Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Note on Government Power Centers

During the Sunday evening libertarian dinner/discussion I attended, the topic of the wealthy abusing the democratic system for their own benefit came up. Some argued that it would be better if influence, instead, was in the hands of the masses, others argued that the rich tended to be more free market oriented and thus it was appropriate that power was in their hands.

I argued that from my perspective, both positions were wrong. I said rather than focusing on who should control government power centers, we should be attempting to advance the idea that the power centers, themselves, should be eliminated.

I used the Federal Reserve as an example. The argument shouldn't be whether the banksters should control the Fed, so that they can print money for their purposes, or whether populists such as Ellen Brown and modern monetary theorists should control the Fed, so that money is printed for their agenda, rather the focus should be on eliminating the Fed so that the power center disappears and no one can do evil with it, bankster or populist.


  1. Russia’s VTB and Bank of China agree on domestic currency settlements

    VTB, Russia’s second biggest lender, has signed a deal with Bank of China, which includes an agreement to pay each other in domestic currencies.

    “Under the agreement, the banks plan to develop their partnership in a number of areas, including cooperation on ruble and renminbi settlements, investment banking, inter-bank lending, trade finance and capital-markets transactions,” says the official VTB statement.

    The deal underlines VTB Group’s growing interest in Asian markets and will help grow trade between Russia and China that are already close trading partners, said VTB Bank Management Board Vasily Titov.

    An Agreement on Cooperation was signed by Titov and Bank of China President Chen Siqing in Shanghai on Tuesday in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    VTB Group is Russia’s second biggest financial institution with more than 30 banks and financial firms in more than 20 countries. Its assets were estimated at 8.8 billion rubles as of 2013, with a profit of 100.5 billion rubles.
    Growing trade and investment


  2. Mr. Wenzel,
    Your post shows the issues that seem to have arose within libertarian circles. Seems some "libertarians" have a mind that we need to be more egalitarian for the masses. What say you?

  3. It is precisely correct that the power centers must be eliminated. Since 1973, I thought that this was an obvious part of Libertarianism 101 taught at the 12 minute mark on the first day of class. The NAP eliminates such power centers.

    One should be able to derive that lesson from Kolko's "The Triumph of Conservatism" first published in 1963. The Robber Barons could not control the market via laissez faire so they instead pursued "progressive" regulation.


    Unfortunately, "progressives" lack the level of abstract thinking that would allow them to follow that simple argument and differentiate between both historical and theoretical examples of laissez faire and "rent seeking" (which is a very sad commentary).

  4. The power centers will not willingly be eliminated. For example, this article that ran via Reuters yesterday would suggest two new Fed nominees are not only comfortable with an interventionist Fed, but want to vastly increase such. A few article excerpts: "Fischer, Brainard To Push For More Activist Fed." " The two new nominees to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors are expected to push for an expanded Fed role in managing the U.S. economy, working to replace the current raft of programs that resulted from the financial crisis with more permanent tools. The arrival of former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and former U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard will add two strong voices to back Chair Janet Yellen's view that loose monetary policy needs to be extended to turn around a slack labor market. Interviews with former colleagues and a review of their public statements and published material also suggest both will want the Fed to remain in activist mode long after its current programs wind down and its bloated balance sheet shrinks. Fischer, who is nominated to be Fed vice chairman, is expected from day one to pursue his belief that central banks need to develop new powers and tools to prevent future crises. 'BAZOOKA' THINKING Like Fischer, who was born in what is now Zambia, Brainard spent her early years overseas, as the daughter of a diplomat posted to Germany and Poland at the end of the Cold War. A Washington fixture, she served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations and spent the intervening years at the Brookings Institution, a top think tank." Brainard, 52, reached the upper ranks of the U.S. Treasury as undersecretary for international affairs, but does not have as deep a background in monetary policy as Fischer. Her work in Washington has been less that of a technical economist and more about the political economy of globalization and international institutions. Both Brainard and Fischer are expected to deepen Fed discussion of how its decisions may impact the global economy and vigorously defend U.S. policy overseas."

  5. Being a hierarchical species of monkeys, one whose social structure is based on the more powerful dominating lower social status individuals, how in the world would we truly ever eliminate power centers? My libertarian principles agree with your thesis, but the older I get, the more futile I think the exercise is.

    If we eliminated government power centers tomorrow, I would anticipate that the individuals in our society who have access to the most capital would quickly fill in the vacuum. I would envision a scenario more akin to the old manufacturing towns, where the magnate owns the factory you work in, the apartment you rent, and the restaurants and grocery stores where you eat. Theoretically, you could compete with him, but in actual practice, how do you prevent the power hungry sociopaths from acquiring power?

    1. "Being a hierarchical species of monkeys..."

      Speak for yourself.

      Power depends upon a widespread belief in power - neither a certainty nor a necessity. Wealth is not power. Great wealth is possible without great power.

  6. I am a power center

    1. Do you carry your own gun, or do you hire that out to professionals, or are you word-gaming "power".