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American Pravda: ZeroHedge

For years futurists have been regularly prophesizing that the power of the Internet will level the playing field between the mighty and the weak, and one more nugget of evidence that this day is finally dawning has now come to my attention.

A few days ago my regular Google sweeps discovered that a website called ZeroHedge [1] had picked up and reprinted [2] my recent article American Pravda [3], and although I had never heard of the source, I clicked a link and casually investigated. The website seems absolutely bare-bones in style, posts long essays one after the other, is apparently run on a quasi-volunteer basis by several pseudonymous editors, and focuses on financial or political issues, especially of a controversial or scandalous nature. That description would easily apply to a hundred or a thousand other webzines, but a crucial difference is ZeroHedge’s traffic, which seems to be absolutely enormous.

Although my article was just one of many posted that day, the running total of readers quickly reached ten or twenty thousand, while tweets went out to a vast multitude of recipients. In just a couple of days it accumulated as much readership as my original version had received in a week or two, and once I investigate the website’s traffic with the Alexa tool, I soon discovered why. This self-operated webzine, apparently run on a shoestring, seems to be almost as popular as the entire Atlantic website, with all of its archives, major feature stories by prominent journalists, and popular bloggers. Put another way, ZeroHedge’s traffic is several times larger than the combined total of National Review, The Nation, and The New Republic. And I’d never even known it existed until last week.

How did ZeroHedge become aware of my piece? While I can’t be sure, I strongly suspect that the lead came a few days earlier, when Tyler Cowen, a prominent professor of economics at George Mason University, had highlighted my piece at his popular Marginal Revolution blogsite under the attention-getting title “The Most Provocative, Fascinating, and Bizarre Piece I Read Today” [4]. His posting generated a long thread containing hundreds of comments, a major outpouring of tweets, and a huge increase of traffic back to the original article. And since ZeroHedge seems to glory in shocking stories inadequately covered by our timorous mainstream media, they probably decided my material was right up their alley.

In any event, the combination of these new discussions and republications along with the Forbes column of the week before [5] quickly tripled or quadrupled the total pageviews of my piece, which although still well behind my Meritocracy article, is now running almost three times ahead of my next most successful article.

And who knows what the future may bring? Sydney Schanberg ranks as one of the most renowned American journalists of his generation, many of today’s 50ish top MSM editors may have originally been inspired to become reporters by his film The Killing Fields [6], and he has uncovered what surely ranks as “the Scandal of the Century.” [7] It would take just one curious MSM editor to assign one MSM reporter to interview him and publish the results to produce such an explosive MSM chain-reaction that surely “all the walls would start tumbling down.”

 

Meanwhile, my recent Salon column [8], arguing that a large increase in the federal minimum wage must be included as part of the immigration reform legislation moving through Congress, has begun attracting some notice. Prominent blogger Mickey Kaus [9] characterized it as a declaration of my opposition to the proposed amnesty, which I’d say was half right. I would certainly oppose the bill in its current form, for the reasons given, but would immediately become a strong supporter if a $12.00 minimum wage were added as a sweetener. Given the overwhelming elite consensus behind the immigration bill and total elite disinterest in any minimum wage issues, perhaps shrewd Democratic constituency groups should consider taking the same “tough-bargaining” position.

change_me

In addition, blogger Andrew Sullivan [10] contrasted my economic immigration arguments with those of ubiquitous economist Tyler Cowen on the same subject. I argued that without any change in the minimum wage, the vast increase in lesser-skilled labor from increased immigration would prove disastrous to the economic prospects of ordinary working Americans. Cowen seemed to claim that the more millions of eager low-wage workers who flow into our country, the higher their wages will rise.

Now admittedly, my opponent is a renowned free market academic at a leading university, who has surely forgotten more about basic economic principles than I have ever learned in my life, but doesn’t the old law of supply and demand work the other way round? Or does Cowen’s theory rely upon the innate generosity of America’s totally altruistic class of business employers?

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#1 Comment By Polichinello On May 31, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Cowen’s a silly clever who prides himself on being a libertarian while working in one of the biggest government-subsidized cul-de-sacs around.

#2 Comment By reflectionephemeral On May 31, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

Cowen seemed to claim that the more millions of eager low-wage workers who flow into our country, the higher their wages will rise.

Well, presumably he’s arguing that it’ll increase the size of the economy overall, driving up wages over time. And over the long haul, that’s almost certainly true. ‘Course, in the long run, we’re all dead.

As to the ability of big audiences to change the decisions of policy elites, I am less sanguine. As [11] and I were discussing on Twitter a little while ago, the “POLITICOization/MILBANKization/DOWDization of Beltway media has become like a cancer”; as on the Iraq invasion, and deficit vs. unemployment, the liberal blogoverse was right on this, years ahead of the curve. But a sizable audience agreeing with the clear weight of reason and fact didn’t matter one whit.

#3 Comment By TomB On May 31, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

I’m with reflectionephemeral here, or perhaps more accurately with Ron Unz #1.

Here, that is, Unz #2 argues that the internet is gonna “level the playing field between the mighty and the meek,” but of course elsewhere recently his alter ego noted the incredible sense of irresponsibility and insularity of our elites.

Or … put it this way: yet another guy named Unz comes up with a bombshell of specific, detailed evidence of long-term, systematic, massive discrimination against white gentiles at Harvard and—forgetting even that there was other evidence of same before that which of course was never noticed—and … what happens?

Does Harvard declare an investigation such as it would no doubt launch on even the most vague evidence of any other racial/ethnic/gender discrimination? Does Mr. Holder’s DOJ Office of Civil Rights similarly swing into action? The Department of Education which also oversees educational institutions which receive federal research funds and etc.? The State of Massachusetts? Any of the innumerable education-related bodies that would with massive huff sever their relationship with any institution that displayed even the slightest non-politically-correct bias? Has the usually maniacally discrimination-sensitive mainstream media paid even a molecule of attention to same?

More like a stone thrown into a black hole.

Same with the simply amazing fear of mass civil unrest as evidenced by the impossibility of gun shops to keep defensive weapons and ammunition even in stock for more than an hour or so a week. Mass rioting/looting/unlawfulness goes on in Chicago and etc. and … nothing is heard other *than* on the internet and nothing happens off of it. Same with this news of gross prosecutorial misconduct in the Zimmerman matter. Same with ….

And isn’t it just obvious with what’s happened to fine old institutions like Time and Newsweek, and the almost total popular disregard now for the networks and mainstream papers, that the sort of people they got working for them would rather see the utter bankruptcy and destruction of those institutions rather than just simply stop being partisan and politically correct?

American Pravda, just one component of the American nomenklatura.

#4 Comment By DaveO On May 31, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

ZeroHedge is one of my daily readers and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Pravda piece appear there.

The site is very popular among financial writers and those keeping up date on the latest trends in economics and finance.

If I could characterize the site’s point of view, I would call it Ron Paul…gone crazy. There are many hard money types, anti-QE writings, that sort of thing.

The unfortunate part of the site is that it follows conspiratorial lines of thought. A couple of the writers and many of the commentators see a false flag everywhere they turn. There is a bit of racism within the comments there, with the Jewish banker being the most popular target.

Some of the more nasty comments have been moderated out more recently as there appears to be a liability issue. It seems that the web site is officially out of Switzerland and its owners are subject to fines if their site contains racist material.

I hope that provides a background for you Ron

#5 Comment By Danny Sanchez On May 31, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

Allowing labor to be drawn to where it is most urgently demanded increases productivity, which provides for more capital investment, which increases real wages.

#6 Comment By john On June 1, 2013 @ 5:12 am

Maybe Americans should start reading Pravda…

#7 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 1, 2013 @ 11:00 am

“Allowing labor to be drawn to where it is most urgently demanded increases productivity, which provides for more capital investment, which increases real wages.”

Urgently demanded as the lowest cost replacements possible for those costing the elites a living wage in their quest to enrich themselves only.

If they could, labor would be just interns, volunteer or even in a slavery of perpetual debt – oops, already happening.

Minimum wage of $15/hr, plus tariffs.

#8 Comment By Liam On June 1, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

Oh, ZeroHedge is one of the great tinfoil hat sites, where you will pick up nuggets of true data but have to strain out a lot of cognitive biases. If you’re vulnerable and not careful, it can be addictive.

#9 Comment By NB On June 1, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

TomB, what is this “specific, detailed evidence of long-term, systematic, massive discrimination against white gentiles at Harvard” of which you speak? That Hillel says that 25% of Harvard undergrads are Jewish, and Unz says that 6-7% of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are Jewish? That’s it, isn’t it? …except using the same methodology (Weyl Analysis) Unz used to determine that Jews represent 6-7% of NMS semifinalists ALSO yields the result that Jews represent 6-7% of current Harvard students.

#10 Comment By Henry Clerval On June 1, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

Pardon me for being picky and pedantic, but “prophesizing” isn’t a real word. I prophesy, you prophesy, he or she prophesies. Ever since Morpheus said it in The Matrix this error has been driving me crazy.

End of grammar rant. Please go about your business.

#11 Comment By TomB On June 2, 2013 @ 3:41 am

@NB: I can’t help you if you insist on cherry-picking out what you want, although in fact even taking what you leave in says absolutely nothing about whether similarly situated white gentiles aren’t disfavored. Absolutely nothing.

And of course I wasn’t condemning the lack of condemnation of Harvard at this point, but instead the lack even of any calls for further investigation. As much as some obviously believe it should be otherwise, any racial/ethno discrimination against gentile whites by Harvard is actually against the law too you know.

#12 Comment By Mike w On June 2, 2013 @ 8:09 am

It if frightening to read that Unz will support this horrible immigration bill if the minimum wage goes to $12.00. Does he really believe that the millions of additional illegals coming from south of the border will ever receive that wage?

Once this amnesty is passed, then the green light is on for more and more, especially since border security is not honestly part of the bill.

Minimum wage increase or not, it is recipe for the end of the USA.

#13 Comment By fred_flinstone On June 2, 2013 @ 11:11 am

RU, welcome to ZH….sorry it took so long. Hopefully you will continue to have articles posted on the site.

#14 Comment By Brendan On June 2, 2013 @ 11:43 am

I side with Tyler, Ron. Already we have a large underclass of minority teens who cannot find a job with the current minimum wage. Raising that would make matters worse.

As for supply and demand, that is distorted by the FED and its boom and bust cycle. There is no true supply and demand when central planning is causing boom and bust cycles. However, studies on immigration show that only high school dropouts suffer any significant loss of income due to immigration, and that only marginal.

Along with supply and demand, is Says Law: production creates demand.

Federal intervention in labor markets is as pernicious as federal intervention in capital markets.

Let’s allow that throughout history more immigrants come to work in US for short periods, and go home. The political parties want to grant them citizenship or not depending on whom they will probably vote for. This is once more government looking for trouble, finding it, and missappling the wrong solution… (Groucho Marx)

#15 Comment By sglover On June 2, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

@reflectionephemeral —

You’ve described a bedrock truth about the Iraq crime/debacle that has hardly ever been mentioned in public. The Bush/Cheney gangsters **did** gin up a bogus case for war, and for that they should be treated as Ribbentrop was. But 2003 America wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s USSR. By 2003 any American could effortlessly find challenges to the administration’s Big Lie Of The Day, monitor overseas press agencies, and so on. It didn’t prevent the crime, did it? And of course its chief architects have done nothing but prosper since.

#16 Comment By NB On June 2, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

TomB, Unz calculated the percent of white Gentiles at Harvard by subtracting Hillel’s reported % of Jewish undergrads (25%) from the % of Harvard undergrads who reported that they’re white (44%), giving 19%. i.e. Unz calculated those enrollment ratios for Harvard (that supposedly demonstrate non-Jewish whites are victims of discrimination) by assuming Harvard College is only 19% white Gentile. This is absurd, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone actually attending Harvard who believes that. To obtain those enrollment ratios, Unz also assumed there were no Jewish students among the ~12+% of Harvard undergrads who did not report their race or are biracial (like Tiger Mom’s daughter).

Finally, there is a negative correlation between the National Merit qualifying score for a state and its % of non-Jewish whites, while there is a positive correlation between a state’s NMS qualifying score and its % of Jews, which is also the case for Asians. (Unz briefly mentioned that qualifying scores vary by state; they range from 201 in Wyoming, which is merely the 96th percentile, to 221 in Massachusetts, which is the 99th percentile. This corresponds to a 200 point difference in SAT scores.) This means that white Gentile NMS semifinalists are disproportionately from states with low qualifying scores while Jewish and Asian NMS semifinalists are disproportionately from states with high NMS qualifying scores, i.e. this suggests that the average non-Jewish white NMS semifinalist has a lower [P]SAT score than the average Jewish or Asian NMS semifinalist. Hence, one cannot use the set of NMS semifinalists to validly deduce the existence of bias against white Gentiles.

#17 Comment By Sam On June 2, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

“I argued that without any change in the minimum wage, the vast increase in lesser-skilled labor from increased immigration would prove disastrous to the economic prospects of ordinary working Americans. Cowen seemed to claim that the more millions of eager low-wage workers who flow into our country, the higher their wages will rise.”

I know Unz is on friendly terms with Steve Sailer so I would encourage him to read Sailer on Cowen or on any other pro-immigration economist. Immigration is the blind spot of economists.

Unz is quite right and for whatever reason libertarian economists can’t think straight when it comes to immigrants. If you want clarity on these issues you should look to Thomas Sowell or one of the experts George Borjas. You have to assess the welfare costs as well as the social cost(read:Putnam) on top of whatever productivity gains immigration provides.

For anybody interested here is George Borjas in an interview that is a consise argument against immigration.

#18 Comment By TomB On June 2, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

@NB:

Well of course you’re right, NB; Unz’s conclusions about gross anti-white gentile discrimination at Harvard *may* be wrong. But how many times, in the face of damn near *any* evidence of other kinds of discrimination against non-white gentiles, has that mere possibility of error inhibited anyone from calling for some further investigation in other cases?

And, needless to say, that was my initial point supporting Unz’s talk of our media as being like Pravda. Here you have a case of possible grotesque discrimination (by Harvard), *clearly* protected from investigation even by the case of the media’s *undeniable* discrimination against even mentioning the possible wrongdoing.

Moreover, if the matter was as clearly disprovable as you say, one would think our Pravda-like media wouldn’t be as adverse as it is to looking into the matter. But they are. And then of course there’s the question of whether their undeniable lack of concern with college-admission discrimination against white gentiles might possibly bring up the issue of their own similar discrimination in their hiring practices.

As I say then, at least *part* of this is undeniable, NB. And since when has it been lately that where we find some wrongdoing that we are encouraged to just stop our inquiries there and blindly accept that there’s no invidious reasons for it, that there is no more of it, and that it’s meaningless and harmless?

#19 Comment By Red Phillips On June 2, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

“for whatever reason libertarian economists can’t think straight when it comes to immigrants.”

Sam, they can’t think straight BECAUSE they are libertarians. It’s that whole free movement of labor, atomistic individualism, economic man, individuals as simply embodiments of either good or bad ideology, and freedom as the highest good thing. At the least, if libertarians were at all interested in self-preservation, they should be for restricting immigration to fellow libertarians. Sign on to the non-aggression principle, you’re in. Don’t and you’re not.

#20 Comment By TomB On June 3, 2013 @ 5:52 am

Red Phillips wrote:

“Sam, the can’t think straight BECAUSE they are libertarians.”

Red, as a pretty libertarian oriented guy I’d take exception to this. Just as there are ideologues of every stripe, taking some facet of their philosophy to the extreme and thereby inviting the idea that their claimed ideology is nuts, that’s the case too with some libertarian economists for sure. Thus, for instance, they do take that “freedom as the highest good” idea to the extreme and from there get to the idea of abolishing our borders.

Seems to me the real core idea behind libertarianism is modesty. It is after all a school of socio-political thought, focused on how people should live together, as opposed to some sort of school of anthropology or biology which is where one goes to draw conclusions about basic human nature.

Thus, being so focused on the socio-political realm the fundamental idea behind libertarianism is that to a very large degree (the point at which your fist meets my nose) we simply can’t say which is the “right” and “wrong” way to live. And that thus, the wisest path for a society is to essentially try to live and let live.

Immeasurably adding to its wisdom, it seems to me, is how successful this is when it comes to economics. That is, the realization that, so far at least and while far from perfect, the free market produces the greatest wealth and happiness for a society.

But BECAUSE libertarianism is socio-political thinking about how to run a wise system its thinking is necessarily confined within the bounds OF those systems—which today means the bounds of nationhood.

Thus, at worst libertarianism can have NOTHING to say about immigration, and at best only that we ought allow only such immigration that isn’t going to damage or destroy what libertarianism we enjoy. And so it’s a very grave crime against libertarianism, it seems to me, for anyone to claim its mantle to argue for open borders. Elsewise libertarianism is put into the position of saying that it believes in the destruction of its own values.

The same goes for the so-called “free trade” people claiming the mantle of libertarianism. To the degree that we have decided to enjoy the fruits of libertarianism, fine. But to say, for instance, that in the face of ruthless unfair trade practiced against us by foreigners, that in the name of THEIR freedom we should never ever enact our own measures of protection is just insane and suicidal. THEY haven’t signed on to libertarianism, after all, and yet we are supposed to allow ourselves to get cheated down to our immiseration in their name?

In both of the above instances it can be seen that the extreme (I would argue “false”) libertarianism does indeed aspire more to being a school of human nature. The idea that, somehow, allowing others to cheat you, or to invade you, will work out well in the end. No different than the sort of pacifism that says that you ought not even have the right of self-defense.

But and again libertarianism isn’t a school of anthropology or psychology or biology, it’s a socio-political idea, valid by definition only in such socio-political realms where it is accepted and enforced. And it’s just self-evidently nuts to say that libertarianism must require the granting of freedom to others in other realms who don’t live by it and who it isn’t enforced over to take advantage of you to your doom even.

The funny thing is … so long as this sort of false libertarianism is out there nobody has much fear of it succeeding: It’s so utterly nuts no-one will pay much attention to it. One might as well be advocating the giving of guns to one’s mortal enemies because it enhances their freedom to kill you.

On the other hand so long as it’s out there making its banner appear as the flag of nuts it’s also wrecking the chances for much genuine libertarian success elsewhere, which is the crime it will be remembered for.

#21 Comment By Sam On June 3, 2013 @ 8:15 am

I agree but my point is that they aren’t deploying the logic they usually do when it comes to immigration. If they did they would come to the same conclusion that anti-immigration libertarians come to.

Libertarians like Hans Hoppe and Murray Rothbard have shown the libertarian case against immigration pretty clearly. On the contrary unlimited immigration is a violation of the non-aggression principle.
[12]

Thomas Sowell said it best when Russ Robert(typical libertarian) asked him how he could possibly be against free immigration:

“A country not only have to have workers it needs citizens”
[13]

The problem is economism because this faulty outlook is prevalent among most economists not just libertarians.

#22 Comment By Red Phillips On June 4, 2013 @ 9:45 am

TomB, I wasn’t primarily referring to libertarianish or libertarian leaning economist because the “ish” and the “leaning” indicate some moderation of the ideology to practical concerns. I was referring primarily to ideological libertarians. (Although some economist seem to be more dogmatic about their libertarianism when it comes to economics than when it comes to other matters.)

There used to be a group of paleo-libertarians mostly around Hoppe (as Sam indicated) and Lew Rockwell, who argued against open immigration. While their arguments were purist libertarian, you sensed at least that they understood intuitively that people aren’t just freely interchangeable blank slate vessels of ideology. They openly understood that you can’t have open immigration and a welfare state. But for whatever reason, this group of libertarians has mostly lost its voice. Now most libertarians instinctively argue for open borders on the grounds of maximal freedom. A person should be able to move wherever he wants without anyone or any entity telling him he can’t as long as he has the means. To be honest, this is in fact the most straightforward application of purist libertarianism. The pro borders libertarian argument was always nuanced and one off.

So why the change? I think it is partially because libertarianism is a simple easy to understand position that is easily embraced by those inclined to embrace it. I saw this among young Ron Paul supporters. There weren’t many right-wing Constitutionalists in the bunch or budding paleocons. Most were purist libertarians. But I also think it is because being a purist libertarian and for open borders allows them to mount their PC high horse or at the least inoculate themselves against charges of wrongthink on the issue of immigration. Immigration invariably has to do with the “national question.” It can’t not. So the PC phobics want to avoid the charge of wrongthink at all costs. They may be called heartless and cruel. They may be called impractical. They may be called dreamers or even deluded. But By God no one can accuse them of wrongthink.

#23 Comment By Sam On June 4, 2013 @ 10:29 am

I must concur with Red Phillip. While I’m quite happy with the wealth of young people(I’m one of them) who have turned to liberty because of Ron Paul. However must of them(myself included) brought with them from the left the same PC thinking of old except in those areas where the new religion had answers.

Ann Coulter called out libertarians for sucking up to the left. She was quite right to do so. They have no problem with killing off the historic American nation(WASP) and replacing it with the entire world. This position is inherently self defeating because third world immigrants are not pro-liberty at all nor do they make for a more cohesive nation. Economism and multicultural libertarianism seems to be what the future of the American right consists off. I say that as a third world(African) libertarian.

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#24 Comment By The Anti-Gnostic On June 5, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

Now most libertarians instinctively argue for open borders on the grounds of maximal freedom. A person should be able to move wherever he wants without anyone or any entity telling him he can’t as long as he has the means.

And that is why most libertarians aren’t actually libertarian. If all land was privately owned, then any movement off your own property would require the permission of other property owners. There would be no ‘immigrants,’ only owners, tenants and trespassers.

Libertarians want ‘open borders,’ not ‘no borders,’ because if the State isn’t around to maintain open borders, then people get to draw their own.

Regarding Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute, they have long since chased off any traditionalist, Old Right or “paleo” perspectives.

#25 Comment By Mark in Homer On December 20, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

ZH is the upscale version of ‘What Really Happened’ only with more voluble and marginally better educated commenters. To spend much time in the comments on either site is a frightening experience fraught with racism, anti semitism and misogyny. We are not taking kitchen aluminum foil in the hats here but heavy gauge lead. People literally foam at the mouth there in self righteous indignation over the silliest imaginary things.