Bad news for statists: sunspots not in their control; good news for economy

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The tarmac is hot in this commercial landscape; radioactivity from sunspots has the power to impose a “Little Ice Age,” as it did in 1645.

Political philosophy has long had basic problems such as that obligation (why ought one to obey the state?) or that of whom should rule. What about the individual versus the state?

There are academicians who claim that these are the basic problems. Others claim the ultimate problem for mankind is the scarcity resources; Who gets what, when and how? This problem is addressed by economics, that dismal science that deals with the allocation of resources of land, labor and capital.

These questions are not just economics. They are political. All economics is political economy. States exercise a range of control from total control to very little control. A policy of laissez faire, laissez passer [trans.: let do, let pass] is when government keeps its hands off the economy. But it is still a policy.

For those who see economics through a secular statist lens the real definition of economics starts with the state and is the “authoritative allocation of resource” for the benefit of …usually some notion of justice, they say. But usually the elites get the better portions of the allocation. Economics is not only political it is also moral. This much has been known since Aristotle wrote Politics. So justifications are often moral arguments for state direction of the economy. Welfare programs are advanced — or denounced — in moral language.

Abnormal tree rings, crop failures

An old story of this kind of total ownership and allocation of resources can be seen in the story of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:41ff). As the vizier, he controlled the food stores and ultimately the people sell themselves to Pharaoh (the Big House Guy) in exchange for bread. In the end, personal independence is lost and all become the subjects if not the slaves of Pharaoh. This is the goal of some statists. They want the people enslaved to the elite who will do big things.

But there are problems that statist cannot control.

One of these is sun spots.

The polar aurorae (aurorae polaris) are colored light displays (usually seen at night) are the aurora borealis, or more popularly the “northern lights.” In the southern hemisphere they are the aurora australis or the “southern lights.” The Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, is the source of the aurora part of the name. It was combined with Boreas (ancient Greek for north wind). These displays occur most often around the autumn or spring equinox.

The aurora light displays are products of solar wind. When there are numerous sunspots there are more solar flares that send streams of charged ion particles out from the sun. When the particles enter the earth’s atmosphere they collide and create an excited atomic state from which light is emitted. The light is usually at wavelengths of 557.7b mm, in the visible green range. Other light omissions are lower or higher wavelengths so they are seen as red or other colors.

The solar flares associated with sunspots can produce magnetic storms that can interfere with electronic communications on earth. These are short term interferences. More serious are the possible long-term sunspot cycles. In 1852 Edward Sabine noticed that the occurrences of sunspots and the aurora seemed to follow an 11-year cycle. His conclusion was based upon examination of records available in his day. However, there could be an effect upon earth’s weather and in the long term its climate.

The “Maunder minimum” is the term that was first used to identify the period between 1645 and 1715. In this period aurora activity was rarely seen and sunspots were observed only occasionally. It was the coldest part of the “Little Ice Age.” The Maunder minimum has been associated with abnormal amounts of C14 in tree rings.

Examinations of the Edda Period of the 12th and 13th Centuries A.D. found it to be a period of high sunspot activity in the with numerous references to aurora activity in the literature of the times. It was also a time of global warming.

Therefore it may be that climate change is associated with sunspot activity. There is current research that global warming is caused by solar emissions and global cooling occurs in their absence. It is possible that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to industrial emissions may be a factor too. Regardless, this much is known: There has always been climate change and it affects the resources of the earth and thus human economies.

Economic influences from above

Climate change, whether anthropomorphic or natural, is important. It affects resources. However, statists who want government to engage in total control of the economy seem unaware that neither a national nor the global economy are closed systems.

Backers of environmental controls seem to hold to ideas of an economic autarchy, a closed economic state, like that expound in The Closed Commercial State (1800) by Johann Gottieb Fichte (1762-1814).

In reality the American economy and the global economy as well are regularly subjected to shocks. These may be sudden natural shocks, such as the Japanese tsunami of 2011, or longer-term shocks such as monsoon failures. Shocks caused by people (wars, financial bubbles) also affect the economy.

It is hard to say which may be the more grievous.

All economies are open

Economies are open systems that are too complicated to describe and too affected by uncontrollable forces to ever be totally controlled.

Yet totalitarians have sought to plan and direct from the top down all economic activity. The folly of this project can be seen with a simple thought experiment that any Chattanoogan can do.

Every year the Girl Scouts sell cookies to millions of people. Here’s what it takes to get a cookie to a customer. The Girl Scout takes the order. The orders gather and are sent to the regional bakers, who order flour, sugar, milk, yeast, butter, flavors, coconut, chocolate, vanilla, packaging. Every one of these ingredients requires its own long supply chain.

The branches of the supply tree for flour for example go from the baker to the miller, to the grain silos to the farmers to the land, the fertilizer to the fuel for the tractors to the oil supplies to oil companies to tankers, pipelines, refiners, to oil rigs … . There is the organization of the factories, the mills, the associated businesses and the labor.

Millions of individual actors, incomprehensible complexity

The fact is that just to get a cookie involves a vast network of people interacting in a vast array of activities. This aggregate activity is described by the field of economics.

Multiply the parts of the cookie tree by the millions of goods produced, delivered and consumed and it is a very complex system.

Total control of the economy is something no government possesses, no matter what utopian dreams the totalitarian geniuses have.

Sunspots have the power to harm our vulnerable technical economy by disruption of the electrical grid and the communications systems. But they are just one variable that affects the economy. So far, government and its ruling-class supporters are just not in control of sunspots, but they do seek to control the hunger games.