David R. Henderson

The Economics of Empire


David R. Henderson, research fellow with the Hoover Institution, discusses the love-fest between Congressional Democrats and President Obama, the benefit of empire for a select few and the net loss for everyone else, the common misconceptions on what caused and worsened the 1973 oil crisis and the difficulty of communicating with people whose ideas and arguments are wrapped in insulating layers of emotion and patriotism.

MP3 here. (37:08)

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an associate professor of economics in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School. He writes a regular column, “The Wartime Economist”, for Antiwar.com and is the author of The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey. His latest book is The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

10 thoughts on “David R. Henderson”

  1. As a very old person who was a child during the “Great Depression” I am always amazed to hear the lightness of tone with which economists speak of the “poor.”
    I witnessed the interminable line of bedraggled men carrying card boxes around their necks, boxes containing a miserly smattering of safety pins, bobby pins, ribbon, pencils and whatnot knocking on doors and sitting on the back steps eating the food my grandmother and other grandmothers would offer them when they was unable to buy some small item.
    These “forgotten men” as Rooselvelt called them also sold apples and even now I still remember that lost hopeless look in their eyes. The poor are hungry; they truly know what hunger is.
    “You say”wellfare” is bad for the poor. I have travelled widely and seen much of the world and have come to the conclusion that it is indifference that is the true and deepest evil which afflicts our species. It is perhaps the mother of all evil.
    I think it would be an excellent experience if all our young graduates were put on the street for a month with a dollar in their pockets, not as a punishment, but to “know” what it is to be alone in this world, without money, without position, without privilege and without theories and to learn that each human, no matter how lowly, uneducated or “poor” know something of life that only he knows. It is in this and this alone that we are unique.
    Privilege is the help privileged people are offered without knowing it and it is generally these same people who deny those weaker than themselves help when it is needed and sermon them to be strong, to buck up, to pull themselves up by nonexistent boot straps.
    Being human is caring about other humans, not just ourselves. We are all just passing through.

  2. Henderson obviously never heard of Palast’s hypothesis that the Iraq war was to keep its oil OFF the market in order to keep prices high. Oil companies make more profit from higher prices than from higher production.

  3. True..And, in the first place, Saddam was taking back Kuwait for Iraq ( bankrupted after yrs of war with Iran which we encouraged ) to have more oil TO SELL not to hoard..The last 19 yrs have been a waste of blood and treasure…

  4. But why shouldn't Iraq have had total control over it's own oil revenue? Why shouldn't they be allowed to trade oil for Euros? Seems that the "powers that be" are the real criminals..so, don't enlist all you super-patriots out there…" Even though everything every politician has ever told me about anything has been a damn lie, the next time the start making up excuses to start a war, I'm going to buy that too-because I'm a patriot…" That could be sd by Sean Hannity and the rest of the gang at Fox…the only govt program you can count on them to support is the biggest one of all!

  5. While its true the oil laden countries will always sell their oil it can be, and has been used, to bend America over a barrel, so to speak.

    I think it was a story titled 30 Year Itch where Chas Freeman, Ambassador to SA, said:

    The administration [Bush Sr.] “believes you have to control resources in order to have access to them,” says Chas Freeman, who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush. “They are taken with the idea that the end of the Cold War left the United States able to impose its will globally — and that those who have the ability to shape events with power have the duty to do so. It’s ideology.”

    Its the ‘Might Is Right’ ideology. The US is certainly willing to give Iraq proceeds from its oil but its desire is to control price and availability of that oil.

  6. Henderson obviously never heard of Palast’s hypothesis that the Iraq war was to keep its oil OFF the market in order to keep prices high. Oil companies make more profit from higher prices than from higher production.

    I would have to diagree as Iraq had shut off its spigots before Dubya went into Iraq. IE the oil was already off the market.

    Saddam had shut off the oil in Dec of 2000 in an effort to extort control oil revenue.

    The final nail came when Saddam went off the dollar and started selling Iraq oil in Euros.

    And so the powers that be had enough of Saddam and decided it was time for regime change.

  7. I think everyone should read the first comment on here, by Druthers. I think everyone should take that to heart.

  8. Although many good points were brought up in the interview, I do disagree with some.

    1. The statement that the current capitalism is not really Libertarianism, is like saying that the various manifestations of communism are not truly communism in its true form. These arguments are academic. Communism is what it is as manifested throughout the world and so is capitalism. This is reality.

    2. To argue that greed and deregulation did not bring about the current financial disaster is absurd. Of course it did. That is why regulation is needed to ensure rules are not broken and scams are not perpetrated. So you think the 500 trillion unregulated global derivative market is ok? Of course not. This is the hidden in the closet for the financial institutions because they are heavily invested in them.

    3. Scott’s comment about food stamps not being good is certainly misplaced in that that is all there is in the US for people in need. Just imagine having your job outsourced, not being able to find work, losing your house, your wife walking out with the kids and suing for divorce. So I assume this kind of person must just starve to death as opposed to getting some assistance from the government? For additional details see Druthers’ comments above.

    4. We have already surpassed the 1936 drop in the stock market adjusted for inflation. So we are on target to match 1929. Just look at the figures.

    5. Real unemployment is currently at 13% so we are already half-way to the depression era unemployment. They are now saying that the job losses in the US for February (the shortest month) are at 697,000. So what will stop that trend for March? For April?

    6. Nowhere in the interview is discussed the mountain of debt in the US. The US produces nothing these days except debt. Unless this debt is addressed, there will never be a recovery.

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