What do we actually mean by “progress”? How should it be measured and monitored, and who experiences it? For many reasons, the standard indicator of real GDP growth, which leaves out much of what people value, will no longer do.
About Hunter Hastings
Hunter Hastings is the Executive Director at Center for Individualism. He's an economist, venture capitalist, and lifelong advocate for liberty, economic freedom, and individual entrepreneurship.
Hunter’s current research is focused on the intersection of 21st century individualism, emerging technology and the radical decentralization that is freeing markets and creating a new spectrum of individual opportunity. His newest book is The Interconnected Individual, co-authored with Jeff Saperstein, to be published by Business Expert Press in 2018.
Entries by Hunter Hastings
We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a program which seems neither a mere defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism. There must be people who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote.
American prosperity involves “creative destruction”: obsolete activities and technologies disappear (the destruction), and capital shifts from old uses to more productive ones (the creation). Government efforts to save or bail out companies that stick with outmoded products, services, or management methods protect the existing order at the expense of innovation, growth, and future jobs.
Opinion polls have limited predictive value. Other metrics, such as the state of the economy, may be more important than random phone calls to registered voters. Record low unemployment, particularly for women, blacks, and Hispanics and a booming economy may be a better predictor for an incumbent President’s reelection prospects.
The current economic environment—low and declining interest rates, stable prices, modest quarter-to-quarter economic growth, the absence of wars abroad—does not suggest a recession-oriented climate. Recessions typically occur in settings of rapid economic growth and rising interest rates, combined with overly bullish forecasts for stocks and business profits. That’s not the situation today.
Postindustrial economies create a far more challenging path to upward mobility than the manufacturing economy of the 1930’s. Education is now the most likely route to middle-class comfort and relative stability. The children of low-skilled immigrants, particularly Latinos, are struggling. Instead of climbing the income ladder, they are slipping down.
The message I had expected to be controversial, was old hat to the industry folks. But it was beside the point, because recycling was for them a moral imperative. Once you begin to think of recycling as a symbol of religious devotion rather than a pragmatic solution to environmental problems, the whole thing makes more sense.
Contrast that with how the government would react if you decided to stop paying taxes because you don’t like the services it offers and provides in return. Agents of the government would descend upon you and threaten fines and imprisonment – resorting to physical assault if necessary – if you didn’t obey.
The businesses we created have employed hundreds of thousands of Americans. We have paid tens of billions of dollars in wages and contributed hundreds of billions to U.S. gross domestic product, and made the tens of millions of Americans who use our products and services better off. The Home Depot lowered hardware prices across the country.
Brazil’s fiscal incontinence is legendary. The number of civil servants grew by 60% between 1995 and 2016, to 12m. Since public-sector workers cannot be fired or have their pay cut, they become a permanent expense once hired. Nearly 80% of government spending in Brazil goes on salaries and pensions. “Instead of a state that serves the public, you have a state that serves the state.”
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