About Parkview Institute
Parkview Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded July of 2023.
The debate over liberty and free markets has been won. It’s almost a waste of words to say that the liberty and free markets side was the victor, and in a big way. For those who doubt the previously expressed truth, they need only look back to the 1970s for confirmation.
It was then that ownership of a landline phone was illegal, such that phone users had to rent their plug-in from the federal government’s preferred monopoly. Air travel routes were centrally planned by the Civil Aeronautics Board, with travel options predictably expensive and very limited such that the vast majority of Americans had never flown on an airplane. Gasoline was price controlled, with predictable results: shortages. Americans were quite literally reduced to lining up on odd or even days (depending on their license plate number) in the hope that they could purchase gasoline upon reaching the front. Taxes? The top rate in the 1970s was 70%, after which it rates substantial stress that both Democrats and Republicans in the mainstream of both Parties thought tax cuts a non-starter based on the presumed “inflationary” implications of allowing Americans to keep more of what they’d earned.
All of which brings us to the former Soviet Union. In the 1970s, it was accepted wisdom among economists, U.S. intelligence services, and the U.S. political class more broadly, that the Soviet Union was not only economically viable, but that its economy was comparable to the U.S.’s in terms of size. The previous anecdote is easily the most powerful indication of just how shockingly obtuse the economics discussion had become.
Fast forward to the present, and it’s worth stressing that the mainstream media no longer pretends that communist holdouts like Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela represent a better life or economic challenge, airline routes are so de-regulated that flight is very cheap and common, supercomputers that we call phones line all of our pockets, and gasoline lines are now a laugh-line about how things used to be. As for tax rates, no Democrat with national ambitions dares propose a return to rates resembling those that prevailed in the ’70s. On the Republican front, any GOPer with national ambition leads with a major tax cut proposal.
Yes once again, the liberty and free markets side has won.
The challenge from here is that we can do better. That’s where The Parkview Institute comes in. Much as the economic policy discussion is improved relative to what prevailed in the “Me Decade,” the simple truth is that in a paraphrase of Henry Hazlitt, economics is still stalked by fallacy.
The belief that government spending props up economic growth remains the majority opinion among economists, as is the belief that the killing, maiming and wanton wealth destruction that is war actually brings with it an upside: economic growth. The same economists who believe growth can be had through destruction, death and extraction of precious resources from the private sector also believe against all logic and reason that economic growth has a downside: inflation. Not only is the latter untrue, it’s a reminder that economists on the left and right don’t just misunderstand inflation and its causes, they’re also in the process of redefining inflation altogether.
On the matter of trade, it’s Groundhog Day. While Japan was the boogie-man of yore whereby the peaceful and life enhancing act of exchange was reduced to war, now it’s “China” that’s said to threaten us thanks to its people feverishly producing to meet and lead our needs. This notion of trade as war threatens to fracture the very division of labor between man and man and man and machine that is the biggest driver not just of progress, but of peace.
Regarding money, and largely as a consequence of the mass mis-understanding of the meaning of inflation mentioned above, the proper definition of money as a stable medium of exchange has been perverted into utter meaninglessness. While the debate about freedom and free markets has been won, the discussion of money has – if possible – gone backwards. While Adam Smith properly understood money’s “sole use” as a stable measure of value meant to facilitate the exchange of actual wealth, modern economists have bought into the dangerous notion that money itself is wealth, and that the creation of actual wealth will be hamstrung absent the substitution of a PhD standard on money for market-based monetary standards (including gold as the definer) that formerly prevailed. More dangerously, the philosopher kings striving to control the monetary debate quite literally believe that what is always and everywhere a consequence of production (money), actually needs to be planned in terms of “supply” by PhDs. It’s lost on those same PhDs that money in circulation is a market phenomenon, so to plan it as they desire is the literal equivalent of government bureaucrats planning production a la the Soviet era Five Year Plans of old.
It’s all a reminder that while the debate has been won, we have a long way to go. The goal of The Parkview Institute is to relentlessly push the terms of the economics debate to much sounder footing so that the rather amazing present can ascend to even more spectacular heights. Hopefully visitors to The Parkview Institute website recognize the bigger meaning of the previous sentence.
Its meaning is that The Parkview Institute will NOT be an organization focused on the negative, of how bad, awful, or “disastrous” are the times we’re in. There won’t be simplistically negative commentary about looming “crises,” or of the “hard choices” we face in the “fight” to shrink government, or of the “major burdens” we’re “leaving the grandchildren.” Instead, and with good reason, The Parkview Institute will be optimistic. Shrinking government will be an opportunity to leave behind an even greater world for the grandchildren than the already remarkable one we’re leaving behind. Which is a long way of saying that the daily columns published here, the books published annually, and the speeches given around the country and around the world won’t focus on how bad things are, and how bad Americans have it. Quite the opposite.
As always, the goal of the economic commentary will be to improve understanding of the path toward improving on what is already magnificent. If you share these views, it’s my sincere hope that you’ll consider supporting the essential mission of The Parkview Institute. The sad truth is that negativity sells even though it paves the way toward decline. Optimism isn’t as galvanizing, but it’s the truth given our modern circumstances, and it’s the path toward much better. If you’re interested, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I’m excited to invent a much better future with you through better understanding of the brilliant present.
John E. Tamny
President, The Parkview Institute