragon for the world, but never its policeman.

How The War On Fossil Fuel Fuels War

March 24, 2022
"Increased global reliance on increasingly expensive oil and gas from Russia has fueled its foreign aggressions. As was true of the oil-rich Middle East despots in the 1970s, Russia’s biggest ally has been environmentalists who, being anti-capitalist, oppose precisely the energies that best power capital infrastructure: fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Instead of advanced economies using these abundant, cheap, safe, and reliable energy forms, environmentalists prefer reliance on medieval, pre-industrial forms – wind, water, sun – knowing that capitalism would perish by their widespread use."

Central Bank Digital Currencies: What's The Point?

February 24, 2022
Central banks, as monopolist issuers of state-based fiat (mandatory) money, operate not to help economies but to assist fiscally profligate governments in funding themselves cheaply and surreptitiously. Lately, in response to the spread (and threat) of cryptocurrencies, central banks have pursued plans to issue their fiat monies in digital form. Per the BIS, 86% of them are actively researching central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), 60% are experimenting with it, and 14% have pilot projects. Fans claim CBDCs will help central banks better manage the payments system, inflation, and the economy. But nefarious motives are also likely, having to do with “Modern Monetary Theory” and more direct means of financing profligate governments.

The Economics and Politics of Cryptocurrency

January 27, 2022
In this special co-hosted session of Atlas Society Senior Scholar, Dr.Richard Salsman's monthly Morals & Markets Seminar he discusses: Are cryptocurrencies genuine or instead fraudulent as monies? What role have they played in the economy so far, and how might they influence the future? What explains their attraction? What are their main risks and might they spread as a contagion globally? Do cryptocurrencies differ materially (Bitcoin, Ether, Solana, USD Coin) and if so, why might it matter? El Salvador has designated Bitcoin as legal tender, while other states (China) are hostile to cryptocurrencies. Are they an alternative to government fiat monies or instead a possible model for well-run public digital currencies? with Duke Economics Student and writer for Bitcoin Magazine, Jack Kriesel. Jack, a former nay-sayer of Bitcoin, has become one of its strongest young advocates! Listen to his perspective as he goes back and forth with Dr. Salsman and the session's participants.

The Right And Wrong of Reparations

December 30, 2021
Civil law and tort courts properly require monetary restitution to those who are harmed, given objective evidence of causality, responsibility, and materiality. Class action lawsuits also can be legitimate. But “reparations,” as now conceived, unjustly collectivize wrongs, designate innocents as perpetrators, and classify the undeserving as victims. The problem with reparations isn’t so much logistical as it is ethical.

Trumpism As America's Future: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

December 13, 2021
In episode #2 of The Morals & Markets Podcast Dr. Salsman talks about President Trump's lasting effect on American politics. Void of the "never-trumper" hatred or Pro-Trump mania that delegitimizes most Trump-centered discussions today, Dr. Salsman takes a measured approach and presents rational arguments for those of us looking to analyze where Trump went right and where he went wrong. Followed by a vigorous debate and Q&A, you won't want to miss this episode!

Where Have All The Capitalists Gone? - Dr. Richard Salsman

December 13, 2021
In this very first episode of The Morals & Markets Podcast through The Atlas Society's student programs, Atlas Society Senior Scholar and Professor of Political Economy out of Duke, Dr. Richard M. Salsman presents on his latest book "Where Have All The Capitalists Gone? Essays In Moral Political Economy".

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