Tag Archives: Investing

The parts of Böhm-Bawerk’s “Capital and Interest” that resonate most with me (updated as I read).

1. “Literally to ascribe to capital a power of producing value is thoroughly to misunderstand the essential nature of value, and thoroughly to misunderstand the essential nature of production. Value is not produced, and cannot be produced. What is produced is never anything but forms, shapes of material, combinations of material; therefore things, goods. These goods can of course be goods of value, but they do not bring value with them ready made, as something inherent that accompanies production. They always receive it first from outside—from the wants and satisfactions of the economic world. Value grows, not out of the past of goods, but out of their future. It comes, not out of the workshop where goods come into existence, but out of the wants which those goods will satisfy. Value cannot be forged like a hammer, nor woven like a sheet. If it could, our industries would be spared those frightful convulsions we call crises, which have no other cause than that quantities of products, in the manufacture of which no rule of art was omitted, cannot find the value expected. What production can do is never anything more than to create goods, in the hope that, according to the anticipated relations of demand and supply, they will obtain value.”

2. “There is no power in any element of production to infuse value immediately or necessarily into its products. A factor of production can never be an adequate source of value. Wherever value makes its appearance it has its ultimate cause in the relations of human needs and satisfactions. Any tenable explanation of interest must go back to this ultimate source.”

PDF here.

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A Short Message to People That Are Afraid of Machinery Taking Away Jobs

To the people that are afraid of machinery taking away jobs: would you not like machines to do everything for you and not have to work? Would you rather “be working” by washing clothes in a wash bin instead of being “unemployed” while your washing machine does the work?

Do you not see how you have more time freed up to do other things? Do you not see how productivity was increased with less effort? The same applies to a free-market capitalist system: when you are replaced, products become cheaper (which means easier for you to buy as well), and your time is freed up to find a new job which will be more beneficial for the economy, which means that it will be beneficial to you as well. Because everyone is looking for profit, inevitably, there will be markets created to replace old ones (whichever markets produce the most money will win out), which means that these new markets will employ people, replacing the old jobs. Things inevitably become easier in a free-market, capitalist system and that is exactly its purpose: to make things cheaper and easier.

Is that not what you want? To have things cheaper and easier? What happened when cell phones replaced rotary phones? Rotary phone employees lost their jobs, but they were replaced by cell phone employees. Why do you not hire a stenographer if you want more people employed instead of using a computer? If we discount the number of people required to initially build the computer, would you rather hire a stenographer for all of your writings or use a computer? Are you not better off by using the computer? Why? Did you increase productivity with less effort? Is this not what wealth is?

What if the stenographer now makes computers? What about all of the jobs that would have never been created without the invention of computers? What about all of the lost wealth and time that would have gone to wages and work for yourself? Why is increased profits and increased free time good for you, and a whole economy?

Because when you consume with your profits, you are employing your producer, and the more money you have to consume, the more money the producers you are buying from have to consume, and the more that they are buying for consumption. This is why everybody wins with free-market capitalism.

Learn more here: Henry Hazlitt – Economics in One Lesson.

August 18, 2013.

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